Ready to plan the perfect girls’ weekend? Like NOW? Look no further, I’ve got your destination and a fabulous itinerary… all you need to do is to grab your bestest bestie and get ready for a fabulous girls’ weekend in Charlotte! Below is your guide to planning the perfect girls’ weekend in Charlotte (NC)!
Y’all. I honestly don’t even know where to start with this post, because I seriously have SO MUCH TO SAY. Charlotte, North Carolina, aka The Queen City, has been my home since I was born. I was born in Presbyterian Hospital and am what they call a “unicorn” here in Charlotte…someone who is actually FROM Charlotte. I grew up here in the lovely QC and left after high school for a four year stint at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore (which did include a semester in Rome!) and three years at UNC Law School in Chapel Hill. After practicing law in Raleigh for about 3 years, I was THRILLED to return back to my hometown!
The Hornets may be a different set of Hornets, but they will always have a special place in my heart (hello, that’s why my dog is named Muggsy!) and though this amazing city has grown and changed in many ways in the ten years I was gone, it is the one place I know I can always call home and I adore it in ways I can barely express…but I will try!
So let’s dive in shall we?
So April is my birthday month, and yes I’m totally one of those obnoxious people that gets SUPER excited the MINUTE it’s the first of the month of my birthday month. Luckily I have best friends like Phi, of Sweet Phi, who completely indulge my insanity. You know those best friends you have that just completely GET you? Who you can talk to through all the amazing adventures in your life as well as through all the complete bullshit? That’s Phi. She wins at life. And before you are all like “I thought Marina was your best friend” let’s not forget the wise Mindy Kaling who once said “best friend isn’t a person, Danny, it’s a tier.” Could not be more true, but lucky for me, my best friends all met over a year ago and totally love each other.
Ok so back to Phi and my birthday! She is such an amazing friend, she decided (with two weeks notice) to book a flight to come to Charlotte to celebrate my birthday with me! It was my big THREE OH so LAWD help me, y’all know I needed that support right? I was SO excited for Phi to come to visit Charlotte, I could hardly keep it together during those two weeks. I was also a little nervous, to be completely 100% honest…
The reason I was nervous is that I feel like when you live somewhere, you totally take it for granted. Like people in Paris, they see the Eiffel Tower EVERY DAY…do they really still think it’s that special? I was worried that maybe I had grown too accustomed to my surroundings and that I wouldn’t even know what to show her! Luckily, we teamed up with Charlotte’s Got a Lot, the tourism bureau, and they created the most AH-MAZING itinerary for Phi and I… it did NOT disappoint, and provided the perfect opportunity for me to show Phi around and simultaneously discover new things in my beautiful city!
So I went to get Phi at the airport on Friday around 5. I wanted her to feel welcome immediately, so I brought it back old school and picked her up with flowers and a sign. Remember when that was like a normal thing? I feel like in my childhood people did this all the time, and now it’s more just like people swing by baggage claim in their car and that’s it. I wanted her to feel special immediately after arrival, so I got flowers from the little flower vendor who sells on the corner of 4th and Tryon (local!) and made a huge poster with all of the places we were going to on it. I also added our hashtag #philynnit, which Phi’s husband came up with (it’s a play on “feelin’ it” but with our names instead…so witty that Nick!). We used this hashtag the whole weekend, so you can find that along with our other bestietravels on IG: #philynnit. We also Snapchatted the whole weekend and if you don’t follow us on Snapchat, may I politely suggest that you do 😉 (usernames: Sweetphi and OrderintheKitch).
First we went to check in at the hotel, Le Meridien. Le Meridien is a Starwood Hotel, which links it to other fabulous hotels such as the Westin and the St. Regis. The have hotels all over the world, some of which I’m dying to visit. I actually signed up to be a Starwood Preferred Guest, because you get points for each stay that you can use towards free rooms and other perks! Matt and I got points for our staycation as well as our wedding, as we stayed at the Westin Charlotte for both, and given that it’s so many different hotels and not just one (Le Meridien, St. Regis, Westin, Aloft), you can pretty much guarantee that there is a Starwood Hotel anywhere you want to visit!
They put us in a room with a fantastic view of the city! The sun was just setting as we arrived, and the skyline view was just so lovely. Seeing it through Phi’s eyes really made me appreciate just how beautiful Uptown is, and how lucky I am to live here!
