One of the more recent trips Abbey and I took was to Charleston, SC, so I’m thinking Charlottesville next. This particular trip to Charlotte also involved a hike up Pilot Mountain and a stop at Mount Airy (Mayberry).
Our first planned stop in Charlotte was Sea Life (technically in Concord, not Charlotte, I’m told, but no matter.) This aquarium was enjoyable; it had a shark tunnel and an exhibit where you could touch the sea stars, but I couldn’t help but compare it to Ripley’s Aquarium in the Smokies (which had a far bigger shark tunnel) and the South Carolina Aquarium (which allowed you to touch and pick up sea stars, and also touch a kind of shark). To be fair, the Charlotte aquarium was located in a mall which I’m sure limited their options.
From there, we explored the downtown area which no particular plan — probably my favorite part of the trip. I didn’t realize ahead of time that downtown was so impressive, but there is much to see. Gorgeous scenery, libraries, art and history museums, architecture restaurants and coffee shops galore. Once we had wondered aimlessly sufficiently, we stopped at Vapiano for dinner. This restaurant had a very different concept in that you order your food directly from the chef; there were no servers. Everything you order is loaded onto your “smart-card payment system”; a card you’re given when you enter. Different, but interesting, for sure. I wanted coffee after, so we went next door to Dean and Deluca. The spinning glass doors made me happy, but the coffee was entirely sub-par.
While lots of cities have city-wide bike systems, Charlotte’s such system was different from anything I’ve seen. Each bike has a QR code that corresponds to the system’s app. To use a bike, you simply scan the QR code. When you’re done, you just leave the bike anywhere. We found these bikes on sidewalks all throughout the city, in apartment complexes, in random allies, outside stores. I loved this. It sounded like a hypothetical business idea, I’d hear presented in a business class and wish would actually happen. 10/10 on this idea.
My conclusion? Charlotte was entirely worth the trip. Probably best for a weekend trip, not necessarily much longer. My advice? Don’t forget to bring someone you don’t hate; you’ll have fun, even if the coffee could have been better. But also, maybe find some better coffee.