December 16, 2021

A Few Of Our Favorite Things: Arts+ Edition

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Whether hosting friends and families over the holidays or just looking to explore a new corner of Charlotte, we've compiled a listing of our staff's favorites to get you off to the right start. From museums and performance venues to the perfect day trip — you're bound to stumble upon a new favorite of your own.

Recommendations are listed in no particular order:

Kinsey Fournier, Music Programs Manager


Favorite museum: Charlotte Museum of History. "Their annual Mad About Modern home tour is amazing and will leave you with so many ideas about mid-century modern design!"

Favorite local boutique/retailer: Ultra Running Company. "I love the staff and their involvement in the running community in Charlotte. Stop by the Providence Rd. store if you are in need of new road/trail running shoes for Christmas!"

Favorite coffee or tea shop: Living Kitchen. "I love their plant-based drink menu, and it pairs so well with their desserts. I recommend the Mocha Latte paired with the Turtle Cheesecake!"

Favorite destination for a day trip: "Anywhere in the mountains for a good trail run/hike! Montreat is a great access point for some pretty spectacular views. Some of my favorite trails are Graybeard Mountain and Seven Sisters."

Favorite outdoor attraction/activity: "You will find me on the trails every weekend for adventure runs with friends! The Charlotte Greenway System is very special to me, especially those that have unpaved trails. The Backyard Trails (BYT) off Little Sugar Creek Greenway has to be my favorite hidden gem of Charlotte! If you are interested in trail running, I lead the Trail Sisters-Charlotte chapter so check us out!"

Devlin McNeil, President and Executive Director


Favorite museum: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Favorite local boutique/retailer: Assorted Table Wine Shoppe — Find them at 7th Street Market in uptown!

Favorite coffee or tea shop: Not Just Coffee "They've got locations all over Charlotte so I'm never far from my favorite brew."

Favorite destination for a day trip: Asheville/Mountains

Caroline Tippette, Director of Visual Art Programs


Favorite performance venue: Petra's Bar in Plaza Midwood. "It's been so long since I've been to a venue, but I love Petra's because it is a smaller venue and tends to have more off-beat offerings and a huge variety of acts. It's definitely a local favorite among locals in East Charlotte."

Favorite museum: The Mint Museum Randolph. "This was a tough one! While the uptown location gets more traffic and has rotating shows, the Randolph location is in a gorgeous park, is housed inside the original U.S. Mint building, and has so many hidden gems among its gigantic collection of historic American, European, and African art. It's also free on Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m.!"

Favorite local boutique/retailer: Good Earth Essentials. "This boutique offers sustainable and zero-waste items for home and personal care. They have a storefront in 7th Street Market but also recently opened their online site! Great idea for holiday gifts for friends and family!"

Favorite coffee or tea shop: Mint Hill Roasting Company. "This quaint little coffee shop has all of the offerings of a more central location without the hustle and bustle. They even offer smoothies and teas for those who prefer to go caffeine-free (but why would you?)."

Favorite Book Store: 2nd & Charles. "They offer cash or store credit for trade-ins and have both used and new books and a great selection of vinyl records and kid-friendly items. Definitely a good way to spend an afternoon and trade in unused books for some new reads!"

Favorite destination for a day trip: Linville Gorge in Marion, North Carolina. "It's a bit of a trek at just over two hours but incredibly worth it. Some of the best views in NC (in my opinion) and a great option for hiking. If you prefer a more leisurely stroll, the highest peak overlook called Wiseman's View is accessible via driving, although I would recommend 4-wheel drive."

Favorite outdoor attraction/activity: "U.S. National Whitewater Center. This is a pretty well known location, but for good reason. They host weekend concerts in warmer weather that are free for the public and turn their rapids into ice-skating during the winter. There are also many walking, hiking, and bike trails on the property that are free during open hours. There's something for everyone during all seasons."

Wes Smith, Director of Music Programs and Artistic Director for the Charlotte Youth Choir


Favorite performance venue: Knight Theater

Favorite museum: Mint Museum

Favorite local boutique/retailer: Moxie Mercantile

Favorite coffee or tea shop: Common Market. "Not a coffee shop per se, but it's a favorite place I go to sit and drink coffee and work."

Favorite Book Store: Book Buyers in Plaza Midwood (Their Plaza Midwood location will remain open through Christmas, then the local store will move locations, just two miles away.).

Favorite outdoor attraction/activity: Canoeing at the Whitewater Center.

Brittany Norton, Communications Manager


Favorite performance venue: Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa. "This one holds a special place in my heart since a really good friend took me to see a Sarah Bareilles concert here when I was still in college at UNCC. She put on an amazing show with a live band. The crowd was just intimate enough, and we were right in front of the stage."

Favorite museum: The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. "The Gantt is such a jewel to the community because not only does it give a home to black artists, but it doubles as an event venue for family-friendly activities or adults-only after-hour socials. It’s a hub for positive energy all around."

Favorite coffee or tea shop: Waterbean Coffee. "The Tryon location specifically is my fave. It’s a great place to work, they’ve got a small menu in case you’re hungry, and the playlist is always on point! Plus they make my Honey Oat Milk Latte just the way I like it."

Favorite Book Store: "Such a tough one. I can’t pick just one. There isn’t an independent or used book store that I don’t swoon over. Go check them all out!"

Favorite destination for a day trip: Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "Okay, I am super biased here. Winston is my hometown, but it has grown so much since I was there. An hour away, and I get to check out new breweries, bakeries, and SO MUCH living history. Winston is still very much that old brick and smokestacks vibe… there’s just something nostalgic about the city."

Stephanie Stenglein, Associate Executive Director


Favorite local boutique/retailer: Pretty Honest Candles. "Great for gifts!"

Favorite coffee or tea shop: Enderly Coffee on Tuckaseegee and The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary in Camp Greene (Pauline Tea Bar also has a new location inside the up-and-coming VAPA Center in uptown.).

Favorite Book Store: Julia's Cafe & Books inside Habitat for Humanity.

Favorite outdoor attraction/activity (specific park, trail, lake, etc): "Watching the Panthers play — not necessarily this year — or walking my pups. I have two adorable rescue dogs."