The Charlotte, North Carolina, region is widely popular among travelers. Tourism is the fourth-largest employer in the Charlotte region. Tax revenue from visitors has funded highlights like the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte Convention Center, and NASCAR Hall of Fame. From mouthwatering restaurants to intriguing museums, Charlotte has a broad range of attractions to entice travelers in the area.

If you’re looking for a bold metropolitan destination with a rich history behind its highlights, Charlotte is just what you’re after. Book your flight, hotel, and attractions now, and get ready to enjoy an unforgettable visit to North Carolina.

Morning: Start With a Breakfast Sandwich

Fuel up for a day in Charlotte with one of the city’s famous breakfast sandwiches. The Common Market is a local favorite for its innovative a.m. sammies. If you can handle the heat, try the Dragon Slayer with pepper jack, onion, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, eggs, and your choice of protein.

The Local Loaf is another popular pick for hearty morning sandwiches. The Chicken & The Egg is your best bet if you’re in the mood for rich southern flavors. This sandwich features chicken tenders, poached egg, and aged white cheddar drizzled in a chipotle cheerwine sauce and served up on a buttermilk biscuit.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte.

Midmorning: Explore the Local Art Scene

Visit the Levine Center for the Arts to take in some of Charlottes best cultural highlights. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art features collections with a focus on the European perspective, American and British artists, and the School of Paris. You’ll find mid-century modern pieces from the likes of Jean Tinguely, Joan Miro, Barbara Hepworth, and Alberto Giacometti.

At the Mint Museum Uptown, you’ll find 145,000 square feet of fascinating exhibits exploring contemporary, European, and American art. Exhibits are always changing, so you never know what delights you may find. Also part of the Levine Center for the Arts, this is an easy inclusion in your visit to this cultural complex.

Another must-see stop in this area is the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture. This museum’s collection includes pieces by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Jonathan Green, Ann Tankley, Elizabeth Catlett, and more. The Hewitt Collection of African American Art has toured the country but calls the Gantt Center home. Its 58 works include items from 20 artists. Visit one art museum or stroll through them all as you enjoy your morning in Charlotte.

Noon: Lunch Like a Local

Charlotte’s foodie scene features several lesser-known picks that are loved by locals. Price’s Chicken Coop is a cash-only food counter that’s been a city staple since the 1960s. Their sandwiches leave something to be desired, but the fried chicken is divine. Get the chicken dinner with your choice of white or dark meat and cole slaw, hushpuppies, French fries, and a roll on the side.

Brook’s Sandwich House is a small walk-up window with big flavor. This is another cash only spot, so come prepared. Serving Charlotte locals since 1973, this wildly popular restaurant serves its dishes smothered in homemade chili. You won’t spend much at this laid-back lunch spot. Get a hot dog for just $2.25 and a burger for only $3.50. If your schedule is full, you can call to order ahead so your food is ready when you arrive.

Discovery Place
Discovery Place in Charlotte.

Early Afternoon: Discover Nature and Science

Discovery Place Nature and Discovery Place Science are hands-on educational museums where you can get up close and personal with exciting exhibits. At Discovery Place Nature, you can meet local wildlife through live animal feedings and encounters, or go on a guided nature walk to see these creatures in their natural habitat. Head to Insect Alley to converse with the cockroaches, or skip through the butterfly pavilion for a colorful winged encounter.

Discovery Place Science shows kids just how fun and fascinating real-world science can be. Send scarves whizzing through wind tunnels, play with pulleys, draft building blueprints, and construct your own masterpieces. From the wonders of the ocean to the intrigue of the friendly hairless fancy rat, you’ll find plenty to explore as you make your way through these enticing family friendly attractions.

Late Afternoon: Meander Through the Museums

The Carolinas Aviation Museum features high-flying exhibits on commercial aviation, civil aircraft, military aviation, and helicopters. Explore the many sides of flight as you peruse exhibits that include a PT-17 Stearman Kaydet, replica Wright Flyer, and Piedmont DC-3. The Miracle on the Hudson exhibit features the actual US Airways aircraft that Captain Sully landed. This now-famous plane was originally bound for Charlotte.

If you’re a history buff, make sure your afternoon explorations include a visit to the Levine Museum of the New South. Its centerpiece exhibit, Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers, features over 1,000 artifacts that explore southern history after the Civil War. You can tour a single-room tenant farmer’s home, visit the Good Samaritans Hospital Chapel, and even stroll down a historic main street. This interactive exhibit brings the south to life in a fascinating new way.

