Don't expect to hear many Southern accents in this melting pot, the biggest city in the state. Visiting Charlotte is much more of an urban experience than a down-home one, but that's all part of the fun of being in this bustling, forward-focused place. Here, local custom is not to preserve the old, but build new. While controversial, this tradition is responsible for the ultramodern feel of the city's Uptown. With little doubt, it's also why Charlotte is home to so many brand-new sports complexes, museums, and chic lofts. This lack of dwelling in the past brings people from across the country to start new lives—and also to start restaurants, galleries, and high-concept bars.Things are always in motion here, but history lovers shouldn't despair. Bits and pieces of Charlotte's past still linger. With their antique architecture and shaded streets, neighborhoods like Dilworth and the Fourth Ward offer lovely glimpses of what once was. Other areas, like hip Plaza Midwood, are becoming a fusion of the new and old. There, historic houses have been converted into wine bars and late-night eateries.Be aware that heavy development has created some typical urban problems throughout town. Yes, the traffic and parking can be terrible, and restaurants are packed on weekends. But don't let that scare you away from the Queen City. When visiting the Piedmont, Charlotte is not to be missed.
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Things You Can’t Miss
This city is NASCAR Central. Take in a race, visit the Hall of Fame or Dale Earnhardt’s collection at the “Garage-Mahal.”
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As an avid tea drinker, I love a cup in the soothing atmosphere of the Urbana Cityspa & Teabar. It’s cheaper than a massage and you feel just as refreshed.
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There are plenty of great hotel options near the Speedway. Just be sure to book way in advance since the rooms (like the cars) go fast.
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Niki de Saint Phalle's The Firebird is the gatekeeper of this spectacular collection of 20th century art. Pay a visit and marvel at the modern masters.
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Built in 1815, this preserved piece of Federal architecture makes for a pleasant picnic spot. Go on a sunny afternoon, and relax in the gardens.
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Drive one hour north of Charlotte center city and get your outdoor recreation on. Lake Norman State Park is a mecca for hiking, biking, boating, and more.
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For golfing enthusiasts, a round at the Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation is a must. Tee off at the award winning greens, and take in the surrounding beauty.
Image Credit: Andrew Penner / Getty Images
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