How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina

Weekend seekers have Charlotte, North Carolina on their radar this spring, where artistic flair, gentle outdoor adventure, and escapist ROI of culinary discovery all under the multi-layered Carolina blue sky.

Don’t confuse the Carolinas’ largest metro area and the 15th largest city in the US with its southern neighbors Charlottesville or Charleston. Charlotte is a New South city that deserves its own vacation search — and there’s never been a better time to visit.

This spring, the Queen City is making an important cultural commitment as Charlotte’s Mint Museum presents Picasso’s Landscapes: Beyond the Limits, more than 40 paintings spanning Picasso’s entire career and exploring his lifelong innovations in landscape. The exhibition is part of the International Picasso Festival, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, and runs until May 21.Art.

It’s a great base for an extended weekend getaway, with white-water rafting, serious golf, a cycling paradise, craft brewers, super-talented chefs, and plenty of party clubs.

What to look for on a spring trip:

View of Notre Dame by Pablo Picasso
American Federation of Arts


Picasso close up

For the uninitiated, Charlotte’s Mint Museum is one of only two locations in the United States to display this specially curated Picasso exhibit. It is organized by the American Federation of Arts and directed by Laurence Madelin, Chief Curator of the French National Heritage.

Although Picasso was prolific (he painted approximately 13,500 paintings during his decade-long career), he only painted about 300 landscapes. According to him, their influence on his creative process was great. “The importance of landscape to Picasso, how it influenced his other work, and the rich stories buried in many of these works open up new avenues of discovery even for those who know Picasso well,” said Jennifer Sudul Edwards, Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Mint.

Picasso’s works are listed chronologically from his earliest 20sth century paintings were created at the time of his death in 1973 and collected from collections around the world. His landscapes reflect Picasso’s interest in capturing the cultural, political and historical era of his time.

One example is Picasso A view of Cannes at dusk (1960): A closer look beyond the playful composition reveals Picasso’s foreboding of the dangers posed by industrialization. “A beautiful landscape view from a tony resort hotel window reveals a dark secret,” says Edwards. “We imagine Cannes with its magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea, but in the distance this crane hovers over the greenery, an industrial moment that Picasso was referring to.”

There’s a lot to enjoy here – from bright colorful geometry Mediterranean village (1937) and futuristic earth-toned block locks Reservoir, Horta de Ebro (1909) to the eerily realistic hard and shadowy frosty trees depicted Snow Landscape (1924-1925) — Picasso’s landscapes may surprise viewers with a hand that shows more sincerity and restraint than most of his portraits. What sets this exhibition apart from other Picasso exhibitions is the context in which Madeleine’s artwork is wrapped. Short films, period photographs, news clippings and topical references connect historical and cultural significance to Picasso’s landscapes and allow viewers to fully understand the times Picasso traveled.

Accompanying the exhibition is a partnership exhibition, Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations. Works by Romare Burden, Charlotte’s own son, will be featured, showing the influence he had on Picasso. Drawing from its extensive Bearden collection, the Mint brought three additional works by Picasso to this exhibition as a counterpoint to the Bearden works on display.


Build a home base

Uptown Charlotte’s Kimpton Tryon Park makes a convenient and central base for visiting Charlotte. Guests are just a few blocks from the Mint Museum and Charlotte’s Navigation Center is on the doorstep of the city. Ask for a ballpark view as the Kimpton overlooks TRUIST Field.

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Explore outside

After seeing the show, take the 100 steps through the Levine Center for the Arts Plaza for a must-see photo of Charlotte’s most photographed piece of public art — Le Grand Oiseu de Feu sur l’Arche, also known as The Firebird by Niki de Saint Phalle. The colossal 17-foot-tall mirror-mosaic creature is locally known as the “Disco Chicken.” It sits outside the terra-cotta, Mario Botta-designed Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and is a selfie hub for Charlotte visitors and homeowners alike.

