My favorite places to de-stress, find zen and focus in Charlotte


Last week I felt like my to-do list was one of those trick birthday candles. No matter how hard I tried to make it disappear, it just kept hanging around, taunting me a little bit.

As a result, I began to crave some ways to de-stress and get shit done. Preferably simultaneously.

It’s a tall order, but luckily Charlotte provides a number of venues to make it happen. Some of my favorites include:

Freedom Park

When I’m stuck staring at a screen with nothing to say, I find a walk around Freedom Park is a great solution. It’s pretty and peaceful, plus there’s something about being in nature that leaves you ready to focus again.

Futo Buta

Their warm, delicious food brings me back to my college days when I would shovel ramen into my face as I prepped for finals, except Futo Buta helps me graduate to a new level of culinary sophistication.

Umm yes. (@aliwashburn)

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It’s the kind of comfort food seemingly designed for “BLAHHH SO STRESSED” moments.

Not Just Coffee at Atherton Mill

There’s enough background noise so you’re not stuck in your own thoughts — which can make you crazy if you’re tense — yet the vibe is quiet enough that you’re able to focus. Not Just Coffee is one of my favorite spots to work and re-caffeinate.

At your favorite exercise class

When you’re stressed, it can be easy to justify skipping the gym. Yet when I talk myself into going to my favorite Pilates class (taught by Helen at the Dowd Y on Wednesdays and Thursdays) or when I do a poorly executed downward dog at Sycamore Brewing’s yoga sessions, I’m always a little less crazed.

Despite this fact, I still don’t think you’ll ever convince me to try spin. I’m afraid.


I would do terrible things for their chicken salad sandwiches. Pair that with their awesome music selection and it’s another favorite spot when I’m ready to buckle down and be productive.

Park Road Books

Bookstores just radiate zen to me. You can read about people who have done great things, thus encouraging you to do your own kick-ass stuff, or scan the covers, wander and zone out.

Spotted in the mystery section of Park Road Books 😂

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The Fillmore

After a particularly excruciating day of staring at my screen trying to come up with something to write about, I headed to The Fillmore to see Walk the Moon in concert. Watching a high-energy band do what they love left me with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

Also with that feeling when you think you’re talking really loudly but you’re not, you’ve just had your ears blasted off in the best way for three hours.

Last, but certainly not least …

Hair salons

I always believe that if you change your hair you can change your life. When the situation is dire, sometimes you need to schedule a little trim. Maybe add some highlights too if that’s something you’re into. A fresh cut gives you a new outlook on life.

Photo: David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer


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