After a day of shopping, enjoy a cocktail on the second-floor patio of The Bar at 316, one of the city’s oldest and most sought-after gay bars.
Charlotte’s LGBTQ+ community brings life and vibrancy to locally-owned businesses all across the city. Whatever your interest, you will find an exciting array of things to do, see, taste, and experience. The city is bursting with must-visit hot spots, and Charlotte’s warm, welcoming, tight-knit communities make the city a picture-perfect getaway for all.
Eat & Drink
Packed in pockets throughout the city are unexpected dining destinations. Known as the city’s Art District, NoDa’s eclectic aesthetic produces popular nightlife, dinner, lunch and brunch options, and The Artisan’s Palate is an absolute delight to diners of all kinds. Owned by a vivacious New Yorker who pairs art and culture with creative cuisine. The Artisan’s Palate features art in the rotating gallery while serving ethnic artisan sharable plates like deconstructed olive tapenade and delectable meatballs covered in a simmering pomodoro sauce, alongside perfectly toasted pita points. Their monthly drag brunches draw a lively crowd as Queen City queens lip sync, sashay, and entertain eager guests. Creative and award-winning craft cocktails complete the experience whether inside the industrial-chic and unassuming dining room, or on the back patio dubbed “The Secret Garden.”
Nearby NoDa Company Store, owned by one of the first gay couples to be legally married in the city, is a tropical oasis in the most unexpected of settings. With cabanas and communal picnic tables, this part bar, part general store has Mayberry meets Malibu vibes and is a must for any visitor. Another namesake, NoDa Brewing Company, serves award-winning beer with an illustrious beer garden and (of course) an on-site food truck. They regularly hosts drag shows, run clubs, and present not-so-typical entertainment like the Charlotte Symphony and days-long musical festivals.
At Uptown’s Seventh Street light rail station, just a few stops from NoDa’s 36th Street station, sits The Market at 7th Street, a small-business incubator with long-standing establishments serving faithful locals along side up-and-coming tenants. No matter the meal, The Market’s offerings satiate any appetite. For breakfast, Sweet Crunch Liege Waffles with toppings like Fruity Pebbles and whipped cream or graham crackers and mini marshmallows are an indulgent start to the day, with Not Just Coffee’s vanilla sugar latte, made with Madagascar vanilla beans, adding an elevated finishing touch. Authentic and carefully-curated pizza at Geno D’s is the ideal shareable lunch, while Orrman’s Cheese Shop’s charcuterie boards paired with wine from The Assorted Table make for an upscale experience in one of the city’s most iconic locales.
Before taking the light rail to South End, a stop at The Market at 7th Street’s CLT Find yields Charlotte-centric gifts like rainbow-themed Charlotte magnets, artisan jewelry, original art, and other locally-crafted goods. Verde Tribe plant shop carries the tiniest of plant babies, perfect for a carry-on, or more mature plants ready to adorn any plant-lovers home.
At South End’s Atherton Mill, The Cocktailery is a cute boutique with all things cocktail, complete with classes, and a luxurious leather couch nestled within the historic former-textile-mill-turned-dining-and-shopping-destination. Find delicate jewelry at The Golden Carrot, feminine-centric clothing at Boem and masculine attire at Bonobos. Grab beauty-brand-favorite NARS cosmetics at Sephora, and step into a pair of boots made for walkin’ at Tecovas, a cowboy boot and western-wear shop complete with an inhouse wine and beer bar.
After a day of shopping, enjoy a cocktail on the second-floor patio of The Bar at 316, one of the city’s oldest and most sought-after gay bars. Late into the night, belt out your favorite karaoke or enjoy DJs and pop-up drag performances at the infamous Dance Party and Diva Showcase nights. In the city’s West End is Scorpio, a tucked-away standing-room only dance club with bragging rights as Charlotte’s longest-running LGBTQ nightclub. After the bright lights of the night are over, enjoy a day at Romare Bearden Park in the heart of Uptown with skyline views, vast greenspace, water wall feature, and trails through an urban garden with lilies and vibrant greenery just across the street from the city’s minor league baseball stadium.
A few blocks away is Uptown’s museum trifecta consisting of the Mint Museum, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. With stunning architecture and art, and the Mint’s onsite multicultural dining experience, Mariposa, this corner of the city is an art-lovers paradise. Permanent collections like the Romanticism landscapes from early 19th century Hudson River School at Mint Museum Uptown, contemporary works by Phillip Thomas exploring landscapes and societal themes on permanent display at the Harvey B. Gantt Center, and the Bechtler’s collection featuring Warhol and Picasso pieces, can be found next to rotating exhibits from world renowned artists. A fixture of Uptown’s art scene, The Firebird is a picturesque spot for a selfie, with reflections gleaming from mosaiced mirrors covering the towering statue.
Catch a show at the adjacent Knight Theater, with shows from ballet to comedy taking the stage. Find shows from Alphabet Soup, Charlotte’s first and only LGBTQIA improv team, around town at venues like Uptown’s VAPA Center. Broadway shows at Uptown’s Belk Theater are a central theatrical experience in the city, while intimate venues like Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte prides itself on offbeat and oftentimes controversial performances.
No matter your travel preferences, be they low key exploration or wild nights out on the town, plan your trip to your taste at charlottesgotalot.com and get ready to experience the royal treatment in the Queen City.
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