2013 BOB Awards: Diversions
USNWC Mega Zip
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., 704-391-3900
Not up for the two-plus-hour drive to the mountains but looking for a high-flying thrill? The U.S. National Whitewater Center is your spot. From the 46-foot Mega Tower, survey the rushing Class III and IV rapids, then fly 1,123 feet over the water. The center also offers Zipline & Dine, a rare date night during which you zip-line through the trees at sunset and then indulge in a dinner by the fire complete with craft beer and wine.
Petra’s Piano Bar & Cabaret
1919 Commonwealth Ave., 704-332-6608
This Plaza Midwood bar offers the kind of intimate setting that’s perfect for karaoke: dim lighting, candles on tables, just enough seating, and a bar stocked with plenty of liquid courage. Karaoke nights are Wednesdays, beginning at 9:30 p.m., with host/DJ Reid Barrett. Because this is a piano bar, you sometimes get great singers grabbing the microphone with amateurs, and the eclectic audience only makes the night more fun.
900 NC Music Factory Blvd., 704-910-0526
The most expensive nightclub to ever open in Charlotte (millions of dollars were reportedly invested to transform this former factory space into a mega club), Label has a party-don’t-stop layout—VIP sections are on the dance floor and the stage, there’s a level perched above a bar, and catwalks, where dancers stroll, are assembled between couches. The large video screen rivals what you’ll find at NBA arenas, and it’s perfect for providing great shots of the stars that have performed or DJed here: T-Pain, Jermaine Dupri, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, T.I., and more.
Music Venue With Staying Power
The Double Door Inn
1218 Charlottetowne Ave., 704-376-1446
The Double Door has one of the most interesting histories of any music venue in the city. The small stage has hosted performances by Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn and just about every other great blues guitarist since it first opened in 1973. And while it still draws major acts, the Double Door serves as the epicenter for Charlotte’s blues and jazz communities. Local musicians regularly drop in to join the house band or a touring act, making every performance feel spontaneous and electric.
Park for Your Pup
William R. Davie Dog Park
4635 Pineville-Matthews Rd., 704-554-0402
Fido and friends can run off leash in a fenced-in area with two sections—20 pounds and under and 20 pounds and up—so your toy poodle won’t get trampled but a rambunctious Labrador retriever.
Park for a Family Picnic
Park Road Park
6220 Park Rd., 704-643-5725
With multiple covered picnic areas, an 11-acre lake, 12 tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and plenty of space for the kids to play, the park is a great choice to share some boxes of fried chicken with your family. Call 311 for shelter reservations.
Park for Running
McAlpine Creek Park
8711 Monroe Rd., 704-643-5725
Residents might be up in arms about the planned paving of the greenway at McAlpine Creek Park, but its 5K trail—with flat sections around a lake, a few killer hills, and beautiful tree canopy—is still the favorite course for school cross-country teams and running regulars.
Park for Practicing Disc Golf
Bailey Road Park
11536 Bailey Rd., Cornelius, 704-892-6031
Work your way up to playing Renaissance, the pros course, and hone your skills at this 20-hole practice course, where most of the holes are open—six are wooded—and baskets surround obstacles that force you to take different shots. Tip: beware the tricky 2, 7, 12, 14, and 16 holes—their basket locations are moved randomly throughout the year.
The Thirsty Beaver
1225 Central Ave., 704-332-3612
While most jukeboxes are stuffed with the same inauthentic and boring Top 40 selections, The Thirsty Beaver’s boasts a music selection that would rival any music venue in town. Loaded with classic country music greats like Hank Williams Sr. and Merle Haggard, the jukebox plays nonstop throughout nights when a band is not playing, making The Thirsty Beaver the only true honky-tonk bar in cosmopolitan Charlotte.
The Saloon at NC Music Factory
900 NC Music Factory Blvd., 704-716-2327
Last summer The Saloon opened a second, huge patio that is akin to something you’ll find at a shoreside bar on the beach. The wooden deck has a tin roof, and stringed lights make every night feel like a block party. There’s plenty of seating at the outdoor bar and enclosed booths, great touches of greenery with trees and grass, and live bands and DJs play outside often.
2200 Park Rd., 704-335-0033
This is trivia night at a neighborhood bar the way it ought to be. Actually, you get two nights weekly: Name That Tune music trivia on Wednesdays and general trivia (with several pop culture references) on Thursdays. The contestants usually range in age from 20s to 40s, and some of them take the games very seriously—you better not get caught Googling on your phone. Don’t fret, though, great drink specials (select beers for $2 to $3) help keep the mood light.
’Stache House Bar & Lounge
1520 South Blvd., Ste. 120, 980-335-0530
Sometimes you just feel hip when you walk into a bar. That’s the feeling you get when you walk into ’Stache House. Opened in January, this South End spot successfully combines elements of an upscale lounge (leather couches and posh lighting) with touches of a rustic speakeasy. The cocktails are handcrafted, the beers well-selected, and there’s a variety of flavored hookah. DJs play an eclectic blend of music here several nights a week.
2301 Freedom Dr., 704-373-9124
It doesn’t get the publicity of uptown’s hot spots, but The Scorpio has long been one of the hottest clubs in town. It’s the city’s preeminent gay club, but plenty of straight women and men turn out for the drag shows, which get more popular each year. And recently the club has begun to pull in many of the best contestants from Logo TV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Place to Meet Singles
Gold’s Gym EpiCentre
210 E. Trade St., Ste. E-380, 704-688-9959
The gym is a great place to meet singles. Well, just imagine if that gym were surrounded by bars and nightclubs. That’s what you have since Gold’s Gym opened at the EpiCentre last summer. Of course this 35,000-square-foot health club has all of the top-notch fitness equipment and instructors you want. But it also has posh lounges that will give nightclubs a run for their money, and a smoothie bar that deserves to be a hangout spot all its own.
