Uptown is the central business district of Charlotte. It is home to most of the city's major institutions, and is the historic core. It is also the geographic center of Charlotte, with the center point of the city at the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets.
WardsThe four wards were the original political divisions of the city, and part of Uptown. The axis that determines their boundaries is along Trade and Tryon St., but few people consider the canyon of skyscrapers at the center of the city to really be identifiable as part of the wards. Each ward has its own personality:
- First Ward Very heavily residential, but beginning to feed commercially off ambitious projects such as the light rail and arena. This area was almost entirely public housing for several decades, but was redeveloped with great success as a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood. Now it is a vibrant and well-kept neighborhood that seems quaint against the backdrop of skyscrapers nearby, and its attractiveness is verified by several major residential developments.
- Second Ward -- Now the city's government center, this area was the victim of a short-sighted urban renewal project in the 1960s. It had been the Brooklyn neighborhood: a largely impoverished but self-sufficient African-American district that was deemed unsightly and dangerous by city planners. Today, Second Ward is by far the most lifeless quarter of Uptown after working hours, as government workers disperse quickly and head to other parts of the city to live and play. A good place to find parking at night, but a bit of a social vacuum that can be a bit isolated.
- Third Ward -- Much of Third Ward was lost to the decline of industry in the center city, but what is left still largely reflects a very blue-collar industrial heritage. Bank of America Stadium (home of the Panthers) is the ward's most recognizable symbol, though a new park and a proposed baseball stadium have provided good reason to believe that this may be a major center of growth in coming years. Third Ward's largest current development is the gleaming Gateway Village, home to many offices and the Johnson and Wales University campus. Straddling W. Trade St. between Third and Fourth Wards, Gateway Village is one of the city's most bustling areas during the daytime.
- Fourth Ward -- The best-preserved part of Uptown, Fourth Ward is host to Charlotte's only remaining Queen Anne architecture. Shady streets and brick sidewalks make for some of the city's best walking, and the homes in this district are the object of envy. Fourth Ward Park is at the center of the neighborhood, and is a common ground for all kinds of city-dwellers. Several major condo projects have been proposed for this area, which will further densify it.
Almost all visitors arrive by car. Though Uptown is easily walkable and bike-friendly in most places, the I-277 loop makes travel into and out of the district difficult for anything other than auto traffic.
The 19-mile (31-km) Lynx Blue Line light rail runs from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in University City through NoDa, Uptown, and South End, then parallels South Boulevard to its southern terminus just north of Interstate 485 at the Pineville city limits.
The largest artery in the area is I-77, which joins with I-277 to circle the city center. Most of the time these highways flow quickly; however, it is worth keeping an eye out for construction alerts. Roadwork, or even the most minor of accidents, can bring traffic to a crawl on the interstate. NC Highway 74 also forms part of the big loop; the eight-lane freeway becomes Independence Blvd. to the east and Wilkinson Blvd. to the west.
The city's Greyhound bus station is on Trade St. near the edge of Uptown. It is a very direct, convenient walk from the center of the city.
Parking is usually abundant in the center city, though it has become something of an issue during large events that overload the area with cars. Visitors will immediately notice the large number of surface lots at the edges of Uptown, which makes finding a parking space relatively easy. However, these lots can be somewhat expensive; their prices will reflect their proximity to Tryon St. Savvy travelers can save money by parking in the cheaper lots ($3 near 277) and using a Gold Rush trolley to take a free trip to the attractions of their choice.
Parking decks are also available in most of the highrises near the center of Uptown. However, they are usually much more expensive than lots and often reserve spaces for regular visitors. If you are interested in taking panoramic photos, park on the top of the 10-story Seventh Street Station parking deck for an open-air view of the city and surrounding areas (but do it quickly, or security guards will shoo you away).
There are curbside parking meters along most streets inside the Loop, which are usually much less expensive than using a lot or deck, and are free on the weekend. However, these meters are usually deactivated during high-traffic hours. It is worth an attempt at finding a meter, especially if you are only making a brief stop.
Uptown Charlotte is very dense, and almost all attractions in this part of town are easily reached by walking. Drivers are generally polite to pedestrians.
