Charlotte's Web of boredom
May 19, 2010 4:40 PM   Subscribe

My meeting got flooded out of Nashville and moved to Charlotte, NC. Help me salvage my disappointment?

The last time we met in Charlotte (2003) we agreed it was the worst venue EVER. I'll be staying near the Convention Center; can kind people recommend interesting restaurants or things to see? Last time there was NOTHING downtown. Nothing. It was like visiting an ant farm. Although a question like this was asked on AM in 2007, the person asking had kids, and I'd like suggestions for an adult. An adult who wanted to be in Nashville.

I'll be driving from Frederick MD: bonus points if you can give me something fun to see on the way there. Please help, or I'll just sulk at the bar.
posted by acrasis to Travel & Transportation around Charlotte, NC (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Look. I can't say there is a lot going on in Charlotte, but if I was stuck there for a weekend and I had 6-8 hours to kill on a day, I would seriously get in a car and go to the North Carolina Zoo... seriously. GO TO THE ZOO!
I still dream of the zoo there (and I haven't been there in ~10 years) - its far better than anything in New England, better than the Zoo in DC, and only slightly below the bar of Disney and 6 flags. Its huge and the animals have space. Seriously... Its amazing. Take a look at the map!
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:57 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Equating someone's hometown to an ant farm is hardly a way to endear yourself to the natives. That said, I think you might be pleasantly surprised with the new stuff in Charlotte since your last visit. Lots of new restaurants, the Bechler Museum, the Epicentre entertainment complex, even the Nascar Hall of Fame. Downtown Charlotte at night will never rival Manhattan (or even, heaven forbid, Nashville), but if you end up sulking at the bar it will be due to lack of effort on your part, not decent options on ours.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:58 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I spent a great deal of time working in (and living among) the maze of gerbil tubes and buildings several years ago, and have friends who live in the area now. Are you looking for music venues? Southern Culture on fabulous display? Good eats? The best of the best?

On the way: one day, I totally want to go to Foamhenge and The Haunted Monster Museum in Natural Bridge, VA off I-81. I'm a big fan of the guy who built these places. Natural Bridge itself, by the way, is completely underwhelming. I do not get Thomas Jefferson's love for the place. Of course, I thought the same thing about Stonehenge.
posted by julen at 5:13 PM on May 19, 2010

Charlotte has the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Don't ask me how it ended up in Charlotte, but it's artificial whitewater rafting and kayaking, complete with a conveyer belt that will take you back to the top of the run. I've always wanted to visit. I doubt the NASCAR hall of fame has anything as exciting unless they let you drive the museum exhibits on a track.
posted by Frank Grimes at 5:25 PM on May 19, 2010

No visit to Natural Bridge is complete without stopping at Dinosaur Kingdom.
posted by schmod at 5:25 PM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: Sweetie darling, I honestly didn't think that Charlotte was anybody's hometown; it looked like a bunch of bank buildings connected by tubes. I imagined that everybody drove home at night to someplace *better*. Please name some restaurants. Last time I was forced to eat fondue, and that shouldn't happen to anyone. The Bechler sounds good.

Julen, based on Foamhenge, you're my kind of tourist. Southern culture on fabulous display would be lovely. Music venues are welcome. Good eats essential (see fondue, above).

Nanuk, the zoo sounds lovely.

This Mark Kline fellow ought to have his own FPP.
posted by acrasis at 5:33 PM on May 19, 2010

Within walking distance: BLT in the new Ritz-Carlton is getting great reviews. Chima is a Brazillian-style steakhouse; I went to a party there the other night and the nibbles they served were tasty but I can't vouch for dinner. Nix for burgers. Basil, the Thai place. Soho Bistro for Chinese on the College Street side of the Hearst Tower; Luce or Coco Osteria for Italian on the Tryon Street side. Ri-Ra's Irish pub. Safe, national steakhouse chain bets: Ruth's Chris, Morton's, Capital Grille.

The Chowhound message boards have other options and opinions for restaurants outside of the center city.

Check the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center website for shows that might be in town during your visit. The new N.C. Music Factory has been bringing in decent national acts; it's close to uptown but not in walking distance. The Epicentre has a swanky movie theatre (21+ after dark), yuppie bowling and a piano bar.

