Though Charlotte's Center City thrives with the metropolitan buzz you'd expect in a downtown, we want to take you a little south of the hustle and bustle this weekend--SouthPark, to be exact. Wonderful shops and restaurants fill the neighborhoods in this hip area of North Carolina's Queen City.
Friday: Park Yourself Around Phillips Place
Make your first stop Phillips Place, an outdoor mall featuring known upscale retailers such as Smith & Hawken, Dean & Deluca, and Restoration Hardware. Look closely, and you'll find some wonderful, independent specialty shops, such as B.D. Jeffries ( 556-0019), an Atlanta-based store that has been here for almost 10 years. Owners Brad and Debbie Weitz began the business with alligator and crocodile products (belts, wallets, purses, etc.). You'll find that section, but we love their antiques, home furnishings, accessories, and gifts. Pick out your favorite designer dog leash, or flip through their extensive book collection covering subjects from antiques to pets to travel.
The Redsky Gallery ( 552-5200) just off Fairview Road features contemporary glass, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, and clothing from more than 250 artists from around the country, including a sizable assembly of works by North Carolina artists.
After shopping, you'll be ready to set yourself and your bags down nearby at The Park Hotel ( 364-8220 or www.theparkhotel.com; rates start at $119; ask about the bed-and-breakfast package). If you want to get in the middle of Charlotte's Center City, reserve your room at the Westin Charlotte. Be prepared because the rates fluctuate greatly depending on availability ( 375-2600; rates range $119-$229).
For a fine dining experience this evening, make reservations at Bonterra Dining & Wine Room ( 333-9463). Located in the former Dilworth Methodist Episcopal Church, the restaurant retains the reverent, classic feel of the sanctuary with the tall windows and balcony in the dining area. The wine list impresses with 200 by the glass and another 300 in the cellar. Ask your server to help you pair something nice with the Roasted Sonoma County Duck Breast ($25).