If you decide to travel Charlotte area roads, one of the first things that may become obvious is its size compared to other towns and cities in the state of North Carolina. With a 796,912 population, Charlotte is larger than the capital city of Raleigh. As a result of its sheer sized, it has earned its reputation as a finance center, though it is respectably earning a name as a fine tourist spot.
Inside the I-277 loop, Uptown Charlotte is a hub for business, government, museums, nightclubs and cultural events. One of the safest areas in the city, everything in Uptown centers around Tryon Street, which is considered the main street in downtown Charlotte. A word of caution to travelers not familiar with the design of Charlotte’s downtown street grid: It can get a bit confusing until you realize how it is designed. It seems at first like a maze of one-way streets, but it is important to know that all the north-south streets have numbers, and the east-west streets bear proper names.
If you are in Charlotte on a first or third Friday, you can take advantage of the North Davidson Street’s gallery crawl. This area is about two miles north of the center of the city and is called both NoDa for short and the History Arts District. The area was once home to a large textile mill that closed in the 1970s. In the 1980s, artists moved into the district and started revitalizing it.
The Plaza-Midwood and South End districts also offer visitors cultural alternatives to downtown. South End offers more semi-upscale entertainment and the Plaza-Midwood plaza gives more organic choices connected to old Charlotte. Plaza-Midwood has a strong reputation for embracing alternative lifestyles.
There are several attractions in the Charlotte area that may be of interest to those trying to get to know more about the city. The Levine Museum of the New South gives visitors a good introduction to the history and culture of the South over the past few decades. The Carolinas Aviation Museum captures historic and restored airplanes, houses a library and puts on air shows. There are a few theaters to choose from, as well: The Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, Shakespeare Carolina, Blumenthal and Spirit Square, and Citizens of the Universe.
One of the main attractions for the Charlotte area is not actually in Charlotte, but slightly north of the city in Concord at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. This NASCAR hub draws visitors and racing fans from all over the world. Along with the Charlotte Bobcats, Carolina Panthers and other professional teams, the racing franchise is a luxury for sports enthusiasts.