Charlotte, let me upgrade you: 5 experiences our city needs

Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Our city is growing at what some would call an alarming rate. However, we still don’t always measure up when it comes to being compared to some other major U.S. cities or places around the world.

As someone who has had the opportunity to live abroad and travel the world, I’ve experienced some pretty amazing things. When I returned to Charlotte, there was a sense of reverse culture shock after seeing that I wouldn’t be able to participate in certain things again without having to travel.

There are some pretty cool things out there these days, and without a doubt if Charlotte was able to get some of them, it would be a force to be reckoned with.

While our city is great, it can only get better. Here are 5 experiences that Charlotte needs to add ASAP.

(1) Ball pit bars

Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor
Location: Seoul, South Korea

When you think of a ball pit, you think of places like Chick-Fil-A or Chuck E. Cheese. But, ball pit bars are also a real thing. You go in and order a cocktail or other adult beverage of your choice to gain entry into the pit. Many of them have cute props inside to help with the perfect photo op, too.

I was able to experience this once in Seoul, South Korea, and again in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was pretty cool that this was actually an adults-only experience, so you don’t feel awkward if you go without kids.

(2) Dinner in the sky

Shown at top. This particular experience is actually becoming more popular, so it’s only a matter of time before it lands in Charlotte. Just as the name suggests, you are hoisted up in the air while sitting at a table-like platform.

The platform is lifted with a crane off of the ground while you experience a full three-course meal in the sky. The experience lasts about two hours, and you will definitely go home with some amazing photos.

(3) Rooftop infinity pools

Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There’s technically a rooftop infinity pool at the Ritz Carlton in Uptown, but it’s indoors and it’s definitely not like this. As our city expands, it continues to form an amazing skyline. What better way to take in all of the beauty than from a pool set almost eye-level with the buildings.

I’m sure our next state-of-the-art uptown hotel will consider adding one, if it’s possible.

(4) Themed coffee shops

Photo by DeAnna Taylor
Location: Seoul, South Korea

This was probably one of my favorites. If you’re living in Asia, you almost have no choice but to experience at least one themed cafe. Shop owners take an idea and transform the entire cafe around it — even down to the drinks.

There was a Hello Kitty-themed shop that was in a cute pink building complete with rooms decked out in Hello Kitty merch. Other coffee shop ideas included a DIY phone case shop, where you sipped coffee while customizing a phone case with hundreds of different jewels and trinkets to choose from. There were even shops centered on poop. Yes, it sounds gross, but it was kinda cool in a weird way. Imagine sipping your latte from a toilet shaped mug while eating poop-shaped pastries.

(5) 3D animation restaurants

Photo by DeAnna Taylor
Location: Celebrity Equinox Ship

There is a new technology out now that is taking the dining experience to a new level. Aboard Celebrity cruise ships, you can take part in animated dinners. You sit at a regular table with regular tableware. However, prior to each course being served, a 3D animation is displayed on your table and plate to show a funny, yet cute, way that your meal was prepared.

Video by DeAnna Taylor

What are some things that you’ve experienced out of town that you would love to see in Charlotte? Let us know in the comments.


  1. We need more family friendly entertainment uptown… aka aquarium. and we need a more live music uptown. There is none ant the moment. How about a cool funky brewery actually uptown!

    • Agreed (minus the brewery, we have a lot of those already), but we need shops and more fun things to do downtown than businesses and restaurants. Make it a place that people want to walk around and explore and go in the shops and stuff…as it is, you only go downtown when you have to…make it something people would want to do just for fun.

    • I agree Mr. Grady Charlotte, a wonderful city their alot need to be done for tourists such as aquarium, hard rock cafe a Skyline bldg were you can see the city view and other major attractions uptown.

  2. We don’t NEED any of this. We NEED to preserve Charlotte’s history. We NEED more libraries, more opportunities for learning and arts. We don’t need a child’s playground mixed with alcohol. If you want that, go visit somewhere that has it. If you’re going to live in Charlotte, respect the people who came before you, respect the families that built this city. Learn about where you live.

