Congratulations on landing a royal internship in the beautiful city of Charlotte, NC, also known as the Queen City! With its mid-Atlantic location, Charlotte is known as the international gateway to the South and is home to a unique blend of both old-fashioned and modern attractions, dining and entertainment. Its emerald tree-lined boulevards, glistening downtown skyline and Southern charm will pull you in and make it your newfound city love.
This kind of appeal has made Charlotte a booming hub for banking industry big names Bank of America and Wells Fargo, placing it as the largest banking headquarters in the country second to New York City. Living in the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotteans continue to make their city grow by developing the latest trends in technology, finance and commerce among their neighboring Southern cities.
At InternMatch we want you to get the complete experience during your stay in Charlotte so we created this Internship City Guide to get you ahead of the curb when it comes to navigating your way through Charlotte neighborhoods, transportation and popular spots for foodies and outdoor explorers alike.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the fair amount of cool places to check out in Charlotte. As a widespread city that seems to have a new neighborhood pop up every month, there’s almost always a spot nearby to spend some time exploring!
Aside from its sky-high banking buildings, Downtown Charlotte is lined with the most interesting museums in the state, from the Carolinas Aviation Museum featuring exhibits on the history of aircrafts and flying (North Carolina’s Wright brothers were first in flight!) to two amazing side-by-side art museums: The Mint Museum and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
If you’re craving a little more hands-on action while downtown, definitely make your way to Discovery Place, an interactive science museum and Charlottean favorite for years (my #1 field trip destination until college!). If lying on a bed of nails, crushing a garbage can, or scoping out cute animals on the National Geographic Crittercams isn’t enticing enough, Discovery Place also hosts an IMAX theater next door where you can watch science documentaries and Batman movies alike on the largest screen in the Carolinas.
For Downtown nightlife, enjoy bar-hopping made easy at The EpiCentre, a multi-level complex of Charlotte’s most popular Downtown bars, clubs, and restaurants. A personal favorite of mine is Mez, holding lavish interior design, stunning views of Charlotte’s skyline and a menu of classy cocktails and tasty late-night bites. Did I mention there’s a movie theatre within the restaurant with full access to the menu? Not much pairs better with an action film than a fresh plate of linguine caponata.
After walking through Charlotte’s downtown skyline, you can relax in the prettiest Dilworth neighborhood spot, Freedom Park. Known as the Central Park of Charlotte, Freedom Park is a beautiful area full of rolling green hills (the largest known as “hippie hill”), walking trails and playgrounds -- the perfect place to escape the daily grind. Bring a friend, a pup, a bike or a good book and enjoy the scenery for hours on end. And if you’re a picnic kinda person, you’re in luck as there are rows of popular restaurants along the East Boulevard entrance of the park where you can get your order to go and enjoy it at one of the many picnic tables in the Freedom Park. I recommend Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar to get your juicy, any-way-you-want-it burger and sweet potato fries fix.
Feeling a little more alternative? Head over to the Plaza-Midwood area, where leather biker vests, colorful wall art and vegan black bean falafels are the norm. The Plaza-Midwood area comes alive during both day and night. During the day, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the awesome variety of eateries all within the same block. For a hearty, mouth-watering Southern feast check out Dish, home to some of the best mac and cheese, BBQ sandwiches and biscuits in the city (Guy Fieri agrees). Not to mention, their menu features a section of awesome quesadillas and burritos too! After stuffing your face Southern style, take a walk down Central Avenue and pop into the cool shops and art galleries. Hong Kong is a favorite for vintage shoppers and thriftinistas.
Find yourself in Plaza-Midwood at night? Start your night off easy at Common Market, a charming, eclectic little spot for choice beers and wine from around the world. Pick up a round of pool or hang out on the back patio down the street at Elizabeth Billiards, a dive bar destination for all Plaza-Midwood locals. Before catching some zZz’s, make a late night stop at Diamond, an old-school diner brought back to life by a crave-worthy menu of late-night fried goodness (the hushpuppies are a must!).