By carCompared to most large cities, Charlotte's central district is fairly auto-friendly. Unless there is a major event, you should have no problem making your way around the district in a car (provided you have the patience to wait at frequent stoplights). However, "cruising" (circling the district repeatedly) is against the law and is being targeted by local police in an effort to reduce other criminal activity, especially at night.
Uptown is laid out in a grid, with numbered streets running east-west with few exceptions. Streets running north-south have proper names. From any direction, it is fairly easy to know where you are relative to the central intersection of Trade & Tryon St. If you are using a paper map, you might note that the street grid is aligned at a 45-degree angle relative to the compass; "North" streets actually go northeast.
Taxis are fairly common in Uptown, and you can usually hail one from the curb. See "taxis" in the main Charlotte article for more information.
By public transit
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates buses throughout the city, including Uptown. The central bus terminal is across Trade Street from the Bobcats Arena.
The Lynx Blue Line light rail service, which connects Uptown to the South End and neighborhoods further southwest. In Uptown, Lynx uses the same route and most of the same stations as the Charlotte Trolley line. Frequency varies from 7-10 minutes on weekdays to 20-30 minutes on weekends.
Fares for buses and for Lynx are $2.20 one-way (seniors and youth $1.10), $4.40 for a round trip and $6.60 for a day pass (Aug 2018).
The CityLynx Gold Line is a free tram that runs from the Time Warner Cable Arena to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center with six stations along the way. The Gold Line runs every 30 minutes:
- M–Th 6AM—11PM
- F 6AM—midnight
- Sa 8AM—midnight
- Su 9AM—7PM
phone: +1 704-777-4508In the past few years, rickshaws have begun to appear in Uptown as an alternate mode of transportation. They are mostly a novelty for tourists, though they can actually be quite useful in avoiding the steep hills that slope away from the Square. They are recognizable blue carriages with a cyclist in front. At night they use blinking lights and bells to attract customers.
- Carriages. Horse-drawn carriages are becoming increasingly popular as a romantic form of transport around Uptown. They can be rented for either short- or long-term trips, and will not require reservations as long as you can find one vacant. Typically they will only run during the warmer months, when tourists are present and the climate favors open-air rides. There are a few carriage rental companies available, including Southern Breezes Carriages, picks up on Tryon between 6th and 7th, +1 704-301-5111.
When visiting Tryon St. it is worth spending some time in the Bank of America lobby, which is dominated by three expansive frescoes by North Carolinian Ben Long. Another Long frescoe is inside a dome at the Transamerica building only a short walk down the street.
Another major architectural attraction is the Hearst Tower, which puts a modern spin on Art Deco. Its impressive facade and unusual profile have made it something of a cult favorite among students of architecture. It has often been said that the Hearst Building and Bank of America tower are a scaled-down version of New York City's Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.
Not all of Charlotte's architectural energy is spent on Tryon St. Most of the middle-ring neighborhoods have retained their historic styles. 1920s bungalows dominate the old mill-village neighborhoods, while large 19th-century country estates are to be found in Myers Park. Though these are far more understated than the huge corporate towers Uptown, they are indicative of Charlotte's real architectural heritage.
phone: +1 704-372-6261address: 301 N Tryon StOne of the nation's most acclaimed children's museums, Discovery Place focuses primarily on the sciences, though special exhibits may have a more general focus. Step into the rainforest, see and feel fish, watch a hydrogen balloon explode and a frozen banana hammer, or check out a movie in the IMAX Dome theater.
phone: +1 704-333-1887address: 200 E 7th StAn excellent introduction to the South's history and influences since the Civil War. Boasting an excellent standing exhibit with walk-throughs and hands-on experiences, this is a great museum for anyone even slightly interested in Southern culture and history.
phone: +1 704-416-4600address: 300 E 7th StThis library/theater is fantastic for families. Very attractive and safe, ImaginOn appeals to both younger children and teenagers, and is a relatively quiet refuge for parents. The library features an extensive area for younger children on the ground floor, and a teens-only (no adults allowed) top floor. Also, the Children's Theatre of Charlotte maintains cutting-edge facilities including a very comfortable theater. ImaginOn is truly underrated and should not be missed by those looking for an educational experience.
