AFFORDABLE TRAVEL DIARIES: CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Have you ever been so overwhelmed with work, personal stress, and missing a friend that you were compelled to take the first opportunity to leave town for a while? My most recent impulses brought me to Charlotte, North Carolina. It had been a long time coming for me, as many times as I had insisted I would visit my soul-sister / best friend in North Carolina - I finally bit the bullet late July.
As I mentioned in my last travel post, I am incredibly grateful to have friends all over; it really incentivizes me to branch out and visit new cities. This go around, I finally took my talents down south in Charlotte. Although Charlotte is probably not the first place people think of as the pinnacle of southern charm, it was overwhelming as soon as I stepped out of the airport. This post will highlight the affordability and versatility of all Charlotte has to offer. So if you are considering travelling to Charlotte, North Carolina any time soon and wanting to enjoy your time with your wallet in mind - this is the post for you.
CRAVE DESSERT BAR.
The first stop hours after landing was Crave Dessert Bar in Charlotte's Fourth Ward. This is the perfect spot for a quaint yet lively late night. I loved the exposed brick and black-iron decor in this loft lounge. The outdoor area that houses this bar has safe (free) parking, and amazing twinkling lights for a post dinner photo-op. Despite its name, Crave offers more than just dessert they also had small bites, delicious cocktails, and a large hookah selection. After I indulged with the spicy crab quesadillas and Lexi with the chicken pesto flatbread, I had the stacked key lime cheesecake - although it could've used more key lime flavor it was a solid dessert option. They have dozens to choose from.
U.S. NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER.
Going to the National Whitewater Center was such an experience, Lexi and I had spent the night prior our and about dancing and needed a change of pace and scenery before hitting the town again. Entry to the park totaled $6, the parking lot is vast and we lucked out with a spot close to the entrance. If you are looking for options in physical activity or just looking to get some sun this is the spot for you. There are options from zip-lining, white water rafting, weekend yoga, or flatwater kayaking that are all very affordable. The center is gorgeous, the waters are blue and there are plenty of concession stands that offer food and drinks (even +21). This is great for families who are also looking to spend a day out, there is something for everyone. Lexi and I spent $30 on flatwater kayaking, we had 90 minutes and got to enjoy the calming waters on the Catawba River and Long Creek. We burned lots of calories, got some sun on our legs from an hour and a half in the kayaks, and it all made the double-cheeseburgers we had afterwards worth it.
BATL AXE THROWING.
What better way to end the weekend than to let out your Sunday/Monday scaries by throwing some axes at BATL in Charlotte Plaza? This is something I have always wanted to do but have been so scared to. Anytime I'd seen others enjoying it, it looked terrifying - I always figured I'd accidentally slice open the middle of my back while getting ready to throw. Worry not, it's physically impossible and you just have to trust yourself! The axes are not so heavy that they are unbearable. Jimmy was our instructor - he was super nice and playful and was very encouraging when Lexi and I were missing the targets.. completely. For $26 (and a discount for medical staff), we got to spend an hour and a half listening to good music, playing axe throwing games, and enjoying great conversation. BATL has beers on tap as well for anyone looking to enjoy a drink, and you get to sample them as well. I normally do not like beer but they had ciders that were sweet and refreshing to offset the workout.
ROMARE BEARDEN PARK.
After axe-throwing, burn off a few extra calories by taking a walk around the park and enjoy people watching or if you are normal -- gorgeous skylines and various forms of entertainment. Music here and there, food trucks are abundant (I had the halal cart and got a decent tray of lamb rice and salad) and of course restaurants all over.
HONORABLE MENTION: CLEAN JUICE.
We came here before going axe-throwing for a mini cleanse after drinks and Cook-Out the night prior. This place is really cute of course I took advantage of the gorgeous green wall in their storefront. Their juices are a bit pricey but it was really delicious and refreshing and... when in Vegas sometimes a seven dollar freshly squeezed juice is reasonable. It's an experience, you get to watch the barista make the juices fruit by fruit so you know exactly what's going in it.
With having taken a solo-trip finally, I can cross it off my bucket list and plan for the next few solo-trips. Do some research, start small and closer to home, and rip that Band-Aid. There's so much of the world we all want to see and for a lot of us, the obstacle of wanting to have someone go with is the only thing stopping us.