New to Charlotte? Then you might have read that headline and thought, “I don’t even know where the nickname Queen City came from.” Well, unlike Queen Latifah, Charlotte’s naming history does involve actual royalty.
The nickname came from Germany’s Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of King George III. You might also recognize Charlotte’s county, Mecklenburg, in that name as well. A group of British crown loyalists decided to name the city after the king’s wife in an effort to remain in his good graces. I have no idea if the idea worked, but I would be pretty happy if I had a city named after me.
Here’s the (sweet) tea:
1. Love it or hate it, NASCAR is big here. Uptown (we’ll get to Uptown/Downtown soon) is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and Concord is home to Charlotte Motor Speedway, the site of the Coca-Cola 600. In addition, many teams and drivers call the Lake Norman area and suburbs north of the city home. Ever year, Uptown holds a three-day festival dedicated to all things racing in the days prior to the Coca-Cola 600. Speed Street has concerts, street vendors, kids’ activities and appearances by NASCAR drivers.
2. Other than NASCAR, Charlotte is about the Carolina Panthers, Hornets, Knights and Checkers. Even if sports is not your thing, it is pretty awesome to have 2 pro teams and 2 minor league teams in your city. The less-costly minor league tickets are a lot of fun for the kids, too. There is a sport for every season in Charlotte!
- The NFL’s Carolina Panthers occupy Bank of America Stadium.
- The Charlotte Hornets, formerly Bobcats, is the city’s NBA team and play in the First Ward’s Spectrum Center.
- The minor league Charlotte Knights play BB&T Ballpark near the Panthers’ stadium
- The Charlotte Checkers is the minor league hockey team and play at Bojangles’ Coliseum off Independence Blvd.
3a. Uptown means downtown. As a Charlotte transplant, I never got used to the idea that the downtown area is referred to by locals as Uptown. Uptown is the central business district where Bank of America and Wells Fargo are located. As a related side note, the Uptown area inside the I-277 loop is often referred to as Center City. I-485 is a 68-mile interstate that circles Charlotte’s outer limits.
3b. Uptown is divided into 4 wards, creatively called First Ward, Second Ward, Third Ward and, you guessed it, Fourth Ward. The line of demarcation between wards is the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets. First and Fourth wards are largely residential with fewer large high rises. Fourth Ward is know for its beautiful, Victorian homes.
4. Welcome to the land of barbecue and sweet tea. You can omit “sweet” when you order iced tea. Southerners simply assume you want a cup of tea with your sugar. As a native New Englander, it makes my teeth ache just thinking about it. Barbecue rules here, too, and you will find people are very opinionated on whether they prefer vinegar or mustard style. You can find your preference at some of the city’s top barbecue spots like Mac’s Speed Shop, Midwood Smokehouse and Bill Spoon’s Barbecue.
5. The lake. If you hear people saying they are going to the lake or have a house on the lake then they are talking either about Lake Wylie to the south or Lake Norman, a manmade body of water about 20 miles north of Charlotte. Charlotteans work hard and like to play hard and relax on the water. Both lakes are great weekend destinations, and depending on where you work, great year-round living.
6. Charlotte was once a monolithic economy based on the big banks – Bank of America and Wells Fargo, née First Union, with nearly nothing happening in Uptown after 5 p.m. How times have changed!! There are countless restaurants, bars and mixed-use developments that give Center City a thriving night life nowadays, such as EpiCentre.
7. Charlotte is proud of its history and wholly embraces the arts scene. You may look around and see new construction, high rises and development everywhere, but do a little digging and you will find some pretty cool museums and historical sites, not to mention venues for enjoying various different artistic expressions. These places are worth exploring: The Mint Museum (2 locations), The Levine Center for the Arts, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and the Levine Museum of the New South. This list is not all-inclusive. There are many, many more options across the city.
8. Charlotte also embraces and preserves its green spaces. There are parks big and small throughout, even amidst Uptown’s hustle and bustle. If you work Uptown then there are a variety of places to stroll on your lunch hour. Not all the parks are expansive areas of grass, but they give you a place to sit and enjoy some sun and take in the city.
9. Charlotte is a fairly dog-friendly city. There are plenty of places that welcome dogs indoors, including The Dog Bar in NoDa (North Davidson) which opened in 2005. There are also several dog parks in and around the city. Here is a great resource for dog owners – Bring Fido
10. Lastly, Charlotte has fantastic options for children and the entire family, such as the kids library ImaginOn, Discovery Place, Latta Plantation and the Carolina Raptor Center and Ray’s Splash Planet, an indoor water park and gym. The YMCA system is also a great resource in Charlotte. There are 20 locations with fitness and fun options for every family member.