phone: +1 704-337-2000address: 500 S Tryon StAn offshoot of the Mint Museum of Art with a particular emphasis on craft and design that has a much more accessible location in the center of the city. Its collection is outstanding and its staff quite knowledgeable. Visitors often express surprise that the museum's "niche" can be so interesting, especially due to its contemporary design collection.
phone: +1 704-353-9200address: 420 S Tryon StHoused in a striking bright orange building across from the Mint Museum and facing The Green, the collection includes works from some of the biggest names in modern art. Outside the front door is the dazzling Firebird sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle.
phone: +1 704-547-3700address: 551 S Tryon StFeatures a regular schedule of cultural events and exhibits, including theater and gallery productions.
phone: +1 704-654-4400address: 400 E Martin Luther King BlvdHoused in a cylindrical building across the street from the convention center, this slick museum has many interactive exhibits on the history of NASCAR, race cars, and simulators.
The Squareaddress: Trade and Tryon StreetsAt the center of Uptown surrounding the intersection of its two main streets, this plaza is the bustling heart of the business district, hemmed in on all sides by towering buildings and holding fountains, statues, benches and food carts among its crowds of people.
The Greenaddress: on Tryon between 1st and 2nd StreetsA fascinating literacy-themed park tucked between an historic church and a recent apartment/shopping center. Children love the highly interactive landscaping (including ceramic sofas and a splash fountain) and adults can appreciate the literary references. It is surrounded by restaurants and a small library branch.
Fourth Ward ParkThough small, this central park is one of the city's most attractive. Tucked between the central business district and the Fourth Ward historic neighborhood, it is heavily traveled and safe at almost any hour. It features brick walking paths under shade, a gorgeous view of the skyline, and a booth with free maps for a walking tour of the Ward.
Marshall ParkIt's in the Second Ward near the government center. Marshall Park is a vestige of 1960s urban renewal. Though it offers an excellent view of the skyline and is a good place to eat carry-out lunch from nearby restaurants, it lacks the vibrancy of some other city parks. Though it should not be considered dangerous, wise travelers will find a way around it at night.
phone: +1 704-358-7000address: 800 S Mint StThe local NFL team plays in the 73,000 seat Bank of America stadium. Due to a sudden surge in popularity, it is becoming more difficult to find tickets to home games. This is especially the case late in the season, when the team is expected to be in the playoff hunt. Scalpers roam the sidewalks in front of the stadium, so it is possible to find game day tickets at a premium cost. It is illegal to charge more than a small percentage above the face value of a ticket, though this law is generally unenforced.
phone: +1 704-688-8600address: 333 E Trade StCharlotte's new NBA team plays in Spectrum Center (formerly Charlotte Bobcats Arena and Time Warner Cable Arena) is in Uptown. Support for the team has been inconsistent due to an ugly divorce with the original Charlotte Hornets franchise in 2003. Ticket prices are low and it is generally not a problem to purchase a ticket on game day.
phone: +1 704-342-4423address: 333 E Trade StMinor-league hockey team, playing in Time Warner Cable Arena. This is perhaps the best entertainment value in Charlotte, with very low ticket prices for a relatively upscale experience. Charlotte was the first city south of Baltimore to host professional hockey when the first Checkers team was founded in 1956, and has had a team for most of the time since. The team is an affiliate of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes.
phone: +1 704-688-9000address: 333 E Trade StThis venue has become the primary destination for big-name concerts in Charlotte, especially in the colder months when an indoor venue is necessary. The location in the heart of Uptown's entertainment district makes this a great place to catch a show. Even "nosebleed" seats aren't very far from the stage.
CIAA Basketball TournamentWill come to Charlotte in early March for the next several years. Historically-black colleges from across the country bring their teams, alums and fans to Uptown for a week of games, which are held in Spectrum Center. Other events take place throughout the city, including a festival along Tryon St.
St. Patrick's Day ParadeIt's not on the scale of Boston or NYC, but is always well-attended and a fun time to visit the Irish restaurants Uptown. The parade goes up Tryon St., and the best place to view is at the Square.
