Travel Tips: Downtown Charlotte, NC
Planning to visit downtown Charlotte, NC with a few guys for a long weekend. Sharing my travel notes for other first-time visitors.
Public Transit vs Ride Sharing vs Car Rental
We initially thought we would need to ride share or rent a car, but it sounds like Charlotte, NC has a great public transit system. We plan to take a bus from Airport to Downtown (bus runs every 15 minutes), then take their light rail system and busses around downtown. Cost is about $2/ride or $30/week for unlimited rides.
CATS Bus Route: Airport Terminal to Downtown (Airport to downtown is 21 minute ride)
CATS Light Rail: Lynx Blue/Gold Rail Lines
CATS Map of the Blue Line (04/2022). The trains currently stop every 15 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the evenings.
Here’s a Google Map of Blue Line from McCullough Station (8312 N Tryon St) to Arrowood Station (7430 South Blvd). We aren’t planning to go to the far ends of the line (I-485 or UNC) so I didn’t include the last few stops, but it is interesting to see where the line travels through the Charlotte Metro area.
CATS Map of the Yellow Line (04/2022). The streetcars currently stop every 20 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the evenings. The BLUE/YELLOW lines meet at CTC/Arena (Charlotte Transportation Center)
Charlotte has plans to continue expanding their yellow/blue lines and add additional lines, so definitely check the CATS website for the latest maps and schedule.
Nightlife near Light Rail Stations
I compiled a list of the (currently) highest-rated attractions near Charlotte Blue Line Stations w/ the current Google Rating and Review Count. Based on the Google and Yelp reviews I’ve read, Cellar at Duckworth’s, Wooden Robot, and Aura Rooftop get my votes.
9th St Station
- Babylon Hookah Lounge – 3.8 (71)
7th St Station
- The Cellar at Duckworth’s – 4.7 (965) ⭐️
- Tailored Smoke Cigar Lounge – 4.5 (414)
3rd St Station
- Middle C Jazz – 4.8 (409)
- The Public House – 4.7 (40)
- Aura Rooftop at JW Marriott – 5.0 (1081) ⭐️
- Charlotte Cigar Culture – 4.8 (238)
- Morehead Tavern – 4.4 (338)
- Wooden Robot Brewery – 4.7 (707) ⭐️
- Amos Southend – 4.6 (514) (👈 Mo Lowda & the Humble 04/15/2021)
- Bulldog Taproom/Social Club – 4.5 (201)
- STIR – 4.4 (929)
- The Gin Mill – 4.1 (307)
East/West Blvd Station
- The Vintage Whiskey & Cigar Bar – 4.6 (128)
- Barcelona Wine Bar – 4.6 (839)
- Tyber Creek Pub – 4.5 (700)
- Sycamore Brewing – 4.5 (645)
- Dillworth Tasting Room – 4.4 (408)
- QC Pour House – 4.4 (165)
- The Manchester – 4.2 (594)
- Elsewhere Cocktail Bar – 4.2 (69)
New Bern Station
- Waterman Fish Bar – 4.4 (1090)
- Suffolk Punch Brewing – 4.4 (685)
- Link & Pin New Bern – 4.4 (605)
- Triple C Brewing Company – 4.4 (410)
- Backstage Lounge at Southbound – 4.4 (121)
List Inspired by: Bars and Restaurants Along Charlotte’s Blue Line Light Rail
- BB&T Ballpark: Home to Charlotte Knights Baseball (AAA)
- Bank of America Stadium: Home to Carolina Panthers Football (NFL) and Concerts
- Spectrum Center: Home to Charlotte Hornets Basketball (NBA) and Concerts
- Charlotte Official Visitor Guide
- TripAdvisor’s 15 Best Things to Do in Charlotte
If you can find a hotel or B&B near a public transit station, you’ll be able to get around the downtown area without renting a car or relying on ride share services (e.g. Lyft, Uber) based on comments I’ve seen in many different downtown B&B reviews.
We initially booked a B&B so that we could stay together, but the host cancelled on us 4 days before the trip due to a water/flooding emergency. We ended up booking a hotel near one of the Blue Line light rail stations. We couldn’t find another B&B near a Blue Line station that seemed like a good fit for us.
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