Folks flying to or from Charlotte can rest assured that the flights at this airport typically stay on time, and the airport itself is not usually overwhelming or hectic. The city can have crazy traffic during rush hours like any other place, but once you’re in one of its many neighborhoods, they are typically walkable and worth seeing as each has its own vibe and gems to explore. Note that a number of greenways and green space exist between the city’s skyscrapers, making for an easy workout option. Here’s a list of nine things to know before visiting Charlotte.
Charlotte’s airport has managed to keep a smaller, more relaxed feel despite growing to the sixth busiest airport in the world. And in spite of this busy schedule, Charlotte manages to be in the top five for keeping departures on time. And if you have time, take a pit stop at the rocking chairs or the public runway viewing deck, one of the only overlooks like it in the country.
Charlotte can have brutal rush hour traffic, so avoid traveling across town during the busiest times, from 7:30 am to 9:00 am and 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. If you do have to travel during these rush hours, plan to double the travel time.
Unfortunately, Charlotte’s public transportation leaves something to be desired, but you can make it around the city car-less. The city’s neighborhoods themselves are pretty walkable, but if you want to go a few miles, a bus and light rail system do exist. However, together, they only give the city a 26 out of 32 ranking for cities with populations over half a million.
If you prefer to get around on two wheels, Charlotte does have greenways and bike lanes in addition to rentable bike shares provided by the city. Bike stations are all over the city, connecting NoDa and the South End neighborhoods of Charlotte and beyond.
Plenty of paid parking decks and on-street meters exist in Charlotte, but if you’re looking for free parking, head to the First or Fourth Wards. And any metered spot becomes free after 6 pm until 7 am on weekdays and all day on weekends.
Go beyond Uptown
While downtown Charlotte, known as Uptown, has everything any visitor or local could need, make a point to get out of downtown and visit some of the city’s coolest neighborhoods, such as South End, the brewery district, and NoDa, the historic arts and entertainment part of the city.
If you see this description on a menu, it means that the burger has been Carolina-ized. Expect chili, slaw, onions and local mustard or some combination of these ingredients. Sometimes, a Carolina burger comes topped with Carolina barbecue.
Bring your running shoes or bike
Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte resides, has a system of nearly 200 miles (322 kilometers) of greenways. Sections of these greenways connect some of NoDa’s and South End’s breweries and restaurants, so a bike crawl can be a fun option for how to spend a few hours.
NASCAR is a big deal
NASCAR has had a big hand in shaping this city, and you’ll see its influence throughout the Queen City. So, learn about the sport and its impact on the area at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, or catch one of the many races that take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway.