When it comes to NASCAR racing, Charlotte is the center of the universe. All the major racing teams are based here, and on race weekends you can practically breathe in the excitement. But even if racing isn't your thing, Charlotte offers plenty to get your motor running. Kids can take on the largest man-made whitewater river in the world at the U.S. Whitewater Center, get up close and personal with a moose at Lazy 5 Ranch, or create their own music videos at ImaginOn.
Charlotte, unlike cities deeper in the south, has four distinct seasons, and all are pretty pleasant. Winter is a fine time to visit the city. It snows here infrequently enough that local kids don't stash sleds -- they'll often use trash can lids and baking sheets to shoot down hills when it does. Although summer is hot, it's still a good time to visit, especially if you are heading to the U.S. Whitewater Center. Spring and fall are both comfortable for outdoor pursuits. Many visitors plan their visit according to the NASCAR schedule -- enthusiasts come on race weekends, where they join throngs of supporters; everyone else stays away.
Scores of former northeasterners appreciate Charlotte's mild winters -- even in January, the coldest month, the average high is 51 degrees. The summer can be hot and muggy -- the average high in July (the hottest month) is 90 degrees, but late afternoon thunderstorms typically cool things down. Spring and fall are pleasant and moderate, with March registering as the wettest month.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport, just a few minutes south of center city, is a US Airways hub, so it boasts direct flights to many cities. The two major interstates that intersect in Charlotte are I-85 and I-77. Amtrak and Greyhound also service Charlotte.
Your best bet to get around the greater Charlotte region is a car, but the tree-lined center city is small, safe, and walkable. Many locals and visitors take advantage of the Gold Rush, a free shuttle service that operates Monday through Friday in the center city. CATS, the local transit system, operates a bus network with over 40 routes linking center city to outlying regions, and a light rail line, LYNX, takes passengers between center city and South Charlotte.
Taste of Charlotte -- Sample the best dishes from Charlotte's most popular and interesting restaurants each June.
Charlotte Shout! -- A month long festival in September that celebrates art, music, and food (especially barbecue).
Novello Festival of Reading -- Celebrates books in October with author talks and children's activities.
Visit Charlotte's official travel resource, Charlotte's Got A Lot, or stop in and say "hey" (that's southern for "hi") at the Visitor Info Center at 330 South Tryon Street (at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard).
Several discount packages are available in the Special Offers & Packages section of Charlotte's Got A Lot.
The nation's first gold rush took place in the Charlotte area after a 17 pound gold nugget was found in 1799. The nugget was used as a doorstop for three years before it was recognized as gold.
Charlotte's nickname is "Hornet's Nest" because during the Revolutionary War General Cornwallis wrote that Charlotte was a "hornet's nest of rebellion." Its first NBA team was the Hornets.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame will open in Charlotte in 2009.
Charlotte was named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818), the German wife of King George III.
Charlotte is a big banking city, ranking second only to New York City.
If Carowinds plays a big part in your plans, consider the Charlotte/Fort Mill KOA, which is just 3 minutes from the theme park.