The Explorer's Guide to the Queen City

December 9, 2022

Charlotte, NC, is a modern city on the rise, and its growth isn’t slowing down any time soon. If you’ve recently moved here or are looking for new spots to explore, use this guide as a resource as you plan your next adventure.

The Best of Charlotte Awaits

Charlotte is a vibrant city with must-see attractions and wonderful neighborhoods to plant your roots. With its status as a banking empire, its rich history, and its impressive line-up of beloved pro sports teams (the Panthers, Hornets, and Charlotte FC topping the list), the Queen City is attracting more young people than other major cities in the Carolinas, and this brief intro to its many fun destinations will show you why it's on everyone's radar.


The evolving culinary scene is exciting for newcomers and foodies alike. Charlotte is quickly becoming a dining destination, so start making reservations! The most beautiful restaurants we've found? Supperland, La Belle Helene, and Haymaker -- all are sure to impress. 

La Belle Helene. Photo credit: Brianna Melanson

For a more casual setting, Optimist Hall, Charlotte’s first food hall, is a food lover’s dream. The reinvented textile mill now houses elevated flavor profiles from around the world like Ethiopian and Indian street food. Former food trucks, The Dumpling Lady and Papi Queso, now have permanent stalls here. Start the night with a cocktail at The Spindle Bar and then walk around to see all your options. Everyone can order from a different spot depending on what they’re craving. 

Charlotte has tons of wonderful bakeries, but there is a delicious abundance of spots dedicated to donuts. Suárez Bakery has all your classic donuts, but also donut cakes and customized message donuts. Your Mom’s Donuts sells gourmet square donuts with locally-sourced ingredients. Get a fresh flavor of the day, plus a dog donut for your pup at the Reigning Doughnuts walk-up window in NoDa. 


Cheerwine is the state’s drink of choice and was invented just north of Charlotte in Salisbury in 1917. The cherry soda is a staple, especially at local BBQ joints. Midwood Smokehouse has its own house Cheerwine BBQ sauce. 

It seems like there’s a new brewery grand opening every week. The area boasts more than 50 breweries, and some of our craft beer favorites are from NoDa Brewing, Birdsong Brewing Co., and Olde Mecklenburg Brewing. Looking for something non-alcoholic? Lenny Boy Brewing also makes their own organic kombuchas and has them on tap. 


PNC Music Pavilion is an outdoor music venue where you can see all the top bands in the summer months. The stage has played host to mega stars like Tom Petty, Shania Twain, and Elton John since its opening in 1991.

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is an integral part of Charlotte’s economy. The non-profit presents the longest Broadway season in the Carolinas and created the Blumey Awards for musical theater students. Admire musicals like Les Misérables on the balcony of the state-of-the-art Belk Theater.


Car enthusiasts will appreciate the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Motor Speedway. At the Hall of Fame, get behind the wheel of a racing simulator or compete with your friends at the Pit Crew Challenge. Charlotte Motor Speedway is known as the home track of NASCAR and hosts the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 annually. For more fun at the Speedway, check out Cars and Coffee (free!) or Speedway Christmas during the holiday season. 

Raft, kayak, zipline, ice skate, and more at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The 1,300 acre outdoor venue hosts multiple festivals, competitions, and multi-course dinners throughout the year. In the spring, participate in the Color Me Green 5K Run and watch as the world’s largest manmade whitewater river is turned green for St. Patrick’s Day!

Carowinds is the only amusement park where you can be in two states at once (North and South Carolina). Brave souls can ride the fastest and tallest Giga coaster in North America, Fury 325, and enjoy seasonal festivities  such as Scarowinds and Winterfest. 

Carowinds. Photo credit: Brianna Melanson

If you see folks repping blue and black jerseys or chanting “keep pounding," it must be game day for the Carolina Panthers. Beautiful skyline views from the Bank of America Stadium and energy from the crowd are sure to entertain whether or not you’re a diehard fan. 


Spend a day exploring Camp North End. Cold War soldiers referred to the area as CAMP (Charlotte Area Missile Plant), which inspired the current name. The historic buildings were also the site for manufacturing Ford Model T cars in the late 1920s and restoring typewriters during World War II. Today, the storied area is covered in beautiful murals and art installations and dotted with unique local shops, vintage airstream bars, and specialty food stalls. Pick up a Monstera plant at Grow or a hand-drawn birthday card at Good Postage

Grow at Camp North End. Photo credit: Brianna Melanson
Good Postage. Photo credit: Brianna Melanson

For an upscale shopping experience, check out SouthPark Mall. From Arhaus and Ballard Designs to The Container Store and Peloton, you’ll find everything you need for function and style in your new home.


Stay in the most lavish hotels in the area when you visit to tour homes or when you plan a staycation. 

The Ivey’s Hotel is Uptown’s 5-star boutique hotel with impeccable service and a vintage-chic ambiance. Find high-end details like Nespresso machines, bathrobes and slippers, and Fette bedding in the 47 Parisian-inspired rooms. Have an expert mixologist serve you a craft cocktail at Sophie’s Lounge or curl up with a good book in the intimate library (reserved for guests only).

The Ballantyne offers luxurious accommodations plus a spa, indoor and outdoor pool, and fitness facility. Have a farm-to-table meal at Gallery Restaurant or a traditional English afternoon tea in the parlor. Behind the hotel you'll find more than 100 acres of fresh green space, a new amphitheater, and a retail district opening in 2024.

The Duke Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places as the former home of Philanthropist James Buchanan Duke. His legacy also lives on in Duke University, Duke Energy, and the Duke Endowment. The well-preserved mansion provides exquisite rooms overlooking the grounds and a solarium with iconic black and white checkered floors. Naturally, the landmark also makes a stunning and one-of-a-kind setting for weddings. 

Charlotte has so much to offer, you may never want to leave!