The new Bechtler Museum of Modern Art opened its doors at the beginning of 2010 and quickly became Charlotte’s most striking building. The four-story building with its airy central atrium and cantilevered fourth floor is daring and enticing at once, and visitors are rewarded with a surprisingly robust collection of 20th-Century art. Important works include paintings by Miró, Giacometti, Picasso, Hepworth, Warhol, Le Corbusier, and more!
Charlotte cuisine is typical of southern US cooking, and high-fat, high-carb standards like grits and sweet potatoes (yams) are common restaurant fare. Barbecued pork – chopped and slathered with rich sauces – sandwiches served with slaw on the meat is a local custom, as are “Carolinas style” hot dogs and hamburgers, which are served with mustard, chili, and cole slaw. Sweet iced tea – sweeter than you’ll possibly expect – is the most popular non-alcoholic drink. Other regional non-alcoholic drinks include Cheerwine (cherry-flavored soft drink), Sundrop (a citrus or cherry-lemon drink), and RC Cola.
Charlotte is the spiritual home of American stock car racing, so you ought to pay your respects while you’re here. You can catch NASCAR events at the Charlotte Motor Speedway or check out the new NASCAR Hall of Fame, which celebrates the sport’s best cars and drivers. If all that really gets you revved up, you can even take lessons at the Dirt Track Racing School on three different types of racecars.
Charlotte is an excellent gateway to the culture of the southern US, and there are lots of places to learn about the region’s proud history and traditions. The Levine Museum of the New South’s permanent exhibit includes period displays that reflect regional history such as a one-room tenant farmer’s house, a cotton mill, an African-American hospital, and a civil-rights era lunch counter. Changing exhibits focus on local culture, art and history.
The Harvey B Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture has galleries dedicated to the work of African-American artists and educational programming about local history and culture.
Just 10 minutes from downtown, the US National Whitewater Center is a fantastic world-class sporting center for the rugged woodland warrior. The highlight of the center is the multiple-channel, customized whitewater course on the Catawba River for rafting, canoeing and kayaking, but there are also mountain biking and hiking trails.