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North Carolina’s biggest city is both a sophisticated urban center and a laid-back spot full of top-notch museums and relaxing spots for a drink. With an urban area of more than 2.4 million people, this fast-growing city offers something for everyone.
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Start your day downtown – there’s always tons going on! Hop on CityLynx, Charlotte’s super-cute streetcar, to get a ground-level view of town. Get off at the Spectrum Center to see where the NBA’s Bobcats and NHL’s Checkers play, or see BB&T Ballpark, which is home to the Charlotte Knights. Just a block away is the Bank of America Stadium, where the NFL’s Panthers play. Learn about the state’s favorite sport at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which also has a museum with interactive exhibits as well as a theater.
Ready for a break? Wander over to Settlers Cemetery, an oasis of green in the heart of downtown, or take a stroll through Fourth Ward Park, which has a fountain at its entrance and plenty of grassy lawn to run on. Next door, Discovery Place Science is a kid-focused science and tech museum – it has interactive exhibits, a rain forest, and an IMAX theater. Post-Civil War history and culture are on display at the Levine Museum of the New South, while ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center is great for a family day outing.
Work up an appetite? The Seventh Street Public Market is a lively indoor market with shops, bars, bakeries, and eat-in cafes. Top spots for a meal include The Capital Grille, trendy Aria Tuscan Grill, BLT Steak – which has a great wine list – and the chic 5Church Charlotte. Flight Beer Garden & Music Hall is a sprawling spot for drinks and live music, while Rock Bottom is an upmarket brewpub with American fare. As you’d expect, World of Beer has an enormous beer selection, while Wooden Robot is an up-and-coming brewery.
If you’re looking for a stroll, check out the leafy historic streets of Chantilly. Reedy Creek Nature Center is one of the city’s biggest parks – it also has fishing and hiking. McGill Rose Garden is charming and has a beautiful rose garden. The botanical gardens at UNC Charlotte have plants from around the state and around the world.
When you’re ready for speed, head to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which seats 138,000 fans and is home to iconic NASCAR races.