Charlotte is a city with history, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at the buildings, it all looks new. I get the sense they knock down and rebuild often. There are still a handful of buildings that have lasted through time but as I look around its feels like a young city.
Residential towers line the edge of the central business district with more under construction. The centre of Charlotte is relatively small and easy to walk around. The sprawling suburbs are where you will find the shopping malls for retail therapy, whereas the centre of town you will find numerous restaurants, bars and banks.
Just walking around the city it is nice to observe the architecture, though mostly new, an effort has been made to bring personality into the city. Getting around is easy as most street corners will have a map of the city centre. There is an abundance of museums to visit, however I did not as it was not the purpose of my trip.
Charlotte became popular back in the early 1800’s when gold was found causing a gold rush in the area. Now it is a hub for big banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Speaking of Wells Fargo, there is a museum dedicated to the History of Wells Fargo with free entry and open Tuesday through Saturday. It was an interesting walk into the past. I did have a light-bulb moment when I saw that the carriage was protected by a man carrying a shotgun with the box of valuables under his feet sitting next to the driver. Now I know where the word ‘shotgun’ comes from when you claim the front passenger seat in the car! I never knew.
Spending a night off campus is a luxury in itself but when searching for a hotel in Charlotte I wanted to find a hotel with character. The chain hotels are good when you want to meet your expectations, however they rarely have character. I came across one of the oldest hotels in Charlotte with an interesting history, The Dunhill Hotel. It was the perfect choice. From the exterior, to the lobby, to the bedroom, there was an abundance of charm in this boutique hotel that is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. With only 60 rooms it has an intimate vibe enhanced by the very helpful staff.
I was upgraded on check-in to a Deluxe Queen from a Vintage Queen providing me with a spacious lounge area to relax, watch t.v. and the bed was so comfy. Not only did I receive free bottles of water, The Dunhill has the fanciest pens I have ever seen in a hotel!
In every town or city I visit as a tourist I try to find a ghost tour. Not only do you hear about the spirits of the area, you learn some of the history behind the facade. In Charlotte I found Carolina History and Haunts were the only ones who offered such a tour. Naturally, I booked and was ready to be for some interesting stories. Why I would choose a walking tour in winter, at night, when the temperature is almost freezing just shows how much I love a ghost tour.
Rugged up so much that I could bare see or walk, the walking tour started with the ghosts of the Irish pub next to us. Our guide was very engaging and entertaining, telling gory stories of the first hospital, grave robbing and mixed in with history. We also ventured to the Dunhill Hotel to hear about the history and resident ghosts. The tour ended appropriately in a historical graveyard that has many unmarked graves along with marked graves of those tied to Charlotte’s history.
After the tour it was time to experience the night life. As I walked the streets I noticed a rat run past me. As I watched with interest I saw something fly past my face, turns out it was an owl that was also looking for dinner. Alas, the owl did not catch the rat but I have no doubt it would get the next one. As for me, I ended up in a 50’s style diner. It was late, I was cold and hungry craving steak and vegetables. The neon lights of the diner drew me in like a moth to a flame. I can’t go past a classic diner. Must be something to do with my family’s fondness of Hot Rods. It was a great meal and nice to be out of the cold but as I knew I had a wonderful hotel room waiting for me I called it a night.
NASCAR HALL OF FAME
The main reason I took a trip to Charlotte was to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame. My family been lucky enough to watch NASCAR races live during holidays to the USA and as a spectator I really enjoy the live action in person. It is an experience. I will go into more depth about NASCAR in another post, for now I will highlight my visit to the Hall of Fame.
Being so close to Charlotte I felt a duty to visit the Hall of Fame for me and for my family. It will be unlikely that any of them will journey from Australia to Charlotte in the future so it was up to me to go, take pictures and report back, plus buy a swag full of souvenirs (Christmas presents are sorted!).
I spent over 3 hours exploring all the exhibits and even tried my hand at the driving simulator. I will not become a professional driver anytime soon! I could explain it all but a picture is worth a thousand words.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Charlotte, the sun was out, crowds were minimal and it felt like I was on holiday again. I am now looking forward to my next city break: a one-night stay in San Francisco before flying home in December.