Top Ten (plus 1) things to do in Charlotte during the DNC

Charlotte, NC is home to the DNC in 2012. It is a city of trees and a surprising diversity of attractions for visitors. Here is a list of ten of the best for delegates to see. Photo: Charlotte, NC home of the DNC (Photo: CCVB)

CHARLOTTE, August 31, 2012 — If you are heading to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention in September, here are ten great things to do (well, eleven) when you are not popping balloons and wearing fun hats.

Trees - Yes, trees. This may sound silly but Charlotte is famous for its trees, which have become a symbol of the city.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art – Conceived by Swiss-born Andreas Bechtler, this modern art collection features works by Picasso, Tinguely, Giacometti, Miro, Warhol and others.

Firebird at Bechtler Museum

Situated within easy walking distance of the convention arena, the building was designed by internationally renowned Swiss architect, Mario Botta. Many of the artists in Bechtler’s collection were personal friends of the family which gives it a personal intimacy(

Stop in at John’s Country Kitchen for breakfast. The tiny Greek restaurant has been serving homestyle breakfasts and lunches for nearly half a century.

It’s a friendly atmosphere offering the best pancakes and big link sausages in town. (1518 Central Ave).

Bistro La Bon - For dinner, Bistro La Bon is the place in Plaza Midwood. The building is unassuming but don’t judge the book by its cover.  

Only two years old, many Charlotteans say Bistro is one of the best restaurants in the city for the money; a dining experience that combines European sophistication with a neighborhood charm.

Fixing breakfast af John’s Country Kitchen

Executive Chef/Owner Majid Amoorpour’s creations are unique dishes that evoke clean uncomplicated flavors. Swedish meatballs and bread pudding are specialties, but everything is great. Reservations suggested.

NASCAR – Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame where fans canCharlotte Motor Speedway is home to two major stock car races each year. The Coca-Cola 600 is the world’s longest stock car race and the second largest single day sporting event in the United States. This is not your average everyday race track.

McGill Rose Garden – A small but delightful garden, McGill Rose Gardenwas once a coal yard. Henry McGill bought the property in 1950 which has now become a peaceful haven of floral beauty and sculptures.

NoDa – The word stands for North Today it features wine bars, galleries, music venues, restaurants and a theater.

Several NoDa buildings are on the National Historic Places register.(North Davidson Neighborhood)

Uptown Charlotte – The city center has several museums along Tryon Street that are convenient to the convention arena. Discovery Place is an interactive science museum complete with animals and an I-MAX Dome.

Spirit Square – Across the street is Spirit Square which began its life as a Baptist Church. It is now a popular arts center and two theaters for the performing arts. 

Mint Museum  – The Mint Museum has two venues. The newest is located in the heart of uptown Charlotte. The original building on Randolph Road was once a United States mint that has been converted into a museum. Reed Gold Mine, just outside the city, was the site of the first documented gold rush in the United States. Gold mines still exist under the streets of Charlotte, and the Mint Museum of Art hearkens to that bygone era.

Wing Haven, Charlotte

Wing Haven – Two women named Elizabeth — one Clarkson, the other Lawrence — created a bird sanctuary and garden that have been a longtime Charlotte treasure. Perhaps the mission statement says it all: “Cultivating sanctuary in nature, environmental stewardship and the legacy of southern horticulture.” Hours of operation are limited due out of respect for the neighborhood.

U.S. National Whitewater Center – The Olympics are over but the training continues. The US National Whitewater Center is the largest man-made re-circulating river in the world. As a result, rafting and kayaking teams regularly train at the facility. Visitors can join the fun too, with rafting adventures on Class II, III and IV man-made rapids.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden – The DSBG is a 380 acre work in progress in Belmont, NC, about ten miles from Charlotte. It was founded by Daniel J. Stowe, a retired textile executive, on rolling meadows, woodlands and lakefront property.

The gardens are in a continuous state of expansion so that future generations will always have something new and interesting to explore.

Stowe Botanical Gardens outside Charlotte

Number 11 –  When the convention is over, head to the corner of Providence and Queens Roads and find the golden statue immortalizing a familiar character in Charlotte folklore named Hugh McManaway.

Everyone in the area knew Hugh who would regularly venture into the street to direct traffic at the tricky five road intersection.

It has become a Charlotte tradition to decorate Hugh’s statue whenever a major event takes place.

So get your decorations ready and head to the corner of Providence and Queen’s to dress Hugh when Barack Obama is nominated for a second term.

Poor Hugh had an accident. He was struck by a hit and run driver and knocked from his perch. He will return, but it is not certain if he will recover from his injuries before the DNC.

Hugh McManaway directs traffic

But when in DC, bring Hugh a trinket and you will become a native Charlottean.


Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. He played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club , which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countriesSuggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check hislist on FacebookBob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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