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A Primer's Guide for Someone New to Charlotte

Matthew Tringali - Monday, September 11, 2017

Charlotte, North Carolina is a mid-sized Southern city that has shown a lot of growth over the past few years. The city has plenty to do, with more than 200 restaurants and multiple sports teams attracting close to 18 million visitors each year. For someone looking to make a long-term commitment, there are a few just a few things to learn before making Charlotte home.

First, most locals refer to the central part of the city as “Uptown.” The name can be confusing, but it gets its origin from a 1980s campaign to change the way people thought of the city. The campaign certainly worked, because the name has stuck ever since.

Charlotte is split into four neighborhoods, also called wards. The wards are defined by the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets. First Ward is located to the east. What was once a high crime area, First Ward has transformed into a quaint mixed-income neighborhood. It is also close in proximity to the Trolley and Hornets arena. Second Ward is located to the south of the intersection. This area is known as the city’s government center, with several museums and shopping areas nearby.

Third Ward is to the west. Many development projects are being planned for the area, including an urban park and a transportation hub. This area is most defined by the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium. Fourth Ward is located to the north, and it is the city’s best-preserved historic area. The area has several Victorian homes and a three-acre park.

There are several options for getting around the city. While cars are the most popular choice, the city itself is very walkable. The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) recently unveiled a new light rail service called the LYNX Blue Line. This light rail has 15 stops from South Boulevard to Uptown, and it runs seven days a week. The service is being expanded, so expect more stops in the future.

Another option for getting around is the city’s new bike share system called Charlotte B-Cycle. Riders can rent a bike at any of their 24 stations, and the first half-hour is free. Passes for 24 hours are available at the stations or online. People can also buy an annual membership online for $65. Other public transportation options include the Gold Rush Trolley or a CATS bus.

While the summers can be hot and humid, the winters in Charlotte are usually mild. With that in mind, there are plenty of activities all year long. Head to EpiCentre for shopping, dining and nightlife. Located in the Second Ward, the area has a rooftop venue, movie theatre and bowling alley. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art features more than 1,400 pieces of mid-20th-century modern art. Discovery Place is one of the nation’s top rated children’s museums. The museum has a frog-filled rainforest, an interactive aquarium and an outdoor fort for kids to climb around.

AvidXchange Music Factory, formerly known as N.C. Music Factory, is where locals head to catch the biggest artists in music and comedy. Upcoming acts include Sinbad, Kesha and Foster the People. People can learn more about the city’s history at the Levine Museum of the New South. Exhibits include Divine Signs, a collection of the influence the Church has on Southern culture, and an art show featuring the works of adults with developmental disabilities.

Charlotte is big on sports. The Carolina Panthers made a recent Super Bowl appearance, and the Charlotte Hornets recently added Dwight Howard to their roster. Their baseball team, the Charlotte Knights, is minor league team people love to rally for. There is also the Charlotte Checkers for the ice hockey fans. On the collegiate level, the city has the nearby Charlotte 49ers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Last but not least, there are some places people must visit to get the full dining experience Charlotte has to offer. There is Green’s Lunch, which dates back to 1926. This casual eatery serves bacon and egg breakfasts and hot dogs on fresh steamed buns. Try their secret, homemade chili. The Open Kitchen is another Charlotte staple, known for once being the only restaurant in the city to serve pizza. Expect classic pies, subs and pasta. Every hour is happy hour at the French Quarter Restaurant. First opening in 1986, this restaurant serves Southern food with a Cajun twist. Grab a bowl of their gumbo, a bite of the Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwich or a burger.

Alexander Michaels, also known as Al Mike’s, has been described as one of the city’s best-kept secrets. The restaurant is housed in a building that is nearly a century old, and it has a pub-like atmosphere. But don’t be fooled, the food is much different from the typical pub fare. Options include a quinoa black bean burger, penne Athena and the 4th Ward stroganoff. The restaurant has an extensive beer menu with local brews on tap from Birdsong and Triple C. Brewing Companies and Sugar Creek Brewing. Another restaurant that gets a lot of buzz is McNinch House Restaurant. Located in a beautiful Victorian home, this restaurant offers five course, seven course and the Chef’s Tasting six course meals. The menu changes with the season, but current offerings include pan-seared duck, she crab soup and a blackberry cobbler.

Thank you to Abigail Golder who contributed this post as a guest writer on Group 15 Real Estate's Charlotte Blog.

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