CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In honor of 2-22-2022, WCNC Charlotte asked its viewers what makes the Queen City the best place to live in the United States.
And, there were a few things that were noticeably missing, so those were added. After all, Charlotte's got a lot! So here are 22 things that make Charlotte the best.
Bless your heart, you didn't know Charlotte residents were nice? If you haven't noticed the unusual amount of people smiling as they walk around the city or how many people will hold the door open for you when you enter a business, then you're missing one of the best parts of Charlotte.
Travel is easy
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is a huge airport since American Airlines is hubbed there. The airport spans more than 5,500 acres and a recent study said it's the 11th busiest airport in America. And if that intimidates you, take a load off on one of the airport's white rocking chairs.
In case you don't want to leave and you want to stay awhile instead, it may be because of Uptown. It's a bit confusing to newbies, but Charlotte's downtown area is more often referred to as "Uptown." The reason for that actually dates back to the 1890s since both Tryon and Trade streets were physically at a higher elevation than the rest of the city surrounding it. Charlotte was so passionate about this distinction that the City Council passed an official proclamation in 1974 that "the heart of Charlotte should be now and forevermore known as Uptown Charlotte."
Y'all, those sunrises. Pinks and blues and oranges and purples and reds are known to constantly fill the skies every morning and evening, stunning residents and probably distracting drivers.
Interesting fact, according to NOAA, clean air is the main cause of brightly colored sunrises and sunsets, so add that to the list of good things Charlotte has going on.
Fancy yourself a lover of Broadway? Want to go see the ballet? Soak in some classical music? Get your breath taken away by operatic singing? Rock out at one of the most diverse music venues ever? Charlotte has you covered.
Charlotte is known for many different types of food, but if you haven't snacked on some Bossy Beulah's or Noble Smoke and finished up with some delicious Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, then you're doing yourself a disservice.
But if you're more into the pop-up scene, there are plenty of food trucks around Charlotte worth standing in line for. Looking for the best of both worlds? Several of Charlotte's popular food trucks also have permanent booths at Optimist Hall.
Whether you love the vroom of a NASCAR engine, the excitement around a buzzer-beater, the crack of a bat, the siren after a goal or the roar of the crowd after a touchdown, the Queen City has sports for everyone. The Queen's City Steeplechase isn't only the height of horse racing in the area, but you can't miss the fabulous outfits. The Coca-Cola 600 gets all fans' engines going. And the newly formed Charlotte FC brings lots of passionate fans to the games!
This may seem minor, but when you live in a major city, anything that's unexpectedly free is a delight. In most places in metro Charlotte, there are plenty of free parking options, especially after the workday is over. But even if you'd prefer not to circle the block looking for cost-efficient options, there are plenty of bike lanes and even a light rail option that can usher you to and from popular spots around town.
If becoming an Instagram influencer was on your manifest list for 2022, then this city has got you covered. There are dozens of public pieces of art on display all over the city, some of which you'll be begging the very nice passers-by to snap a photo of you in front of them. Whether it's the Confetti Hearts Wall or the colorful ground of the Rail Trail, there are even online guides and tours that will take you from one picturesque mural to the next.
If performance art isn't really your scene, but you'd rather be amongst art, there is no shortage of museums in the Queen City. Those who love modern art have to hit up the Shain Gallery and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (don't forget to snap a selfie in front of the Firebird Statue outside). For more diverse pieces of art, head nearby to the Mint Museum which houses one of the largest art collections in the southeastern United States.
PHOTOS: Public art in Uptown Charlotte
Outside of the three-in-a-row snow storms Charlotte got this winter, typically the winters are rather mild. Typically, Charlotte sees about 5 inches of snow a year. This January, Charlotte saw nearly that in a single month: with back-to-back-to-back snowfall. Despite all that, winter this year remains overall warmer and drier than usual. Summary graph: Winter only really happens in January here (typically).
Carolina blue skies
Every place you live probably touts how blue the sky is there. But here's the thing. They're all wrong. Unless they're in Charlotte. The skies are so blue here, it almost looks like God is rooting for the Panthers or Charlotte FC. Even during the wintertime, the sun will be shining and the sky will be clear of clouds. It's rather stunning.
From being named after King George III's wife Queen Charlotte (remember her from Bridgerton if you don't know your British history?) to being dubbed the "hornet's nest of rebellion" (get it? That's why the Charlotte Hornets are called that), Charlotte has a rich history.
One of the best displays of history in Charlotte is the Levine Museum of the New South which tries hard to connect the complicated history of slavery in America to modern times.
We couldn't talk about Charlotte without talking about the plethora of micro-breweries smattered across the city. There are dozens of breweries in just the Charlotte area, not to mention how many there are in the surrounding areas. There's even a "Beer Bucket List" that visitors can go through.
Beach or mountains
More of a beach bum? Love hitting the slopes? Guess what? Charlotte is close to both! In less than four hours, you can hit the Atlantic Ocean coastline, with your swimsuit in hand. Heck, on the way there, why not stop by some of the incredible mountain views we have to the east or take a hike up Crowders Mountain which is only an hour's drive away? There aren't too many places in the country where you can hit up both in one day.
Carowinds is a special amusement park for many reasons. It splits the North Carolina-South Carolina state line and has tons of rides that will thrill the whole family, including the Carolina Goldrusher which was the first roller coaster to cross state lines in one ride.
The tree canopy
Charlotte has been found to have one of the best tree canopies, compared to other cities. Charlotte's tree canopy is so known and loved that the Queen City has even had the nickname "Tree City USA."
It's even in the works to improve the tree canopy. As part of the City of Charlotte's Tree Canopy Action Plan, the city will analyze and preserve Charlotte's tree canopy.
Many people might not connect Charlotte with water sports, but as we mentioned, Charlotte's got a lot! The U.S. National Whitewater Center isn't just for Olympic training, it's for everyone. Visitors can go rafting, canoeing, rappelling, biking, running, kayaking, rock climbing, all for a low admittance fee. And during the winter months, they have an ice skating rink. If lake life is more your style, then there are tons of lakes, including the stunning Lake Norman nearby Charlotte to enjoy, as well as the Catawba River, which is fun to float down during the summer.
When people visit Charlotte for the first time, they're often struck by how green it is here. You don't have to go to a public greenway to see the majesty of nature here, but if you want to, there are plenty of places to check out. There are multiple botanical gardens in the city, and hiking around Anne Springs Close Greenway is stunning, no matter the time of year.
Sure, lots of people flock up to the northeast to see the leaves change, but they aren't lucky enough to live in the Queen City. The deep reds, oranges and yellows seen all over the region are breathtaking, and if you're willing to climb nearby Grandfather Mountain during the fall, then make sure to bring your camera.
Parks and trails
From Independence Park to Marshall Park and everywhere in between, Charlotte sure knows the importance of outdoor community space.
Charlotte parks are utilized for public gatherings, family picnics, walking dogs, outdoor sports and so much more. And one thing's for certain Charlotte has a lot of runners. While the ever-popular Rail Trail along the light rail is a popular route for runners, Mecklenburg County has at least 62 miles of developed greenways.
How could this list be complete without addressing that beautiful skyline? Charlotte is one of the top growing cities in the country, and the developing skyline is a clear sign of that.
Whether you're scoping out the view from the heart of Uptown at a rooftop bar or getting the full perspective from the airport, make sure to check out the view at night.
Several of the Queen City's buildings light up at night, sometimes syncing or complementing one another in color schemes, to produce a sight that's truly royal.
What are your favorite things about the Queen City? Text us at 704-329-3600 to let us know!