Editor’s Escape: Charlotte Staycation
Everyone needs a break every now and then, but it’s not always easy to make time for an out-of-town adventure. That’s why a getaway at home is such a great idea.
Recently, we enjoyed a mini vacation in the Queen City. Our home base for the weekend was the AAA Four Diamond Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel.
It’s ideally situated in uptown Charlotte and provides easy access to local venues like the Levine Museum of the New South, NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Epicentre.
Our spacious room boasted floor-to-ceiling windows that provided great views of Romare Bearden Park. The room was dressed in rich hues of purple, gray and pops of green with accents of crystal, polished marble and deep mahogany. Our master bathroom at home is about the size of a typical hall closet, so our wet room bathroom with a tub/shower enclosure was a real treat. In addition, the shower was stocked with full-size Atelier Bloem shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
Other hotel amenities include in-room yoga mats, a well-equipped fitness center and free use of the hotel’s PUBLIC bikes. We enjoyed pre-dinner charcuterie and wine during the complimentary social hour from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. It was well attended and was a nice opportunity to mingle with other guests.
I suggest you consider dining at Angeline’s, the hotel’s main restaurant. The menu features seasonal southern-style cuisine with Italian influences. The house-made focaccia bread is difficult to stop eating, but you’ll want to make room for the other items on offer. We sampled their fried mozzarella, which were coated with those delicious focaccia breadcrumbs and served with Pomodoro sauce. My husband ordered the evening’s special of mussels, clams and scallops while I savored a meal of sides that included charred broccolini and roasted cauliflower.
After dinner we made our way to the hotel’s popular rooftop bar, Merchant + Trade. Here you’ll find a bevy of local craft beers, unique cocktails, varied small plates and Instagram-worthy views of the city.
New to the city’s restaurant scene, La Belle Helene opened this past summer to rave reviews.
The interior of this upscale French brasserie is stunning — high ceilings and an interior that includes leather, polished marble, pewter accents and antique wood. The menu is a modern take on traditional French dishes like beef tartare, egg mayonnaise (the French version of deviled eggs), escargots and other items. The wine list here is extensive, and they offer a good selection of local beers and unique craft cocktails. La Belle Helene is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
Located on the first floor of the Ascent apartment building next to Romare Bearden Park, Haymaker focuses on local and Appalachian-inspired cuisine. Its airy dining space and mid-century modern style blended with simple modern accents creates a charming backdrop for a memorable meal. The menu showcases small plates of foraged mushroom toast and crispy pork belly, large plates of wild caught NC grouper and roasted lamb shoulder for two, and desserts like almond plum cake and pineapple coconut tart. Their weekend brunch is popular, too. Brunch items include the fried green tomato BLT, cornmeal fried catfish and Dutch baby — an heirloom cornmeal pancake with sorghum butter, bourbon macerated raspberries and candied pecans.
Charlotte is blessed with a thriving arts community — everything from concerts and Broadway performances to plays and museums. And exploring Charlotte is so easy. It’s a very walkable city. Motorized scooters are a popular way to get around, too, but I lack the skill and balance to attempt one. Here are a few spots close to our hotel worth a visit.
Inspired by his parents’ passion for modern art, Charlotte resident and Switzerland native Andreas Bechtler made their 70-year collection available to the public when he opened the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in 2010. Featuring modern art from every major school and movement in the 20th century, the museum is housed inside a visually striking building designed by Swiss architect, Mario Botta. The iconic shimmering 17-foot Firebird sculpture that stands at the entrance is a popular photo backdrop for museum visitors and passersby.
The Mint Museum was North Carolina’s first art museum, and the Mint Museum Uptown houses the globally renowned Craft + Design collection. Showcasing an extensive collection of American, modern and contemporary art, the museum galleries feature a range of artistic styles from traditional to avant-garde.
Whether it’s at the Knight Theater, Spirit Square’s McGlohon Theater or a show at one of Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s venues, theater buffs have their pick of shows throughout the year. I concluded my staycation the best way possible — a matinee showing of Hamilton at the Belk Theater.