We then went to dinner at Fahrenheit, which is atop the Hyatt Place and provides the most incredible view of the city! There is an outdoor fireplace and the interior is upscale without feeling stuffy. The ambience is spectacular, and I cannot wait to dine here again! One of my favorite parts of the interior design is the open kitchen. I just LOVE an open kitchen, because it shows me right from the get-go that I can trust what’s coming out of that kitchen, because anyone could be watching at any time! Chef Rocco Whalen does a superb job with the food. When I say superb, I mean out of this world amazing. Both in presentation and creativity.
We started out with a couple of cocktails. Phi got the Sake Sangria and I got the Spicy Charlotte. We then received three phenomenal appetizers from the Chef. First, we got a tuna roll, followed by a burrata bruschetta and ahi tuna nachos. Neither Phi nor I had ever had burrata before but we had obviously heard all the hype about it. It totally lived up to the hype y’all! It’s like mozzarella on the outside, with a creamy interior. The Ahi Tuna Nachos were by far my favorite though, as they may be the best appetizer I have ever had in my entire life. Ever. The chips were actually homemade wantons, then there was fresh raw ahi tuna, pickled onions, fresh jalapeño, green onions, and black sesame seeds, drizzled with the most indescribably fantastic sauce. Go there now and order this. Seriously.We then had the option of ordering our entrees, but since we had already had such an incredible experience with the Chef’s choices, we asked them to let the Chef decide what we would eat. We obviously fully trusted him at that point! They brought us a “surf and turf” of a pork chop over lemongrass fried rice and snapper over a green apple and avocado salad.
We were so full but we couldn’t turn down dessert at that point (especially when they told us about their famous milkshakes!). We split a milkshake that was topped with brownies and had two straws… perfect for sharing! The entire dining experience at Fahrenheit was out of this world and I 100% recommend this restaurant to anyone living in or visiting Charlotte!
We left Fahrenheit and headed to Crave Dessert Bar. Located in Uptown on Graham Street, Crave is a late night dessert bar that also has an awesome variety of cocktails. We were both a little skeptical, as I’ve never even heard of a “dessert bar” let alone been to one, but we were both blown away by how delicious the desserts were! We got an order of s’mores, which came with a little mini-fire to roast the marshmallows, a chocolate molten cake and a bread pudding. The chocolate cake came with “peanut butter sand,” which was made with maltodextrin, so it had the consistency of sand on the plate, but when you ate it, it becomes creamy and peanut butter-like again! The bread pudding was one of the best I’ve ever had. I highly recommend Crave for all of your late-night dessert cravings!
The next morning, we went to EVOkE for brunch. EVOkE is located in Le Meridien (our hotel) and ranks as one of the top three brunches I’ve ever had.
We started off with EVOkE’s signature “eye opener” which was a little shot-size drink of orange juice and lavender syrup. It really was “eye opening” and refreshing! We then ordered cappuccinos and our entrees.
Phi and I basically rock at sharing meals. We always both seem to want the two same things on the menu, so it is always so easy to share! I got the eggs benedict, which was made with prosciutto instead of Canadian bacon (read = best thing ever) and cornbread instead of an english muffin (also way better than a typical benedict!), and Phi got the Belgian waffles with vanilla chantilly cream. When our meals came out, they were as beautiful as they were delicious! The micro greens on top of the benedict and the lavender atop the waffles were the most perfect tiny touches. I love when my food is beautiful.
While there, I told Phi about one of my quirky eating habits… saving the best bite for last. I do this at almost every single meal. When I find a perfect bite, I set it aside and wait until I’m ready to be done to eat that bite. I can’t remember when or why I started doing this, but I highly recommend it, as you are always guaranteed to end the meal on a high note. So at EVOkE, I found a perfect bite of poached egg with a bit of yolk, prosciutto and cornbread, with that perfect hollandaise, and saved it for last. Totally worth it.
We did a little lobby exploration in Le Meridien and took a few photos, as we just adored the funky vibe in this hotel.
Then we headed out to visit a couple of museums to work off that delicious breakfast we just had! We started by going to the Mint Museum Uptown, which of course has a very special place in my heart, as that is where my husband and I got married! While I had obviously been to the museum before for my nuptials, I had never explored the exhibits, and I was SO excited to do so. Some of my favorite pieces there were the Ansel Adams photography exhibit, and the beautiful sculptures and abstract work.
My personal favorite is the enormous Dale Chihuly Royal Blue Mint Chandelier, which is right when you walk in!After exploring the Mint, we moved on to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, which is right next door and houses, you guessed it, modern art!
There were some fabulous pieces there, including this lovely dandelion, but I also love how the museum itself is structured, and the views from the museum are beautiful as well!I love going to museums with Phi because we “museum” the same way. We look at everything, stop at things that interest us, but don’t spend hours and hours “museuming” (yes I obviously made that word up).