    • Another thought…if you’re going to move somewhere, don’t move there with the intent to change it to what you want it to be. Move there with the intent to adapt to their way of life. Learn what’s happened there. Learn about the people. It might be just fine as it is. And if you don’t like it as it is, find somewhere you like better and is more suited to you. Not everywhere needs to be trendy. Not everywhere needs to be changed.

      • Get out of the 1900s. Charlotte is evolving and should focus on amenities to attract and retain people. It is a highly competitive landscape and just to look backward and focus on history won’t cut it. Granted a number of these are over the top and typically only found in Asia but other large American cities have many amenities and entertainment options Charlotte just doesn’t have.

        BTW – I’m an old guy but not too old to recognize the need to change! Your name says it all – Charlotte Native like that (a) makes you God and (b) clearly demonstrates you are against any ideas that didn’t start here. How sad!

        • I’m not an “old guy” I’m technically a millennial as much as I hate to admit it. I’ve watched numerous historic buildings torn down or had stuff built up around it so much that no one knows its there. I don’t think that being a native makes me god…but I do believe we need to preserve our history and there’s nothing wrong with that. Yes, evolving is needed but we don’t need to do it at the cost of our history and landmarks which is what keeps happening.

          • I’m guessing all of you missed the bio where it says that she is a Charlotte native? I’m trying to figure out why so much of this is focused on people who moved to Charlotte when the author is actually from Charlotte.

            Regardless this city could use a lot of upgrades. To think innovation erases history proves that you are out of touch

    • Well then Sir your city sucks? I agree with the people Charlotte, needs to catch up with other cities in North Carolina look at Wilmington, has everything you can offer were tourist attractions great for economic.

      • Yes! That’s it! We’ll build a beach and destory our industry so we can rely on a college, retirees, and a few large companies for any economic development. Then we can be just like Wilmington!!! (p.s. I love Wilmington, but that place is not something Charlotte should strive to be)

    • Loved her list! Many people are on here taking about libraries and infrastructure, clearly those are important as well but take the article for what it was a light hearted list of FUN things Charlotte could use to put us up as a contender with other major cities.
      I would also like to add an aquarium and major retail shops!

      • Charlotte already has an aquarium it happens to be connected to the largest retail space in North Carolina and doubles as the #1 tourist attraction. It just not uptown.

    • @Doug Brinkman – Did you include more money for police and education. Since you are asking for more poor people to come to Charlotte. Just make sure you add the extras needed, with the addition of Affordable Housing, Section-8 and low income.

      Charlotte, is way ahead of most of what you all are writing/commenting. The city has an aquatic center – (Concord Mills), breweries, night life, and housing for all. Most of you don’t go out enough to know Charlotte. Most of people here stay online for news, entertainment and education. If it weren’t for your JOB, you wouldn’t even know you were in a major city.

      Please stop comparing – Raleigh to Charlotte. Raleigh is a college town, and the State Capital.

  3. Road improvements, better mass transit, sidewalks that connect to neighborhoods, more parks. Just a few more importing things we need then eating in the sky.

  4. I had a feeling this article wasn’t going to go over well with Charlotte residents. lol I agree with @grady that we need more family entertainment downtown, or really in Charlotte in general.

    I agree with @A Charlotte Native that we also need to preserve Charlotte’s history. I love what’s happening in SouthEnd, but we are loosing a lot of what made it SouthEnd.

    Last but not least, we really really need to do something about the homeless situation and prevent more people from becoming homeless @Doug Brinkman

  5. I love these ideas! I hope someone does create them in Charlotte in the near future! We can enjoy and respect and cultivate Charlotte’s rich history and culture while still embracing new and exciting ideas for our city! The people who would create these experiences are business owners and entrepreneurs looking- their passion is creating art, entertainment, and experience not to mention a profit (not housing or roads which is way beyond the budget of a typical entrepreneur and not profitable- these are two different worlds and two different budgets and are no comparison in any way) so to have experiences like this wouldn’t be taking any attention or funding away from housing and road work and other needs because that is up to the city and not one single business owner’s responsibility to fix. So that all being said, I think this was a great article and I look forward to hearing about new things I never new existed and hope to see some day in Charlotte!

