I more or less grew up in Charlotte (from 1988, when I was 12, until 2000). I don’t get back there often, but I still have some family there. In my opinion, it’s probably one of the most boring cities of its size in the U.S. One reason may be that until about the 1970s it was a pretty tiny town, and a lot of its growth in recent times has been fueled by the finance industry, so it just hasn’t had time to develop much of a culture, and what culture it does have caters to middle-aged bankers (e.g. golf). The city also annexed most of its suburbs, so it occupies a huge amount of land area, but it is very urban-sprawly and car-centric, and the high-density urban core (what the locals call “Uptown”) is quite small. There’s not much in the way of mass transit, although they recently built a light rail system that some of my family members take to get to work Uptown from the southern nether regions near the SC border. The light rail postdates my time there, so I don’t know much about it. It’s still pretty new, so it doesn’t go many places
That said, there are a few things worth seeing there. The Mint Museum is worth a look-see. Some of the buildings Uptown are interesting (there was a skyscraper that had these big lights at its base you could “play” like a musical instrument by touching them), and Uptown is small enough that you can take much of it in on foot. I lived for a time in the Pineville area (south Charlotte, near the beltway), so I know a couple of barbecue places there that are ok (Sonny’s, McKoy’s), but nothing spectacular.
Even though I lived there in my early twenties, I can’t tell you much about the night-life. When I lived there Uptown got pretty deserted after banking hours, and I lived out in the nether-regions anyway, so “going out after work” usually meant Chillis.
Sorry if I seem to have trouble getting enthusiastic about Charlotte (I have to admit, reading what I’ve written so far about the closest thing I have to a hometown makes me a tad depressed). After spending most of my adult life living not-in-Charlotte, my memories of the place paint it as a relatively soul-less, strip-mall & chain-restaurant dominated, clean but boring city compared to other places I’ve lived.