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Charlotte, North Carolina, off course: Things to do after golf in the Queen City

Katharine DysonBy Katharine Dyson,
Special Contributor
U.S. National Whitewater Center
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Navigate the world's largest man-made whitewater river at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. (Courtesy of the U.S. National Whitewater Center)

Wake up in Charlotte, N.C., and you will face a mind-boggling lineup of choices in addition to golf.

There are food and wine festivals, steeplechase races, NASCAR track events, headliner entertainers, Panthers games -- you name it.

As the top travel destination in the state, Charlotte is one of today's rare large metropolitan areas where the heart of "uptown" (what Charlotte calls its downtown) is pleasant, accessible, vital; where people love to come to shop, dine and take in the huge array of events taking place on a daily basis.

Here are just a few of the many options you have when visiting "The Queen City."

Things to do in Charlotte

At the U.S. National Whitewater Center, you can navigate the world's largest man-made whitewater river, the same place Olympic-caliber athletes train and tackle the enormous rock-climbing wall. To get your racing fix, head to the NASCAR SpeedPark, a seven-acre NASCAR-themed amusement park with five challenging racetracks and a whole lot of other fun from bumper cars to NASCAR Challenge Golf.

Or go to Raceworld USA and sit in the driver's seat as cars come to life on the floor of the only interactive race shop in the world. And here's an idea: Ride shotgun with a professional driver in a stock car ripping at 165 mph around Lowe's Motor Speedway's oval track.

For power shoppers, SouthPark Mall's stores read like a "Who's Who" in upscale retailing from Tiffany's to Banana Republic and Neiman Marcus.

Places to eat, drink and stay out late

The EpiCentre has everything you ever wanted in night recreation: StrikeCity for bowling, beer and big screens, plus dance clubs, piano bar, sports bars ... drift from one hot spot to the next in this three-story tower in the city.

Mac's Speedshop draws in all sorts from bikers to bankers to hipsters with BBQ and burgers. Other go-to places include Soul Gastrolounge for international flavors; King's Kitchen, a Southern-style restaurant; Terrace Cafe in Southpark; Zink American Kitchen; and Cabo Fish Taco.

For that special night, head to Zebra in Southpark for French cuisine; Fig Tree, a romantic location in a centuries-old house; Upstream for seafood; Bonterra, which occupies a former church; or Del Frisco's for incredible steak.

Where to stay in Charlotte

Hilton Charlotte Center City, a tall 400-room hotel in the center of the business and entertainment districts, is across from the Convention Center. Rooms are redecorated with smart, trendy decor.

Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel is a very classy stay near the upscale SouthPark Mall. Go ahead and feel the luxury of the wonderful Renaissance bedding and take a dip in the indoor pool.

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge has 214 rooms along with a four-bedroom cottage and a 35-room retreat lodge, great for that golf getaway with pals. Elegant rooms come with wonderfully comfortable bedding, marble baths, great spa, an indoor pool, and a fine restaurant and bar. On site is the Dana Rader Golf School.

The Duke Mansion, a historic B&B in toney Myers Park, has 20 traditionally furnished rooms, some with sleeping porches, French doors and four-poster beds. Once the home of Duke University founder James Buchanan Duke, guests enjoy gardens, home-cooked breakfasts, down pillows and fine linens.

Getting to Charlotte

The Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, a US Airways hub, is one of the easiest and most accessible airports. The white rocking chairs are a nice touch.

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Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark HotelThe Ballantyne Hotel & LodgeRaceworld USA

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

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