After those two museums, we stopped off to grab my husband and went for a walk around Uptown showing Phi some of the sites and local live musicians that play on the corners. We passed by Discovery Place, which is a fabulous interactive museum that is GREAT for kids! If you are planning a trip to Charlotte with your kids, this is definitely a place you don’t want to miss! We showed Phi how we walk to work and how pretty the Uptown area is to just walk around! Matt and I took Phi to Dean and Deluca for lunch (my hubs’ and I’s favorite lunch spot uptown) and then Phi and I went along to do more exploring while Matt headed home. Phi and I went to Amelie’s French Bakery (Uptown location) to get macarons because I truly feel like it’s not a trip to Charlotte without Amelie’s!
Amelie’s is a classic French bakery with several locations around Charlotte. I adore their macarons (especially the mixed berry one (purple pictured here) and the chocolate cinnamon one) (Phi ordered pistachio and it was phenomenal)! I also highly recommend their ham and gruyere sandwich on a baguette and their lemonade!
We then walked down to the 7th Street Public Market so I could show Phi our adorable Uptown mini-farmer’s market. Along the way, we stopped at Bar Cocoa, a sweet shop right inside the Ritz Carlton. There we bought gelato for some unknown reason, as we had been eating nonstop all day! We then kept moseying along to the 7th Street Public Market! 7th Street Public Market is just down the street from the Levine Museum of the New South, which is a lovely museum with exhibits more geared towards southern culture. We grabbed coffees at Not Just Coffee (which makes the BEST cortado in the freaking world y’all… GO get it!) then headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner!
Saturday night’s dinner was my official “birthday dinner” with my family and friends. We had a fabulous meal at Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen (South Park location), which is one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Charlotte (they have the best mac and cheese I have ever eaten, and their duck (both breast and confit) is the only place I will eat duck). I highly recommend Rooster’s if you are ever in Charlotte.The next morning, we went to The Asbury for brunch. I had visited The Asbury for dinner but never for brunch. When I went there for dinner, I had the most superb chicken and dumplings with root vegetables, though they are a fabulously seasonal restaurant, so I believe they have changed the menu since then (hopefully they will have this again come wintertime!). But back to brunch!
I have never been to a brunch where they had appetizers, but appetizers they had and they brought us some incredible ones for us to try! We had the Deviled Eggs which were topped with fried cornichons and a garlicky mustard, which made them the best deviled eggs ever. They had such a unique flavor, I honestly would love to replicate this at home! They also brought us some sticky biscuits made with ham and a goat cheese icing. I could have eaten an entire meal of these y’all. They were THAT good.
And that’s just the appetizers!! On to our main courses… In typical #philynnit fashion, we ordered the perfect meal for the two of us, yet again getting a combination of waffles and eggs benedict. Phi’s Crisp Waffles came with a nutella chantilly (swear y’all!), vietnamese cinnamon, candied pecans, powdered sugar and Grand Marnier macerated strawberries (insert a drooling emoji here). I ordered the Crab Cake Benedict, which was a poached egg served over a biscuit instead of an english muffin (A++ for that substitution am I right??) with a crab cake and a Coastal Bay hollandaise sauce, which brought me back to my years living in Maryland, where they have the best crab ever. I chose grits as my side, and honestly they were the best grits I have ever had in my life. The Asbury is the perfect southern-style brunch spot and is a must for any trip to Charlotte! I can’t wait to go there again, both for brunch and dinner, and try their food every season!
This trip was so perfect to open my eyes to the fabulous food and exciting happenings around my home city. Charlotte’s Got a Lot is the perfect name for our tourism bureau, as it is 100% true. I’m so honored I had the opportunity to explore my city in a new way and really see some of the fantastic things Charlotte has to offer.
Charlotte is the perfect place for a girl’s weekend away, a romantic getaway or a family vacation. There truly is something here for everyone (and I have more recommendations if you want!) If you want more recommendations for things to do and see in Charlotte, you can leave a comment below or tweet me! I’d love to hear from you and tell you all about what this amazing city has to offer!I’m so grateful I have fabulous friends like Phi who will jump on a plane even at kind of the last minute to visit me for my birthday! I am also so grateful to live in a city where there is much to do and much to see, filled with friendly people and delicious meals around every corner. So what are you waiting for? Charlotte’s ready for you!
A huge thank you to Charlotte’s Got A Lot for coordinating the itinerary for this trip and for hosting us in this fabulous city, thank you to Le Méridien for accommodations and to Fahrenheit, EVOkE and The Asbury for incredibly delicious meals and lovely experiences. I was not compensated to write this post and, as always, all thoughts and opinions are mine.