If you're the slightest bit interested in cars, hillbilly jokes aside, there's tons of Nascar-related activity in the area besides the Hall of Fame (which we're really proud of landing, for what it's worth). The Charlotte Motor Speedway (do a drive-around through the Richard Petty Driving Experience; it will change the way you think about racing) and the Hendrick race shop compound are about 30 minutes outside of town, near Concord.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:53 PM on May 19, 2010

Response by poster: Apparently, I managed to insult not just the fine residents of Charlotte, but residents of Nashville. This was not my intent. I don't in any serious way mean to belittle anyone's hometown. I appreciate the advice I've been given so far, and I treasure the Metafilter community.
posted by acrasis at 6:06 PM on May 19, 2010

Bless your heart, acrasis. We'll be glad to have you here in the ant farm any time. :) Heck, if we're good enough for the NRA - who just brought Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and CHUCK NORRIS through town last weekend - I'm sure you'll be just fine.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:15 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

My favorite spot when I lived in Charlotte was Alexander Michaels. Please have some fried pickles for me.
posted by sa3z at 6:37 PM on May 19, 2010

Weird Charlotte [facebook page.] And their website.
posted by barnone at 6:39 PM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Skip Charlotte and go down to Pineville, which is essentially a part of Charlotte anyway. There's a German restaurant called The Waldorn (chain, I know, but let's get past that). There's also Bucca di Beppo for Italian (another chain, bring people since you get meals to share). If you'd rather do Japanese there Nakato's, or if you're into Indian then there's an Indian place right by Nakato's. The name escapes me, but if you're interested I'll look it up. Same with gelato, I know there's a place in Huntersville but I'd have to look the name up.

Carowinds just got a new roller coaster. There's also Discovery Place, which is great without kids because they won't hold you back when you want to play with stuff.

There's a small flea market in Pineville, but if you keep going down 77 to Fort Mill and get off at exit 83 (maybe 85) you can go to a bigger flea market called Trader Marc's that's new since you stopped by.
posted by theichibun at 6:42 PM on May 19, 2010

The best down home food I had was at Price's Chicken Shack. You will wait in line. It will be worth it. You'll see a nice cross section of Charlotte folks. We took the takeout to a nearby park. The BBQ in Charlotte disappointed me - you have to go at least an hour away for good NC BBQ, and the great hot dog vendor I remember retired. So, go for the chicken. If you want a sit down experience, I have friends who really like Dish, which is a little fancier Southern without assuming you have an banker's expense account and are ready to use it.

The place we used to go to with live music is gone, so hopefully locals will have some good recommendations for music places.
posted by julen at 6:44 PM on May 19, 2010

I've read great things about Amelie's Bakery.
posted by knile at 8:25 PM on May 19, 2010

I have been to Foamhenge, and it's worth a (brief) stop if you're into things like that. There was a photographer from Corbis shooting it the day I was there, and he didn't seem amused, but I was. Natural Bridge wasn't worth anything near the admission price, but I know others who enjoyed it. But some of the small food stands/old convenience stores on those back roads are well worth a stop, especially if you want some real country ham.
posted by BlooPen at 8:38 PM on May 19, 2010

Yes to Price's; it's on the light rail line so it will be easy to get there from uptown. Be aware it closes at 6:00 and is closed all day Sunday and Monday, I think. Other nice upscale restaurants in that area (SouthEnd) are Pewter Rose Bistro, Sullivan's Steakhouse and La Paz.

Amelie's lives up to its praise, but you'll need a car to get there. You'll also probably miss the turn into the little strip center the first time you pass it, but that's OK because you might end up in NoDa (named for NOrth DAvidson Street), where you can go to Cabo Fish Taco.

Cue R.E.M. earworm: Don't go (back) to Pineville.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:07 AM on May 20, 2010

As the person who suggested Pineville, even I will admit that you shouldn't go there to find something to do. Just go there if what you want to do is there.
posted by theichibun at 6:22 AM on May 20, 2010

acrasis: As a resident of Nashville, I'm really having a hard time finding a single thing you said that was even remotely insulting to Nashville. I'm sorry your visit here got circumvented, but I do hope you enjoy your stay in Charlotte.
posted by blucevalo at 7:17 AM on May 20, 2010

Sorry, one more idea and then I am going to shut up: The Levine Museum of the New South is a small museum devoted to post-Reconstruction history of the region. It's on 7th Street at College in the center city.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:24 PM on May 20, 2010

Response by poster: Follow-up: People, I take it all back. Charlotte was lovely. When I was last there, the convention center was only half-built and there were no restaurants or stores downtown. Now, while there is still a mysterious shortage of stores, I have no complaints about food. I particularly enjoyed a place that sold "bento box" lunches. I even found a farmer's market downtown. Sadly, the Art museum happened to be closed the day I tried to go, but the grounds (and the sparkly statue outside) were nice.

I did not get to go to foamhenge, but I did detour to Hiddenite, NC, which is worth it just for the name, but also had a sluice mine where you could theoretically find emeralds. The people who were panning for jewels reminded me amazingly of people playing the slot machines- did they *really* think they were going to hit it big?- however, the mine itself seemed to be an Eisenhower-era tourist trap that had been lost in time.

Finally, and happily, I did mange to get to Nashville this summer, and had a WONDERFUL time, just as I knew I would, and as a Mefite had once suggested one should, I stopped at the Hatch Show Print shop, and sa3z, I had fried pickles.
posted by acrasis at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

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