It wasn’t until I was standing in the cold beer cellar beneath Duckworth’s Uptown last month, surrounded by a collection of 500 hard-to-find labels, that I learned this could very well be the location of a speakeasy from the Prohibition era. I also learned that the building holding the Cellar at Duckworth’s is 106 years old, their truffle mac and cheese tastes like the food of the gods and they have non-frozen daiquiris that are divine.
Why had I never been on a Charlotte tour before?! Johnny Wright, a Charlotte native, guided me (another Charlotte native) and a few guests through Uptown as part of Taste Carolina Gourmet Food tours. The company is a recent arrival to the Queen City and is a fun resource for different tastes of food, drinks and local history. It’s not the only tour out there, either.
Here are 6 activity-based tours to get to know Charlotte better — even if you’re a native.
The activity: Eating beautiful food, sipping drink samples and walking in between. Walk through Uptown for a blend of restaurant samples and discussions about Charlotte’s history at about five or six locations. The two current tour offerings are “Local to Charlotte, Rooted in North Carolina” (featuring independent restaurants and locally sourced dishes) and “The Spirit of Charlotte” (featuring food tastings at different restaurants paired with a small cocktail, local beer or wine).
Where you go: Uptown Charlotte. Morning tours encompass stops like Amelie’s, Halcyon, Queen City Burgers & Crafts, Melt in Your Mouth, Not Just Coffee, Assorted Table Wine Shoppe/Orrman’s Cheese Shop, Stoke and 5Church. Afternoon/evening tours feature stops like Zia Pia/Assorted Table Wine Shoppe, The Cellar at Duckworth’s, Cotton Room, 5Church, and Crave.
Duration: About 3-4 hours.
Price: $65-$79.50. Pricing for private and custom group tours is also available.
How to sign up: Find tickets here.
The activity: Walk around various parts of town and sample food and sips. The goal of the tour is to connect you with “the history, culture and the best flavors of the Queen City” as you explore a specific neighborhood.
Where you go: Tours cover ground in one of the following neighborhoods: Uptown, NoDa, Plaza Midwood, Dilworth and South End. Gastropubs, delis, fine dining establishments and breweries are on the list.
Duration: About 3 hours.
Price: $60+. Pricing is available for private tours as well.
How to sign up: Click through the calendar here.
The activity: Cruising around on a segway as you explore different Charlotte neighborhoods. There’s also the possibility of food and drink. Tours range from educational (in terms of Charlotte history), to fun (just an excuse to cruise), to destination-based (think markets and museums), to spooky (in the form of haunted tours).
Where you go: It depends on the tour you choose. Explore Center City with the Historic Uptown Neighborhood Tour. Take the Markets, Museums & Parks Segway Tour to check out places like Levine Avenue of the Arts, The Green, the Panthers stadium, Historic Fourth Ward, Settlers Cemetery, The Square, 7th Street Public Market and Romare Bearden Park. Opt for Dilworth-Myers Park Segway Tour to explore those two lovely neighborhoods. Risk the Haunted Segway Tour to land in Historic Fourth Ward, Settlers Cemetery and The Square. The list goes on.
Duration: The length of the tour varies per category, but is generally 1-2 hours.
How to sign up: Book here.
The activity: Sampling beer by bus. Board a bus named George (after Queen Charlotte’s husband) for the lighthearted Brewster Tour, which showcases three breweries along the way. Receive a complimentary beer pour at two of the stops, then get entered into a raffle at the third stop, for prizes ranging from $15 to $120 in value. Along the way, you will learn about the process of craft-beer-making, plus the history behind each brewery.
Where you go: Three breweries. On the April calendar, those breweries include Catawba Brewing Company, Blue Blaze Brewing, The Unknown Brewing Co., Birdsong Brewing Co., NoDa Brewing Company and Legion Brewing, depending on the tour you select.
Duration: About 4 hours.
Price: $35 for the Brewster Tour. Pricing for group tours and corporate events is also available..
The activity: Biking around town. During the Bike & Brews tour, you can bike and taste local brews. During the Southern Food Bicycle Tour and the Taste & Cycle Tour, you get a look at Charlotte’s streetcar suburbs with regular stops for local eats.
Where you go: The Southern Food Bicycle Tour may land you at places like Merts Heart & Soul, Alexander Michael’s and Sauceman’s; while Bikes & Brews gets you to South End. The locations vary across tours. Then there is the Taste & Cycle Tour, involving South End and Uptown, with stops like Price’s Chicken Coop and 7th Street Public Market.
Duration: 1-3 hours.
How to sign up: Book tours here.
The activity: Listening and laughing while you ride a bus. A comedy-driven tour guide drives through town and discusses history and architecture with a humorous twist. Expect jokes akin to those you hear in a comedy club. The calendar denotes R-rated and PG-13-rated tours. Bonus: You can bring beer and wine onboard.
Where you go: Through different and interesting Charlotte neighborhoods, with a stop for a beverage and bathroom break. The tour starts at First Ward Park, 301 E 7th St.
Duration: 90 minutes.
Price: $25. Pricing for private tours and the option to book the whole bus is available as well.
How to sign up: Click through the calendar here.
Photo: Katie Toussaint