I’ve organized this post into two jam-packed days in Charlotte, beginning with breakfast and ending with a delicious dinner. Activities are centered around the outdoors and/or remaining active, so it’s an itinerary that will keep you movin’! Though the itinerary can be followed exactly, it’s meant more as a list of recommendations for you to pick and choose from according to what appeals to you when you find yourself in Charlotte. And I have some good news: A handful of the activities are totally free!
Note: I may do a follow-up post to this one with some just plain fun and/or indulgent Charlotte-area recommendations since I know travel to a new area often comes along with a desire to experience everything wonderful and often indulgently delicious a new place has to offer!
DAY ONE (Saturday)
Earl’s Grocery is located in the beautiful Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, just south of the city. With a community feel, Earl’s Grocery is a popular spot for a casual bite to eat and offers everything from made-to-order meals to prepared foods and unique grocery items. Breakfast options include a small sampling of egg sandwiches, wraps and baked goods and you can also order coffee and a variety of fresh juices.
Location: 1609 Elizabeth Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28204
A seven-minute drive from Earl’s Grocery will take you to Burn Boot Camp where you can pop in for a sweaty Saturday morning workout! I’m pretty sure I’ve professed my love for BBC on this blog a bazillion times, so you HAVE to make this part of your Charlotte itinerary! The 45-minute workout will spike your heart rate and leave you dripping in sweat but is scalable for all fitness levels. An added bonus: Saturday morning Burn Boot Camp workouts in Charlotte are co-ed, free and open to the public.
Location: 1945 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
Formerly known as Luna’s Living Kitchen, this restaurant is a Charlotte-area must-try whether you follow a vegetarian diet or simply want deliciously fresh local food. It’s hard to decide what is more beautiful when you dine at Living Kitchen – the gorgeous dining space with exposed brick and plenty of natural daylight or the vibrant and colorful food, all 100 percent organic and plant-based.
Living Kitchen serves mostly raw, plant-based food and whether you opt for one of their specialties like the manicotti (thin slices of zucchini pasta stuffed with ricotta cashew cheese and topped with a tomato basil marinara) or a produce-packed salad (I recommend the Arugula Harvest), you cannot go wrong.
Location: Atherton Mill, 2000 South Blvd. Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28203
Located just outside of the city is the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a wonderful place for those who love to get outside and stay active during a visit to Charlotte! (Note: You could easily spend a full day here, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for one place to go for plenty of fun and outdoor adventure.) With everything from paddle boarding and ropes courses to zip lines and miles of trails for biking, trail running or hiking, you’ll have no shortage of active, outdoorsy things to choose from when you visit! You can also frequently enjoy live music during the summer months or participate in one of the many races held at the Whitewater Center through their ongoing race series.
Location: 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28214
Get ready for a fantastic evening filled with local and organic food prepared in the most delicious way by award-winning chefs. Good Food On Montford is incredibly popular in Charlotte for a very good reason. Their small plate menu is constantly changing but always wonderful. The décor is beautifully simple with exposed brick and wood beams and there is a reason the restaurant’s Yelp reviews continue to be so positive.
Tip: Good Food on Montford does not take reservations and is closed on Sundays so make sure to arrive early and do not plan to go out to dinner here on a Sunday night!
Location: 1701 Montford Drive, Charlotte, NC 28209
DAY TWO (Sunday)
A visit to 7th Street Public Market will take you into the heart of Uptown and you’ll have plenty of options to choose from if you’re looking for a healthy, local breakfast. 7th Street Public Market is always bursting with energy and offers everything from acai bowls and savory crepes to omelets and waffles.
For those looking for a caffeine fix, Not Just Coffee located inside the market is the place for you! Coffee-lovers cannot go wrong by ordering a a vanilla sugar latte and tea lovers will enjoy the subtle spice of ginger in Not Just Coffee’s deliciously creamy ginger chai latte.
Location: 224 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
- Pick Your Hike: Crowders Mountain State Park or Lake Norman State Park
You have a decision to make for your next adventure! Do you want to climb to the top of a mountain to see a beautiful view of the city or would you prefer walking along a lakeside trail and taking in sights of beautiful Lake Norman? Either way you can’t go wrong! If distance helps make your decision, the drive to Crowders Mountain takes about 35 minutes from Charlotte (definitely the more popular hiking option for Charlotte locals!) while Lake Norman State Park is closer to an hour drive from the city.
Crowders Mountain State Park: The Pinnacle Trail and the Crowders Trail / Backside Trail are very popular trails at Crowders Mountain State Park because they take you to the summit of King’s Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain, respectively. The hikes are moderate to strenuous, so get ready to work for the beautiful views you will see at the top of either summit! Weekends at Crowders Mountain State Park can be very busy, so I highly recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid crowds or opting for Lake Norman State Park if you want a more secluded hiking experience.
Personal Recap: Crowders Mountain State Park
Lake Norman State Park: If you make your way up to Lake Norman State Park, you must check out the Lake Shore Trail for your hike! You can choose a three-mile or a six-mile loop but both will take you along the shores of Lake Norman where you’ll likely see plenty of boats, jet skis and wake boarders if you visit during the summer months! The Lake Side Trail is also dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your favorite furry friend on this adventure.
Personal Recap: Lake Norman State Park
After your hike and plenty of time in the car, a casual lunch is on the menu at Sunflour Baking Company! Grab a panini prepared on one of Sunflour’s freshly hearth-baked breads, free of any artificial flavorings, preservatives, bleached or bromated flour. The avocado melt toasted sandwich and the fig & brie panini are two of my personal favorites. Sunflour is also great about custom orders, so if you don’t see the perfect lunch option for you, let them know and they’ll try their best to make it happen!
Tip #1: If you need a little caffeine pick-me-up, grab a dirty chai or a dirty mocha latte to go!
Tip #2: If you have a sweet tooth, grab a baked treat from Sunflour to enjoy when a craving strikes. You won’t regret it! I have yet to order something sweet from Sunflour that didn’t taste amazing.
Location: 2001 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204 (Elizabeth)
- Visit Freedom Park
After an active morning of hiking, shake your legs out with an easy stroll around the lake at Freedom Park. If you simply feel like relaxing until dinner, Freedom Park is a great place to lounge, read a book or magazine and people watch. The park is also home to a handful of festivals (we had a great time at The Festival in the Park last year!) and you’ll frequently see groups of people practicing yoga or Tai Chi and running around the lake with their dogs.
Location: 1900 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28203
The Fig Tree is known around Charlotte as a wonderful “special occasion” restaurant. Consistently ranked as one of the top restaurants in Charlotte, The Fig Tree is not cheap but you simply cannot beat the incredibly fresh, seasonal food and the intimate, cozy atmosphere. The executive chef of the restaurant dubs his style “country European” and every dish we’ve tried has a wonderfully upscale (but somehow still homecooked) feel. The restaurant is located in a 1913 bungalow-style home in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood and offers delicious vegetarian options and frequently features wild game on the menu as well.
Location: 1601 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
Question of the Day
- Do you prefer an active or relaxing vacation… or a bit of both?
- Charlotte-area friends, what is one thing you would tell someone visiting Charlotte they must do if they told you they prefer healthy food and active activities?