Charlotte, North Carolina

Otherwise known as the Queen City, the lively city of Charlotte has not lost any of its southern charm while at the same time being one of the most progressive and modern cities in the region. Skyscrapers have flourished alongside the local art scene making for a fascinating and worthwhile stay, while nearby by Charlotte car rental are many plantations.

Getting there

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is west of the city off I-85. It serves all major domestic routes and most international flights, including direct flights to the U.K. Airport shuttle buses can take you into the city for about $8 while taxis cost about $15, but most major hotels provide complimentary transportation. Buses are a cheaper option of getting around but they can get uncomfortable over longer distances. Greyhound operates services to most major centers across the U.S. Train travel is another option, with Amtrak offering a daily service from Charlotte to Washington, D.C., Atlanta and destinations beyond, and there's also a daily service to Raleigh and Durham.

Driving to Charlotte by rental car is a breeze on the well-maintained American road network. It is a regional hub for road traffic, with the I-77 coming in from Columbia, South Carolina, and then continuing north to Virginia, intersecting I-40 on the way. I-85 arrives from Greenville, South Carolina, to the southwest and then goes northeast to meet I-40 between Winston-Salem and the Triangle (the area around Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State). The I-277 leads directly into the city. Look for national travel deals to Charlotte online.

Key attractions

The chief attraction found in Downtown is the very modern Discovery Place, a great place to bring the kids. Therеs a hands-on science museum, aquarium, indoor rainforest, an IMAX theatre, and a planetarium. In the shadows of the gleaming skyscrapers lies Independence Square with four huge statues in each corner defining the cityеs character. It is also Downtownеs busiest thoroughfare with numerous restaurants, bars, galleries and shops all within easing walking distance. Among the more popular museums is the Mint Museum of Art, the oldest in North Carolina. It houses an extensive collection of European, African and American art, the renowned Delhom Collection of porcelain and pottery, and an impressive collection of historic costumes and gold coins.

Out and about

Nature lovers are well catered for with the city being surrounded by parks, nature preserves, and scenic landscapes. Historic Latta Plantation is the areaеs last plantation open to the public, and the countryеs largest at 2,500 acres and is aeasily accessed by car rental from Charlotte. It features beautiful nature trails, historic buildings and the popular Carolina Raptor Center, a sanctuary for birds of prey. Horseback riding is also available as an alternative way to explore the area. It is located just 12 miles northeast of the city center.

Smaller yet just as picturesque is McDowell Park and Nature Preserve 12 miles south. It is centered on the lovely white sand beaches of Lake Wylie. Many scenic hiking trails crisscross the preserve. Be sure to take the kids to Paramount's Carowinds, an amusement and waterpark ten miles from the city center by rental car from Charlotte. The area includes six roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, live shows, water rafting, and a 300-ft ski tower. There are regular musical concerts and special events and year-round camping is also on offer.

Leisure options

Charlotte has some 14,000 acres of parks and the most unique is Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary, founded in 1927. It boasts a variety of different gardens attracting a vast array of bird species that use the park as a rest stop during their annual migration. The shopping is of the highest quality with Charlotte being the biggest retail center in the Carolinas. Many bargains can be found in the numerous malls and shopping centers, while outlying suburbs and villages often offer unique specialties or antiques perfect for souvenirs. Also keep an eye out for national deals on travel to Charlotte.

The Golf Village is an enormous entertainment complex offering not only golf, but also billiards, big screen TV's, and a wide variety of delicious and affordable cuisine. The North Carolina Zoological Park is 75 miles from the city and is rated as one of the top five in the U.S. It has an amazing array of exotic animals from Africa as well as a wide selection from closer to home, all kept in well-maintained habitats. Some enclosures are of the walk-through variety.


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