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One City, Five Hours: Charlotte

Oh Carolina

Author John Bordsen Illustration Oliver Jeffers

1 Get a taste of the Old South at the Levine Museum of the New South (200 E. Seventh St.; www.museumofthenewsouth.org). You can play checkers on an old mill house porch or sit at a recreation of a Civil Rights–era lunch counter in the “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers” exhibit. (0:45)

2 Snap back to modern life with a quick stroll through the three levels of the brand new Urban Garden (www.urbangardenat1bac.com) atrium in Bank of America’s corporate headquarters—the tallest building in the Carolinas—where you can take some time to smell the money—er, roses. (1:00)

3 Cross the skybridge to Founder’s Hall (www.foundershall.com), a mall connected to the Bank of America Corporate Center. As you pick up new reading material at The BookMark and last-minute gifts from Blis, watch out for fast-walking bankers. (1:30)

4 Speaking of fast-moving, head to the NASCAR Hall of Fame (400 E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.; www.nascarhall.com), a three-story shrine to stock car racing. Step inside the Racing Simulator and put the pedal to the metal. Then, if your nerves are still intact, check out the 64-foot projection screen in the High Octane Theatre. (2:30)

5 Shifting gears, cross whimsical minipark The Green to reach the brand-new Mint Museum Uptown (500 S. Tryon St.; www.mintmuseum.org). Check out classic American paintings, such as John Singleton Copley’s St. Cecilia: A Portrait, and the impressive collection of craft and design items. (3:20)

6 Continue your museum tour at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (420 S. Tryon St.; www.bechtler.org). You’re not going inside, just stopping to admire the iconic “Firebird” sculpture out front. It’s almost 18 feet tall and covered in mirrors, making for a dazzling sight. (3:30)

7 Your trip wouldn’t be complete without a heaping helping of soul food, so dash over to The King’s Kitchen (129 W. Trade St.; www.kingskitchen.org). We recommend Aunt Beaut’s skillet-fried chicken. It’s divine. (4:30)

8 For a peek at trendy Charlotte, take a short cab ride to the relaxed and funky Plaza-Midwood neighborhood. Grab a smooth, dark Gaelic Ale crafted in nearby Asheville at the Thomas Street Tavern (1218 Thomas St.), a former post office with an eclectic clientele, and raise a glass to the Queen City. (5:00)

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