- In mid-May, Speed Street brings half a million people to Uptown for major musical acts and events related to the NASCAR All-Star Race, which is held at nearby Concord. This event shuts down several major streets, and covers the entirety of Uptown with crowds after sundown. Parking is usually stretched to the limit, and hotels will be difficult to find. However, this is an excellent time for hard partiers to see the city at its most active.
Taste of CharlotteFestival in June is far and away the best time to bring an appetite to the city. Tryon St. closes down for the weekend and many of the city's best restaurants are represented with samples of their signature dishes.
- Fourth of July Fireworks Display has shifted locations several times lately, but is always somewhere in Uptown. This event draws nearly 100,000 visitors to the center city at once; be prepared to sit in gridlock, especially during the display when streets will come to a complete halt. If coming in from another district, using public transit to park-and-ride is recommended.
- Also in July, comic book collectors meet for the annual Heroes Convention at the Convention Center.
Charlotte PrideA gay-pride festival in August. It has shifted locations to South Tryon Street. It has grown significantly since its inception.
- September is one of the best times to visit the city. The city's Labor Day Parade along Tryon St. is modest, but a well-established annual event. The Charlotte Film Festival is a collaboration between the city's most prominent theaters in and around Uptown.
Charlotte International Auto ShowBrings various dealers and buyers together. Usually in November. Adults $8, kids free.
Carrousel Thanksgiving Day ParadeOne of the city's most beloved annual events. Televised regionally, this parade has run along Tryon St. for half a century. A great time to visit.
- For college football fans, the Belk Bowl is a chance to catch a great game as well as a football-themed festival. An ACC team and an SEC team close out their seasons in Bank of America Stadium. Price varies year-to-year.
phone: +1 704-716-8649address: 100 N Tryon StFounders Hall, the atrium of the Bank of America Building, has several upscale shops, including Bank of America Heritage Center and Company Store, an unusual store selling bank memorabilia and featuring a small museum, as well as plenty of clothing and gift stores like Belle Ville, blis, Burke & Co., Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Julie's Too, and The BookMark, an independent bookstore. The atrium is spacious and comfortable, and contains a few restaurants. It generally gets little traffic from outside the Bank of America complex, making it somewhat unknown (even among locals) as a shopping destination. Before 1PM on weekdays, you might consider touring the WBTV Studio, which hosts live morning and noon broadcasts.
- The Overstreet Mall is part of the Wells Fargo complex at Tryon and 2nd St. It is not a "mall" in the traditional sense, but an indoor network of retail and service shops that connects several office buildings. Though it lacks the glamor of streetside shopping, it makes a good alternative to walking outside on cold or rainy days. Its most prominent entrance is through the Wells Fargo Atrium on the corner of Tryon & 3rd St., though several other entrances are convenient as well. Overstreet Mall's tenants include Dean & Deluca, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Blackberry Store, Just Fresh! Market, Julie's, Belk Express, the Center City YMCA, as well as plenty of restaurants and a variety of other services, including dry cleaning, salons, shoe repair, etc.
- Center City Green Market opens on Wednesdays and Fridays 10AM-3PM and Saturdays 9AM-2PM during the warmer months at Trade and Tryon.
EpicenterA fairly new area of downtown, next to the Charlotte Transportation Center. This complex has dining, entertainment, shopping, a bowling alley and a movie theater. Offers restaurants such as Jason's Deli and shopping such as AT&T Store and CVS Pharmacy. On the College Street side it connects to the Bank of America building via a pedestrian bridge.
phone: +1 704-332-1786address: 309 W 4th StFounded in 1926, it is one of Charlotte's oldest establishments, and Uptown's oldest restaurant. A relatively simple diner atmosphere, with city memorabilia covering the walls. Order your hot-dog or hamburger "Carolina Style", and don't forget that it's cash-only!
FuelA fast-growing, homegrown chain that started in a converted gas station (if you're curious, visit the original location on Central Ave. to see it for yourself). Fuel sells pizza by the slice, making it convenient and cheap to stop for a quick bite. There are two Uptown locations, both convenient to major attractions.