Dinnertime: Get a Gourmet Meal

Slow down for dinner and enjoy gourmet dining at one of the city’s best fine restaurants. Book a table at the Capital Grille and start your meal with fresh oysters, indulge in a gorgonzola and truffle crusted dry aged bone-in NY strip for your main, and end with the chef’s seasonal fruit sorbet, made in-house every day.

The Fig Tree Restaurant is another prime pick for fine dining in Charlotte. The seasonal menu has French and Italian inspirations. If you’re in the mood for something innovative, order the ostrich. This ostrich filet is served over French green lentils and roasted radishes with a brandy-green peppercorn sauce. The dessert menu is as indulgent as the main courses. Finish up with a dark chocolate-hazelnut French silk torte or peach-almond polenta cake.

Uptown Charlotte
Uptown in Charlotte.

Evening: End With a Show

Conclude your night with an engaging Charlotte show. The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is comprised of the Belk Theater, Booth Playhouse, and Stage Door Theater. Each venue hosts a different type of show, so there’s always something engaging on the stage. The Belk Theater offers an intimate experience with seats arranged in a horseshoe. Viewers are never more than 135 feet from the stage. Here you’ll catch shows like The Little Mermaid, The Sound of Music, The Phantom of the Opera, and Rent.

The Booth Playhouse has 434 seats on two levels. It hosts musical and dance performances as well as seminars and workshops. The Stage Door Theater lets you get close and personal with performers. Stop in here for improv performances and jazz shows. Check Charlotte’s schedule before your visit to see what’s on stage. Grab your tickets early to make sure you have a seat for a relaxing evening performance to end your day on the right note.

Where to Stay in Charlotte

Charlotte is an extremely welcoming city for tourists. You’ll find no shortage of places to stay, with picks in every price point. Over a dozen top hotels are clustered in the center of the city, within the I-277 loop. Head south of the city center for quaint inns or bed and breakfast offerings. Head north for private rentals that offer like-home rooms at competitive rates. Whatever you’re looking for, Charlotte has a room to offer.

Top Hotels

If you’re looking for luxury when booking a room in Charlotte, you won’t be disappointed. One of the snazziest picks in the city is The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte. This elegant option offers an on-site spa, Aqua Lounge, fitness center, and on-site bars and restaurants. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide stunning city views in the well-equipped rooms.

For distinctive accommodations, book a room at the Duke Mansion bed and breakfast. With just 20 guest rooms, you’re guaranteed to get personalized services. Spend your days strolling over 4 acres of lush gardens and manicured grounds, or lounge about in elegant guest rooms equipped with plush robes, private baths, and personal thermostats.

If location trumps amenities for your stay, you can’t go wrong with the Charlotte Marriott City Center. Situated at Tryon and Trade, this hotel puts you close to all the action. Standard rooms have conveniences like an in-room fridge, iPod dock, and LED TV. High speed internet and bottled water are available for an additional fee.

Best Budget Rooms

Booking an affordable room in Charlotte doesn’t have to mean a major sacrifice in quality or comfort. There are many budget-friendly finds that are low-priced and well-placed. The Best Western Plus Sterling Hotel & Suites offers a continental breakfast to start the day and a microwave and refrigerator in each room so you can keep snacks on hand.

If you’re planning a long-term stay, look into the Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham Charlotte/Executive Park. This is another smart pick that pads your budget with a complimentary breakfast. BBQ grills offer a convenient place to cook your own meals, while the on-site sundries stores keep simple snacks close at hand. You don’t need to spend a lot to secure a room in Charlotte. These picks represent just a small portion of the offerings.

Coolest Private Rentals

Do you want to experience Charlotte like you live there? You can enjoy all the conveniences of home with a private rental. There are dozens of options available throughout the city, each with its own distinctive features for a one-of-a-kind experience. From minimalist tiny house accommodations to private uptown apartments, you’ll find rentals that will suite any vacation style.

The benefits to private rentals are many. You’ll have access to conveniences like full kitchens so you can prepare your own meals at your rental and save on the expense of dining out. If you’re visiting with a large party, a private rental in Charlotte can keep everyone comfortable with space for lounging in the evening or retreating to private bedrooms at the end of the day. Many low-priced rentals put you within walking distance of public transportation or city center highlights so you have all the best of Charlotte at your doorstep.

