Charlotte, NC area…

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So what’s the 411 on the 704? Glad you asked.  As per our friends at Wikipedia; Charlotte is a major city and commercial hub in North Carolina. Its modern city center (Uptown) is home to the Levine Museum of the New South, which explores post–Civil War history in the South, and hands-on science displays at Discovery Place. Uptown is also known for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which celebrates the sport of auto racing through interactive exhibits and films.

I’m starting out my stay actually in Concord, NC (pronounced Con-Cord and not conquered as apparently the locals say they haven’t been conquered by anyone) about a half hour north east of  Charlotte. Yup can you say all things NASCAR, home of Charlotte Motor Speedway and Hendrick Motor Sports. But there is so much more to see and do than drive in circles!

Day1: Huntersville, Cornelius and Lake Norman.

Huntersville boasts an area called Birkdale Village. This to me is an upscale grouping of storefronts and restaurants. Kind of a one stop shopping experience and would make a great “girls day out” destination. Very cute to walk around in, grab a meal, a few bargains, and even catch a movie!

Lake Norman was our next stop for dinner. Huntersville is a few minutes drive from the lake which is a good size body of water. The lake itself is a bit oddly shaped with many “fingers” and inlets and bays. When I first saw it, it reminded me of a drawing of a lizard, with its head, long tail, arms and all the fingers. Look it up and you’ll see what I mean. There are many well appointed homes and townhouses around the lake and a tremendous amount of boat traffic We stopped to have dinner along the water in the town of Cornellius and had dinner at the North Harbor Club. The restaurant is along the water and has both indoor and outdoor seating. The service was fast and friendly and the food was very good.

Day 2: Matthews and Charlotte

So we started out our day driving to Matthews, NC to a street fair called Matthews Alive. This was a several blocks long event that encompassed the main road through town, the park and several side streets and parking lots. It was a classic street fair and a lot of fun. There were plenty of games and rides for kids, a large area of crafts and vendors, local businesses and plenty of food and live music playing throughout the 4 day event. We felt the rides were very expensive at around $5-$6 per ride, but I haven’t been to a fair in a few years and I guess prices have increased. I just think if you are a young family with maybe two kids and you want to go to the fair for the night, with rides and food, you could easily drop over $50 and likely more if your little ones want to ride more than 2 or 3 rides. But all in all a well put together event and fun.

From there we drove to “uptown” Charlotte to check out the city. The city towers up from the flat landscape as you come in on the highway and at night the buildings are lit up and quite pretty. The city itself is you average city with a convention center, much commercial property and even the football stadium. You can walk to the stadium from town with no problem at all if you come to visit and book your hotel in town. There is plenty of parking and for $10 event parking just a block or two further away from the stadium is great. We started out at the Epicenter another all inclusive area with food, music and even a movie theater. There are quite a few restaurants and bars and you can easily spend a night here hopping from one to the next. We made our first stop at World of Beer. There was patio seating and not very crowed. Unfortunately the service was awful. The waitress came out after about 5 minutes and brought menus and then disappeared. After another 5 minutes or so, she came back with two out of our 3 glasses of water and she literally never came back. We waited about 10 minutes for her to return and we then just left.  While walking around about 20 minutes later our two water glasses were still sitting at the table, so she clearly still had not made it back. We made a good choice to leave.

There are plenty of shopping experiences available here along the streets near the EpiCenter, so plan to spend an hour or so strolling, if that’s your thing.

When we left the EpiCenter we walked a few blocks over near the stadium to grab a beer and check out the park. We made the unfortunate decision to stop at a place called Valhalla. The name should have told us something, but they had very limited outdoor seating and it was a nice afternoon so we grabbed a table. My daughters boyfriend went to go inside to grab us drinks and the large body guard/door man refused to let him inside. When he asked why the guy told him he was too drunk and needed to sober up first. Hmmmm, strange, he had not been drinking yet that day. So I thought I would give it a try and the man of course let me in. Of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist asking him why he would not let our friend in and the man again said he was too drunk. When I explained that he hadn’t been drinking today, he then had the nerve to ask me if he had a medical condition. Of course because he had been doing this for so many years that he knew when someone had a problem, his exact words not mine.  Guess it’s time to choose a new profession buddy, as you are not only wrong, but you also lost your employer some customers, AND are getting a bad review. Hey Valhalla, time to rethink your door guy.

Moving on we walked over to Romare Bearden Park to walk around and take some photo ops! The park is host to concerts and events throughout the summer. Very pretty and worth a stop.

We then headed out of town in search of dinner! We landed at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Jackpot! So this place has a huge outdoor seating area “biergarten” with rows and rows or picnic tables. They have live music Thursday-Sunday and food is available in the Biergarten from their food truck! There is also patio seating, first come first served, and best of all, you can bring your pooch!! Yes, dogs are welcome in the Biergarten and patio. Very cool OMB, very cool! And the food here is A-mazing!! Highly recommend a stop here when you are in the area.

Last stop for the night was NoDa Brewing Company We unfortunately got there with only an hour until close, but we enjoyed ourselves just the same. There is a large bar and indoor seating area, and outside boasts a great picnic area to enjoy your dinner and beverages!

Day 3: Wine tour…

We headed out bright and early~ish to start a day of wine tasting in the area. First stop was “downtown” Concord. Little fun fact that we learned, was Concord was the first home of Coca Cola Bottling Company. Cougar Run Winery was out first stop for the day. It’s located in The Old Creamery building on Church St. The staff was very friendly and the wine was great!

Next stop, Cabo Winery Cabo is located on the main street of Concord. The interior reminded me of an old time soda shop, with the bar and a few small tables, along with wine related gifts to purchase. Unfortunately for a Sunday Cabo was very busy and there was only one person working. While she did the best she could, there was a bit of a wait to do our tasting. Our tasting was a bit different with the samples served in plastic cups. Needless to say we didn’t find any wines worth purchasing.

Our last stop of the day Douglas Vineyards. Now this was a great way to end the day. At first glance, you think you are in the wrong place and pulling into someones driveway. However, the pole barn is their tasting room and it’s very nice. They have a great bar with seating indoors and plenty of space for tastings. They also have seating on their patio and more under a pavilion. The pavilion would also be great for small get together s. The wine was great and so was the staff! We will definitely be back.

So that was my long weekend in Charlotte and the surrounding area. There is still a lot to see and do here and I would recommend spending a few more days to try to get it all in. Especially if you are into NASCAR and it’s history. Charlotte Motor Speedway is only about 10 minutes from Concord and about 20 from uptown Charlotte. And if you really want to make a trip of it, the popular beaches of north and south Carolina are only about 3 hours away.




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