One Day in CharlotteAAA editors suggest these activities for a great short vacation experience.
MorningCourtesy of Carowinds Amusement and Water Park
Wake up with the whoosh of Fury 325, the record-breaking steel roller coaster at Carowinds Amusement and Water Park (14523 Carowinds Blvd.) that zooms up to 95 mph in 3.25 minutes—and also crosses both borders of North and South Carolina. Other fun things to do include family-friendly rides, shows and an adjacent water park.
If you don't want to commit to a full day at the park, you can still fulfill your need for speed at the The NASCAR Hall of Fame at 400 E. M.L.K. Jr. Blvd. With racing simulators, the impressive Glory Road that features vintage to modern race cars, a timeline exhibit filled with memorabilia and High Octane Theater, there's something for everyone, even for those not well-versed on racing.
Stop for lunch (or brunch if you're looking for things to do this weekend) at Mert's Heart & Soul (214 N. College St.). Try the sampler that gives you all the fixings, including the restaurant's renowned soul rolls, also known as egg rolls with chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas and seasoned rice.
Those with young children may find it worthwhile to visit ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center (300 E. 7th St.) for morning storytime, and then walk two blocks to Discovery Place Science (301 N. Tryon St.). Older kids and adults should make haste to the immersive and moving Levine Museum of the New South (200 E. 7th St.)—complete with an actual lunch counter where sit-ins occurred.
There's more to Charlotte than just Uptown. Consider heading toward Dilworth, a leafy neighborhood where there's an assortment of shops as well as food places that range from signature restaurants to food trucks. Don't miss Food Truck Friday Dilworth—an annual gathering that occurs each second and fourth Friday, April through September, at 1223 East Blvd.
One nearby must-do is Bad Daddy's Burger Bar (1626 East Blvd.), a choose-your-own adventure-type burger joint that started at this location and has expanded to include several locations in the South (and Oklahoma). With several protein picks—black bean, beef, bison or tuna—as well as a variety of toppings and sides, you can try something new every time.
If you want to learn about “America's Pastor” Billy Graham, then drive a short distance to The Billy Graham Library (4330 Westmont Dr.). Free to visit, the attraction features Graham's boyhood home (moved from his family's farm), a replica dairy barn with exhibits about his life, and the graves of both Billy Graham and Ruth Graham, who grew up in China as the daughter of missionaries and took part in the ministry. Even if you're not religious, the manicured grounds should provide a scenic break.
Located in the trendy Atherton Mill complex, the Living Kitchen (2000 South Blvd.) is a great place to grab a healthful bite to eat, especially if you’re in the mood for something light but substantive. Enjoy plant-based variations on your favorite dishes, ranging from burritos to sushi, which are filled not with meat but crunchy vegetables.
If it's a Wednesday, then spend the evening at Mint Museum Uptown (500 S. Tryon St.) and receive complimentary entry from 5-9 p.m. It's associated with Mint Museum Randolph (2730 Randolph Rd.), part of the original branch of the United States Mint, and encompasses the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, changing displays, and European and American art collections.
Locals flock to Alexander Michael's (401 W. 9th St.), a storefront-turned-tavern. You'll want to order the “What It Is,” a blackened chicken dish served with Cajun cream sauce over a bed of pasta. The wine menu is limited, so order a pint of local craft beer.
End the night at Epicentre , a hub of shopping, dining and entertainment at 210 E. Trade St. Do a little bowling, catch a flick at the dine-in theater or take in the dueling pianos at Howl at the Moon.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
North Carolina has a 4.75 percent state sales tax; Mecklenburg County levies an additional 2 percent sales tax. Mecklenburg County also levies an 8 percent occupancy tax for lodging, a 1 percent prepared food and beverage tax and an 8 percent tax for rental cars.
(704) 336-7600. Info hotline: 311
Atrium Health University City, (704) 863-6000; Carolinas Medical Center, (704) 355-2000; Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy, (704) 304-5000; Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, (704) 384-4000.
501 S. College St. Charlotte, NC 28202. Phone:(704)339-6040 or (800)231-4636
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) is 6 miles west of the city on Josh Birmingham Parkway, and is accessible from Billy Graham Parkway or Wilkinson Boulevard. A hub for American Airlines, the airport is served by other major airlines as well; phone (704) 359-4910. If you're looking for things to do this weekend, check AAA.com or ask a AAA Travel Agent about airline tickets—sometimes available as part of a AAA Vacations® package.
Hertz, 5489 Josh Birmingham Pkwy., offers discounts to AAA members; phone (704) 359-0114 or (800) 654-3080.
Amtrak, (800) 872-7245, has a station at 1914 N. Tryon St.
A Greyhound station serves Charlotte at 601 W. Trade St.; phone (704) 372-0456.
Cabs are metered and charge a base fare of around $2.50, plus approximately $2.50 per mile or 50c per minute when the vehicle drops below 15 miles per hour. These companies operate from the airport's queue—City Cab, (704) 333-3327; Crown Cab, (704) 334-6666; Green Cab, (704) 777-1117; and Yellow Cab, (980) 785-1405; they all increase the base fare $2 per person for more than two passengers.
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), (704) 336-7433, serves the city with more than 70 local and express routes. One-way fare is $2.20; $1.10 (children in kindergarten through grade 12, ages 62+ and the physically impaired); free (ages 0-5). Express fare (buses pick up in a limited area and travel directly to Uptown) is $3; $1.50 (children in kindergarten through grade 12, ages 62+ and the physically impaired); free (ages 0-5). Transfers from local to express are 80c; local to local transfers are free.