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


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.

Direct TV Gave me Gina Carano vs Cyborg


Let me start with a little explanation.  So many times you hear about negative service and rarely hear about the positive.  I just wanted to throw out a quick plug to Direct TV customer service for something completely unexpected.  Let me start by saying I have had Direct TV since 1999 and got it purely for the NFL Sunday Ticket and NHL Center Ice.  When we moved to a new home I canceled my Direct TV and went with Time Warner.  I am not even going to try and sugar coat it, Time Warner customer service and their HD package simply suck.  I canceled cable service after a year and went back to the old faithful.  Every single time I have called Direct TV in the last 10 years, they have been more then happy to solve my problems.  Perhaps it is because I have the Premium package, Sunday Ticket, Super Fan, Center Ice and get a UFC fight every other month.  They must have notes somewhere that I am in their target demographic and love throwing money at them.  Any way you look at it, they have lead the industry in customer satisfaction for something like 9 years running (it shows).

Now for the fun part…Check out what I got in the mail yesterday!

See DIRECTV thank you card detail at bottom of post

It is like Direct TV can read my mind!  I am not a fan of movie channels, I am more of a sports freak.  The cool thing here is that Gina “Conviction” Carano is fighting Cyborg this Saturday on Showtime.  This is the first major MMA event with Womens MMA as the headline.  Gina is by far my favorite female athelete.  She is drop dead goregous and can kick some ass.  I can only hope that one day my daughter can legally kick people in the face like she does.  Cyborg is no joke though and Gina has a real challenge in front of her.  This will be an amazing battle!

So I did a little leg work for you on Direct TV Sunday Ticket.  Through September Direct TV is running a deal on their football package.  This is similar to the deal I got many years ago and all I can say is that I have been more then happy ever since.  DIRECTV and Direct Star TV (their primary dealer) have done an amazing job at keeping me around.  Thanks guys!

Card Reads: Dear Brian, Loyal customer since August 2005*.  Happy anniversary and thank you for being a loyal DIRECTV customer.  It’s because of viewers like you that we’ve become America’s favorite satellite television provider.  Please accept this anniversary gift: SHOWTIME Channels 537-549 | 3 months.  Just sit back and enjoy.  There are no charges or strings attached.  In face we’ve already turned it on for you.  Don’t miss out on future anniversary gifts.  Please go to, enter your account number and let us know the best place to email you. [Your account number is: ########].  And because we value your oppinion, we would appreciate feedback on your DIRECTV experience.  To make it easy, we’ve created a special place online where loyal customers like you can tell us what we’re doing well and what we need to do better.  You’ll also find it at  Sincerely, Karen Leever, SVP Customer Communications.  P.S. Thank you again.  Be sure to go to and update your email address so we’ll know where to reach you on your next anniversary. *Reflects your most recent activation date.

Little Otter Swim School


So I am sitting here at my daughters swim lesson testing out the iPhone Blogging App. I have been a patron of Little Otters Swimming for over 2 years and I can honestly say it has been well worth the investment. I will go into more detail when I get on a PC. (I need a Mac so bad)



So time to get coined as that family guy but thats my primary job.  I have 2 kids that have both been taking swimming lessons for the last 2 years.  The neighborhood pool has been amazing this year.  While all the other kids my sons age are wearing swimmies on their arms, my son is diving in head first and swimming half way across the pool.  The little dude is only 3 years old!  My daughter at 6 is swimming with full strokes and breathing to the side.  Their confidence in the water is amazing.

Little Otters classes fill up fast, especially their weekend time slots.  Their instructors go through extensive training before teaching classes of their own.  The staff is just what you would expect from a family run local business.  They are very friendly and make you feel like family.  The facilities are spotless and they recently made some additions to their parking which is now more then large enough for everyone.

Young children go into a smaller pool with their parents until they are big enough to go into the larger olympic sized pool.  A parent or adult gets in with their child until they turn 3 years old and then is limited to behind the glass.

So if you are trying to decide what sport to introduce your child to give swimming a thought.  It wears them out and gives them tons of confidence at your neighborhood pool.

Little Otter Swim School
8200 Tower Point Drive
Charlotte, NC 28227.
Phone number is 704.846-(SWIM)7946.
Please email us at

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Summer Shootout at Lowe’s Motor Speedway


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?