Charlotte, North Carolina is a vibrant city with a heart of adventure.
For most at Regent, classes are over and summer is now in session. It’s back home for the season, whether you’re hitting the pavement for jobs or getting some much-deserved R and R. Home for me is Harrisburg, a small town just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. The problem with small towns like mine is a significant lack of things to do and places to go. We’re slightly too big for cool mom and pop diners and slightly too small for a nightlife. Most of the summer is spent eating way too many snowballs from Pelican’s and watching Netflix with friends, but this routine can get really old, really fast. So, what else is there to fill the long summer days?
Of course, the best place to go in the Charlotte area is Charlotte itself. Uptown contains everything: parks, museums, restaurants, theaters, modern art. Finding a place to park in the city may be a hassle and a bit pricey; however, the city offers a lot as compensation. On Wednesday nights, the Mint Museum of Art boasts free general admission. Romare Bearden Park, located right next to the baseball stadium, features a fountain with a light show; and don’t get me started on all the great food. There is a vibrant arts district centered on North Davidson Street, called NoDa. There are various different galleries, theaters, and murals that make it the Charlotte equivalent to the NEON district. Though the city isn’t the safest place after dark, day trips exploring with friends or an evening get together at Amelie’s French Bakery have led to great summer memories.
Take a Hike
While the city may be for some, summer lends itself to being in the great outdoors. Because the Appalachian Mountains run through most the state, North Carolina has a diverse hiking landscape. However, the most popular trails in my area are Crowder’s Mountain and Morrow Mountain; both only an hour’s drive from the city. Though I dislike exercise, I love hiking. The beautiful scenery makes a little bit of sweat forgivable. Exploring the woods takes me back to childhood days spent running through the forest and playing in the creek behind my old house.
During the summer, the oppressive humidity forces you to get wet if you want to stay dry. Huntersville, about a half hour’s drive from Charlotte, contains the only natural water for miles. Lake Norman draws in those seeking slivers of beaches with “Do Not Swim” signs for day-cations. Some are lucky enough to have boats for actual aquatic recreation. With the nearest beaches being four hours away, Lake Norman is as close as I can get to replicating the Virginia Beach experience.
In my small town, Lake Norman is also known as home of the Mall and Birkdale Village, an open-air shopping center. Shopping is a classic way to waste time, though it does require either money or self-control, neither of which I have in excess.
See a Concert
A perk of being Charlotte’s satellite suburb is mooching off the music that frequents the big city. From the Time Warner Cable Arena to the PNC Music Pavilion, there’s always someone to see. While these larger stages host big names like Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Muse, or Imagine Dragons, various smaller venues supply music for those less inclined to mainstream music. My personal favorite, the Fillmore, is one such venue. The giant chandeliers hanging over the pit put the Fillmore in a class all its own, and I’m a sucker for intimate standing room only venues. Warped Tour, one of the biggest traveling rock festivals in America, always makes a stop here as well.
Sara Waits is a Staff Writer for The Daily Runner.