Located just a few blocks from Charlotte’s city center is North Davidson Street, celebrated as the city’s Historic Arts District, NoDa. Lined with historic art galleries, funky coffee shops and nightly entertainment in popular performance venues, NoDa is a gem that is not to be missed. Check out The Evening Muse, a listening room and art gallery where the best of Charlotte’s local music scene get their start. Across the street is the historic Neighborhood Theatre. Built in 1945 as a movie theater, this now-performance venue has hosted some of the most memorable concerts Charlotte’s seen and has also been the set for many music videos including North Carolina stars The Avett Brothers’ “I and Love and You.”
Deciding where to grab a bite to eat in NoDa can be a challenge given the delicious range of options. Feeling baja fresh? Chow down on the city's most popular fish taco at Cabo Fish Taco and enjoy the restaurant’s upbeat atmosphere. Feeling a little more French? Settle in at Crepe Cellar, a swanky kitchen and pub whose menu boasts European eats like steak frittes, French bread pizza and both savory and sweet crepes. Continue the French theme at NoDa’s star bakery, Amelie’s. With charming baby blue walls, gourmet salted caramel brownies and brie toasted baguettes, you’ll never want to leave Amelie’s side. In fact, its doors are open 24-hours, leaving many inner-city Charlotteans to call it their second home.
Charlotte’s Southpark neighborhood is a favorite for residents and business owners alike. There’s no better place to shop 'til you drop than at Southpark Mall, the city’s largest shopping mall. It has all the essentials for retail therapy: Urban Outfitters, Aldo, Nordstrom, Gap and more. Connected to the mall are a variety of both chain and locally owned restaurants. Cowfish, which has recently exploded into the Charlotte foodie scene, offers a tongue-wagging half-sushi, half-burger menu that keeps its doors packed every night of the week. Down a mile from Southpark Mall is Phillips Place, a suburban oasis of clothing boutiques, wine bars and luxurious water fountains. All in all, the Southpark is a go-to destination for all of your shopping, entertainment, dining needs.
Charlotte, with its horizontal patterns of growth and suburban sprawl, is not exactly the most ideal city for efficient public transportation. Having a car in Charlotte is your key to getting around town. Fortunately, there's more than enough parking in most areas and lot prices are easily affordable.
The Lynx light rail system exclusively serves the Downtown area with lightning speed, passing through neighborhoods and areas of entertainment in and around downtown Charlotte from South Boulevard to 7th Street. Park and Ride lots are located at the majority of Lynx stations. Cost to ride is $1.75 each way.
Friends & Family Coming to Visit?
The CLT Charlotte Douglas International Airport serves hundreds of carriers and destinations, both international and domestic. If your place seems to be a little cramped, they can always find a great place to stay in the city using Airbnb.
Staying Fit in Charlotte
Don’t let its leisurely Southern pace fool you -- Charlotteans are huge on keeping fit and trying out the latest workout trends. To keep in shape during your stay in Charlotte, you can join one of the many YMCA branches in the city, all of which offer a great variety of machines, butt-kicking classes and an overall supportive atmosphere for getting the most out of your workout.
If you’re on a tighter budget, look into a plan at Planet Fitness, an affordable alternative that offers gym essentials at a lower price. Forget the indoors -- if breaking a sweat outdoors is more your thing, you gotta check out Ultimate Crossfit, a fitness club that will whip you into shape like never before, all while enjoying the scenery of Charlotte neighborhood parks (Freedom Park 5:30 am workout, anyone?).
It’s an Emergency, Doctor!
Having an idea of where to get medical attention is valuable information in any new city. ZocDoc is an online tool used to find a doctor based on your location and insurance provider, not to mention its easy online appointment booking process. You can always find immediate help at any Charlotte metropolitan area hospitals such as Presbyterian Hospital or Carolinas Medical Center.