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The ultimate road trip to Charlotte, NC

Hit the road and head to Charlotte, NC — we’re sharing all the details about what to do and eat, plus where to stay.

Charlotte, NC hit the road

The Queen City’s skyline | Photo via @goodmansnaps

Table of Contents

Itching to get out of town, Soda Citizens? Skip those pesky airport security lines and jump in your car for a road trip to Charlotte, NC instead. From roller coaster experiences at Carowinds to rotating menu themes at Counter — we’re spilling all the details on how to have an unforgettable time in Queen City.

📍 Essential info

Drive time: ~1.5 hours

Year city was established: 1768

Est. population: ~880,000

Carowinds, Charlotte NC

Ride the Intimidator roller coaster at Carowinds, inspired by racing legend Dale Earnhardt | Photo via Carowinds

🎟️ Experience

Carowinds
Get ready to twirl and hurl at this 407-acre amusement park, located on the border of North and South Carolina. For its 50th-anniversary celebration, it will open the new Aeronautica Landing area attraction on April 7 which honors the Carolinas’ history of flight. Tickets start at $30.

Sports
There’s no lack of sports in Charlotte. Chances are, no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to larp as a local fan for one of these sports.

Carolina Panthers Game

Root for the Carolina Panthers inside of the Bank of America Stadium. | Photo by the COLAtoday team

Top Golf
Top Golf is a sports entertainment complex featuring a high-tech golf game played inside climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players. Bring your friends, order food, drinks, and reserve a bay to avoid a wait. Want to play on a real course? Check out some of Charlotte’s best golf courses.

US National White Water Center
Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Plan a trip to the US National White Water Center. Along with white water rafting, check out 10+ other activities you can try including hiking, bungee jumping, ropes courses, yoga, climbing, and more.

🍔 Eat

16-Bit Bar + Arcade
Think — nostalgic arcade experience, featuring 35+ vintage games, but you can play for free. This arcade bar offers everything from bowling, ping pong, and ski ball, to pinball, Donkey Kong, Jenga, and more. Stay up-to-date with all the theme nights, events, and more here.

The Capital Grille
Head to The Capital Grille to enjoy fresh surf and turf-style meals made with quality ingredients. Pair your dining experience with your choice of over 300 new and old-world wines curated by the restaurant Sommelier. Pro tip — check out The Capital Butcher — your local source for dry-aged + personalized steaks cut for an elevated at-home cooking experience.

Counter
Counter is just as much an experience as it is a meal. It’s designed to be an intimate, full sensory experience featuring themed 10 to 14-course tasting menus curated by Executive Chef and Owner Sam Hart — a 2023 James Beard Award Chef nominee. The menus rotate every few months and feature a modern, playful approach to food that explores diverse global cuisines.

Fahrenheit Charlotte
Fahrenheit Charlotte is located on the 21st floor of the Skye Condos and features rooftop views of Queen City. Sip on a cocktail while relaxing on the 8,600-sqft rooftop restaurant and bar that features a wrap-around patio, firepits, a social pool, and a seasonal garden. Note: the restaurant requires business casual attire.

Fin & Fino
This seafood restaurant supposedly houses Charlotte’s best oysters, serving a minimum of 12 kinds of oysters on its raw bar menu. Not an oyster fan? Its fish + shellfish are delivered daily, and sustainably caught or raised. Pro tip — order “The Tasting” to take a tasting tour of its offerings both from the menu and off menu. The Treatment special raises $5 per guest for the charity of the restaurant’s choice.

Leah & Louise
Chef Greg Collier (James Beard-nominee) + business partner Subrina Collier, created Leah & Louise. It’s a modern restaurant that features a twist on classic southern dishes that are inspired by Mississippi River Valley foodways. Check out the full menu.

Salud Cerveceria
This brewery has it all and is considered a local coffee spot, bottle shop, taproom, and brewery with a full kitchen. At any point in your day, you can stop into this brewery for a good time, featuring live music, sports games on the TVs, quality cocktails, late-night bites, and more.

Airbnb Charlotte NC

This Airbnb can host up to two guests, featuring one bedroom and one bathroom. | Photo via Airbnb.

🏨 Stay

Contemporary 2BR in Uptown Charlotte’s 4th Ward
The two-bed, two-bath rental is located in Uptown Charlotte’s 4th Ward district, known for its charming homes, quiet streets, and quick access to the highway. It’s a short walk from the city and you can book for $125 per night.

Frontdesk | Studio Apt near Truist Field
This Airbnb will accommodate two guests in one bed + one bathroom studio for $96 a night. You will be located in the heart of the Fourth Ward area of Charlotte, just a few minutes away from the city’s center. This stay comes with one parking spot and a complimentary late check-out if you request it 24 hours in advance.

The Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte Autograph Collection
This artistic, pet-friendly boutique hotel is located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. The hotel features Argentinian-influenced hotel rooms, eclectic restaurants, and a rooftop bar overlooking the city. Rooms start at ~$330.

The Ivey’s Hotel
The boutique hotel was once a 1920s department store opposite the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. It features art deco and mid-century furnishings inside vintage rooms and is a seven miles from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Enjoy free drinks in the evening lounge or dine in a high-end restaurant. See what Condé Nast had to say about the hotel. Rooms start at ~380 per night.

Uptown travelers favorite
This duplex in Uptown Charlotte is a 2-minute drive to Bank of America Stadium and sleeps up to five. Enjoy two bedrooms, one bathroom, and don’t leave Fido at home because is pet-friendly, with a $30 pet fee. Book for $130 a night.

Wait a minute, Soda Citizens. Before you head out the door, find the cheapest places to fill up your gas tank and stock up on road trip snacks from Uncle Willie’s Grocery Store. Also, bookmark this map so you have no trouble finding all of our recommendations while visiting Charlotte.

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