The Queen City. With such a stately nickname, it’s no surprise that Charlotte, North Carolina is a hotspot for art, culture, and exquisite cuisine. But every kingdom has its vagabonds, and Charlotte has something for the rest of us who are less than royalty. Stop in for a night or stay for a week — you can’t afford to pass by the Queen.

Get Fresh

The 7th Street Public Market is the place to go if you enjoy locally sourced meats, produce, and wines in a welcoming atmosphere. They feature area farmers and support local businesses, such as the city’s favorite pizzeria that uses ingredients right from the market. Pro Tip: They even offer yoga classes to work off the carbs.

"Mint Museum in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina" by Wikipedia

Minty Fresh

The Mint Museum Uptown is the place to go for a cutting-edge, cultural experience. 145,000 square feet of contemporary American and European art, you’ll need to dedicate a good chunk of the afternoon to really delve deep. Don't miss the internationally renowned Craft + Design exhibit — an exquisite collection of sculpture, crafts, jewelry and mixed media and schedule your visit around one of the many talks and workshops they offer.

"#78: Noah" by David Fisher via Flickr Creative Commons

The People's Art

Charlotte’s burgeoning art scene isn't just confined to the museums -- It has also hit the streets. Take this 45-minute, self-guided walking tour with the aid of a podcast produced by the Charlotte Art and Science Council. You’ll see a wide variety of intricate and beautiful street art in the form of graffiti, frescoes, sculptures, and tech projects. This tour is an excellent way to explore the city while also getting a dose of exciting and often over-looked culture.

"Carolina Raptor Center" by John Wenzelburger via Flickr Creative Commons

Birdseye View

Welcome to Carolina Raptor Center, where birds of prey are fine-feathered friends. Dedicated to stewardship and conservation through education, research, and rehab, the center houses more than 32 species of raptors and hosts tons of special programs for you to get up-close-and-personal with these incredible birds — there’s even a “Keeper for a Day” program that lets you work alongside trained professionals to learn what it takes to care for the animals.

"Price's Chicken Coop Dinner" by Krista via Flickr Creative Commons

Deep-Fried Heaven

Educate yourself on no-nonsense Southern food at Price’s Chicken Coop. One look at the website and you'll know they're not trying to dazzle you with fancy fonts or frills. Get a plate of fried chicken and redefine what it means to be “finger-licking-good.” The meat melts off the bone and leaves you simultaneously stuffed while still craving more — just like soul food is supposed to do.

Photo Credit: via Charlotte Magazine

Never Far From the Tree

For a more upscale dining experience where you probably shouldn’t lick your fingers or the plate, the Fig Tree is your destination. This haute Charlotte spot provides an exquisite menu and award-winning wine list in an elegant but inviting setting. Located in the historic Lucas House — a 1913 bungalow — the Fig Tree is just a few minutes from the downtown city center. Stop in for a taste of decadence.

Beer, Bikes, and BBQ

Beyond soul food and fine dining, the South is known for its barbecue and go-to spot in Charlotte has to be Mac’s Speed Shop. At Mac’s, it’s all about bikes, beers, and BBQ, so get ready to have a good time. They serve over 300 brews to pair with their award-winning BBQ sauces, and cook all their meat in the traditional smoking styles. Sit back, relax and get ready to take your taste buds for a ride.