Your Charlotte bucket list: Top 10 things you MUST do in 2018

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CharlotteFive files

People are busy talking about their New Year’s resolutions, setting lofty goals pertaining to fitness, finances and more as we head into 2018. But what fun things do you resolve to do this year?

From regional road trips to brewery workouts, we’ve put together a bucket list of the top 10 things you should plan to do if you want to have the best 2018 possible in the Queen City.

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(1) Try at least three local craft beverages that aren’t beer.

You’ve likely tried plenty of local craft beers here in Charlotte, but this year we want you to expand your horizons to include all kinds of local craft beverages. Try hard cider from Red Clay Ciderworks, or a variety of both ciders and meads from GoodRoad Ciderworks. Sip spirits from Doc Porter’s Distillery or Great Wagon Road Distilling Company. You can even taste locally made kombucha from Lenny Boy Brewing Co. or Updog Kombucha.

(2) Take a road trip to a regional destination off the beaten path.

One of the perks of living in Charlotte is that you don’t have to drive for hours on end to get to an exciting vacation destination. You’ve probably already taken a weekend trip or two to Asheville and Charleston, but have you taken the time yet to explore Greenville? Or Hendersonville? What about the North Carolina Arboretum? Put these nearby locales on your list for 2018.

(3) Indulge in food truck fare.

Papi Queso, which was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” might have the best grilled cheese in town. Zaroob is the truck to find for kebabs, shawarma, hummus and falafel, and in the Arabic language, the name Zaroob means a very tiny road or path on which you bump into people. Just like inside a food truck. Then there’s WhatzaSpiedie — a necessary eat to find out what a spiedie actually is. Keep an eye out for Food Truck Friday events, too — Dilworth just had one last week on the corner of East Boulevard and Scott Avenue.

Photo by Tom Hanchett

(4) Shop locally for your closet.

To start, you can browse Blue Hem for specialty jeans (did you know it’s owned by two sisters?), 704 Shop for Charlotte-branded hats, shirts, hoodies and more (fun fact: their logo is an ambigram, which means it looks the same upside down) and The Argyle Alligator for locally made and gently used items for kids and babies (this is just one place mentioned on our holiday baby gift guide).

Pop-up markets are a solid option, too — we love when Vintage Charlotte pulls a bunch of vendors together in December.

(5) Volunteer for (or donate to) a cause you care about.

SHARE Charlotte has a list of more than 400 nonprofits in the Charlotte area that are looking for support. You can narrow down the list by who each nonprofit helps (such as kids, the environment or animals) as well as what it impacts (like health, education or human services) to find a cause that speaks to you.

Once you’ve figured that out, you can view the nonprofit’s SHARE Charlotte profile to see what they do and what volunteer opportunities are available; here’s the Humane Society’s profile, as an example. Or if you’d prefer, you can simply donate to the organization online. Your choice!

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(6) Go thrill-seeking to get your adrenaline pumping.

Whether you go rock climbing at Inner Peaks, zip lining or whitewater rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, or racing around the Charlotte Motor Speedway in an actual NASCAR race car, there are plenty of adventurous ways to find an adrenaline rush for any thrill seeker here in the Queen City. Carowinds is another favorite — especially during their annual SCarowinds fright nights.

(7) Treat yourself to a staycation.

Sometimes you just need a break without the travel, and Charlotte has exploded with hotels that also feature restaurants and bars. At the Charlotte Marriott City Center, you can end your night with dinner and drinks at Stoke (don’t forget the one-pound doughnut for dessert) and begin the next day with a cappuccino at Coco and the Director. At The Ivey’s Hotel (the original home of the Ivey’s Department Store that was established in 1900) you can grab a drink at the luxurious cocktail bar, Sophia’s Lounge, followed by dinner next door at 5Church. Then there’s the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, with the rooftop bar called Merchant & Trade for your cocktail needs, and the restaurant Angeline’s, with its contemporary northern Italian menu. Remember to relax.

(8) Work out at a local brewery.

Many Charlotte breweries offer some type of fitness activity, from run clubs to yoga classes and beyond. These activities are usually inexpensive (and some are totally free), and they can be a more approachable way to ease into your 2018 fitness goals without sacrificing your social life. Check out this handy calendar of all available brewery workouts to choose one that seems right for you, and work on finding some healthy balance in the New Year.

(9) Stop and smell the flowers — literally.

Sometimes we’re all so busy running from meeting to meeting (or on the weekends, from brewery to brewery) that we forget to take time to get outside and soak up the sunshine. We recommend clearing some time in your schedule to reconnect with nature by heading to the McGill Rose Garden, the UNCC Botanical Gardens or the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

(10) Celebrate the Brunch Bill at one of the city’s best brunch spots.

2017 will be forever remembered as the year that North Carolina passed the Brunch Bill, allowing us to order a Bloody Mary or mimosa with our meal starting at 10 a.m. instead of noon. We invite you to commemorate this boozy victory with one of the Queen City’s most Instagrammable brunches. Cheers to that!

Featured photo: CharlotteFive files

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