I know what y’all are thinkin’, what’s Charlotte got to do with SQL Server? Just hear me out. There’s a lot more to Charlotte than NASCAR, fried chicken, and rednecks. I assume most of the 5000 attendees have never been to Charlotte, and probably don’t know much about the area. To help everyone out, I have made a list of useful tips.
Queen City History. Charlotte is named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz who was married to King George III of Great Britain. This is why the city is nicknamed the “Queen City”. It is currently the 17th largest city in the US and it’s the 2nd largest financial city, trailing only New York City. The city center is called uptown instead of downtown. The term downtown gives off a negative vibe; hence the term Uptown Charlotte.
Transportation. The good news for anyone staying on the south side of town is the Lynx light rail. There is only one rail line but it runs from the center of town all the way south to Pineville. My suggestion is to take the light rail if it’s near your hotel. Just get off at the 3rd St/Convention Center station, and the convention center is right across the street.
The CATS bus sytem is also not a bad option. The main transit center in uptown is only 3 blocks from the convention center. Any of the bus lines that end in an X are express routes (i.e. 54X) that pick you up from the commuter lots and head directly uptown. In uptown, there is a free bus line called the Goldrush. It different buses and only runs east/west along Trade Street. It’s helpful if you are staying in one of the hotels along that street. And the best part is it’s free. Check out RideTransit.org for a complete system map.
If you like riding bicycles, the you’ll want to check out CharlotteBcycle. There are about a dozen bicycle rentals around uptown. You just pay a small fee at the automated kiosk to share a bike, even if it’s for a one way trip.
For those of you driving uptown, you’ll need a place to park. There are over 40,000 parking spaces uptown, but you will have to compete with the daily workforce, like me. Most parking decks will run you about $15-20 per day. Once you get uptown, look for the giant “P” signs outside each of the parking decks. The signs will tell you the number of spaces available.
You might wonder what these over-street walkways are used for. This is part of the Overstreet Mall. It’s a maze of walkways that interconnect some of the buildings and it’s full of restaurants and shops. Even if you’re not interested in the shops, it’s a nice way to get from building to building when it’s raining.
While walking around uptown, you’ll see these “You Are Here” street signs. The maps divide uptown four color-coded regions, North, South, East, and West. Each map provide you with information about attractions, hotels, and parking.
Dining. You shouldn’t have any issue finding a place to eat uptown; however, there are a few places of interest you should try out.
- Price’s Chicken Coop (just south of uptown, but THE BEST fried chicken in town!) CASH ONLY and TAKE-OUT ONLY!!
- French Quarter Restaurant
- Just Fresh
- Mert’s Heart and Soul
- Johnny Burritos
- Fuel Pizza
- American Roadside Burgers
- Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop (just south of uptown)
- E2 Emeril’s Eatery
- Sullivan’s Steakhouse (just south of uptown)
- Dandelion Market
- Caffe Siena
- Bentley’s on 27 (great view of Charlotte’s skyline)
- Blue Restaurant and Bar
- Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
Also, if you’re thinking of going to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, then chose Sullivan’s Steakhouse or Morton’s Steakhouse instead. I’ve never had a good experience at the uptown location, but that’s just my opinion.
- The Carolina Ale House
- Prohibition Bar
- Connolly’s on Fifth
- Ri Ra Irish Pub
- Picasso’s Sports Bar
- Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub
- Alexander Michael’s Tavern
If you prefer jogging outdoors, any of the streets uptown will work nicely. However, if you like a little more scenery for your job, then head over to the Little Sugar Creek greenway. The Charlotte Parks and Recreation built 35 miles of greenways around town.
This one is a beautiful, winding route nearly 6 miles long, and located just outside the south side of the I-277 belt loop uptown.