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Best Tips for Visiting Charlotte, NC

Summary:  City – Charlotte NC

Where to StayThe Ballantyne, a high end resort and spa, great golfing and dining options are available here.

What to doDiscovery Place Science, Wing Haven, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Sea Life Charlotte Concord

How to get around:  A car is your best option.  Inexpensive car rentals are available at the airport, make advanced arrangements.

What to eat:  For high quality dining hit Ballantyne and try the duck.  Be sure to hit up a local bar for down home southern beer and food culture.


Bechtler Museum of Art

Charlotte is a city that manages to be both cool and family friendly, hip and old fashioned, fun, artistic, yet extremely welcoming. At only 1.5 hours flight from New York it’s an entirely different world. People greet you on the street, the vibe is decidedly relaxed and southern. One of the things that struck me the most is how inexpensive everything is. From the meal I had at The
 Ballantine to admission to museums exhibiting most famous artists in history, to kid friendly activities and even car rental (a must around here). You can expect to pay half to a quarter of what you would pay in New York, Philadelphia or DC. With all that and only a short (and very inexpensive direct flight) from JFK plus mild weather, this is an ideal long weekend gateway with kids or a spouse. If you enjoy going to Boston or Philly for the weekend book yourself a trip to Charlotte, you will love it.
 
Here is a list of some of my favorite things to do and see in Charlotte, NC. 
 photo of balcony
The Ballantyne is like one of those hotels you read about or see in a movie.Situated on old farmland its all sprawled elegance and southern charm. I know that it’s the south, and good manners are basically part of the genetic тема с нуляmake up around here, but the staff at the hotel takes southern hospitality very, very seriously. Although there is plenty to do in Charlotte the truth is I bet many people never leave the hotel grounds at all. There is beautiful golf course here, a high quality full service spa and a farm to table gourmet restaurant serving the likes of spiced pumpkin soup and absolutely the best duck I have ever tasted, bar none. Ask the concierge for a tour and they will happily show you around the property and tell you the stories behind the original art work gracing the hotel walls. Grab the house drink (a delightful blackberry concoction) to enjoy on one of the many terraces (some of them completely devoid of people). And do try the afternoon tea… My favorite time traveling snack. Apparently it’s much more than just tea, and I had no idea. Charlotte has many beautiful hotels to offer, but the Ballantyne is considered to be one the very best in the world, and I can’t wait to be back. 
 

 

Discovery Place Science

 
Discovery Place in Charlotte is the quintessential children’s science museum. If you are visiting the area with little ones this is a must. There is a rainforest to explore, experiments to conduct and structures to build. Of particular interest are their jelly fish breeding facilities and coral growing program. Prior to your visit be sure to visit their website for a list of special programs as there are many different classes and activities offered through the day. There is a separate toddler room as well as tons of activities for school age kids and an on premise IMAX theater. This nature center is one of many reasons that make Charlotte such a family friendly city to visit.

I am at the park
 
 Wing Haven, is a four acre meandering garden located in a tony Charlotte suburb. It’s a short drive from downtown and a lovely way to spend a few hours. Bring your camera as you are likely to see birds and flowers in season. I wish I brought a book too, the garden is peaceful and there are many secluded benches perfect for reading and relaxing. Wing haven features a cute children’s garden area complete with some resident animals and a sister garden, called Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden just a few houses away. As many things in Charlotte admission to this garden is very reasonable at $10 per person. You can learn more at their website (see links at the top of my page).

I am at the exhibition

 
The Bechtler museum of modern art has an amazing collection of modern and contemporary artists. It’s large, airy, galleries are packed to the brim with priceless artwork featuring the likes of Andy Warhol, Picasso, Degas plus a dozen more. The Bechtler museum is nowhere near as busy as its quality collection might suggest, and so it would be here that you can have an almost unique experience of being one on one with some of the worlds greatest artists. If you enjoy the Moma in New York this museum is an absolute must do. I loved wandering the galleries, discovering new work and new points of view from artists I have known all my life, and learning about new ones.
 
warningCharlotte Travel Tip: Charlotte is a fantastic place to visit with children or for an adult getaway.

the scate
Although this may be the first aquarium I ever visited inside a mall I must say I was very impressed with it once I got inside.

A bit out of the way of downtown, the aquarium is located in a huge mall (the biggest one I have ever seen) and might just be your ticket to get the kids to agree to a couple of hours shopping while you are in Charlotte. I loved the kid friendly touch tank featuring sea stars, an on premise octopus (you can watch octopus enrichment activities, just check the site for schedule). The highlight is definitely a cool walk through tunnel with sharks, Rays and school of fish swimming over and all around you. Right before the exit there is an indoor playground. I do wish there was something like this closer to home when my kids were little. Seems awful convenient 🙂 The Sea Life Concord Charlotte aquarium is involved in sea turtle rescue and other conservation work.

 
warningCharlotte Travel Tip:  Be sure to rent a car in Charlotte, many interesting things to do and see are spread out.
 

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