For Phil’s 26th Birthday in January, we decided to take a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the main reasons for the vacation was to visit a city with an NBA team where we could watch a game! Phil and I have made it a goal to attend games in all of the MLB stadiums and NBA arenas in the U.S. (as many as we can, at least), so Charlotte was another stop on our list.
What made this trip even better was that I asked our very good friends Brady and Jenna to vacation with us, and better yet, make it a surprise for Phil! I absolutely LOVE surprises. More than anyone probably should. I love both giving and receiving surprises, so this was just another great reason for our trip.
One of the first things we did in Charlotte was (of course) check out the food selections. It happened to be restaurant week in the city, so we found a great deal at Caffe Sienna which was an amazing Italian restaurant a few miles from downtown where we were staying. For a really great price we had excellent wine, appetizers and delicious pasta dishes! It’s sort of become a tradition that we try the calamari whenever we check out a new Italian restaurant – Caffe Sienna definitely did not disappoint! We decided to end our night of wining, dining and socializing with their Tiramisu Cake. I feel like this is a dish that can be hit or miss at many places, but they nailed it!
The next stop on our list was to attend a Charlotte Bobcats vs. Chicago Bulls game at the Time Warner Cable NBA Arena. Turns out that we picked the game where the team was featuring their Buzz City night, honoring Muggsy Bogues (Space Jam!) and the old team, the Charlotte Hornets. Muggsy was there in person and each fan received a Muggsy bobble head! Professional basketball, stadium beer & snacks and bobble heads = great night.
The next day we ventured out to NoDa (for North Davidson Street). NoDa is the spot in Charlotte known for having a collection of galleries, music & performance venues and unique local dining. We went there fairly early hoping to find some interesting local shops we could explore. Turns out, NoDa is a hotspot for mainly nightlife, which we were not aware of until we visited. Since we missed the late-night memo, we popped in to Smelly Cat Coffee, which was this eclectic corner coffee shop. It was the perfect stop on our way out of the neighborhood to warm up and rejuvenate.
We spent the rest of the day shopping the local shops and driving around exploring Charlotte’s many different neighborhoods. One of our favorites was Dilworth, which has Bungalow-style homes and beautiful oak trees lining the residential streets.
Afterwards, we consulted Yelp for a popular Charlotte dinner spot. We were initially wanting to try something with more of a southern-style menu to really get the full taste of North Carolina. But where do we end up? A barbecue restaurant. We knew we would like Midwood Smokehouse immediately though once we saw the restaurant had bags set up outside for customers to play while they were waiting for a table!
As Kansas Citians, we like to think we know quite a few things about what barbecue should taste like (and we do). However, this meal completely took us by surprise! The barbecue was so different from what we are used to – the sauce was a much lighter consistency and was sweeter in taste than Kansas City barbecue, and it was incredible. The guys definitely won the dish-off that night with their choices of pulled pork tacos topped with macaroni & cheese, coleslaw & cilantro with a side of hush puppies. SO. TASTY.
On our last day in Charlotte we decided to check out more of Uptown, which was where our hotel was located. One of the larger attractions in this area was the Charlotte Epicenter. For you Kansas City people, it’s very similar to the Power & Light District but much larger. It has tons of restaurants, shops and bars and it is basically the nightlife hotspot in this part of Charlotte.
During our dinner at Midwood Smokehouse, we ended up meeting a few people at the table sitting next to us and chatted with them for a while. They gave us a few tips for places to visit while we were in Charlotte, one of which included the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
Although a portion of the exhibit was closed when we visited, it was still a pretty interesting tour. The building structure itself was incredibly unique, and it had an open rooftop terrace that offered a great view of the city. Strangely enough, my favorite part was probably the statue in front of the museum!
After our trip, we talked about how we need to revisit the city in the warmer months since it seems Charlotte has many outdoor activities and tourist sites that are more popular in warm weather. Overall, it was a great trip with wonderful friends!