DOMESTIC DESTINATIONS: CHARLOTTE TOOK A PIECE OF MY HEART
Suburban living. I never thought there would a be a time where I would consider making the switch from big city living to suburbia. For my extended weekend stay in Charlotte, NC, I stayed in a townhouse in a community about a 15 minute drive from Uptown Charlotte. I even had a DRIVEWAY! I know...doesn't seem like a big deal but I live near Times Square in NYC. Driveways aren't a thing, parking isn't even a thing there.
After a lot of thought, I decided to embark on a solo trip. I've heard good things about Charlotte, so I figured "what the hell, why not?!" I'm so glad I decided to come here by myself. I realize that when I travel with friends, I tend to stick to my group. I can be pretty introverted and having my friends around is a crutch. Going by myself forced me to be a bit more social and really make the most out of my stay in Charlotte. Continue reading if you want to find out more about the specific places I visited.
Please excuse the crappy pictures for the Epicentre. It's a really nice place but it was freezing and raining that day so I spent most of my time there running to the next location and forgetting to take pictures, oops. Despite the rain and cold, this place was packed on a Saturday night. This was the place to be in terms of entertainment. Bars, Restaurants, Nightclubs, Rooftop Spots, Live Music Venues, Movie Theaters, Shopping, Quirky stores, this place truly had it all. That particular weekend, my favorite crowd was actually in the bar at the movie theater. It was opening weekend for Black Panther so there was a special event going on. The crowd and the vibe was perfect for me so I hung out there most of the night, socialized and had a few drinks.
SHOPPES AT UNIVERSITY PLACE
As I get ready to write about this next place, I realize that most of my NC visit consisted of me eating. I'm okay with that. Moving on... So it was a pretty rainy day, but I decided o head out and check out this little area. It's located near the Charlotte campus of UNC (University of North Carolina). The Shoppes at University Place are an outdoor shopping complex. There were a lot of stores and restaurants, but the best feature was the location. There was a lake situated in the middle of the shops. You could walk along the boardwalk, rent paddle-boats and stare at all the gorgeous fountains. There was also a little quarter machine to get food to feed the birds, which I did. Back home I run from pigeons, so it was nice to be up close and personal with some ducks. I stopped by Billys Ribs & Raw Oyster Bar. Cool spot....but...I ordered ribs...they didn't have any....how Sway??? It wasn't even dinner time yet. But anyway they redeemed themselves with the Brisket. Delicious! I also stopped at Delish Bakery and picked up a chocolate cheesecake cupcake and a s'mores truffle. Both amazing. The shop was adorable and had a gold chandelier with whisks made into it. I thought that was a cute touch.
NoDA (short for North Davidson) was definitely my favorite part of Charlotte. NoDa is known for being Charlotte's historic arts and entertainment district. "NoDa is dedicated to promoting the arts, living eco-friendly lifestyles, supporting small businesses, encouraging diversity and aiding fellow charities." I stepped out of my car on a Sunday evening and this area was bustling with people. A few times while exploring NC, I felt like an outsider. You could tell I didn't belong there. This was not the case with NoDa. I felt right at home. The type of people in the neighborhood were super diverse. Different age groups, races, genders, etc were all interacting. It was awesome and made me feel like I was back home in my city for a slip second. Admittedly, the people were a lot more welcoming than back home. (Sidebar: New Yorkers are NOT rude, we're just busy. We can debate about this later lol) The neighborhood was covered in gorgeous murals. It was bright and colorful and gave a liveliness to the area, even though it was pretty dark outside. The streets were lined with various shops, tattoo parlors, a theater, bars and restaurants. There was some pretty lively Karaoke going on at one of the bars. Nothing like hearing drunk people sing their hearts out to Whitney Houston. I stopped at a place called Haberdish and had the best Lemon Tart that I've ever had. They also had beautifully crafted drinks. I didn't indulge because I was driving, but I watched the bartender make a smoked cocktail. Didn't know that was a thing and I am so sad I didn't get to try it. It all looked delicious and from the looks of all the happy customers, I'm sure it tasted even better than it looked. I attempted to walk off the lemon tart, only to stumble upon a doughnut place, Reigning Doughnuts. *Insert Drooling Emoji Here* I got a plain doughnut because I somehow convinced myself thats it's 'healthier' than all the rest. As if deep friend anything is healthy LOL. 10:30PM and I'm chowing down on a doughnut while taking a stroll through the neighborhood. The best plain doughnut I have ever had in my life. It was warm, crunchy on the outside and soft and delicious inside. Heaven in a small circle. If you're ever in NoDa, please check out those 2 places. Links are above. Also, there was a pretty dope view of the Charlotte skyline from North Davidson Street. I tried to capture a picture, but it just didn't do it justice.
I mentioned on IG that this was a solo trip. So all of my stops weren't as glamorous as the ones above, but here are a few of the other things I did: *Concord Mills Mall: Pretty cool mall. I stopped at a chain chocolate shop that featured an amazing section of sugar free treats. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I come from a family of Diabetes, so I racked up on chocolate from here. *Bojangles: Chain chicken and biscuit joint. I was curious to see how it compared to Popeyes. Chicken was okay but the sides were bomb. I didn't know what cajun pintos were, but I tried it and now I'm trying to discover a copycat recipe. Hit me up if you have a good one. *Midnight Diner: This was actually my first stop when I got to NC. A friend recommended it to me so I stopped here once I left the airport. Destroyed some biscuits and gravy here. So good. (But I'm a northerner so don't hold me to it. ) *Pole Fit Carolinas: I took a pole fitness class. Fun, but super difficult. Tip your strippers extra. That is all. *BLACK PANTHER: I was in NC for opening weekend of Black Panther. I watched it at the Regal Starlight Stadium 14. Awesome theater with pre-seat selection and reclining seats. I was dressed up in all black. Most of the other theater goers wore the same and a few had on their daishikis/ African prints. #WAKANDAFOREVER