  6. Seriously, that’s a whole lot of trendy garbage for a city that needs transportation, housing and parks. Things I’ve experienced out of town that Charlotte needs? A fully functional, clean and easy transit system that means you don’t need a car. No sales tax. No sales tax is a beautiful thing. Parks and greenways that aren’t decorated with garbage. More things for people to do with their families that don’t cost money. Heck more things to do for people who can’t justify $15 cocktails.
    Plus, this is just rude to the food and beverage talent in this city. We have a lot of amazing coffee shops and it’s insulting to suggest they sell it in a toilet shaped cup to be “better”. We have talented chefs using local ingredients- can you not just enjoy the food- their craft without needing more entertainment?
    If you need to be amused like a child to enjoy food and drink, that’s kind of sad. On a recent vacation, my best meal wasn’t “tech” heavy and full of “kitsch”, it was eaten at a bar where a group of locals welcomed me into their engaging conversation about their home. I’d rather see Charlotte turn into a place where locals reach outwards towards each other and engage and talk than become a place with a bunch of instagarbage experiences that exclude anyone who can’t afford the high price of entry.

    • It used to be like this…a place where everyone knew everyone and if they didn’t, they’d welcome you into the family. I’m in complete agreement with you!

  7. What a horrible thing to have written and posted! Haha nothing but dumb stuff for people with low senses of self-worth to post on instagram. Nothing of cultural relevance or identity. Nothing practical. This should absolutely never have been posted and the author is an example of someone having a platform to express themselves who should probably just not.

  8. Geez people, lighten up. The writer is just mentioning some potentially fun/quirky stuff that might add to Charlotte’s charm. She’s not saying it has to be exclusive of family entertainment, affordable housing, better transit, historical preservation, etc.

    Also, “A Charlotte Native:” you must have missed the part in DeAnna’s bio where it says she, too, is a Charlotte native. Born here. Just like you. So maybe dial down the condescension a little.

    • Nope Charlotte isn’t allowed to grow or have anything new added ever! lol this one native says so and overrules us other natives

    • Nope, I saw that before I ever posted. I’m just tired of history being torn down/hidden in the name of “fun/quirky stuff” because that’s exactly what happens. That’s all I’m saying.

  9. Man, CharlotteFive has really sunk to new levels of soul-sucking clickbait nonsense. This mostly seems like a chance for DeAnna to brag-cast about her travels. (Also, LOL, at a former lawyer turned travel writer touristing at infinite pools and vacuous bars/coffeeshops with the handle @BROKEandabroadlife. The lack of self-awareness is pretty stunning.)

    • This comment mostly seems like a chance for Brendan to lash out about his inferiority complex. Tell us more about how the author being a lawyer turned travel writer touring at infinity pools made you feel less than?

      • Actually, now that I think about it, maybe Brendan derives his def worth from something more sustaining than comparing himself others. I apologize.

  10. Alamo Draft House! I visited my first last weekend in Raleigh. Their custom curated ‘pre-shows’ (and surprisingly edible food) might actually draw people back out to theaters.

  11. Not sure how no one said this yet, but we need a zoo! Every big cool city that is interesting to visit has a zoo, also some more cool museums, not art museums though!

  12. Honestly, I love all of these ideas but they’re not what make a city great. People don’t travel to Europe to eat in the sky they travel to experience culture. I think Charlotte needs to invest in things that advance charlottes culture that would make charlotte a place to visit that is different from any other midsize US city. People visit DC for the government and museums. Philadelphia for the history. Boston for the history. LA for Hollywood. I think the question is what does Charlotte have that could be developed to become that type of thing that will withstand the turnover of trends. We don’t have history or natural beauty going for us so it has to be something else. Maybe we become the most bike friendly city in the US. Or maybe we invite world famous architects to create unique buildings that people from all over the world would travel to see. Let’s get creative!

  13. Many cities have coffee shops with a play area for kids — great place for parents to get together and allow their kids to play.

