Co-owners of Arrichion Hot Yoga and Circuit Training in South End, Clay and Jenna Reynolds, had an action-packed summer. They got married in June, honeymooned in Italy for three weeks, then visited Seattle and Missoula, Montana, to see Clay’s favorite band, Pearl Jam.
So when it was time to celebrate Jenna’s birthday in late August, the Sedgefield residents who are were ready to plan another trip. The newlyweds even had the ultimate destination in mind: Charlotte.
That’s right — no one says you have to buy a pricey plane ticket to live like a tourist for a few days. In fact, even those who have lived in Charlotte for years may be surprised to learn that there are plenty of things still to discover at home.
“We love our city and decided it would be so fun to stay here and make a little vacation out of it,” Jenna Reynolds said.
The Reynolds’ decided to spend the night at the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel. After getting ready in the suite, they walked around Romare Bearden Park, then met friends at 5Church for dinner. After dinner, they explored Uptown further, stopping by Sophia’s Lounge and 204 North for celebratory cocktails.
“It’s funny to think about being a tourist in your own city,” Jenna Reynolds said. “You live here, you get set in your everyday ways and commutes, but when you step out and do something a little differently, you feel brand-new and see things in a whole new way.”
Have some PTO to burn and thinking you might want to be a tourist right here in the Queen City? There are a million ways to do it, and here are just a few options to consider:
Where to stay
Stay at home: That’s one of the great things about vacationing here — you don’t actually have to spring for a hotel. Take some of the money you saved and hire a cleaning service so you’re not tempted to spend your vacation time doing chores.
(Exception: If you work from home, don’t stay at home. You’ll be too tempted to work.)
Live the luxury life: Spend your plane fare on a spa getaway, where you’ll be pampered to your heart’s content.
- The Ritz-Carlton has a bi-level penthouse spa nestled in the skyline. “The Ritz-Carlton Spa allows local guests to enjoy a different view of the city, specifically, a poolside perspective from the 18th floor of the hotel,” said Jim Moss, the Director of Sales and Marketing. Check out the Chocolate Honey Detox Treatment, which features honey from their rooftop garden. Booking a treatment gives you access to amenities, including the Aqua Lounge, Relaxation Lounge, Fitness Center, and Men’s and Women’s Vitality Lounges. The women’s lounge features a pink Himalayan salt room. While you’re there, create a wine blend at their Hidden Wine boutique.
- The Ballantyne just completed a renovation, so it’s a great time to check it out. In the spa, relax with the soothing scent of lavender with the Carolina Lavender Collection, or unwind with a solo or couple’s massage. During your stay, take advantage of complimentary golf club rentals for guests.
Camping: There are plenty of options for roughin’ it, too. Reserve a campsite at McDowell Nature Preserve Campground or Copperhead Island. Explore the oldest preserve in Mecklenburg County, which protects terrain along Lake Wylie. Go kayaking, have a picnic and hike along the trails before crashing at your primitive campsite and sleeping among the wildlife. Sneak back to civilization with patio dining at T-Bones on the Lake.
Stay in a treehouse: If you like the idea of camping but you prefer four walls and a roof, here’s a unique option. Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe offers a treehouse with all the comforts of home (aka, a bathroom). Overlook the vineyards and rock quarry while unwinding with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Airbnb: The options are endless. Our suggestion: pick one in a part of town that’s nowhere near where you live. We like this one in NoDa — with three bedrooms, you can invite friends to explore the arts district with you. If you haven’t been, it’s time to stop by Haberdish or Deejai for dinner. Head up to Trade and Lore the next morning for a latte or pour over.
What to do
Visit a museum: Charlotte is cultural, we promise. You just don’t notice while on your daily grind. Here, we’ll show you:
- If you haven’t yet visited the K(NO)W Justice, K(NO)W Peace exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South, now is the time. While you’re there, learn about Charlotte’s history at the Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers: Reinventing Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South exhibit.
- At the Mint Museum Randolph, visit the African-Print Fashion Now! A Story Of Taste, Globalization, And Style (admission is free on Wednesdays).
- The Harvey B. Gannt Center is hosting thought-provoking exhibitions Question Bridge: Black Males and Welcome to Brookhill.
Explore the greenways: Choose your own transportation — a bike, a scooter or your own two feet. Then pick your route:
- Go from Midtown to Park Road Shopping Center, starting with macarons at Le Macaron, stopping for a selfie at Freedom Park and finishing with a pint of Guinness and some bangers and mash at Sir Ed’s.
- Start Uptown and follow the Charlotte Rail Trail to Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, stopping along the way to seesaw or get coffee at Hyde Brewing.
- Head down to Fort Mill and mountain bike or hike the miles of trails at Anne Springs Close Greenway. On the way home, swing through downtown Fort Mill and order buffalo shrimp at Hobo’s.
- Note: the typical Lake Haigler entrance is under construction while a new Welcome Center is being built. It will be ready by Summer 2019, but for now, take the back entrance from Kingsley to U.S. 21 and pay $5 a person for your day’s access. Development and Marketing Manager Elizabeth Bowers recommends hiking the Haigler Loop (1.1 mi) or, for a longer hike, head from Lake Haigler to the Dairy Barn (3.5mi). “This hike will cross our largest swinging bridge, which runs over Steele Creek,” she said. “See many horses and livestock, as well as pass by our historic cabins. This is a great hike to get out and see the Greenway.”
For a more in-depth look at exploring area greenways, click here.
Listen to live music: When’s the last time you went to a concert? If it’s been a minute, check out the lineup at the Evening Muse, Neighborhood Theatre, Fillmore, Visulite, Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre or PNC Music Pavilion. Most of the venues have local restaurants nearby, so arrive early for ease of parking, then enjoy dinner and cocktails. If you haven’t explored the secret rooms at 820 with a slice of pizza and a beer before a show at Avid Exchange, now is the time.
Take a bus tour: Funny Bus Comedy City Tour departs from First Ward Park. BYOB and settle in for a 90-minute tour of the neighborhoods you meander through daily. You’ll learn something new — maybe even about your own street.
These are just a few options. If you want more, here’s a list of 170 things to do in Charlotte, ensuring you’ll never get bored.
If you’re searching for kid-friendly adventures, check out what one of our writers did on his family staycation over the summer.
And finally, no matter what you do, focus on enjoying your city with fresh eyes. “I think staycations are a great idea no matter what city in which you are living. It is easy to find yourself in a routine where you don’t even explore various parts of your own city,” said Jake Koferl, co-founder of Air Hospitality, a property management business in Charlotte that works with short-term rental properties including Airbnb.
“Naysayers might say that Charlotte is a ‘boring, banking town,’ but there are lots of really cool neighborhoods that are worth checking out,” Koferl said. “Staycations can be fit into any schedule, so there is no excuse to not get to know your own city and try something new. You never know, you might even relax a little bit.”