None of us had ever been to The Queen City, but we decided to give it a try for our girls’ weekend this year. It did not disappoint! By the time we arrived Thursday evening, we were getting pretty hungry and tired, but we were greeted with quite tasty warm cookies and a super friendly front desk staff, and we perked right up!
So, Where Should You Stay in Charlotte?
The Double Tree Suites by Hilton Hotel Charlotte — SouthPark, undoubtedly. We chose this hotel because it was a great buy in a great location, but we were absolutely wowed by the staff! We were more than comfortable with all four of us – and all four of our ever-growing shopping stashes – in our spacious suite with separate living area and two-queen bedroom. We were also pleasantly surprised to find a full kitchen in which we could have cooked if we’d really been wanting to save. But it was the girls’ trip, so we did not turn on any kitchen appliances (though it was nice having the fridge for our tastiest leftovers).
It was a beautiful, super safe area – we walked day and night. For us, the proximity to the fantastic SouthPark Mall (where we pretty much spent the day Friday), a lovely park, and the more upscale shopping area, Phillips Place, were all big draws to this hotel. We also happened upon the Specialty Shops Southpark just across the street from our hotel, and it had a lot to offer too — we can always spend some time in Williams-Sonoma, after all! Beyond the location and the cookies, other perks were serious water pressure, endless hot water (4 women were showering in succession at some points, and it never cooled one degree!), and an onsite restaurant and bar. We really enjoyed our breakfast there overlooking the lovely courtyard.
The thing we LOVED even more than all of that was the fact that everyone from the hotel engineer who helped us find our room when we got back from shopping (we’d been traveling and then shopped until we dropped, don’t judge) 🙂 to the woman who drove us to dinner whom we were tempted to invite to join us from the front desk. She, by the way, turned out to be New York-transplant front-desk supervisor Christina Wyche, who had the best dinner recommendation we’ve had in a while and was so excited when we got back after we said we loved it that she threw her arms up in celebration. I thought we were gonna hug, and we’d have been up for it; not gonna lie.
The center courtyard in the center of the hotel is really cozy with lots of green. A wedding was held there the Saturday we were there, but I imagine most the time it’s accessible for relaxing with a glass of wine from the bar. And in October, the weather was perfect –highs in the 70s each day.
Travel Tip: We got this recommendation on the area we should stay by calling the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and letting them know what we were looking for…great shopping and dining options in walking distance with easy travel to Uptown Charlotte. One way we save is that we very rarely rent a car. We took a towncar service Uptown (arranged thru the hotel) the day we spent there, and the cost was no more than you’d pay for a cab.
Where to Eat?
You’ve got to grab brunch at Mert’s Heart and Soul. Fantastic Western omelets and well-coooked greens (there is pepper sauce on the table so you can spice them up to suit yourself). French toast was great, but the stars of the show here were the sweet potato pancakes. They were so scrumptious we couldn’t even leave room for the very tempting case of cakes calling to us. The sweet potato came through really well but they weren’t too sweet. Best. Pancakes. Ever.
For dinner Bricktops was excellent. It is a chain but not one available anywhere near home for us. The chicken Milanese was absolutely killer, and we had some food envy gazing at others’ plates nearby. Kathy had steak, and it was equally fabulous. The pineapple martini is perfect – not too dry but not overly sweet so the tartness comes through, and the raspberry martini deserves a mention too – awfully tasty. The bread pudding was just right – not at all greasy as they so often are, but still decadent.
These are the before and after dessert pictures. Time between shots: 4.2 seconds.
7th Street Market
The Seventh Street Public Market was mainly food (which is always great for us) – from gourmet cheeses to multiple wine shops, from awesome soft pretzels to sushi. It has a little bit of everything, including some fun booths of local goodies too if you need some souvenirs. Awesome for people watching, it brings in everyone in the city and lots of visitors too. This place would also be great for families, sandwiched between The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and The Levine Museum of the New South. The latter looked amazing but we did not have time to do it justice — another draw for another visit!
We also loved Amelie’s French Bakery just down the road, another Charlotte must. It’s a really hip space, and you can watch the goodies being made while you eat your own selections. And go back for more if you’re so inclined. This picture pretty much speaks for itself. We are still arguing about which was better: the honey bun or the peach tart. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Finally, if you’re a meatloaf person, Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill is not to be missed. With a nice outdoor dining area or a great atmosphere inside, you’ll have a great experience here either way. Also, if you’re debating whether the [onion] rings are worth the calories of eating a fried side…yes, yes they are. They are the perfect crunchy treat to go with pretty much anything you order. This pasta was fabulous as well. A great “little bit of everything” stop!
NASCAR Hall of Fame
A short walk is the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The cars around this showroom would be a huge draw for any fan, and a person could spend some time (and cash) there. We did not spring for the museum, but we did pick up some great treats for the kids in the gift shop.
As per usual, we had a blast, but the people of Charlotte are what made this trip extra special. Hands down, the friendliest city we’ve ever visited. Forget tea — we’ll be back for more dinner and drinks with the queen.