Explore Charlotte with Expedia’s Travel Guides to find the best hotels, flights, holiday packages and more!
Charlotte, in the state of North Carolina, is a major commercial centre and the second largest banking hub in the US after New York. It is also home to the headquarters of the Bank of America. This southern city is also within a few hours’ driving distance to mountains, vineyards and animal natural habitats, so it is a good idea to have a rental car in Charlotte to explore further.
Families travelling with children will be spoiled for choice in Charlotte. At the US National Whitewater Center adventure park, you can spend a sporty day outdoors, whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, zip lining or mountain biking. The largest theme park in the area, Carowinds, is packed with high-thrill water rides that are not for the fainthearted, such as Fury 325, the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster. Children will enjoy a visit to the Discovery Place, a state-of-the-art science and technology museum in uptown Charlotte, which encourages science learning through its interactive exhibits. Combine it with a visit to the IMAX Dome Theatre for what the theatre calls “the world’s most immersive movie experience”. Auto racing enthusiasts should head for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, celebrating one of America’s favourite motor sports.
For time travel through the history of the American South since the Civil War, visit the Levine Museum of the New South.
The main international airport that gets you into Charlotte is Charlotte Douglas International Airport, near the border of North and South Carolina, a 20-minute car journey to the city centre.
With a Charlotte hire car, you could also venture out as far south as Jacksonville in Florida, the largest southeastern city in the US (Charlotte is second), or northward towards New Jersey and New York. Alternatively, an 11 to 12-hour journey will take you to Lansing, Kalamazoo or Battle Creek in Michigan, driving through Ohio for more interesting city breaks.
Several car hire companies offer their services in Charlotte, some of which listed below:
Within a couple of hours you can drive out of Charlotte to explore vineyards and forests for an outdoors adventure. Many of the most popular vineyards near Charlotte are within an hour to an hour and a half away – you may want to join a tour, or follow the route of one, to see several in one go. A two-hour drive northwest of Charlotte, the Linville Caverns offer guided tours of caves. On the way, you can stop by the Chimney Rock Park for a hiking experience with great views, particularly in the autumn.
More hiking, camping and swimming can be enjoyed at the Uwharrie National Forest, travelling east for an hour and 20 minutes.
Nature and animal lovers will not want to miss a visit to the Grandfather Mountain, just over two hours on the road from Charlotte, two miles north of Linville. At 5,946 feet, it is the highest of the Blue Ridge mountains, one of the main chains of the Appalachian mountains. Admire spectacular 360-degree views from the mountaintop and see cougars, black bears, white-tailed deer, bald eagles and otters up close in enclosures that reproduce their wildlife habitats.
Unlike in Europe, travelling within the US is often far easier with a car.
Most American cars have automatic transmission. Drive on the right side. Even though it is not compulsory, it is advisable to obtain an international driving licence in case of an accident and carry it at all times along with your ID (passport) and proof of insurance. Speed limits vary from state to state; in general stick to 70mph on motorways. Beware that undertaking is not illegal in the US; to stay safe, don’t forget to signal before changing lanes.
Some of the US rules might find confusing to drivers from other countries. Provided there is no oncoming traffic, you can turn right at red traffic lights. Flashing red flights at night mean stop and proceed with caution; flashing yellow means slow down and proceed with caution. At a four-way stop, that is a junction with stop signs on each road, all cars should stop, and the one that arrived first sets off first followed by the others in the order of arrival. At gas (petrol) stations, pay first before refuelling.
Ready to start planning a visit to Charlotte and the rest of the US? Check out this city guideand use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best car hire, flight and hotel and research the best attractions and activities.
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