Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Four Years in the Queen City

We're coming up on the four year anniversary of our move to Charlotte. By the end of this month, I can now say I've spent more of my post college life in Charlotte than I did in Hampton Roads. On the one hand I feel like we just made our big move, but on the other it feels like we just got here.

Whenever we go back to visit Virginia, I get asked all the time from people "How do you like Charlotte?" and my response is always the same....we LOVE it. When we moved here, J worked for a big company and had an office job, but now he works for himself and works from home, which essentially means we could move if we wanted. Several times people have asked us why we're still here, and it all comes back to the fact that this city is our home now. I don't really see us raising our family somewhere else. Charlotte just fits us so darn well. It's a growing city with lots of young people and young families, but at the same time I'm still learning neat tidbits of history about this city that we now call home.

After one year here, I wrote a post describing ten things I loved about our new home. Today, I want to share ten places I love in this city. If you're visiting Charlotte or you're a resident here, here are my top ten favorite local establishments to visit....

1. Paper Skyscraper - The coolest little card and gift shop on East Boulevard. I go here when I need just the right gift for someone or when I want a great card (because nothing excites me more than perusing cards and stationery).

2. NoDa Brewery - There are some (okay....lots of) GOOD breweries here in Charlotte, but NoDa is by far, my favorite. They opened in the fall of 2011 right after we moved here, and I was lucky enough to meet their owners the summer before their opening. They make awesome beer, their brewery has a nice taproom, and the owners are pretty awesome people. If you're curious, Sycamore is my second favorite followed closely by Birdsong! And just in case anyone was wondering, we really love Triple C too!

3. On the topic of beer....Good Bottle Co. I freaking love this little beer shop in Southend. Charlotte has a LOT of craft beer shops, and they're all wonderful. But this one is most definitely my favorite. The owner is super nice, he does an awesome job marketing his shop on instagram (I have totally gone in before just based on something he shared on instagram!), and most importantly, they always have a crazy amount of great variety in beer, especially NC beers. If you like beer, go visit. You won't be disappointed.

4. And fine, while we're chatting alcohol, I may as well bring up my favorite wine shop. The Wine Shop at Foxcroft is my favorite place to go after dinner on a date night and have a glass or two of wine. I love that it's little and has a nice relaxed atmosphere. It's always busy, but we also always manage to snag a table. On top of great wines, they also have a great selection of craft beer and some tasty eats on their menu. I love their cheese and charcuterie boards!

5. US Whitewater Center - This counts as a local establishment, right? The WWC is a family friendly place to spend the day. We personally like to visit on Thursday and Saturday evenings in the summer for their River Jam concerts.

6. Imaginon - M and I visit Imaginon in Uptown Charlotte a few times a month for their daily story time and play. It's a library run by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System, but it also houses a children's theater. I've never seen a show here with M, but I did attend one on a field trip when I was still teaching. Now that her attention span has grown, there's a few we're hoping to attend next year (especially Piggy and Gerald!). I know it sounds silly, but after visiting several storytimes through out the city, I can safely say the librarians here (they call them "story tellers") are the BEST! We love to visit and play here. AND?! It's a FREE morning activity!

7. Going along with places for young kids, I also LOVE the Charlotte Nature Museum. We got a membership here for Christmas from my parents along with a few other museums in town, but this one is definitely M's favorite. The CNM is small and a lot is geared toward young kids. We probably go here once every two weeks to see the animals and play. If you have a child under 6 or 7, this is a great place to visit with them!

8. JJ's Redhots - If you follow me on instagram, you had to know I'd include our favorite hotdog shop. We love this place. It's super kid friendly, their hotdogs are LEGIT, and they have an awesome rooftop to sit on. It's nothing fancy, but it is GOOD. What more do you need?

9. Sticking with the restaurant theme, I could really go on and on here with our favorite places to eat, but I'll stick with just two. Casual (JJ's), and for a little bit of a nicer meal out without the kiddo, we love Block and Grinder. I love a good steak, and this is probably my favorite spot in Charlotte to get one. I love the atmosphere here, it's nice, without being over the top, and the food is fabulous. We've also purchased steaks from here at their butcher counter and brought them home to grill ourselves. Neat little place.

10. Amelie's! How could you make a list of Charlotte beloved spots and not include Amelie's?! I love visiting here, not just for the sweets, but for the adorable decor, the espresso, the hot chocolate...it's an all around winner. You could easily find yourself sitting here chatting with a friend or a loved one for hours upon end! And best of all, they just opened a new location down the street from us. I'm pretty thrilled about this!

Charlotte, thank you for letting us call you home for the past four years. You have embraced us with open arms, and we have loved every step of the journey. We hope to keep exploring you as we continue to grow our roots here. 

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