Moving south to Tampa? You’ve chosen a top-notch city. It’s received commendations in several areas. Washington Square News listed Tampa as one of the top cities for “twenty-somethings” and Forbes magazine calls it the “5th best outdoor city.” If you have kids, you’ll be happy to hear that Newsweek listed twelve of Tampa’s High Schools in their list of America’s Best High Schools. For a bit of fun in the sun, check out these sites and attractions Tampa has to offer!
Moving to Charlotte? You’re entering a locale rich in history and culture! Here is a little bit of everything you need to know to explore your new digs.
Museums & the Arts
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art features the most significant and impressionistic art of 20th century European and American artists. They also have various exhibitions that alternate throughout the year.
Both children and adults alike will find a world of fun and exciting educational activities at the Discovery Place. Explore different ecosystems from across the globe and become an innovator in the Think It Up area. Don’t forget to check out what’s playing in their IMAX theater, where you can experience 3D tornadoes and butterflies firsthand.
Or if you’re looking for something more along the lines of Broadway shows, comedy acts, dance, music or something for the kiddos, the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center has it all! Check out their packed schedule of entertainment here.
Food & Dining:
From hole-in-the-wall dives to fine French cuisine, Charlotte has what you seek! If you want a local fave, check out Queen City Q, named after the city’s nickname, the “Queen City.” Your sense of smell will alert you to the savory barbeque even before you get to the door!
Attractions & Entertainment:
A great place to start looking for Charlotte area entertainment is CharlottesGotaLot.com. For a bit of old-school fun, Park Lanes provides not only bowling lanes but also an outside deck for dining, including a Moonshine bar. Keep it casual or join one of the leagues if you’re a bit more competitive!
For thrill seekers, the “thrill capital of the southeast” is located only 15 minutes from uptown Charlotte. Carowinds is home to the longest, fastest roller coaster in the southeast United States. In addition to their thriller rides, they have Planet Snoopy with kiddy rides and Boomerang Bay, which has water rides and attractions. With live entertainment, dinosaur digs and delicious food vendors, Carowinds is a great getaway for the whole family.
NASCAR requires its own section for Charlotte entertainment! If you’re going to live in Charlotte, NASCAR races are one thing you’ll need to partake in at least once. Though NASCAR is an international sport, 90% of NASCAR race teams are based out of the Charlotte area. The sport of NASCAR, boasting 75 million fans, is ranked second in the nation, topped only by the National Football League (NFL). The Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts three major NASCAR races – the Coca-Cola 600, the Sprint All-Star Race and the Bank of America 500. However there are many alternative events you may attend, as they hold over 380 events annually!
In the NASCAR Hall of Fame, take a stroll down NASCAR memory lane. See the drivers who started it all and made history or rent a viewing room for the greatest races of all time.
If you want the “real deal” experience of driving an actual racecar, the NASCAR Racing Experience is where you need to go. You’re allowed to purchase packages that put you in the driver’s seat of a real racecar and zoom around the track without a lead car! This is for the ultimate NASCAR fans.
Sites to See
Looking for the world’s largest man-made whitewater river? Look no further, the US National Whitewater Center is where it’s at. Not only can you raft the rapids but you can also enjoy dining events like microbrew tasting and fireside dinners!
For the green thumbs out there, Charlotte offers a beautiful botanical garden. At the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, you can wander through the different areas and pavilions or take a class on photography. The Garden even hosts children’s birthday parties where young guests can pot their own plant and take part in a scavenger hunt!
If you’re looking for more of a full-day or overnight trip, consider the Biltmore Estate. Vanderbilt’s estate covers 8,000 acres located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to the beautiful château, the location contains a winery, unique shopping, dining options and a beautiful garden designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, who also designed New York City’s Central Park.
For sports fans, you won’t be disappointed! Charlotte is home to several professional teams. Avid football fans can cheer on the NFL Carolina Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium. Those who follow the NBA (National Basketball Association) will remember Muggsy Bogues, shortest player ever in the NBA, who played for the Charlotte Hornets back in the 80s and 90s. Charlotte’s team is currently called the Bobcats but will retain the Hornets’ name again, beginning in 2014! The Major League Lacrosse (MLL) has a team based here called the Charlotte Hounds.
One thing you’ll need after moving is a place for your four-legged children to be pampered. Pet Paradise Resort offers grooming, daycare, training and even boarding! The Charlotte location is only one mile from the Charlotte International Airport, which makes dropping off your beloved pet before your flight quick and easy!
