Touring the Madness: Charlotte, North Carolina
Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of their respective venues.
Charlotte was the home of the nation’s first gold rush in the early 1800s, until San Francisco picked up. After WWII, Charlotte become a financial hub and is currently the biggest banking city in the U.S., second only to New York City. The arts and culinary scene are strong in the biggest city in North Carolina, and the craft beer scene in the city ain’t too shabby, either. Here are a couple of things to do over the weekend if you should be lucky enough to have your games in the Queen City.
NASCAR maintains that their home is Charlotte, and that isn’t just because a decent amount of drivers live there. The NASCAR Hall of Fame, a 150,000-square-foot interactive entertainment attraction opened in 2010, and should be a stop on your list, race fan or non-race fan alike. The HOF contains artifacts, interactive exhibits, and a 278-person state-of-the-art theater. There are also a Buffalo Wild Wings and the NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop onsite. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Charlotte Aviation Museum acquired its first aircraft in 1992, a North American T-28 Trojan trainer designed in 1949 to replace the T-6 Texan used during WWII. Two years later, the old Charlotte Airport Hanger became the official home of the CAM. The collection has grown to over 50 static aircraft along with a small group of still-flying aircraft. They also have possibly, “the largest collection of artifacts and memorabilia from the various legacy airlines which have merged over the years to form the current US Airways.” Admission is $12.87 for one adult and they are open seven days a week.
Even the non-religious visitors to Charlotte have heard of the Reverend Billy Graham. When describing this location, the website really says it best, “The Billy Graham Library is not a memorial, nor is it a museum. The Billy Graham Library is a ministry, prayerfully planned with the intention of communicating the unchanging, life-giving message of Jesus Christ to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who may never attend a Crusade.” Billy’s childhood home, originally located only three miles away, is also on the property and filled with family photos and personal items. There is a bookstore, a dairy barn, and prayer garden located onsite as well. They are open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NoDa, which comes from North Davidson St., the the name for the city’s artistic neighborhood, is where you will find the Brewing Company that currently has the World Beer Cup Gold Award winning American Style IPA – Hop, Drop and Roll. The company’s approach is to brew small batch beers with unique and artistic recipes as well as their take on the classics. The brewery is open for tours and tastings and normally has a food truck sitting outside to help sponge up the beer that is being quaffed. They are open seven days a week in the late afternoon to evenings.
James Bazzelle and his wife Renee opened Mert’s Heart and Soul in 1998, located at 214 North College Street. Mert’s offers “Low Country and Gullah-inspired dishes such as shrimp and grits, Charleston red rice, and award-winning macaroni and cheese.” And they do it right. They are always voted as one of Charlotte’s top restaurants, and are a favorite of tourists and locals alike. The varied meat selections look good but if you really want something different go for the Soul Rolls: Two egg roll wraps filled with black-eyed peas, seasoned rice, collard greens, and diced chicken breast, served with spicy honey mustard sauce.
So there you are, a little bit country and a little bit city. A whole bunch of southern. Here’s a cheers of a sweet tea hoping your team wins!
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