Monday, August 20, 2007

Best spots for taking out-of-town visitors?

This weekend, I had the chance to put some of my own advice to the test when I hosted two friends from out of town. One of the most frequent questions I get from newcomers is where they should take out-of-town visitors. Here's my itinerary - please feel free to critique it. I might get some more ideas for next time!

Thursday evening: Friends arrive hungry, but with no particular preference for dinner. I decided to take them to Dish, 1220 Thomas Ave., for an "only in Charlotte" dining experience. Southern food but with a very updated vibe - and lots of selections for my vegetarian friend. Everyone came away happy, but I did notice it was so loud we had trouble hearing each other at times.

Friday: After a lazy morning, we headed out to Ballantyne Village (at Johnston Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway) for lunch at Village Bistro. Everyone enjoyed the food there, and we topped it off with a visit to the center's new Kilwin's Chocolates and Ice Cream Shoppe for dessert. Then we headed to Ballantyne Resort across the street for some massages and a facial in the spa. Afterward, we decided that a couple of hours in air conditioning sounded good, so we headed back to the Ballantyne Village Theatre to catch an indie film ("Becoming Jane," which we generally gave a thumbs-up to). From there, we stuck around for dinner at Table, where we had a unique dinner with attentive service.

Saturday: We headed to the U.S. National Whitewater Center on Charlotte's westside. My friends weren't interested in whitewater rafting, but they enjoyed seeing the center, which was extremely busy with rafters and kayakers. We ate lunch in the restaurant, The Eddy, and enjoyed the food despite slow service. We took a walk around the whitewater course - one circuit was all we could handle in the heat. Afterward, we considered a tour of Lowe's Motor Speedway (just $5, every hour from 9:30 to 3:30 most days), but both friends had seen it before. So we headed instead to Birkdale Village at Interstate 77's exit 25 in Huntersville for some shopping, another movie (more air conditioning! - "No Reservations," which left us hungry) and dinner at Brixx. We capped off the evening with a trip to the Charlotte Knights baseball game, where we enjoyed the post-game fireworks. Sunday was their heading-back-out day.

I could've brought them to many other attractions, but the heat held us back from most of the area's outdoor offerings. Where else would you suggest we should have gone?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have taken them to the gallery crawl in NODA. There was a good band at the Rat's Nest. I think they were called South85, or something like that.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have suggested NODA (the gallery crawl or some live music) and Cabo Fish Taco or MAC's for some great bar-b-que.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try The Green uptown, across from the Convention Center. It's a uniquely-Charlotte place (hard to find those) that is impressive, upscale, family-friendly, safe, fun, and FREE.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a friend from out of town here a couple weeks ago who was my 'guinea pig'Charlotte tourism. Surpwisingly, he was able to find something to do every day during the week he was here, even when I had to go to work.

Here's what he/we did:

Whitewater Center
Uptown bar crawls on Friday and Saturday nights
Various race shops in Mooresville, Kannapolis, Concord.
Earnhardt memorial and statue in Kannapolis
Concord Mills Mall
Legends races at LMS
Billy Graham Library
Knights Game
Tyber Creek, Thomas St., Jackalope's

NASCAR and Billy Graham may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they are the signature items that make this city different from others.

We missed Carowinds, the gallary crawls, and a few of the more eclectic spots, but for the first time, I can say 'you can't do it all in one trip' here.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have taken them to Atlanta.. why settle for the generic, inferior version that is Charlotte and drive 3 1/2 hours to a REAL city with tons of activities and culture to boot! When someone comes to visit me.. I immediately take them somewhere other than here!

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have taken them to Fort Mill. That place rocks. Then, if you still had any energy left, you could fight traffic and go visit our regions largest tourist attraction (really), Concord Mills. Then, if you weren't completely partied out, you could swing by Indian Trail and maybe buy a scratch off lottery ticket. YAY!

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SouthPark Mall
Freedom Park
Walk down East Boulevard, Central Avenue, or South End.
Yeah, I ran out of ideas...

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot the Charlotte airport... do them a favor and send them someplace worth seeing.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda sad that two of your activities were seeing nationally-distributed movies. Why not do something more "Charlotte"? The Levine Museum is air-conditioned, for example. It's an acquired taste, but my folks love furntiture shopping for a couple of hours whenever they're up here.

I know it's vogue to be down on things to do in Charlotte, but even if you lived in London or Paris or Buneos Aires, you'd spend most days doing what you do here: work, eat, spend time with family, shop, mow the lawn, and sleep. And for those things, Charlotte's as good as anywhere in the world.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about taking them to the Elizabeth Creamery for some home made ice-cream on Elizabeth Avenue. Or to the Visilute theater for some performance-art. There are cool places to see other than the so called "generic-ness", one just has to go out of the norm. How about the central av in the plaza midwood neighbohood. Those palces have cool bakeries, unique shops and eateries.

2:38 AM  

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