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Top Five Destinations of Charlotte, NC

When I think of Charlotte, North Carolina, I think of the professional sports teams there ? the Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Bobcats, now the Charlotte Hornets. Both are expansion teams and both (along with their predecessor the original Charlotte Hornets, now the New Orleans Pelicans) haven?t had much success on the field or the court in the last few years. At least the Panthers have been to one Super Bowl (they lost) and have a winning 6-4 record in the four times they?ve made the playoffs during their 18 years of existence (to make up for the overall 132-156 record.) The Charlotte Hornets (before becoming the Pelicans) made the playoffs seven times in their 14 years in the NBA (where nearly every team gets to go to the playoffs), lost in the first round three times and in the second round the other four times. Their record: 542-574. The Bobcats have been even worse, only making the playoffs once since 2004 (and getting swept by the Magic) and carrying a 250-476 record over those 9 years.

I might not have a positive view of the city if I judged cities solely on their sports. (I?m looking at you Cleveland.) However, I look at a map and see Charlotte in the eastern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and start to look at all of the things to do around the city and I think, sports are not the only things in town. Here are five better things.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Did I say no sports? Well, let?s just call NASCAR driving and the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a chance to learn more about those men that escaped revenuers looking for their moonshine. At least, that?s how I think NASCAR started from the days when I used to watch ?The Dukes of Hazzard.? (To hearken back to a previous essay, if Batman is a superhero because of his vehicles, does that make NASCAR drivers superheroes?)

Eat at The King?s Kitchen

I see the words ?local ingredients? and ?grandparents? down-home Southern cooking? to describe The King?s Kitchen and my stomach gurgles to cry out food. Then I see fried chicken, black-eyed peas, zucchini, butter beans, sweet potato mash and pimento cheese and my stomach gains control of my body and I?m searching Expedia for a flight.

Hit the water at the US National Whitewater Center

Whitewater overwhelms a raft in the first picture that appears as I load the US National Whitewater Center homepage. So, rafting is at the forefront of my mind, but even in the winter, weather permitting, the Center?s trails are open 365 days a year. The AllSport pass costs $179 and includes flat-water kayaking, 90 minutes of adventure rafting and 2 hours of mountain biking or 30 minutes of zip lines.

Eat at Bobbie O?s BBQ

Wow, I really like the prices at Bobbie O?s BBQ. For lunch, the sandwiches are $4.49 and lower and you can get a side of greens, a side of beans, a drink and a cornbread muffin for just $3.94 more. For dinner, you can get the pulled pork family meal for $27.99 and it includes 2 pounds of meat, 3 family sized sides and 6 rolls.

Hike around the McDowell Nature Center and Preserve

Truthfully, it?s the seven miles of hiking trails at the McDowell Nature Center and Preserve that gets my attention. Add to that a chance to see Pileated Woodpeckers as I walk among the trees, and I?m content.

Any suggestions for things that I missed? Any additional recommendations for the area? Just let me know in the comments.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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