travel

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.

Weddings Unveiled Surprise in Charleston, SC

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This past weekend I packed up my things to head down to Charleston for a weekend in the sun celebrating my good friend the Bachelorette Laura.  Sorry to have abandoned the Queen City for the weekend, but sometimes its nice to get away even if its only for a day or two.  Anyways, I digress… So as we were headed to Folly Beach for some fun in the sun we stopped by the nearest Harris Teeter to pick up some water, ice and of course all the gossip/fashion/wedding magazines we could find.

Since I was the other engaged girl in the group I decided to pick up a wedding magazine.  I purchased a copy of Weddings Unveiled, a magazine that I had my eye on for a couple of weeks now, but just never got around to purchasing.  This wedding is actually produced here in Charlotte, NC. While flipping through the pages I came to an advertisement for Hayden Olivia Bridal Boutique.  Hayden Olivia is an awesome bridal boutique owned by Heather Batt.  Heather and I worked together for her Sex and the City fashion show in March.  All of the jewelry used in the fashion show was from my Designs By Krissy collection.  So anyways, in the advertisement was the rose necklace I loaned her.  I was elated to see it in a magazine.  You will have to check out the magazine if you’re interested in bridal fashion and jewelry.

So while in Charleston, besides getting excited about seeing my work in a magazine, we had a blast!  We went to the rooftop bar at the Market Pavilion Hotel, had dinner at Social, which is a tapas and wine bar, and then continued to paint the town.  One of my favorite things to do is to just go out and dance my booty off!  We certainly did that at Light. This place literally had the best DJ  spinning some great tunes.  The prices were really reasonable and all six of us just had so much fun together! I can’t tell you everything that happened that weekend, because what happens during the bachlorette party stays at the bachlorette party.  But what I will say is that the Charleston Bachlorette party was a success on all fronts!

What is your favorite southern location/city to get away to?