Monday, June 19, 2006

Finding any fun?

It’s an age-old complaint: There’s nothing to do around Charlotte. And why aren’t there more people uptown?

A transplant from New York City said that to me at an event at the Levine Museum of the New South I attended in my new role as the Observer’s newcomers reporter.

I wondered if she had been uptown on a Saturday morning, when crowds at the Center City Green Market often mingle with those headed to events at ImaginOn (the children’s public library and theater) or Bobcats Arena. I wondered if she’d been there at 10 p.m. on a Thursday or Friday night to see the bar-hoppers.

She might not realize how many new things we have to do here, and how many more are coming.

As a near-native, I lived here when there was truly not much to do - no Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Concord Mills, Carolina Panthers, Ballantyne, Birkdale Village. Those all came in the last 15 years. When I was growing up in the 1980s, uptown was a wasteland during evenings and weekends. That gradually improved during the 1990s as more condos, apartments and houses were built downtown.

Now, high-rise condos are taking shape and the EpiCentre across from the arena will bring more entertainment. Around the region, new developments are creating town centers from Harrisburg to Fort Mill, S.C.

Our options may have a little less fanfare than those in New York City or Miami or Chicago. Are there enough? Tell me what you think and I’ll follow up.

We're occasionally interviewing newcomers to get their perspective on the region. My friend and colleague Gail Smith-Arrants recently spoke to Melissa Shelton, 37.

She lives in Huntersville after moving from Cleveland, OH in July 2005. Our region's better economy and better weather lured her. Her tip for newcomers? “If you just ask around, people are very willing to share their expertise, like where’s the best place for authentic pizza. Everybody was in our shoes once.“

If you're a newcomer, what's the best tip about this region you've learned since you got here? E-mail me at and be sure to include your name and contact information.

Here's a tip: It's a great way to meet people or gather with friends, and best of all, it’s free: Center City Alive After Five, every Thursday through Aug. 31 at Tryon and Second streets, 5:30-9 p.m. This week, Bon Jovi tribute band Slippery When Wet performs. (click calendar).


Blogger Sweet Pea said...

I laugh when people talk about all the things going on in uptown Charlotte. You know you're grasping at straws when the Farmer's Market is the big draw! I was in uptown on a Sat afternoon about a month ago and you could have shot a cannon down Tryon and not hit one single person.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Sweet pea,
Uptown Charlotte is a joke. More cultural attractions are needed. The new Hall of Fame is a nice addition but, it is not cultural. The area needs more to attract visitors.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there needs to be shopping downtown - department stores, speciality stores, botiques -- this draws people who aren't already downtown for some other reason.

2:29 PM  

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