Charlotte 24/7

Not Sure You Love Charlotte? You Will After This Tour.

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As a lifelong Charlottean, a common complaint I hear from visitors and newcomers is that there’s nothing to do here.  Whether it’s a lack of entertainment and dining options, or educational and sightseeing adventures, transplants and vacationers can’t seem to find what they’re looking for in the Queen City.

Having spent a couple (er, many) years exploring this great city, I know of more than a few spots to enjoy great food, great entertainment and great views.  I could rattle off my favorites here.  But you don’t know me and who knows if we share the same tastes?

square-charlotteSo to circumvent our lack of friendship, I’d like to make a suggestion: take a tour of Charlotte.  Not just any tour, a guided driving tour in an air-conditioned van and hosted by a knowledgeable tour guide.  Just to test it out for you, I took one myself last weekend.

C-Charlotte Tours is a fairly new tour company in town, but their knowledge of the city’s history and attractions is extensive.  Gary, our tour guide, shared more nuggets of information about this city than I’ve read in any welcome brochure. And despite my native status, I learned a thing or two about my hometown. Like, did you know there are capped-off goldmines under Charlotte’s uptown streets?  And did you know that Price’s Chicken Coop is rated by Bon Appétit as one of the 3 best places in America to eat fried chicken?  Or that there are a TON of restaurants within a 5-mile radius of uptown?  (OK, I did know that one, but I definitely found a few more to add to the list.)

The tour started uptown where Gary pointed out every office tower and high-rise condo along the way, offering his inside scoop on the businesses and project timelines for each.  Since the tour is geared toward visiting and relocated professionals, he also gave a nod to the restaurants and bars lining the uptown streets.  And judging from the number of them, the city’s quiet, decade-long nightlife bloom appears to have exploded in the last 18 months.

But this wasn’t just a bar crawl.  It was an all-in-one sightseeing tour, history lesson and neighborhood exploration mission.  We drove north through Biddleville, one of Charlotte’s oldest African-American communities, and an area steeped in southern history.  The regal, brick buildings of Johnson C. Smith University, one of the state’s oldest historically black colleges, line the entrance to the community.  Behind the campus is Elmwood Cemetery, the final resting place for many of Charlotte’s business, cultural and political pioneers, as well as war veterans dating back to the Civil War.

Then it was on to the surrounding neighborhoods:  SouthEnd, Dilworth, Myers Park, Eastover and Elizabeth.  What did we find? Beautiful homes, walkable streets and, you guessed it: more restaurants.  We even made a run through SouthPark, a shoppers’ paradise offering great retail therapy, although not for the economically-challenged.

As we swung by Bank of America Stadium, Bobcats Arena and the much-anticipated, highly-debated future baseball stadium, we were treated to a little Local Sports 101.  I won’t tell you the questions or answers, lest I spoil the surprises.  But I did pick up some good trivia (as well as some juicy rumors).

We finished up back in uptown, and were dropped off within walking distance of a few cafes we had passed during our drive.  In fact, I saw some of my tour companions headed that way as I pulled out of the parking lot.

I’ve always been content with Charlotte.  After all, it’s becoming the jewel of the South (sorry, Atlanta, if it weren’t for the traffic …).  And regardless of the current economic hiccup, it will continue to attract industry and commerce, and thus, more people.  But it was an amazing experience to see all its wonders at once, tied up in a neat little 2-and-a-half-hour package.

So for those of you still questioning your decision to stay in Charlotte, call up C-Charlotte Tours and take the tour.  You won’t be disappointed.

Kevins Avatar

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CLT247 needs some help selecting Kevins Avatar.  Most of our primary readers have seen this guy around so you have a good idea what he looks like.  Instead of waiting around for Kevin to build out his Avatar, the team has taken it upon themselves to create one for him.  Help us out be choosing his Avatar!  Please select your favorite and give it a vote.

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Entertainment Book Helps to Stretch your Money

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Last night after a quick jog through the city my fiance and I found our stomachs growling!  Living in the city is great because you are surrounded by so many restaurants and entertainment facilities.  We knew that we wanted to grab a quick bite out on the town but we had some rules as far as where we went.  Because we have a lot of big ticket items coming up in our future we are on a strict savings plan so in order to stay on that plan we use a lot of coupons.  One of the best investments that we made this year was to purchase an Entertainment Book.  After thumbing through all the restaurant options we opted for Stool Pigeons off of Church Street.  Our ticket was a buy one get one free ticket so the two of us were able to eat for the price of one.

We had a great meal and actually got the same order the Grilled Mahi Mahi Pita, which I highly recommend!  Even better was that the restaurant had domestic drink specials and we were surrounded by every baseball game known to man, which made the Fiance a happy guy.  Charlotte is great for many reasons, but the close proximity to hundreds of restaurants is one of my favorite perks!

Summer Shootout at Lowe’s Motor Speedway

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So because I have connections with one particularly handsome mascot I got to go to last night’s Summer Shootout at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  Now I have never before been to the gigantic arena that is the speedway and so was completely blown away at the sheer size of the facility.  After I got over my sense of feeling like an ant I started to enjoy myself.  I am not what you would call a NASCAR fan.  I have never been to a race, I have no idea how the sport works or why people enjoy it, at least I didn’t.  After sitting in the rain for about 20 minutes I actually found myself enjoying the spectacle. The tiny race cars going around the track were kind of mesmerizing. Then the mascots came out and drove the go carts.  It was pretty hysterical to see these fury mascots driving these teeny tiny cars around the track.  I think most people enjoyed that show!

Because I was with the mascots, I got to sit in the in field where the racers families were sitting.  Admittedly, I was eavesdropping so that I could start to pick up on the concept of the race and who I should be rooting for.  When the races were done and the cars made their way back to the garages I was amazed to see small humans, aka children , both boys and girls as the drivers.  It made me think about the sports and activities that I participated in as a kid.  If race car driving were available when I was a kid up in Pittsburgh would I have joined this sport?  The craziest thing I ever did was compete for a position on star search with my dance team.

What kind of sports and activities were you involved in as a child or now as an adult?  Would you like to give race car driving a spin?

Hey Charlotte

Hi Im Krissy

So excited to start talking up my city!!!

Charlotte 24/7 is live!

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Welcome to Charlotte 24/7.  My first plug unfortunately will not be for a quality local business but for a cool little custom avatar site (Face Your Manga) that helped me with the image to the left.  http://www.faceyourmanga.it

Anyway, its late and I have a full day ahead tomorrow.  Look for more posts from the CLT247 crew here in the next couple days.  Well everyone except Jewels who is off getting married or something.  Come on…priorities people!