Charlotte – the city of queens and mills
Updated: May 27, 2020
Our trip from Israel was horrible. It was at the start of the Coronavirus crisis. Israel already banned flights from China, but the rest of the world seems fine, so we decided to keep going with our plans. Liat was invited to a conference in Wilmington, and we thought it would be great to spend some more days in North Carolina. There are no direct flights from Israel to Charlotte. So we had to take a connection flight. It took us 20 hours to reach Charlotte – and all that time, we wore masks. We arrived in our hotel exhausted, just to find that there was a problem with our reservation. I booked the hotel via the British Airways club because I wanted to use our points. But the hotel never got it – and because there was a Basketball conference over the city – it took them two hours to find an alternative hotel, and another 20 minutes' drive to finally reach it.
The next morning started late. We went to the Uptown – the city center. Charlotte is the 2nd most important banking center in the USA, and their skyscrapers fill the neighborhood. We parked in a daily parking lot on 7th street and visited the most interesting Levine Museum of the New South. The museum tells the story of the southern countries after the civil war. How they dealt with the ban of slavery, the alternative ways that they created to keep discriminate and abuse black people, including lynches and terror acts against the black community, and the foundation of the Civil Rights movement. It tells the story of the cotton fields, the establishment of mills all around Charlotte and the neighborhoods that followed.
After the two-hours visit, we got lunch in the 7th Street Market - a street food compound with all kinds of food to eat in place or to take away. Afterward, we took a walk on Tryon street, which is the major axis of the Uptown and the city as a whole. We followed a free self-guided map we received from a visitor center and walked through many historical points on interest in the district regarding the American revolution in Charlotte. It was an essential site of war against the British, and the people of Charlotte were the first to oppose the British and declare themselves independent from the British King and parliament.
We entered the Wells Fargo museum – a beautiful free-entrance museum that tells the story a small shipping agency that became an enormous banking company since the gold rush – the American dream at its best.
The Mint Museum of fine arts, craft, and design was out next stop. When we visited, they displayed marvelous installations of a Dutch artists group.
We made a coffee break, waiting for our evening plan – an NBA game! I'm an NBA fan since childhood, and I always dreamt of seeing a live NBA game. So right after I booked the Tickets to Charlotte – I looked for a Hornet's game and found that they are playing against the Knicks on our second night in Charlotte. Perfect. Liat joined me – she was curious about it, even though she's not a basketball fan. However, she enjoyed it very much – an NBA game is much more than basketball – it's an entertainment event when each 30-seconds break is used – cheering, dunking contest, kids game on the 5 minutes break, dancing, and more. It was awesome. A fantastic way to spend the evening.
The next morning we took a walk in the University botanical gardens – a small but pleasant garden. It's good for an hour or half an hour walk, including the greenhouse.
We drove to the NoDa neighborhood – which considered being a popular arts district. It looks like the place is waken late because at noon everything seems really sleepy. We took a walk on the main street and sat for lunch at Heist Brewery – one of the many local breweries in Charlotte.
Afterward, we decided to visit another famous district: the historic South End. The neighborhood hosts some Breweries, art installations, murals, galleries. Shopping and fine-looking houses.
Then we headed to the Duke Mansion and took a nice walk over there.
We spend the afternoon in the Premium Outlets of Charlotte, and ended the day back in NoDa district, visiting two breweries – no doubt that the night is the time to visit NoDa.
Although Charlotte is a significant and populated city, It's full of green spaces, inside and outside the city. We decided to take a morning trip to Reedy Creek Park. With marked routs and beautiful lakes, it was a heartwarming trip. The quiet, disturbed only with birds' tweets, was terrific and enviable. If you like – there are also places for a picnic and for fishing. All free of charge.
After this excellent morning trip, we drove to the historical village in Minthill. Unfortunately, we did not know that a visit must be arranged in advance. But we were lucky, and due to an internal site volunteer event, some of the places were open and we could take a peek. It was great.
The lovely lady at the reception also recommended us to visit the Reed Gold Mine -where the first nugget of gold was discovered in the USA. The museum tells a great story on the role of gold for the human culture and the ways of finding and digging of gold. The visit includes a short self-guided trip into an underground mine.
After the beautiful trip, we started our drive toward Wilmington, where we spend the next 3 days. I dedicated Wilmington to a separate chapter on the blog. Because our flight back home went out from Charlotte, we came back after the visit to Wilmington and had time to visit the Charlotte Museum of History and the Rock House. The museum has several nice historical exhibitions, but the main attraction is the Rock House - the oldest house of North Carolina, dated back to 1774. The house is preserved and you can visit it with a guide.
It was an absolutely great ending to our tour to Charlotte. Only a few days after we came back home – Israel banned any entrance to the country due to the Coronavirus crisis.
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