In the heart of the southern Piedmont between the mountains and the coast lies Charlotte, the "Queen City" of the South. A big banking center and one of the powerhouses of the region, Charlotte, has almost completely rebuilt their downtown with steel and glass towers.

To better understand this city visit the Levine Museum of the New South, an interactive history museum of the region's socio-economic transformation. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has a collection of mid-20th-century modern art, and The Harvey B Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture has significant collections of African-American art. For some theater and performance venues see below.

The gay community isn't that large, but it’s lively and incredibly diverse. The Gay Charlotte Film Festival takes place in April, with more screenings of interest throughout the year. Come August, locals pour out into the streets for Charlotte Pride, followed by the Queer Arts Consortium presentation, Flourish: A Celebration of LGBT Arts & Culture, later in August.


Getting here

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is due west of Charlotte. Approved Airport Taxis cost $25 to most downtown Charlotte destinations. Several buses cost $3 or less per ride into town: the green "Route 5-Airport" Sprinter, with direct connections from the airport to Center City Charlotte; plus CATS routes 590 and 591. See their websites for route and schedule information.

The new Rental Car Facility in the Hourly Parking Deck has nine companies, including Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, and National -- follow signs from the lower level Arrivals/Baggage Claim area of the terminal.

Amtrak Carolinian/ Piedmont trains connect Charlotte (1914 N Tryon St), Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh in North Carolina; also Richmond, Washington DC, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton and New York. Amtrak Crescent trains connect Charlotte and Greensboro; plus New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Change trains for more destinations across North America.


Getting around

A car of your own will allow you to explore Charlotte and its beautiful countryside most easily, but taxis or public transit eliminate the need to navigate or to find parking.

CATS operates the LYNX Blue Line Light Rail, the Gold Rush Trolleys, the Charlotte Trolley, and city bus services with 40 routes. Basic single fares are $2.20, paid as you board the bus. Transfers are issued at the time of payment and are free unless you are transferring to a higher priced service. A one day unlimited ride pass is $6.60, and a weekly pass costs just $22.

Charlotte B-Cycle is the local bike share program. Buy an access pass online, or at any B-station when you’re ready to ride. Take a bike from any of over 20 stations, then return it to the station closest to your final destination. Trips of 30 minutes or less are included in your access pass cost. Those over 18 are not legally required to wear a helmet in North Carolina, but they can pick up a free helmet at the Time Warner Cable Arena Trade Street location. Anyone age 17 or younger can't use the bikes.


Local Media & resources

Q Notes is the local gay publication. It’s full of news and cultural commentary. Creative Loafing is the local alternative weekly for events, listings, and reviews.

Visit Gay Charlotte is another useful online resource with a directory, events listings and blog.

For the official tourism site of the Queen City, see Charlotte, with area attractions, events, restaurants, hotels, shopping and more.

Charlotte’s Lesbian and Gay Community Center closed in early 2015.

For businesses listed below, and more, see our gay Charlotte map & listings pages.


As in all of North Carolina, the bars are membership clubs to comply with NC State ABC law. Members can sponsor guests at the door, otherwise new memberships take 3 days. Locals are used to this, and often help visitors. Call ahead or check the bar website for the fine print.

Bar at 316 (316 Rensselaer Ave), gay/lesbian cocktail lounge, DJs, karaoke, trivia games, comedy drag shows, outdoor terrace, Sunday brunch.

Cathode Azure Club (1820 S Blvd, suite 106), South Beach-style lounge, azure lighting, white leather seating, DJ dance club, patio, drag shows, pool and darts.

Central Station (2131 Central Ave), neighborhood cocktail bar, drag shows and pool tables.

Chasers (3217 The Plaza) men-only nightclub, young male strippers dancing in very brief thongs; open seven nights.

L4 Lounge (2906 Central Ave), lesbian and gay mixed cocktail bar in Plaza Midwood; dancing, terrace, bar food.

Nickel Bar (2817 Rozzelles Ferry Rd), Thursday-Sunday African-American gay bar/ dance and show club, divas, sexy male dancers; everyone welcome.

Petra’s Piano Bar & Cabaret (1919 Commonwealth Ave), cabaret bar drag shows, live music, trivia nights, silent movies, performers, bear nights.

The Scorpio (2301 Freedom), longtime local favorite dance and show club, Wednesdays plus Fridays through Sundays; diverse gay crowd, men/women, older/younger; urban and college nights, drag shows, male dancers, special theme nights.

Sidelines Bar (4544 South Blvd), HDTV sports bar, internet jukebox, WiFi, darts, Foosball, Wii, pool games and tournaments, bear nights.

Snug Harbor (1228 Gordon St), gay-friendly eclectic mix in Plaza Midwood; 18+ live music concerts, karaoke, Thursday Shiprocked 21+ gay nights with hot go-go dancers and drag burlesque.

Soul Gastrolounge (1500 Central Ave), global tapas and cocktails lounge for a mixed crowd; small plates and sushi, dinner and late-night menus, Sunday brunch, patio seatings. DJs after 10pm play classic RnB, soul, and house.

Woodshed Lounge (4000 Queen City Dr), men's leather and bear bar, patio, drag pageants, karaoke, underwear and blackout nights, monthly Uproarr parties for bears and friends.

Holly Events presents For Lesbians Only (FLO) monthy events; and Twirl to the World Holiday Party is an annual charity fund-raising affair of 6 years running, each December, usually at the Visulite Theatre.


Theater & Performance

Actor's Theatre of Charlotte (933 Louise Ave), professional theater company in a new home, plays for mature audiences, cult movie screenings, annual nuVoices Play Festival.

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra at Belk Theater (130 N Tryon St, Uptown), Blumenthal Performing Arts Center venue for classical music and pops concerts.

Theatre Charlotte (501 Queens Rd), non-profit community theater stage productions; classic plays, regional premieres, musicals, films.

Time Warner Cable Arena (333 E Trade St), entertainment and sports venue, NBA Charlotte Bobcats games.

Tremont Music Hall (400 W Tremont Ave. SouthEnd), live music all-ages concert venue, national and international acts.

UpStage (3306 N Davidson St), performing arts and creative events; theater plays, one-man shows, readings, improv and sketch comedy, spoken-word/poetry, live music, burlesque, cabaret and dance.


Restaurants & Hotels

See our map and listings pages for some restaurant and hotel suggestions, plus the three major area shopping malls.

- staff - July 2016