Explore Charlotte’s diverse neighborhoods and residential enclaves to get a taste of what Charlotte is really like.
A city of over 800,000 people, Charlotte is a thriving metropolis with a lot to see and do. There are stunning skyscrapers, whirring streetcars, and bustling foot traffic in the city’s core. But there are also quiet, picturesque residential streets, eclectic business districts, and expansive parks and greenways. Further afield, you’ll find charming small college towns and the heart of NASCAR that helped to put Charlotte on the map. Here are a few of the best areas in the Charlotte region to visit.
The business, banking, and arts hub of the city, Uptown is the busiest and most well-known neighborhood in Charlotte. One of the biggest questions newcomers have is why it’s called Uptown instead of Downtown. While theories vary, the common consensus is that it’s because of its hilltop geographic positioning. The district is filled with skyscrapers–such as the Bank of America Corporate Center–arenas, the convention center, hotels, and arts institutions such as the Levine Center for the Arts, which encompasses several museums and performing arts centers. However, you’ll also find some lovely green spaces like the Fourth Ward Park and Romare Bearden Park. It’s a great place to stroll and experience the city in action.
Recommended Fodor’s Video
INSIDER TIPCheck out Charlotte’s mass transit system, CATS (Charlotte Area Transit System). There are 70 bus and rail routes to get you to popular destinations within the area. You can find maps and fares online to plan before you go; there’s even a mobile app!
Plaza Midwood blends two former neighborhoods into one residential district that’s known for its funky charm. Central Avenue and The Plaza are the main thoroughfares through the district and are filled with colorful street art, tattoo parlors, dive bars, music clubs, vintage shops, and fun cafes. In recent years, there’s been more residential and upscale development in the corridor, though residents are determined to hold on the unique character that sets Plaza Midtown apart. A couple of favorite spots to check out here are the Diamond Restaurant and The Thirsty Beaver, an iconic dive bar preserved between two new apartment buildings.
The Charlotte equivalent of New York’s SoHo, NoDa is an artsy enclave which stands for the neighborhood’s main street, North Davidson. It’s known for its colorful murals, eclectic shops, trendy restaurants, and converted factory buildings that have been transformed into galleries and breweries. In fact, it’s now a brewery hotspot with craft brewery NoDa Brewing and Euro-styled brewpub Heist Brewery, among others. It’s also a great place for live entertainment with spots like the Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre drawing crowds for music and the arts.
Once home to cotton and flour mills, this neighborhood was once the industrial corridor south of Uptown. It also boasted Charlotte’s first railroad line and today remains well connected to Charlotte’s LYNX Blue Line light rail. Buzzing with industry up through the turn of the 20th century, the area fell on hard times with technological and residential change. Developers renamed the area South End in the 1990s and began converting former mill buildings into galleries, studios, and trendy housing. It’s also now a hub for Charlotte’s robust microbrewery scene. Sycamore Brewing, located just off the pedestrian Rail Trail, is a favorite–especially during their Food Truck Fridays.
INSIDER TIPCatch a South End Gallery Crawl on the first Fridays of the month to check out its arts and retail scene. Many galleries and shops stay open late and host live music and other events.
For a taste of the finer things in life, head to Charlotte’s upscale shopping district and enclave, Southpark. At the center of the neighborhood is SouthPark Mall which houses 150 luxury and upscale retailers like Coach, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton. The neighborhood is peppered with outdoor plazas that feature upscale boutiques, lounges, and eateries. In the summer, you can catch concerts by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Park adjacent to the mall.
Charlotte’s first streetcar suburb and the brainchild of businessman Edward Dilworth Latta, this designated historic district traces its roots back to the 1890s. Filled with charming homes, tree-lined streets, cafes, and shops, Dilworth exudes old-fashioned charm. At the center of the neighborhood is beautiful Freedom Park. This 98-acre park includes a 7-acre lake, nature trails, recreational facilities, and even a museum, Discovery Place Nature. It’s Charlotte’s largest and most popular park.
Grand homes and winding, oak-lined streets are hallmarks of Myers Park. Envisioned by and named for John Springs Myers, his historic suburb took shape in the early 1900s on what was cotton farmland. You’ll notice masterful Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival architecture along its looping residential streets. There are also plenty of specialty shops, restaurants, and galleries to peruse, especially on Selwyn Avenue. Important structures include the home of industrialist James Buchanan Duke, which now serves as a beautifully restored historic inn, and the Mint Museum Randolph, the original home of the Mint Museum and a former U.S. Mint.
Located about 25 miles north of Charlotte off Interstate-85, Concord is well outside of the city of Charlotte, but it’s home to one of its most famous attractions, Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR fans will surely want to make a pilgrimage to see the iconic track or even take a few laps around it through one of the racing schools that operate there. Just a mile from the track is Hendrick Motor Sports, one of the sport’s most predominant racing teams. You can visit their state-of-the-art facilities to see crews in action and view championship-winning cars. If shopping is more your scene, then there’s the massive Concord Mills shopping center with more than 200 stores and a sea life aquarium.
The charming town of Davidson, on the shores of Lake Norman, is about 20 miles north of Charlotte. It’s known for its adorable small-town charm and as the home of prestigious Davidson College, founded in 1837. The pedestrian and bicycle-friendly college town offers a vibrant business district, historic downtown, lush greenways, and a calendar full of community events like festivals and outdoor concerts. On Main Street, you’ll find students and locals browsing at longtime literary staple Main Street Books. There’s also a thriving culinary scene here with stand-outs such as the chef-driven dining hotspot Kindred and the weekly year-round Davidson Farmer’s Market.