Whether you’re looking for a convenient room in a major chain hotel or you’re after a distinctive stay in a private location, there’s something to suit your stay in Charlotte. Book your room early to make sure you get your top pick.

Levine Center Arts
Levine Center of the Arts in Charlotte.

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Guide

The Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is the sixth-busiest airport in the world. Each day, it services more than 700 landings and departures. Though this is an indisputably busy location, it’s well-organized and equipped to meet all your travel needs. You’ll find shopping, dining, spa services, and more on hand to make your travel time as comfortable as possible.

Gates and Concourses

The Charlotte-Douglas International Airport has five concourses. Concourses B, C, and E serve American Airlines exclusively, making this the second-largest hub for American. Concourse D serves American Airlines and Lufthansa. Concourse A is one of the smallest in the airport but handles flights from Air Canada, Delta, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, United Airlines, and Via Airlines. Charlotte-Douglas connects to over 140 nonstop global destinations.

Dining

You’ll find dozens of dining locations available in the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Travelers in Concourse A can enjoy the Phipps Bistro or Uptown Bar & Lounge for sophisticated dining. If you want a fast fix, this concourse has Wendy’s and Cinnabon. Down Concourse B, you can enjoy Bojangles, Stock Car Café, and The Great American Bagel Bakery, among others. The options in Concourse C are extensive, ranging from Wolfgang Puck to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar to Sbarro.

Concourse D has a handful of dining picks like Hissho Sushi, Pinkberry, and The Local Rustic Market. Concourse E is the largest in the airport, and offers Whiskey River, PZA, Burger King, Einstein Bros Bagels, and more.

If you need a jolt of caffeine, there are over half a dozen Starbucks locations in the airport. Every concourse has its own with the exception of Concourse A. The central atrium has several Starbucks locations accessible to all passengers, as well as some additional dining destinations, such as Quiznos, Chick-fil-A, Papa Johns, and others.

Shopping

Do you need to do some last-minute shopping before your departure? You can grab anything you might need for your flight in the airport’s numerous shopping locations. Spots like Heritage Booksellers, CNBC News, and Carolinas NewsBeat will help you stock up on reading material. Hit the Best Buy Express for other types of entertainment.

If you’re looking for some quick gifts to take home, try Shades of Time, Queen City Gifts, or On the Square Gifts. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory offers some sweet treats to make your trip more indulgent.

Mint Museum
Mint Museum in Charlotte.

Airport Conveniences

Though many travelers associate airports with high-stress situations, there’s no reason you can’t kick back and relax during your travels as well. Xpres Spa and the Terminal Getaway Spa will help you unwind en route. If you’re looking for a moment of quiet, the Airport Chapel offers a peaceful retreat amid the overall bustle. The chapel is open daily from 5:00 a.m. to midnight. Every Sunday, there’s a Catholic Mass at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. A prayer and worship service takes place at 9:30 a.m.

The Mother’s Room offers a private place for moms and infants to nurse peacefully, easing some of the strain of airline travel. Situated in the atrium, this room is centrally located and easily accessible to everyone in the airport. The Mother’s Room features two nursing stalls with rocking chairs, a diaper changing station, and a convenient sink area. As part of the airport’s future expansion plan, another Mother’s Room will be added to the offerings.

Transportation Options

There are several transportation options for visitors who need to get to and from the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. The Sprinter is a fast and convenient shuttle that moves between Center City and the airport. It departs every 20 minutes on weekdays and every half hour on nights and weekends. Fares are just $2.20, making this a quick and affordable pick.

Several area hotels offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport to ease your travel. You can arrange a limousine or shuttle prior to your visit as well. Both Uber and Lyft service the airport on the lower Arrivals/Baggage Claim level outside zone D. Taxis are on hand for $0.50 per mile inside the city or $2.00 per mile outside the city with a drop charge of $2.50.

If you prefer to have the convenience of your own vehicle during your time in Charlotte, make arrangements with one of the car rental companies in the airport. On-site rental companies are located in the Level 2 lobby. Your options include Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. Thrifty is located offsite, but convenient shuttles are available to take you to the Thrifty rental location.

When planning your trip to Charlotte, the biggest challenge won’t be finding something to do, but rather choosing from the numerous options that are available. Whether you’re after cultural highlights or decadent dining, you’ll find that Charlotte can provide just what you’re after and more than you ever expected.