  14. I think whats lost about this list is that these attractions are at the tourist capitals for that particular nation (Seoul, Kuala Lumpur). Charlotte is probably not in the top 50 most visited US cities let alone the top 10 most visited cities in the Southeast.

    Once the locals visit once or twice their done with said attraction and it will close with in a year because their are not enough gullible tourist to keep it running.

    Long term investments in museums, parks and infrastructure is what this city needs. You want ball pits and over priced themed dinning go to Pigeon Forge or Myrtle Beach.

  15. I would love for us to become the most energy-independent-and-energy-source-diverse city. I wish the public buses also offered patron-paid historical tours. To add to that, it would be nice to have more trains to the transit system. I love how each side of town and different parts of Charlotte have different stories, food and cultural mixes. I want to see more of and be exposed to more of what makes this city special, but I would rather not drive (or do Uber or Lyft). I love how traveling all throughout the city with highlights oe trails and parks have vignettes, monuments and placards to tell some of Charlotte’s history and want all the trails, bike lanes and sides/parts/villages of the city to be more connected (without need of vehicles). I like the idea of bringing even more unique experiences and entertainment to the city that the writer proposed. Charlotte has enough history, beauty and amazing people to do all of this in its own, one-of-a-kind ways.

    For me, faith, family, fitness & financial attractiveness of Charlotte was enough to ensnare me and keeps me happy. I love how anything fitness-related has some of the kindest, most beautiful people who love their faiths, family and jobs. People here have pride in their city, regardless of whether or not they were born here.

    1. I guess I want more ways to get across town without being with traffic than just the bus and our nice but small, light rail.
    2. To be able to run from one side of town to the far other side without having to cross traffic.
    3. I also think a very awesome ZOO & Aquarium is a great investment. *I would know.

  16. Sidewalks, sidewalks, sidewalks. I live in Huntersville and I would love if my kids could walk or ride their bikes to nearby neighborhoods. We have a lot of great restaurants and stores within walking distance, but limited sidewalks to get there. I think people would venture out more often if they could walk to some of these businesses on a safer route. I also think kids would be more active if they easily walk or ride their bikes to a friend’s house. Driving my kids to playdates gets old…very quickly.

  17. I can tell you growing up in New York City that once you build a skyscraper you do not build a three- bedroom house next to it what Charlotte needs to do is compete with the other large cities since they’re already going up that path need to speed it up and get it done you need a monument you need a great park downtown big Park man-made lake in the park and hopefully someday a professional baseball team you have the goods to becoming the number one city in the South let’s go ahead and take out crown

  18. I’m sure these cities would be embarrassed that a travel blogger visited and the big takeaways were a Hello Kitty store with coffee and Drunk Ball Pit. You can experience that at your local fast food chain or mall if you are stealthy with the booze.

  19. This stuff is fun, but needlessly “extra.”

    When I think of the things I’d like Charlotte to have, I think of a Chinese takeout restaurant that’s open past 10pm. I think of nightlife that doesn’t end at 2am. I think of massive scale events that bring tourism money in by the truckloads.

    But sure. Themed coffee shops. Alright.

  20. Here is my list – and it applies to the entire metro region, not just the 6 square blocks of uptown.
    1. Food. If it isn’t BBQ, you can’t find good food in the area. Especially ethnic foods. I have yet to have a good Gyro, Thai or Chinese let alone an abundance of these. Every neighborhood should have great food options. None of them do. This isn’t just prepared foods, but include REAL butcher shops (not Publix or The Peach Stand) and other quality local shops.
    2. Clean and abundant parks.
    3. Clean, reliable, safe, accessible public Transportation – the choo choo light rail is cute, but the population density is nearly high enough to waste money on that.
    4. A second airline to have routes out of CLT. American Airlines and their outright monopoly of CLT is destroying budgets for those that want to fly into or out of Charlotte.
    5. Quality health care. People shouldn’t need to make an appointment 5 months out to see their doctor. I am referencing the local experience. Yes, there are national issues, but the health care experience in Charlotte is vastly inferior to other US cities.


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