A financial powerhouse
The financial powerhouse of the New South, Charlotte is a slick collection of steel skyscrapers clustered around a classy downtown core.
The centre of Charlotte’s shopping scene is SouthPark Mall (4400 Sharon Road), a sprawling suburban complex that houses high-end brands such as Macy’s and Kate Spade as well as a dizzying range of international high-street stores. For something a little more offbeat, head to the historic streetcar suburb of Dilworth. Here, funky designer fashion boutiques like Handpicked (1721 Kenilworth Avenue) mix with artisan bread shops and shabby chic interior design stores. You won’t be able to resist a nose around Cottage Chic (1232 East Boulevard), a kitsch cottage-style retailer packed with gifts, linen and home furnishings. Afterwards, take a walk down Phillips Place, where you’ll find chichi but gorgeous open-air market Dean & DeLuca (6903 Philips Place Court).
Food & Drink
From fast food joints to fine dining, Charlotte covers the full gourmet spectrum. If you’re out to impress, then Bentley’s on 27 (201 South College Street) has the best views in town – not to mention a classic French menu that revolves around fresh seafood and perfectly cooked meat. Chima Brazilian Steakhouse (139 South Tryon Street) is, perhaps surprisingly, best known for its incredible salad bar, while Copper (311 East Boulevard) is a mecca for fans of Indian cuisine. Indulge in a smorgasbord of guilty pleasures at BarBQ King (2900 Wilkinson Boulevard), a retro drive-in which serves melt-in-the-mouth pork platters at bargain prices.
Charlotte World Parade & Festival April A recent addition to Charlotte’s festival scene, this colourful event is designed to celebrate multiculturalism. With arts and crafts activities, food stalls, displays and parades of native dresses, it is rapidly becoming one of the liveliest dates in the city calendar. Charlotte Restaurant Week July Also known as ‘Queen’s Feast’, this annual celebration of all things gourmet is the perfect opportunity to discover Charlotte’s rapidly evolving restaurant scene. Held over 10 days in July, the event sees over 100 eateries offering special menus and deals. Charlotte Shakespeare Festival May-August Fans of the Bard will relish this popular theatre festival, which takes place between The Green Uptown and Booth Playhouse. Most productions are full length, all are free, and there are plenty of shows aimed at introducing kids and newcomers to the classic works of Shakespeare. Charlotte Sunset Jazz Festival September This long-running outdoor concert gets bigger and better every year. Showcasing a selection of top-class international jazz acts, as well as performers from across the local area, it’s a lively evening of dancing, music and fun. UNC Charlotte International Festival September Started as a university event back in 1975, this event has become one of the city’s most popular and long-running festivals. Stalls, music and kids’ events combine to create a day of family-friendly entertainm.
Look north of the Convention Centre to find the greatest concentration of luxury hotels – including the glass-fronted Ritz-Carlton (201 East Trade Street) with its penthouse spa, and the historic Dunhill Hotel (237 North Tryon Street). Big names like Holiday Inn (230 North College Street) dominate the mid-range market, although visitors prepared to head further out of town will discover a few independent gems around the university. Homewood Suites (8340 North Tryon Street) is a collection of lavish apartments with a homely feel, while nearby Sleep Inn University Place (8525 North Tryon Street) offers top-notch facilities at budget prices.