8 life hacks every Charlottean needs to know

Photo by Jess Bentley

If you’ve been in Charlotte long enough (or have made friends with the right people) you start to pick up on little hacks that make life easier. Here are eight you should know:

How to escape rush hour

If you’re driving from the Uptown area to south Charlotte during rush hour, Providence Road is not your friend. A luckier bet is Randolph Road (which is basically parallel to Providence, and begins as 4th Street Uptown). Get there.

What to order on the secret sandwich menu

There’s nothing better than a secret sandwich. Expect ten sandwiches and three desserts on the underground menu at Potbelly Sandwich Shop (320 South Tryon St.). To get you warmed up, The Cheeseburger sub involves meatballs, cheddar, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato and pickles. See the full secret menu here.

Photo by Jess Bentley

How to survive the Metropolitan parking deck

Charlotte’s version of the Tower of Terror takes the form of the six-level parking deck at retail destination Metropolitan in Midtown, where the parking is free but the high-speed car swerving and aggressive maneuvering for The Perfect Spot by Trader Joe’s is fierce. Enter the deck and proceed to the second or third level, or perhaps even the top. There’s peace there.

If you really can’t deal, Dressler’s, Vivace and Hickory Tavern also have complimentary valet.

How to glimpse the best view of the city from Ballantyne

The next time you catch a movie and an adult beverage at Regal Ballantyne Village (Oscar winner “The Shape of Water” is playing this week), wander over to the little lobby balcony. Open the door and step outside (it’s allowed). Look forward and a bit to the left, and you’ll see it — a view of the skyline so tiny it fits in your hand. (14815 Ballantyne Village Way)

How to get some alone time at Whole Foods

There’s no better place to tap into WiFi and get some work done with your lunch than Whole Foods at SouthPark (6610 Fairview Road). The hot bar is made of dreams, here. But sometimes the first floor cafe area is overwhelmed by lunch dates and the second floor is overrun by children clomping around and screaming in the play area. Go up to the third level where Salud! Cooking School is. You’ll find a community table and a little nook by the window with two armchairs. Cozy up.

How to endure the long lunch line at Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe Uptown

It’s lunch on a work day and all you want is your quiche du jour at Amelie’s (380 S. College St.). But that LINE. Pay it no mind, place your order at the bar.

CharlotteFive files

Speaking of lines…

How to end your suffering in the beer lines at the Whitewater Center

If you’ve showed up for River Jam or a concert at the USNWC (5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.) because such activities are free with parking, you inevitably get stuck in an epic line at the Market Bar and/or the Pump House Biergarten. Head back up the stairs through the main entrance and pop into the Outfitters store. They have beers and cider on tap there.

How to navigate a torrential downpour when you’re walking to lunch Uptown

The Overstreet Mall awaits. It’s a network of corridors and skywalks that allows you to walk indoors all the way from the Duke Energy Center on Stonewall Street to the Hearst Tower on Fifth Street, with access points along the way including The Ratcliffe and Founders Hall. Let this be your guide.

Photo: Katie Toussaint

What hacks did I miss? Enlighten me in the comments.

Featured photo: Jess Bentley. Thanks to the CharlotteFive team for contributing to this story.


  1. Working in Uptown and want to avoid the lines pretty much everywhere. Go to lunch at 11:30 instead of 12. You’ll beat the hoards at just about every restaurant.

  2. Middle to upper income bankers who work uptown and live south of uptown, rejoice! All others, be quiet. you obviously don’t exist.

  3. How about a commuter based hack to literally anywhere besides s. clt. For instance, here’s a good one. Statesville, Graham, Tryon and the Plaza all run parallel to one another. you can take either to get into uptown from n charlotte. Or if you’re lost somewhere in s charlotte, look for the BofA building in the distance. you should be able to see it if you’re driving North since uptown is on a hill. if you cant see it, you’re going further south. Or how about this one: Seventh Street Public Market validates parking. you can validate it yourself via stamp -no questions asked.

    Google Maps takes you to the front of Freedom Park. If you’re trying to get to the rear entrance with the pavillion and additional parking spaces, drive thru the neighborhood entered thru Cumberland ave next to Bad Daddys.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here