North Carolina's largest city, Charlotte, is a destination where you can truly follow your bliss—be it history, baseball, motor sports, spending time in nature, whitewater rafting, loving it up in a grand hotel, or feasting on Southern barbecue and biscuits. Charlotte's variety of activities and attractions also make it a magnet for family travelers, so expect to encounter children at many of them. Yet opportunities for romance still await visiting couples.
See the sights of Charlotte's Center City and adjacent historic districts on a romantic horse-and-carriage ride. This old-fashioned means of transportation ought to put you in the mood to learn more about the city's past. The Charlotte Museum of History is located inside an 18th-century home and calls out the state's contributions to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Historic Rosedale Plantation is a Southern landmark that harkens back to the antebellum period. And the Levine Museum of the New South focuses on Charlotte’s history since the Civil War.
Whether your preferred mode of transportation is via car or plane, there's a place for you. Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which revs up race fans with memorabilia, videos on the sport’s history, and driving simulators inside cars where you can test your skills. The Carolinas Aviation Museum features vintage aircraft and pays tribute to early aviators. It also displays the “Miracle on the Hudson,” the plane that was heroically piloted by Captain Sully Sullenberger in 2009.
In every season, it's time to play ball in Charlotte. Baseball fans can cheer the minor league Charlotte Knights, a Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, at BB&T BallPark. Watch the Charlotte Hornets basketball team play in the Spectrum Center, and follow the Carolina Panthers football team during home games in Bank of America Stadium.
May through September, Charlotte is a particularly hot and humid place. Fortunately, there are inviting places where you can cool off in or on the water. The U.S. National Whitewater Center offers a host of activities including the world's largest man-made whitewater river. When it's still steamy after dark, book a dinner cruise at Queen's Landing on Lake Norman, about half an hour from the center of the city.
Charlotte restaurants appeal to all tastes by offering up everything from Low(country) fare to haute cuisine. Crave authentic soul food? The husband and wife who run Mert’s Heart and Soul dish up shrimp and grits, barbecue with cornbread and other down-home palate pleasers.
You can spend the night in a luxury, mid-range, or budget hotel in Charlotte... but why not treat yourselves to a classic, full-service resort on a romantic getaway? Eighteen miles outside of town, the Ballantyne Hotel invites you to relax by one of its pools, inside the spa, or play a round of golf or tennis. Quench your thirst during their afternoon tea, presented with Southern flair. In the evening, meet up in the Gallery Bar, where the Liquid Arts program pours cocktails handcrafted using house-made syrups and sodas infused with fresh ingredients.
If your taste leans toward shiny and new, make your way to SouthPark Mall, where luxury prevails. Tenants include Tiffany & Co., Neiman-Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Nordstrom. You'll also find Vineyard Vines, Tumi, Fabletics, Anthropologie, and a Tesla showroom here.
Have a fondness for the past? Search for Southern relics at the 60,000 square-foot, 250-booth Sleepy Poet Antiques Mall, which sells artwork, vintage clothing, jewelry, old and new home furnishings, books, antique furniture, and more.
It's a comedy club... it's a rolling city tour... it's both! The Funny Bus' comedian/guide leads riders around Charlotte's uptown area and nearby neighborhoods while providing a local's perspective on the Queen City. The hilarious history lesson lasts 90 minutes and customers are welcome to bring their own liquid refreshments.
Craft breweries are places to unwind and meet new friends in Charlotte. Top spots include The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, the city's largest and oldest; Sycamore Brewing, where food trucks surround its beer garden; and award-winning NoDa Brewing Company.
If you prefer the fruit of the vine, the Charlotte-area Swan Creek Wine Trail has six vineyards that are only 5 miles apart. For the ultimate in romance, rent a treehouse at Treehouse Vineyards and toast your good fortune in visiting Charlotte.