This is the second in my series about my girlfriend getaway to North Carolina.
The main focus of our girlfriend getaway was Asheville and the Biltmore, but the timing of our flights from Seattle and Minneapolis meant that we needed to spend some time in Charlotte.
A Charlotte Guest House
Luckily, we were booked into the Duke Mansion, the former home of the illustrious Duke family, which has now been turned into a B & B.
(If a B & B is not your thing, other places to stay in Charlotte include a modernist looking Westin, near the Convention Center that will be hosting the Democrat National Convention in September, and the Ritz Carlton, which carries the honor o being that chain’s first LEED certified property).
I’ve lived in 10 states, so I appreciate regional differences, particularly as they relate to style. Yet I often forget when I’m packing, so I showed up at the Duke Mansion in my Seattle traveling uniform of jeans, a hoodie and motorcycle boots (it’s a dress hoodie). Needless to say, I stood out from the Southern women entering the Duke Mansion lobby, wearing cocktail dresses and heels on their way to a rehearsal dinner. I felt like a hobo.
My friend Kathryn told me she experienced the same thing. “I forgot how cute women always look down here,” she said, after we exchanged our greetings in the room. “We’re going to have to fluff up for dinner tonight.”
Emeril Lagasse comes to Charlotte
Our meal that night was scheduled for E2, Emeril’s Eatery, the newest member of the Emeril Lagasse restaurant empire. Charlotte’s entry, in city’s Uptown neighborhood right near the Levine Arts area, opened in January.
Because of the years I spent in New Orleans, I’ve eaten at most of Emeril’s restaurants there; the food is consistently good. The menu at e2 was more casual than you’d see at Emeril’s flagship; I’d compare it more to NOLA in the French Quarter. I enjoyed the shrimp and grits, and we both dug into a shared banana bread pudding.
Museums in Uptown Charlotte
Charlotte has quite a few art museums, due to the wealthy patron base that the city’s banking industry has created. Several are centrally located in an area known as the Levine Center of the Arts (named for Leon Levine, the founder of the Family Dollar store brand).
If you’re in Charlotte on a Friday night, check the schedule at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. It’s open until 9 p.m. on the first and third Friday of the month, and often has jazz concerts and other events.
Across the street from the Bechtler Museum, the Mint Museum Uptown houses the Mint’s collection of Craft + Design, as well as special installations.
The museum, which opened in October 2010, also focuses on Historic Costumes and Fashionable Dress, and quite a few pieces from the permanent collection were on display.
(If I return to Charlotte, I would make an effort to visit the original Mint Museum Randolph so I could see more of these outfits).
The Levine Center includes a theater and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture that I didn’t have time to see. The other museum that sounded interesting to me: The Levine Museum of the New South, which focuses on post-Civil War Southern History. Definitely something to see if I return.
(For people who get bored at traditional museums, Charlotte is also the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Not my thing, but based on my father daughter trip to Indianapolis, I know my race-car loving dad would enjoy it).
Another Charlotte activity to do the next time I’m in town: The U.S. National White Water Center, where members of the Olympic canoe and kayaking team train. I had been looking forward to a visit, but unfortunately got sick before I could go. With ziplines, trails and a man-made river, it looks fun. I bet we’ll be seeing lots of journalists giving it a go during the Democrat National Convention.
My trip was sponsored by the North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism, but my opinions remain my own.