Explore the 40,000 square-foot library and learn about the life and legacy of “America’s Pastor,” at the Billy Graham Library. On site is the Graham family homeplace, bookstore, prayer garden and dairy bar.
So you’re packing up and moving to Houston! You are headed in a great direction. Whether you’re transitioning for work or merely in search of a warmer climate, Houston is a happening city full of rich culture. From shopping, art, and entertainment to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, there is something for everyone.
If you happen to have kids in your crew, check out the Downtown Aquarium. It boasts a 500,000 gallon aquarium with more than 200 aquatic species from across the globe. In addition to the amazing aquatic exhibits, there are games and rides. It’s a fun attraction for the whole family.
The Children’s Museum of Houston is also a great place to visit. Inside, kiddos can tour Kidtropolis, the city for kids, run by kids! They can run for office, use an ATM, shop in the grocery store and even own a business. Along with having fun, kids learn how to manage money and work alongside their peers.
Sites & Attractions
Whether you have kids, or not, museums are a major advantage of Houston life. At the top of this list is the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which has eleven permanent exhibits, including Paleontology, Ancient Egypt and Energy Hall, as well as various special exhibits. One of the current popular exhibits in their planetarium is Experience the Aurora, which was created by photographers over the course of seven months using “all-sky” lenses in the Arctic Circle. It allows you to experience the Aurora Borealis, commonly known as “Northern Lights.”
And as long as you are standing in awe of the world we live in, you may as well take a trip to Johnson Space Center, where you can have lunch with an astronaut and discover what it’s like to live in space. There are several different tours you can take of the station. The advantage to actually living in Houston is that you can purchase annual memberships and if you’re a student or educator, you can participate in different camps and programs offered throughout the year.
Beyond museums, Houston offers all types of entertainment ranging from rodeos, athletics and parades to fine arts. The largest rodeo in Texas, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, lasts the entire month of March each year. Many people go just to see the concerts, whether you’re a country fan or not!
For free concerts and events, visit Discovery Green downtown. They have a wide selection of activities from yoga, young writers classes and boat rides to concerts and running trails for you and your four-legged friend.
Houston also has world-class entertainment in the realm of fine arts. The Houston ballet offers famous showings throughout the year like Swan Lake and the Nutcracker. If, like me, you have not had much experience with the opera, Houston’s Grand Opera will help you enter that world with ease. They have lectures and symposiums to prepare you for the real deal! For something more along the lines of Broadway musicals, you’re in luck. Houston actually has Broadway plays! Their theater schedule is bound to keep you entertained. Finally, our orchestra lovers are not left behind with the Houston symphony performing hits, such as the scores from the 2003 blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean.
If sports and athletics are your deal, you have a wide variety of choices from watching the pros to playing yourself. For major league baseball fans, pull on your navy blue and orange gear and take a trip to Minute Maid Ballpark in support of the Astros! NBA fans may choose to spend more time in the Toyota Center, cheering on the Rockets. Or if you want to get in on supporting the youngest franchise in the NFL, the Houston Texans joined in 2003. You could join this legendary fan base from its near beginnings! (Impress existing fans with a little trivia: there are two teams to which the Houston Texans have never lost – the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.) Soccer fans have the Dynamos and though Houston rarely has natural snow and ice, hockey fans have the Aeros!
For the more shopping-focused crowd, you are in luck because Houston is home to the largest mall in all of Texas – The Galleria. The upscale mall hosts over 375 stores, several dining options, an indoor ice-skating rink, arcade and much more. The mall contains two Westin hotels and even has three office towers, one of which houses a financial center. A short distance from the mall will also lead you to one of the city’s most photographed location, the Water Wall.
If you are looking for a more laid back shopping atmosphere, Old Town Springs is your spot. The Springs has a long list of shops and places to eat as well as events like their Texas Crawfish & Music Festival. You almost take a step back in time when entering this historic, turn of the century railroad town.
After a long day out on the town, there is no doubt food will be on your radar. And Houston has whatever your taste buds are craving! They’ve got everything from Greek, like Niko Nikos to Tex-Mex. Tex-Mex is the most famous in the region so if you want something local, head to Pappasitos. At either of these places, count on getting there ahead of time because there is always a line for their spectacular dishes!
While there is enough within Houston to keep you busy for a long time, you are also not far from some really great spots. For instance, Glaveston, Texas is an hour from downtown Houston and has beaches, shops and restaurants.
About the Author: Victoria is trudging away in her Master’s classes while working for HireAHelper. She’s in love with her dog, Lilly, and enjoys summer thunderstorms, stars and road trips! Go Huskers!