36 Hours In Charlotte- where to go & what to do
If you keep tabs on the blog, you probably saw a post I put up about dealing with cancelled flights. Spoiler alert: I wrote that post after I dealt with a cancelled flight from Charlotte to New York. While dealing with the cancellation and attempting to get home on Sunday was quite the headache, the part after I gave up on rebooking a flight was incredible.
On behalf of all the 10 flights worth of Charlotte passengers whose flights were cancelled Sunday— middle fingers to you, American Airlines. But also, on behalf of my overly excited, adventure seeking inner self— thank you for an unexpected 36 hour adventure. You really brought me back to my travel on a whim roots, AA. And for that, I can only be grateful.
Here’s everything I did in my 36 hours in Charlotte. For my best time guarantee, feel free to check off everything below in any order.
1. Inner Peaks climbing gym
The first thing I did after checking in at my hotel: rock climb. Maybe climbing off all the pent up cancelled flight steam was the best thing I could have done to clear my mind and fully commit to getting out and seeing Charlotte. A day pass sets you back $19, and gear rental begins at $5. First time climbers and experienced climbers are all welcome!
2. South End Station area
After chatting up the climbing gym employees and taking note of their recommendations, I walked about 5 minutes to the South End metro. My plan was to take the train to NoDa— the downtown Charlotte arts district. What I didn’t plan for: getting exceptionally sidetracked by the area around the train station. South End is a poppin’ locale full of hip eateries, ice cream shops, and beautifully decorated outdoor spaces.
Sidewalks run alongside the train tracks, making a stroll through the downtown outskirts a pleasant one. I opted to buy a $2 CATS train ticket and took an uptown light rail train to NoDa. If you hit South End when your stomach is grumbling, you should stay awhile and check out all (and I mean ALL) of the places on the city of Charlotte’s South End list.
As soon as you step foot off the train in NoDa, there’s no denying you’re in the pulse of Charlotte’s arts community. I spent the better half of Sunday afternoon walking around the neighborhood, admiring the graffiti lined streets and the copious food options at any given corner. Some of my favorite spots in Noda:
PopBar NoDa: Gelato on a stick. What more is there to say? The customizable pops were as tasty as they were pretty. My winning combo of flavors was coffee with dark chocolate and waffle cone crumbles.
Smelly Cat Coffee House: Why yes, yes it is a Friends reference. If that’s not enough to make you want to scope the cafe out, their tasty oat milk iced latte should be. Plenty of space inside and outside for working or hanging out, too!
Reigning Donuts: Self proclaimed no-frills donut shop with the most mouthwatering selection of donuts . Emphasis on the little outdoor space and the small donut selection, but hey, that ain’t stopping me.
Cabo Fish Taco: Recommended to me by a Charlotte local at the climbing gym, this Diner, Dives, and Drives In featured spot does not disappoint.
Bars & Breweries: I didn’t make it to any this time around, but The Dog Bar (literally a bar full of dogs… ok, other patron’s dogs…. but still!!) and NoDa Brewing company would have topped my list had I the time and post-airport energy. For nightlife or beer enthusiasts, there are no shortage of options in the area!
4. Uptown (aka Downtown Charlotte)
When Monday rolled around, I Ubered to Uptown and staked out at a few coffee shops to work remotely. While there’s no limit of things to do in Uptown (seriously, look at this long list), I really enjoyed getting to see another part of the city while I worked through the work day. If you have business to tend to or need a space to freelance or work remotely, I’d highly recommend Coco and the Director and Amélie’s French Bakery for a spacious place to work and amazing coffee and food. They’re within easy walking distance from each other, so don’t be shy picking up and relocating through the day. Oh, and don’t miss out on the caramel salted brownie Amélie’s is famous for. Unpopular opinion: I thought the brownie was good, but the spinach and asiago tartine was better.
5. The Charlotte Brewery Circuit
I’m calling it a circuit in that you could quite literally make a tour out of all the brewery options around. One of my best college pals, Maddie, came and picked me up in Uptown and whisked me away to a few of her favorite Charlotte breweries. Here’s her top three:
Sugar Creek Brewing: Our first stop was at this chic little brewery, their logo quite honestly a decorative piece of art in itself. Their Pale Ale and IPAs passed get the thumbs up from me.
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery: Unfortunately, I did not get to experience all the hype of OMB, but for good reason: the brewery was closed for employee appreciation day. Urban legend (aka the claims from my friend): OMB beers are exclusively brewed in the traditional German way: with four ingredients. Someone grab a beer from OMB and let me know how it is!
Brewers at 4001 Yancey: We saved the best for last and opted for beer and dinner at this massive establishment. 4001 Yancey is the parent brewery of Six Point, Victory, and Southern Tier beers, and serves *all* of their brews on tap. My inner (21+, lol) child had a heyday and ordered a flight of sour beers, which, as it stands now, was the peak of my adult life. Their pizza is also something that is not to be missed. My new favorite beer is one I ordered here: Six Point’s Citrus Jammer.
Now, I’m not asking for another cancelled flight… but a second go-around in Charlotte? Where do I sign up? Let me know if you have any other Charlotte recommendations in the comments below.
‘Till next time— take it easy