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Charlotte, is an ambitious and very rapidly growing city in the southern part of central North Carolina. It is the largest city in the state (540,828 city, 1,350,243 metro according to census.gov), and is the county seat of Mecklenburg County. Charlotte is the center of finance, industry, technology, and entertainment for the region.
Charlotte is first and foremost a city of business and commerce. Charlotte is the second leading banking center in the United States, with the headquarters of Bank of America and Wachovia. Charlotte is also a distribution center and has the headquarters for major companies Fortune 500 companies such as Duke Energy, Nucor, Sonic Automotive, and SPX. Lowes, and Family Dollar are based in the immediate metro area.
People come from all over the world to live in Charlotte, most of these visitors come in through Charlotte Douglas International Airport, a major airport that is in the top 20 worldwide for overall movements.
The temperature ranges from about 14 °F (-10 °C) to 104 °F (40 °C). Charlotte is not as well equipped for snow and ice as more northerly cities; when there is more than 2cm of snow on the roads, or any ice, the city virtually shuts down. This happens about once a year on average. Charlotte is a ways from the Atlantic coasts so the hurricanes do not hit the city with their full force.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) is located on the west side of town near Billy Graham Parkway. Bus route 5 (Airport) goes there. Planes arrive at CLT from all over the world.
The Amtrak (http://www.amtrak.com/) station is located on North Tryon near Dalton, on bus route 11 (North Tryon).
The highways through Charlotte are Interstates 85 (northeast-southwest) and 77 (north-south). I-85 takes you to Burlington and Greensboro.
Note that while I-277 (inner loop) has been completed for some time, I-485 (outer loop) is incomplete and still under construction.
The Greyhound (http://www.greyhound.com/) station is just northwest of Uptown Charlotte and is served by buses 8 (Tuckaseegee), 34 (Freedom Drive), and 7 (Beatties Ford).
You can rent a car or a taxi at any of several places, but if you're willing to take longer to get where you're going, a bus ride is much cheaper. Most bus routes start at the Transportation Center (http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/CATS/Home.htm), so if you want to go from, say, Independence Boulevard to Monroe Road, it is faster to walk. Bus fare is $1.20 for a one-leg or two-leg trip, $1.65 for an express bus (these run mornings and evenings and go to an outlying area without stopping), and 50¢ for a shuttle. Allow 45 minutes for a one-leg trip, 2 hours for a two-leg trip.
Charlotte grew so fast that it couldn't keep up in some areas, sometimes you will find twisting masses of roads that are often hard to navigate. This problem is slowly being fixed.
- Discovery Place, on North Tryon between 6th and 7th. 10 am-6 pm or 9 am to 5 pm, except on Sunday when it opens at 12:30. Step into the rainforest, see and feel the fish, watch a hydrogen balloon explode and a frozen banana hammer. $7.50 for Discovery Halls, $7.50 for OMNIMAX, $13 for both.
- The Mint Museums, on 2730 Randolph Rd., and at 220 N. Tryon St.. Are wonderful museums of art, craft, and design.
- The Charlotte Museum of History, 3500 Shamrock Drive. Is a museum dedicated to the history of Charlotte. Originally the area the museum is at was a homestead for a family in the 18th century. The home was restored and tours are given of it and the surrounding buildings.
- James K Polk Historic Site, From Interstate 77 south of Charlotte take Interstate 485 east (Exit 2). At the Pineville exit take U.S. 521 south through the town of Pineville for about one and one-half miles. The Polk Memorial is on the left. it's the historic birth place of James K Polk, you can tour the reconstructed house, and learn about one of our nations presidents.
- Lowe's Motor Speedway.
- Bank of America Stadium. Home of Carolina Panthers football team.
- Levine Museum of the New South (http://www.museumofthenewsouth.org/), on the corner of College and 7th, is an excellent introduction to the South's history and influences over the past centuries. Boasting an excellent standing exhibit with walk-throughs and hands-on experiences, this is a great museum for "new" and old Southerners alike. Closed Mondays. $6 for adults.
- Cricket Arena. Home to the Charlotte Checkers hockey team
- Charlotte Coliseum. Venue for several large events, and temporary home to the Charlotte Bobcats
- NoDa (http://www.noda.org). NoDa, short for North Davidson Street, is one of Charlotte's most eclectic and original neighborhoods. Also known as the Historic Arts District, NoDa is about two miles north of the center city. The district grew up around a large textile mill that closed in the 1970s, sending the surrounding neighborhood into a long period of decline. After artists began moving back into the neighborhood in the 1980s, they began to revitalize and preserve the old brick buildings and quaint mill houses. Even the old Highland Mill, next to the Johnston YMCA, is being renovated for both residential and retail/office space. Enjoy street level art galleries, several restaurants and other unique shops in the district. There is a "gallery crawl" every first and third Friday that attracts many visitors to NoDa.
The major language is English, and English will be more than enough to get around. As in many American cities, a little Spanish wouldn't hurt, in Charlotte's case neither would some Vietnamese.
You may want to attend a sporting event in Charlotte, if you're a sports fan you have several options:
- Carolina Panthers (American Football): The local NFL team, playing uptown in the 72,500 seat Bank of America stadium.
