More than 3 million people pass through Charlotte-Douglas International Airport each year. Whether you’re here on a quick business trip or planned a longer layover, we’re here to say that it’s worth the effort to get out and explore the Queen City—even if you only have a few hours to spare. We’ve put together four itineraries for every mood and time of day.
- You’ll know you’ve reached Levine Center for the Arts when you spot “The Firebird,” a glittery, mirrored sculpture on the street corner in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Inside the museum you’ll find a stellar collection of modern art and a charming café.
- Across the street, the state’s oldest art museum, the Mint Museum, houses the organization’s internationally renowned Craft + Design collection, plus American, contemporary and European art.
- On the opposite street corner, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture celebrates the contributions African-Americans have made to American culture. (Pro tip: If you’re on the hunt for last-minute souvenirs, all of these museums have great gift shops.)
Explore the Great Outdoors
- If you don’t want to waste a beautiful Charlotte day indoors, head to Romare Bearden Park. Adjacent to BB&T Ballpark, with its large grassy lawn, lots of seating and a massive waterfall, it’s the perfect frame for uptown views.
- If you’d rather explore, hop on the Lynx Blue Line and ride to South End, where you can walk along the urban path or browse the shops at Atherton Mill. You can also borrow a bike through Charlotte B-Cycle, the city’s bike-share program, and cruise around uptown—the Victorian-era homes in the historic Fourth Ward neighborhood are great eye candy.
Find Great Food and Drinks
- Rhino Market & Deli on South Church Street should be your go-to sandwich spot, but you can also grab local beer and wine here, or stay for the live music and DJs. You might just spot a Carolina Panther getting a bite between practices.
- For travelers who like to wander, head to Historic Latta Arcade and Brevard Court. This indoor/outdoor walkway and mall has a range of dining or drinking options for just about any time of day, and it’s directly across from Romare Bearden Park. From pizza to teriyaki to a warrior’s omelette, the variety will surely hit the spot.
- Looking for a quiet spot to get some work done or do some low-key people-watching? Head to Amélie’s French Bakery & Café in Uptown on South College Street for a pick-me-up and free Wi-Fi. Whether you want a sugar boost, wine or a jolt of caffeine, you’ll find gems such as limonade à la lavande, their signature salted caramel brownie or colorful macarons here—and best of all, it’s open late most nights.
Take in the Nightlife
If your Charlotte visit crosses over into happy hour (or later), check out some of these Uptown hot spots.
- With more than 20 craft beers on tap, Dandelion Market is a versatile nightlife scene, with small plates with big flavor. But on Friday and Saturday nights, the community table upstairs gets raised to the ceiling and the dining room becomes a dance club.
- Visitors who want to sip on something uniquely Charlotte should try 204 North Kitchen & Cocktails, which has a lineup of local beer and a Charlotte-themed cocktail menu. (Try the Dilworth!)
- For a more low-key option, the downstairs bar at Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen on North College Street has a cozy vibe and a luxe interior—plus a seasonally inspired menu.
- Merchant & Trade, our indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge, serves up innovative cocktails and a shareable bar menu. You’ll find some of the best views in the city from the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel.
No matter what time of day, if you have a few hours to spare in the Queen City, you’ll have lots of options in uptown—and they’re all easy to get to from the new Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel.
— Aleigh Acerni