I paused to catch my breath, leaning forward to brace my hands on my knees. A small waterfall of sweat cascaded down my back as I sucked wind. Even after months spent living in the hills above 5000ft elevation, the mountainous city that is Zacatecas, set at just over 8000 ft, was becoming my nemesis.
We left our stunning lakeside retreat at Lagos de Colon and headed for San Cristobal for Christmas. New Years called for new plans, but we had fallen in love with this city on the way south, and heading north found her no less magical. That is other than the fireworks Christmas Eve that went on for nearly seven hours straight.
Originally published by Andi of The Misadventures of Andi on April 28, 2017.
Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with Hotel Planner. As always, all experiences and opinions are my own.
The South is steeped in history that spans much more than Southern belles, debutante balls, or Sunday barbecues with smoked meats and crawfish boils. In the past decade, there’s been a revival of the Old South with a new spin, particularly when it comes to the food scene.
Many local chefs are going back to their roots and celebrating Southern cuisine with long forgotten ingredients and menu items. These chefs are also evolving the culinary history of the South by drawing on newer immigrant cultures. It’s this mixing of the Old South with the new that makes a weekend in Charlotte a must.
Charlotte is smaller than a lot of other Southern cities, so it’s easier to navigate and enjoy in just a few days. Plus, she’s definitely one of the prettiest belles at the ball. In fact, she’s the queen.
Since a weekend isn’t a whole lot of time, I’m focusing on Uptown in the central part of the city. But you can find lots to do, see, eat and drink all over Charlotte. There are no rules to say you can’t do more!
A Weekend in Charlotte near the City Center/Uptown
This section of Charlotte is densely packed with lots to do. I highly recommend doing as much walking as possible. Burn those calories while visiting a museum, doing a walking tour, or shopping. Then you won’t feel so guilty when you order dessert! Whether you decide to make your home base at a hotel near the city center or close to Discovery Place, you’ll find a plethora of possibilities.
North Carolina’s oldest art museum, the Mint Museum, is right at your doorstep. There are local and internationally renowned artists; Chihuly’s “Royal Blue Mint Chandelier,” and a focus on fine crafts such as glass, pottery, wood, and jewelry. Right next door, you’ll find the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. The museum’s architecture is stunning, and it’s home to works from major artists like Picasso and Warhol. Plus, if your weekend starts on the first Friday of the month, you can catch one of two jazz shows.
Got the kids with you for your weekend in Charlotte? Don’t miss taking them to Discovery Place, an interactive museum for kids focused on science and technology. The museum also has a really cool Genghis Khan exhibit that is not to be missed. The museum is actually a whole lot of fun without the kids, too!
To get a thorough understanding of Southern life and culture, visit the Levine Museum of the New South. Afterward, you can check out the local food scene by exploring the Seventh Street Public Market. Shopping and eating in this famous market helps support the food culture of the Carolinas and promotes local and regional farmers, food artisans, and entrepreneurs. Here, you’re not just eating; you’re contributing, too.
I always enjoy walking tours when I’m visiting a new city, especially if they’re food tours. If you’re also fascinated by local food culture, I highly recommend a tour from Tour de Food or Feast Food Tours, two companies hosting culinary escapades in Uptown. Not only will you learn a thing or two, but you won’t go hungry, either.
My picks for food in the Uptown area:
Breakfast and Brunch
- Amelie’s French Bakery (380 S College St.): Enjoy a casual breakfast with delicious pastries and a damn good croissant.
- The Asbury (235 N. Tryon St.): Don’t miss the deviled eggs with fried cornichons. This is a great spot for dinner, too.
- The King’s Kitchen (129 W. Trade St.): This spot serves farm-centric Southern comfort food, and every penny of profit goes to feed the poor.
- Mert’s Heart & Soul (214 N College St.): This spot is home to very good salmon cakes.
- Chili Man (101-139 S Tryon St.): Get the Life Changer from this food cart owned by Vic.
- Papi Queso Streatery (6th/Tryon St.): Catch this food truck on Fridays and grab the signature grilled cheese sandwich.
- 204 North Kitchen and Cocktails (204 N Tryon St.): Stop here for pre-dinner cocktails.
- Rooster’s Wood-fired Kitchen (150 N College St.): Don’t miss the duck dishes or the excellent mac and cheese.
- Sea Level NC (129 E 5th St.): Dig into sustainable seafood and Carolina oysters in a classy atmosphere.
- 5Church (127 N. Tryon St.): Try the Rosemary Gin Fizz at this hip steakhouse.
- McNinch House (511 N. Church St.): Enjoy this formal dining restaurant with top-of-the-line service.
- Crave Dessert Bar (500 W 5th St. #120): Save room for dessert or an after dinner drink at this sweet spot.
Weekend Sports Trips
Charlotte is a big sports town. If you visit for a weekend to catch the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center, you’ll find plenty of hotels nearby and these great eats:
- Sunflour Baking Company (2001 East Seventh Street): Amazing bagels and lox
- Midwood Smokehouse’s (1401 Central Avenue): Carolina barbecue
- Mert’s Heart & Soul (214 North College Street): Southern soul food and Lowcountry dishes
If you visit Charlotte for a Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium, stay at a hotel nearby and fill up on these pre-game treats:
- Price’s Chicken Coop (1614 Camden Road): Carry this institution’s signature take-out dish to the game with you.