Open Kitchenphone: +1 704-375-7449address: 1318 W Morehead StOnce the only restaurant in Charlotte to serve pizza (back when it was considered an exotic delicacy), this restaurant continues to thrive on the outskirts of Uptown. It's not difficult to find three generations of patrons at a single table.
phone: +1 704-333-5833address: 214 N Tryon StThis home-grown chain that has made a name for its excellent Greek "fast" food. Don't be put off by the odd concept or gaudy neon signs; this chain is successful for a reason. Mouth-watering Greek fare and excellent sweet tea.
phone: +1 704-347-2749address: 225 E 6th StCritically acclaimed and very family-friendly, Brixx goes far beyond the norm with its pizza selection. Lots of variety on the menu, including pasta dishes and full-size salad options. Very conveniently located at the bottom of the massive 7th St. Station parking deck, and only a couple of blocks from Bobcats arena. Very busy on game days, but the service is quick.
phone: +1 704-342-4222address: 214 N College StUpscale soul food very near the city's entertainment center. Charlotte's most prominent African-American owned restaurant, Mert's is a favorite among people of all walks of life. The hip decor matches its proximity to clubs and Bobcats Arena. Don't count calories.
phone: +1 704-333-5554address: 208 N Tryon StAs authentic as Irish pubs get without requiring plane tickets; Ri Ra has come up with the clever idea of physically relocating Irish pubs to the United States. A very authentic menu and beer selection complement the warm surroundings and reasonable prices. Very convenient to nightclubs and the arena. Be ready to fight for a seat on St. Patty's Day.
phone: +1 704-333-5189address: 214 N Tryon StBig-city visitors might smirk at the lack of Chinese options Uptown, but SoHo Bistro does its best to help fill the void. Not the kind of place to stop for a cheap box of noodles, but excellent if you're looking for a quality lunch or dinner.
phone: +1 704-377-1715address: 321 S Church StOne of the best restaurant locations in all of Charlotte, as part of historic Latta Arcade. Give some thought to passing by this restaurant, even if only to grab a drink. The ambience and service are both excellent, and the food quality is very high.
phone: +1 704-334-2739address: 401 N Tryon StAside from its beer menu, this place has developed a reputation as one of Uptown's better places to grab a bite to eat. The burgers have an especially high reputation. The kitchen closes a couple of hours before the bar.
phone: +1 704-343-9201address: 201 S College StIf you're looking for a "wow" factor with your meal, this is it. Bentley's offers upscale dining from the 27th floor of the Grant Thornton building uptown. Panoramic views of south Charlotte accompany your meal. Has a reputation for being a bit overpriced, though for obvious reasons.
phone: +1 704-332-6789address: 401 W 9th StIf you're touring Fourth Ward, a stop at "Al Mike's" is a must. The building is nearly a century old, and has probably never looked better. The menu is somewhat expensive but the food is good, and the beer selection is one of the best in the city. A slightly dim, pubbish atmosphere creates ambience. Kids are welcome but this is probably a better place for a date.
phone: +1 704-332-6159address: 511 N Church StIn the Fourth Ward neighborhood. The restaurant has operated since 1988 and serves a highly choreographed seven-course Continental and Southern dinner in a turn of the century Queen Anne Victorian Home. Well known for pairing wines with the courses. Reservations required, valet parking available.
phone: +1 704-333-3448address: 120 N Cedar StLike the Corner Pub, Cedar Street Tavern is primarily a neighborhood bar. Friendly service, reasonable prices and an approachable crowd make for a good low-key drinking atmosphere.
phone: +1 704-376-2720address: 335 N Graham StSimple, unpretentious, and friendly. The Corner Pub is exactly what it sounds like, and feels disconnected from the trendy crush of College Street nightclubs. A great place to go for easy, uncomplicated drinking in a neighborhood atmosphere.
address: 445 W Trade Street
phone: +1 704-334-2739address: 401 N Tryon St Ste 100A local franchise of a small national chain, several beers are brewed on site. It's also a restaurant with pretty decent food.
phone: +1 704-374-0111address: 127 W. Trade StFashionable and tenured, Tilt is one of Charlotte's most well-reputed clubs. House and industrial music keeps the crowded dance floor moving, but the bar and lounge are still comfortable and spacious.
phone: +1 704-333-1999address: 210 East Trade StA modern hotel that is part of the Marriott family, it sits atop the EpiCenter entertainment complex.
