Taking in the City of Trees got a playful upgrade with last year’s debut of B-Cycle, Charlotte’s first bike share program. This is the program’s first spring, which means there are plenty of warm, sunny days ahead perfect for giving urban cycling a shot. While there are numerous ways to navigate the city via bike (and continual additions of new B-Cycle stations make it even easier), here’s an itinerary sure to give you a taste of the town as you explore its terrain on two wheels.
Fuel up for your ride by starting at Harvest Moon Grille, the restaurant located inside the historic uptown Dunhill Hotel. The restaurant’s chef, Cassie Parsons, is a local farmer and everything on the menu is grown or raised within 100 miles of Charlotte. One of the few spots offering daily breakfast uptown, Harvest Moon’s menu is packed with tasty choices such as bacon cheddar pancakes and organic oatmeal.
From Harvest Moon, take a quick walk down the block to the 7th Street Public Market bike station to pick up your ride. Want to pack a picnic for later? Stop in the market to stock up on goods from vendors offering a variety of wares including cheeses and fresh vegetables from local farms.
Once you start cycling, take to tree-lined Tryon Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, and head south through town. You’ll ride between banking skyscrapers, upscale restaurants, and performance venues. After several blocks you’ll arrive at the Levine Center for the Arts, a collection of modern museums that stand out for their unique architecture. Pause in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, where The Firebird, an over-sized sculpture made from a mosaic of mirrors, sparkles in the sunlight. Park your bike at the designated station to tour the center’s contemporary-style Mint Museum, which showcases a renowned Craft + Design collection, as well as European, American and contemporary art, or the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Then stop inside the Bechtler Museum for its latest exhibits: “Artistic Relationships: Partners, Mentors Lovers,” which highlights works by artists who influenced one another, and “Appetite for Risk: Works by Emilio Stanzani,” drawings, prints and sculpture by the Swiss artist.
From the center, turn left onto Stonewall Street, which will take you on a downhill coast out of uptown past the new NASCAR Hall of Fame before arriving at the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. This picturesque greenway stretch offers miles of bike trails with skyline views and park benches perfect for enjoying that picnic you packed.
Continue your ride down the Greenway and into the city’s most well known greenspace, Freedom Park, where you can take a stroll around the 7-acre lake or catch a game on one of the park’s baseball or soccer fields. For the last stretch of your ride, cruise up East Boulevard, past the boutiques, coffee shops, cafes, historic bungalows and churches until you reach South End, a historic neighborhood filled with galleries and restaurants. Here you can park your bike at the East/West Blvd. Station and saunter down Camden Road to peruse galleries like Charlotte Art League before hopping on the adjacent LYNX Charlotte Light Rail, which you can ride directly back to 7th Street Station to finish your day where you began.
Photos Courtesy of Charlotte B-cycle