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When you’re hosting out-of-town guests, snag weekend itinerary inspiration here.
Meet Your Tour Guide
Who: Katie Levans, co-founder of Axios Charlotte
Time in Charlotte: 9 years
Itinerary ideal for: Entertaining your out-of-town college friends
From Katie: Given the nature of my job — which involves obsessively documenting everything there is to see, do, eat and drink in Charlotte —it can be really difficult to narrow down places to showcase when people come into town.
I’m predictably loyal to a handful of places, because I think we only have so much bandwidth to build relationships as regulars, root ourselves in a sense of place and feel like we’re really home. Luckily, my job lets me explore, experience and support everything in town so that my life can be more routine.
When visitors come from out of town, I like to showcase a mix of my usual haunts and the hottest new openings.
Here’s how I’d spend a weekend with my college friends in Charlotte.
[Header photo by Andrew Weber]
FRIDAY: Night out in NoDa
Coffee: Here’s a post-airport pro tip. On your way back from Charlotte-Douglas, make a quick afternoon stop at Cuplux, a drive-through coffee shop on Freedom Drive. Their signature cold brew slushees are always a hit and will keep you and your travel-weary guests awake for the night ahead. Welcome to your mid-30s. We pre-game with coffee now. (Closes at 5 p.m.)
Cocktails: Kick off the night with custom cocktails at Idlewild. The casual members-only lounge operates without a set menu so every drink is made according to each customer’s preferences. Your friends will think you’re cool for flashing your membership card.
Dinner: Out-of-towners always want Southern food and it’s hard to top the elegant but effortless family-style experience at Haberdish. The wait will almost certainly be substantial so put your name in on the iPad and head around the corner to NoDa Company Store where you can sip sangria on a porch swing until they text you that your table is ready.
Late night: Anyone who knows me knows all my nights out end in pizza. So depending on where your night in NoDa takes you (I suggest forgoing an itinerary for aimless wandering from bar to bar), be sure it includes a stop at Benny Pennello’s for pizza slices as big as your head. They’re open as late (or early?) as 3 a.m.
SATURDAY: South End Shopping and Uptown Rooftop Hopping
Breakfast/Brunch: Start the day at Lincoln’s Haberdashery, a cool little cafe, bakery and urban market inside an old Lance cracker factory. Their pastries and doughnuts are out of this world, and they’ve also got savory breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, oatmeal and more. I live for the Garden Party sandwich.
Shopping: Take a casual stroll down the Rail Trail, a 3.5-mile paved urban trail that runs along the Blue Line light rail track, to South End Market at Atherton. The weekly farmers market features local goods from farmers, ranchers, food artisans and crafters. From there you can head down Camden Road to Girl Tribe and 704 Shop, two local apparel boutiques featuring Charlotte gear your friends will want to wear home.
Lunch: Ride the light rail through Uptown to Optimist Hall, a sprawling food hall in an old textile mill. The vendor lineup includes everything from ramen and sushi to ice cream and coffee. It’s an easy way to please everyone at one stop.
Cocktails: I’m big on casual entertainment but with friends in town you have to showcase the city, so we’re rooftop hopping starting at Nuvolé, a slick bar on the 22nd floor of the AC Hotel. Grab a couch with a fire table and prepare to pose for photo ops alongside Bank of America tower. So Charlotte. PS, if your friends are high rollers then they’ve bypassed a hotel and booked the Nuvolé Penthouse, a luxury Airbnb rental next to the bar.
Dinner: You can’t go wrong in Uptown with dinner reservations at Haymaker, chef William Dissen’s farm-focused restaurant featuring seasonal products from the region. It’s located on the edge of Romare Bearden Park, which is the place to be for some pretty killer views of the city skyline.
Late night: From there, head up to Merchant & Trade atop the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel for ballpark views and bottle service or keep it casual at Graham St. Pub, a sports bar with a rooftop deck. (Personally, I’m almost always keeping it casual.) Once again, we’re heading home with pizza. My Uptown stop is Zablong, a local build-your-own conveyor belt pizza joint in historic Brevard Court. Since this is my neighborhood, I am in here all. the. time. on my way home from a night out.
SUNDAY: Casual Exploration in Plaza Midwood
Brunch: Before we head to Plaza Midwood we’re making a mandatory stop in Dilworth at The People’s Market, a combo coffee shop, bar, cafe and market. They’ve got hangover-approved biscuit sandwiches and breakfast burritos and my favorite Move That Dough Baking Co. vegan doughnuts. I’m in here every weekend without fail. You can also replicate my coffee and vegan treat fix at Queen City Grounds, another favorite of mine.
Shopping: Assuming our guests are gearing up to head to the airport, we’re keeping it casual with some boutique shopping. Check out Moxie Mercantile for thoughtfully sourced gifts, accessories and home decor, Boris+Natasha for eclectic clothing, Social Status for sneakers and street fashion and CLTCH for edgy accessories and gifts.
Coffee for the Road: Stop by Central Coffee, a 10-year neighborhood institution, for the best cold brew in town and a pastry for the road before your friends head back to the airport.
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