phone: +1 704-372-7550address: 201 South McDowell Street
phone: +1 704-926-5800address: 237 S Tryon StFor value and location, this might be the best deal in town. It's two blocks from the Square, around the corner from the Bank of America and Wachovia headquarters. Immediate access to an array of restaurants, clubs, and other attractions. Pool, breakfast buffet, parking deck ($10/night).
phone: +1 704-333-9000address: 100 Trade StA good value with immediate access to the center of the city. A short walk from the Convention Center. Location is excellent for nightlife, as it is on one of the safest and best-lit blocks in the city. A bit pricey, but surprisingly luxurious for its price range. Valet, restaurant, pool, parking deck.
phone: +1 704-335-5400address: 230 North College StRenovated in 2007, this hotel feature a roof-top pool. It's close to the arena.
phone: +1 704-377-1500address: 222 E 3rd StThere are Hiltons scattered across town, but this one has the swankiest location. Part of the complex containing Wachovia Bank's national headquarters, this hotel offers access to an indoor mall and YMCA (reportedly, rooms there include a complimentary guest pass), and is directly across the street from the Convention Center. Excellent views from the upper floors, except those facing the adjacent office tower. Fitness center, restaurants, pool, parking deck.
phone: +1 704 332-4141address: 237 N Tryon StListed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation, this is one of only a handful of historic high-rises in Charlotte. Its attractive location on Tryon St., 19th-century decor, and high-end restaurant (the Monticello) make this boutique hotel a favorite for honeymooners and other romantics.
phone: +1 704-377-0400address: 132 E. Trade StIt doesn't get more central than this; the shard-shaped Omni is located directly on the Square. Aside from its excellent views and relatively affordable package deals, the Omni is also on top of an indoor mall area. In addition, it is connected to the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and features a rooftop pool with excellent skyline views. Most rooms have great views, except those on the backside of the building. Business travelers tend to favor this one for location. Pool, sauna, fitness center, restaurant, airport shuttle, sauna.
phone: +1 704-340-4000address: 404 S Mint StA favorite for visitors to Panthers games. Features a large number of suites, making this a favorite of celebrities who are in town for the game. Most rooms face the stadium and it is a short walk to the game and surrounding amenities. Restaurant, fitness center, continental breakfast.
phone: +1 704-375-2600address: 601 S College StCharlotte's largest hotel, and one of its best-located. The distinctive shape of the hotel gives an indication of its prominence in connecting Uptown and South End, both of which are within walking distance. An added bonus: the streetcar stops right at the base of the hotel and the Gold Rush trolley passes close by. The in-house restaurant has an excellent reputation. Fitness center, pool, grand ballroom.
phone: +1 704-547-2244address: 201 East Trade StUptown's first 5-star hotel, and with LEED Gold certification, the greenest Ritz ever built. On site spa and BLT Steakhouse.
There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.
All ZIP codes in the city of Charlotte begin with 282. The central district's code is 28202.
LibrariesThe main branch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library is on North Tryon St, a short walk from the central Square. It is easily recognizable by its green copper roof, and the authorial quotes which adorn its columns. Among its resources is an Internet cafe which offers free visitor access. On the third floor is a special library of local and regional history, including old maps and photographs of the city. The library is one of the best places to get directions if you need them.
RestroomsPermanent public restrooms are relatively rare in Charlotte, though portable restrooms are usually provided for major public events. It is generally OK to duck into a bar or restaurant to use the restroom, though it is considered good etiquette to make at least a trivial purchase to compensate the business.
phone: +1 704-333-9081address: 501 N Tryon StBased in an historic neo-Gothic building in the center of the city. Very convenient if you are staying in an Uptown hotel.
phone: +1 704-334-3782address: 401 N Mcdowell StUptown location with a distinctive modern steeple. One of several AME Zion churches in a small radius.
phone: +1 704-332-2901address: 507 S Tryon StNot to be confused with St. Peter's Episcopal only a few blocks away. Immediately next door is a small park with shops and restaurants.
phone: +1 704-332-7746address: 115 W 7th StHistoric church near the city's major tourist district. One of the oldest continually-operating religious communities in the city.