Outdoor activities in Charlotte are hard to come by, and the US National Whitewater Center is a big buzz for visitors. Located on more than 1,300 heavily wooded acres along the Catawba River, the Center boasts one of the largest man-made circulating whitewater rivers in the world. Not only are there kayakers, canoers, paddleboarders, and river rafters, but there are more than 50 miles of developed trails for mountain biking, hiking, and exploring. Rock climbers and zipline enthusiasts will also find plenty of adventure.

Tar Heel Country is all about golf, and visitors to Charlotte will find more than 45 public golf courses within an hour’s drive. Across the nearby state line to Ft. Mill, SC and pack it in for a serious game on the tree-lined fairways and pristine greens at Springfield Golf Club. Close to town is Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation, a walkable favorite designed by award-winning course architect Tom Jackson.

Charlotte is NASCAR country, and there’s no more pulse-pounding experience than hitting the track where the pros go. Fans get their own race car, personal spotter and eight minutes of track time at Charlotte Motor Speedway as part of the NASCAR Racing Experience. The 1.5-mile oval features a walk-around option for those who want 140+ mph twisties but want to leave the driving to others.

Cyclists race at the Rock Hill Velodrome. There is a 250-meter concrete track with 42.5-degree corner banks and 17-degree bank on the front and back straights. The trail offers cycling instruction and is anchored by the Rockhill Outdoor Center on the Riverwalk, which features mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, and casual dining.

Finally, March 31 is Opening Day for the Charlotte Knights, the AAA Major League Baseball farm club of the Chicago White Sox. Visitors watching a home game at TRUIST Field are treated to great views, local brews and one of the nation’s most beloved city parks.

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Eat (and drink) around.

Hit the inevitable desert with a tour of one of the nearly 50 breweries in and around the city. Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is an organization of local brewers and helped spawn Charlotte’s burgeoning craft brewing movement. The spacious open-air biergarten serves delicious German dishes such as brats, wurst and schnitzel, along with German-style albier, helles lagers and hefweizens. Sour beer, wild ale, and kombucha are specialties at Lenny Boy Brewing Company, where local music, corn, and beer yoga are regularly featured.

Find breakfast with a Latin twist at Morazon’s all day with red or green salsa, carne asada or grilled chicken, two fried eggs, homemade tortillas and the best guacamole in town. Manolo’s is one of the longest running Latin bakeries in the Carolinas. Pan de Dulce breakfast buns, fresh from Manolo’s ovens, are among the stars, with concha, abanico, fan and churro.

Stop by for dinner SupperLand in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood neighborhood. They were named one of the “10 Best New Restaurants in America” ​​in 2022 by Bon Appetit. The vibes here are a mix of Sunday church social and Southern brasserie, with a shared menu featuring comfort food like wagyu pot. fried, fried poule rouge and miso mac ‘n cheese – all served in a restored mid-century church.

Acclaimed chef David Burke’s Red Salt offers contemporary American cuisine with a twist. Starters like black pepper maple-glazed bacon “hung” on a small clothesline let diners know the chef doesn’t take himself too seriously. The corned beef is delicious and is expertly prepared here, along with other specialties such as cavatelli carbonara and southern shrimp, shrimp and grits.

Mariposa, steps away from the Mint, is a great choice before or after seeing Picasso for lunch, breakfast and dinner (they’re also offering a special Day of Culture and Food package that includes Picasso tickets). Mediterranean and global-influenced flavors feature eye-catching mezze platters, chili-marinated piri piri chicken and golden Carolina rice with fragrant andouille and crustaceans.

Splurge at Steak 48 Charlotte, the only Charlotte restaurant named to Open Table’s 2022 Top 100 Restaurants list. This South Park neighborhood is sure to impress with great service, hand-poured martinis, and unique and exceptional steaks. Ask for the off-menu “Butchers Cut” — a special cut from the outer edge of the wagyu ribeye, the steak is the star of a fatty, rich and memorable dining experience. Steak 48’s legendary seafood tower, chicken-fried lobster tails and asparagus fries are not to be missed.

After dinner, enjoy night tea at Merchant & Trade, where the city view from the rooftop bar is as good as people watching. Encore Nightclub and XOXO Lounge are ready to party after hours for those who want to dance.