Radiant glass towers, urban parks, diverse culinary selections, and historic neighborhoods characterize the burgeoning city of Charlotte. In the center of this urbane destination lies The Ritz-Carlton, which means Charlotte bike trails and the city’s most picture-worthy locations only a short ride away — by bicycle, that is.
The hotel offers complimentary trek bikes to encourage eco- and health-conscious alternatives to exploring one of the U.S.’s fastest-growing cities. Lace up your shoes; we’ve arranged a big day full of Queen City memories at hand, all accessible on two wheels.
9 a.m.: Breakfast at Bar Cocoa
Rise and shine – the city beckons, and the alluring smell of pastries wafts into the lobby. Bar Cocoa, the dessert boutique, houses a sea of mesmerizing, colorful macarons and sweets that can only be likened to edible art.
In the background, the low hum of the Nespresso machine prepares a cup of gourmet coffee – a sustaining dose of caffeine to fuel a day of exploring. Breakfast temptation is embodied in each warm, fresh-from-the-oven pastry encased beside the cashier. Calories don’t count on vacation, right?
10 a.m.: Go Green
The adventure begins at Little Sugar Creek Greenway, less than 2 miles from the hotel. You’ll see glistening fountains, a charming stream and picturesque views of the Charlotte skyline from the trail. Bronze sculptures representing influential figures in Charlotte’s foundation artfully mingle with the surrounding nature.
12 p.m.: Picnic in the Park
Charlotte’s culinary scene incorporates a melting pot of flavors, cultures and dishes from around the globe. While upscale restaurants prove popular destinations for tourists, there’s a charm to dining like a local with a park picnic.
Literary accents artfully decorate The Green on S. Tryon Street, a small park in the midst of an urbane landscape. Grab a to-go bite from Bernadin’s, Sandwich Club, or Matt’s Chicago Dog on the outskirts of the park.
Unique nooks ornament the park – picnickers have the option of enjoying their meal in the shadows of colossal bronze book statues, on a manicured stone ledge decorated with golden poetry pages, or in a shaded area adorned with mosaic tile and whimsical fish fountains.
Up the street, Romare Bearden Park offers a vast stretch of land with picturesque views of the Charlotte skyline. Nearby lunch favorites include small restaurants in the Historic Brevard Court (locally known as the French Quarter) and the attached Latta Arcade.
Selections will satisfy any palate, with options including burgers, classic American chicken dishes, BBQ, Greek and Japanese.
Fun fact: The Latta Arcade is one of Charlotte’s oldest treasures on the National Register of Historic Places. It makes for a fantastic vacation memory – snap a picture!
2 p.m.: Afternoon Art Break
Post-lunch, the Levine Center for the Arts is an ideal destination for an afternoon stroll through the city’s flourishing art plaza. Characterized by spectacular architecture and artistic pieces, this cultural center houses some of the city’s finest works and hosts enlightening community happenings at the Mint Museum, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture, Bechtler Museum, and Knight Theater.
4 p.m.: Shopping and a Snack
Before returning to the hotel, discover locally and regionally produced gifts, beauty products, wines, cheeses, and Charlotte gear at the 7th Street Public Market. The market celebrates the food and culture of the Carolinas through support for regional farms and local businesses.
6 p.m.: Let’s Do Dinner
Upon returning to the hotel, BLT Steak is a relaxing and inviting spot to enjoy a hearty, well-deserved meal. The cozy French bistro-style steakhouse serves prime cuts of beef, fresh seafood, and tempting sides in a modern setting.
Couple your entrée with the unique jalapeno mashed potatoes and finish the evening with a Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse topped with two scoops of banana ice cream.
This article originally appeared in Journey Into the Ritz-Carlton.