- Pinky’s Westside Grill (1600 West Morehead Street): Don’t miss the iconic White Trash Burger.
- Seoul Food Meat Company (1400 South Church Street): Get your chicken wings Korean style.
Weekend in Charlotte for the Family
A great spot to take the kids on a family weekend is Discovery Place Nature, formerly known as the Charlotte Nature Museum. It’s an oasis for children and adults to learn more about local wildlife. There’s a butterfly garden, hands-on animal experiences, and a nature trail to Freedom Park, where you can enjoy a family picnic.
Here are some family-friendly spots for food:
- Duck Donuts (1710 Kenilworth Avenue): Don’t miss these donuts!
- Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar (1626 East Boulevard): The kids will love the name, and you’ll love the burgers.
- JJ’s Red Hots (1514 East Boulevard): Enjoy classic hotdogs in a retro environment.
Once everyone’s belly is full, make sure it’s only a short walk to the hotel to take a nap.
How’s that for options? The Queen City rules when it comes to an action-packed, food-filled weekend. How about you? Have you visited Charlotte? What would you add to my weekend plans?
While we loved our home base of San Marcos, one village that stole our heart at Lake Atitlan was the textile heaven of San Juan la Laguna. It is really impossible to spend time in the entire country of Guatemala without becoming more than a bit obsessed with the stunning, hand done textiles.
We just can’t seem to leave Mexico! Yes, Lake Atitlan Guatemala was extraordinary. As in we are talking of possibly settling there at some point. However, Mexico drew us back north, not done with us yet!
As we worked our way back to Baja many of our campground choices are those we have already enjoyed but still listed along with a few new additions.
Lagos de Colon~
Stunning. After a long day climbing out of Lake Atitlan we endured a challenging border crossing and arrived at some of the most lovely water we had ever seen. Endless pools in varying shades of blue and amazing 40MX a night price tag made everything okay. Back in our beloved Mexico.
Phoenix, also known as the Valley of the Sun, provides sunshine almost every day of the year. And while it has remained on the list of must-visit cities in the U.S., something has shifted as of late. The city is gaining visitor momentum with its up-and-coming arts scene, gastronomic greatness, and its stunning desert and mountain scenery. If you’re intrigued, here’s how to plan the best trip to Phoenix, Arizona.
When to Go to Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix offers extreme temperatures ranging from 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 40 degrees Celsius, in the summer months to freezing in the winter. So it’s best to go in the in-between months in spring and fall to enjoy the Valley of the Sun at its best. When you’re ready to plan your trip, check out this Phoenix hotel planning guide to book the perfect hotel for your needs.
Soak in the Culture and Gastronomy
Culturally, Phoenix can really stand out with its many museums, theaters, music venues, opera, and symphony. Some of the state’s best museums lie here and feature a number of themes. I recommend The Heard Museum, the Arizona Science Center, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Museum of Musical Instruments. You can also take a stroll through Bentley Projects, a downtown warehouse district full of art galleries.
After fueling with the complimentary breakfast at your hotel, feel free to work up an appetite during the day to give way to delicious food. Given the proximity to Mexico, you’ll find outstanding south-of-the-border inspired cuisine.
At the Phoenix Ranch Market, you’ll find freshly made tortillas, refreshing aguas frescas, and mouth-watering tres leches cake. Phoenix also has other international flavours, including French, Korean, and other Latin American cuisines.
As mentioned, Phoenix can get pretty hot, but there are several ways to stay cool. Many hotels have pools where you can soak, refresh, and lounge with the family. You can also take them to the several water parks around the city. If water isn’t your thing, you’ll find air conditioning across buildings in Phoenix. So feel free to satisfy your shopping needs at the many malls and chic boutiques.
Witness Stunning Natural Beauty
Possibly one of Phoenix’s best feature is its majestic desert landscape with breathtaking sunsets and plenty of outdoor activities. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy hiking and biking up Camelback Mountain, where you can view the city from above. If you want to bring your furry friend on your hiking adventure, there are many pet-friendly hotels in Phoenix, too.
There are also many green areas around the city, like the South Mountain and Squaw Pearl parks. You can also go horseback riding through the splendor of the desert and enjoy the vast array of colours during sunset.
Now you have all the best tips for arts and culture, gastronomy, staying cool, and outdoor adventure to visit Phoenix, Arizona. Do you have any other tips or recommendations?
(Featured image via Flickr by midiman)
Originally published by Mani at A New Life Wandering on 3 April, 2017
Enter reverse-culture shock, as alive and well as ever. We are familiar, of course, having previously endured it. But it prevails. Even knowing what it will be like. Even having previous experience with this strange idea. Even feeling prepared. It’s here. The feeling of being in a foreign land even though we are “at home”. Thats right, we are back in the land of flushing toilet paper.