- Charlotte Bobcats and Charlotte Sting (Basketball): Charlotte's new NBA team plays uptown as well. Understand that when the New Orleans Hornets (ex-Charlotte Hornets) are in town the fans may be disgruntled or angry due to the unfiltered hatred for the team in Charlotte. The WNBA Sting also use this arena starting next season.
- Charlotte Knights (Baseball): A minor-league baseball side operating out of Fort Mill, South Carolina
- Charlotte Eagles (Soccer): A minor-league semi-nomadic soccer team, currently playing at a high school, in search of a home stadium.
- Charlotte Checkers (Ice Hockey): Playing in the same arena as the Bobcats.
- Racing: Charlotte is the de facto hub of stock car racing in America, several NASCAR teams call Charlotte home. The city's race track (Lowes' Motor Speedway: Charlotte; in Concord, NC) hosts 3 NASCAR Nextel Cup races a season.
- Charlotte Rugby Football Club (http://www.charlotterugby.com/) (Rugby Union): Local rugby side that in recent years has been the top side in the South and the Mid-Atlantic. And has recently joined the Super League, the highest club level in the American Rugby Union.
Charlotte has some parks you may want to see if you're a fan of nature/outdoors, the City and County pour loads of money into the Parks & Rec.
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- Central Piedmont Community College
- Queens College
- Concord Mills (http://www.concordmills.com/). 200 stores, a 24 screen theatre, and several restaurants, this Mall's motto is "Eat. Drink. Play".
- Absolute Organics (http://www.theabsoluteorganics.com). Free home or office delivery of organic produce. Three sizes of variety organic produce boxes to choose from tailored to your individual preferences. Each week 6-7 different vegetables and 4-5 different fruits are selected based on price and availability, but you will never get anything you will not use or eat. (704) 470-4963.
- The Kosher Mart, 3840 East Independence Boulevard. Su 10am-3:30pm, M-W 10am-6pm, Th 10am-7pm, F 10am-3pm. The only eat-in kosher deli in the Carolinas. A variety of meats, soups, frozen foods, wines, and at Passover, all sorts of matzos. If you're coming from the east, you'll have to go past it and turn around. http://www.koshermartusa.com/
- Sir Edmond Halley's, 4151 Park Road, Charlotte, NC 28209. 704-525-2555. Can you say "beer by the yard?"
- New Century Food and International Supermarket, both at Sugar Creek and Tryon (bus 11). Two full-size East Asian supermarkets in the same building. Come here for fresh durians, assorted cow stomachs, honeysuckle flowers (labeled in Latin!), and a wide variety of seitan.
- Home Economist (http://www.hemarket.com). Two locations: South Boulevard across from Pepsi (bus 12 or 24), Su 10am-7pm, Mo-Sa 8am-8pm; and Idlewild and Independence (bus 17), Su 11am-6pm, Mo-Sa 9am-8pm. Whole-grain bread, free-range poultry, organic produce. The South Boulevard location is larger and has a deli counter.
- Boudreaux's (http://www.boudreauxs.com/Charlotte_HomeFrame.htm). At the corner of N. Davidson St. and East 36th St. in NoDa. Cajun food and drinks, plus vegetarian versions of their jambalaya and etouffee.
- Mama Ricotta's, 601 S. Kings Dr. Excellent italian food and pizza at reasonable prices ($8-$14 entrees, less at lunch). Penne alla vodka is their signature dish.
Cheerwine, a cheery-ish flavored Soft Drink is a local favorite.
Sundrop, available in a unique citrus blend and cherry-lemon, is based out of Gastonia, NC and is a favorite among locals. www.sundrop.net
- Summerfield Suites Hotel by Wyndham (http://charlotte.wyndham-hotels.com/) 4920 South Tryon Street. Tel: (704) 525-2600. Fax: (704) 521-9932. Located in the center of a Fortune 500 corridor and just five miles from downtown and major convention centers.
- Wyndham Garden Charlotte Airport Hotel (http://charlotte-garden.wyndham-hotels.com/) 2600 Yorkmont Road. Tel: (704) 357-9100. Fax: (704) 357-9159. Located in the Lake Pointe Business Park, it's a great headquarters for the area's best attractions and high-tech industry and minutes from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
Charlotte has two area codes: 704 (the old one) and 980. Some exchange codes, such as 408, look like area codes. So you have to dial the area code, even on local calls.
Though the crime rate is not astronomical, Charlotte is still a city, don't let your guard all the way down.
Charlotte is not a good allergy city.
Southwest of Charlotte are the Catawba lands. See how this Native American tribe used to live and lives today.
South of Charlotte along Route 16, in Waxhaw, is the Mexico Museum.
- Carowinds (http://www.carowinds.com). Theme park. Roller coasters and other fun. Go south on I-77 and get off at the state line.
Take I-85S to US-321N to Hickory for excellent furniture shopping at a host of furniture outlets as well as the Hickory Furniture Mart (http://www.hickoryfurniture.com) (huge) and the Hickory Furniture Mall (http://www.catawbafurniture.com) (quieter and less expensive).
- Visit Charlotte (http://www.visitcharlotte.com/). This is the official Charlotte visitor bureau's site. Lots of things on there, an event calendar, and useful information.
- Charlotte.com (http://www.charlotte.com/). Run by the daily newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, this site is loaded with information on just about anything in town--news, events, jobs, real estate--you name it.