The Foundation for Tomorrow’s S.O.S. Gala
Founded by Charlotte native Meghann Gunderman when she was in her early 20s, The Foundation for Tomorrow provides education and emotional support to impoverished children in Africa. Each November the organization celebrates its accomplishments and raises money for its programs at the annual S.O.S. Gala. Last year’s event, held at Foundation for the Carolinas, welcomed a sold-out crowd of 150, including many notable philanthropists and socialites, and raised $86,000.
Dive With Staying Power
Smokey Joe’s Café
510 Briar Creek Rd., 704-338-9380
The smell of a wood-burning stove beckons you into a weathered beach shack. Inside, you’ll find a rare breed of 1980s nostalgia. There’s a random (but functional) waterfall built high up in the ceiling rafters, two pool tables, and walls decorated with bumper stickers and album covers that were popular when the bar opened three decades ago: Talking Heads, Kiss, and others. There’s not an ounce of pretension in the place. Come here when you want a beer or a taste of the way Charlotte used to be.
MatchMaker Tennis makes it easy to socialize, compete, and get great exercise. The membership-based organization ($15 per month) offers a variety of activities at tennis courts, parks, and clubs throughout the Charlotte area year-round. Members also enjoy social events such as parties, cookouts, and day trips. Even if you aren’t a member, you can participate in the “Taste of Tennis” free tennis lessons offered several Saturday mornings throughout the spring and summer.
Multi-Genre Music Venue
The Fillmore Charlotte
1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., 704-916-8970
Not only is The Fillmore one of the most beautiful concert venues in the city, with its wood floors, high ceilings, elegant chandeliers, and multiple bars, it also hosts a great diversity of musicians. Over the past year, Charlotteans have come here to see country rock legends such as Willie Nelson and Foo Fighters, chart-topping rappers like 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, and bands with cult-like followings such as Widespread Panic and Dropkick Murphys.
Spot to Meet a Blind Date
2820 Selwyn Ave., 704-900-2430
Don’t worry about texting your future beau or belle that you’ll be the one in the polka-dot sweater or houndstooth fedora. FABO, which stands for Fabulous Art Buying Opportunity, is a small, manageable space with seating areas divided by displays of locally made jewelry and art, so it’s easy to spot someone, plus you’ll have some privacy as you chat. As a bonus, there’s a lot to look at if the conversation is less than stimulating. The menu includes pastries, coffee, beer, and wine, so all tastes and times of day are covered. If early evening meet-ups are going well, nearby Mellow Mushroom, Reid’s Fine Foods, or Nolen Kitchen are great dinner options.
201 E. Trade St., 704-547-2244
The bars at this uptown hotel are the places to see and be seen. Inside the well-appointed Lobby Lounge you’ll find locals and visitors enjoying specialty cocktails, particularly on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, when live jazz bands play. And on the 15th floor, guests flock to Urban Sip for a bit of serenity, where a selection of 90 wines by the glass, 35 scotches, and tasty small plates are served, all while you enjoy great views of the city. Live jazz was also recently added to the weekend lineup.
Budget Wine Night
Dolce Vita // WEDNESDAY
Half-priced already cheap wines by the glass
3205 N. Davidson St., 704-334-1052
Nolen kitchen // TUESDAY
Half-priced fine wines by the bottle
2839 Selwyn Ave., 704-372-1424
Bonterra // WEDNESDAY
Half-priced wines, more than 200 by the glass
1829 Cleveland Ave., 704-333-9463
Upstream // SUNDAY
Half-priced wines, 30-plus by the glass
6902 Phillips Pl., 704-556-7730
Mimosa Grill // SUNDAY
Half-priced wines by the bottle
327 S. Tryon St., 704-343-0700
Leroy Fox // TUESDAY
Half-priced already cheap wines by the glass
705 S. Sharon Amity Rd., 704-366-3232
Bars to Watch the Game
Wild Wing Café
210 E. Trade St., Ste. D-262, 704-716-9464
More than 30 TVs, 33 flavors of wings, and 20 beers on tap—those are beautiful figures to a sports fan.
Icehouse South End
2100 South Blvd., 704-375-1128
The 20-plus TVs throughout the dining room and bar area mean there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Plus, the spacious patio offers great viewing on its own TVs.
Dilworth Neighborhood Grille
911 E. Morehead St., Ste. 200, 704-377-3808
This two-level restaurant and bar added 16 new 55-inch TVs to its lineup last year to accommodate the growing number of college sports alumni groups that come to watch the game.
1221 The Plaza, 704-334-7005
Get here early on game days, as the seats fill up fast. Cheer on your team inside the bar, then celebrate (or lament) afterward on the rooftop.
Fox and Hound Ballantyne
15235 John J. Delaney Dr., 704-544-8902
Suburbanites on the south side not only flock here to watch college and pro football and basketball, but also major golf tournaments and pay-per-view boxing and UFC matches.
9005 J M Keynes Dr., 704-503-7427
The proximity to UNCC, daily drink specials, good bar food, and dozens of TVs make this spot a hit with the twenty- and thirty-somethings for the big games.