Johnnie Bud and I hit the road Saturday morning for ~noon arrival to Van Gogh Exhibit Charlotte: The Immersive Experience and when I write “road” I Highway 64 and not I-40 because when you have the option to cruise the more comfortable and relaxed of westward bound routes, you should always choose it.
As a professional in the events space, I could not have been more pleased with the Van Gogh experience. From pre-arrival messaging (which answered all of the FAQs and more) to parking to staffing to photo ops to the exit, this Charlotte-based crew had it nailed. We enjoyed the preview of the history of the space (who knew that Charlotte was once home to a Ford Motor Company assembly plant that later become a site for missile development?!), the friendly bar service (what’s an immersive art exhibit without wine?), and the 90,000,000 pixels that span a 40-minute, 360-degree visual arts experience that is Van Gogh with a modern twist.
We purchased two basic tickets, $50 each, that allowed timed entry within a 20-minut window—a nice accommodation for social distancing measures that I hope will stay around as a new mainstay for event ticketing and guest flow. While it was by no means a low-cost art experience, the site itself clearly required a massive investment in upfit for the event and the abundance of well-trained, friendly staff were much appreciated. We lucked out in that our pre-show stroll landed us walking into the video portion of the day right during the closing credits so we grabbed two open chairs together and moments later, were experiencing the show in its full glory.
It looks like the show has been extended through the end of October, so if you have the chance to get tickets, I highly encourage you to treat yourself to this one-of-a-kind experience in Charlotte. While it would be ideal for a quick day trip, we made a night of it…
After departing the exhibit, we headed to Uptown Charlotte and checked in to our favorite boutique hotel in the city: The Dunhill Hotel. (Full Disclosure: The Dunhill is on our client roster at RMG+REG. I’d still stay here even if it wasn’t!)
About The Dunhill: “The Dunhill Hotel, located in Uptown Charlotte, is the city’s only historic and boutique hotel. Our location puts you within walking distance of art galleries, museums, the full spectrum of dining experiences, nightlife, shopping, and much more. Experience sophisticated, full-service accommodations enhanced by genuine Southern hospitality, an historic setting, and ideal location.”Learn more at https://dunhillhotel.com/.
Timing was really on our side this weekend, netting us an early check in to drop our stuff, grab an Uber, and head out to progressively eat and drink our way back to the hotel later in the evening. Our next destination: The Crunkleton! A Chapel Hill whiskey bar favorite of ours, Gary Crunkleton opened his Charlotte outpost just a year a ago with one major difference… a full restaurant attached. Johnnie and I enjoyed a few proper mid-day cocktails, Beignets, and Avocado Toast (for one, JB isn’t quite on that veg level yet) because once again, we lucked into two seats at the bar just before the kitchen was closing for a mid-day break. Named among Garden & Gun’s “40 Best Southern Bars”, get yourself to Chapel Hill or Charlotte for a sip or two and you’ll see why for yourself!
While waiting for our next Uber to arrive, we stuck our head into Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find… a real deal comic book shop. We weren’t treated to any surprise visits by the cast of The Big Bang Theory but it is still so cool to find unique, independent retailers like this alive and well.
Back in the Uber, we were Charlotte Beer Garden bound for a round then walked to Stir—two more concepts with Triangle-based variations. (It’s nice to be able to support our friends in the hospitality industry when we’re out and about, no matter where we roam. But if you are looking for decidedly Charlotte destinations, these are not for you.) Our final outpost of the evening prior to our return to The Dunhill was for a round of drinks at The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, where Johnnie was hoping to catch one of his favorite local bartenders. (Said bartender didn’t happen to be on-shift during our visit, the first and only missed timing of our whole weekend adventure!)
Our return to the hotel was an opportunity to share another round of drinks at The Dunhill’s lobby bar which offers dinner service from The Asbury. We shared a few small plates and were even able to talk to brief guests stopping in on their Haunted Charlotte walking tour! The hotel originally opened in 1929 so it has its fair share of ghost stories but I’ll let you save those for your next visit rather than spoiling the surprises for you. ?
Thanks to a great night’s sleep, we were up and at ’em in time for brunch at The Asbury. If you dine here and don’t give yourself the chance to take home leftovers, you’re missing out. The Southern fare lives up to its reputation and the portions are generous. Located next door to Discovery Place, we had no agenda for Sunday so we grabbed two tickets so we could explore the current Apollo exhibit and got lost in even more immersion for the better part of two hours. (I left my phone charging in the car, so alas, no pics here.)
Our drive back to Raleighwood was a windows down, music cranked up kind of perfect. We remembered seeing a scenic overlook stop near Uwharrie Forest and paused for just a bit to enjoy the sunshine and snap a pic. (That’s one of our goals this year—to better document our best days. ? We didn’t do too bad this weekend!)
About halfway through our ride home we were ready for a late lunch. Knowing Asheboro was about 15 minutes ahead, Johnnie hopped on Yelp and found an “Open Now” listing for The Flying Pig Food and Spirits where we sat on a covered patio and enjoyed a casual Sunday late lunch. We strolled around Downtown Asheboro which has lots of new live and businesses coming soon, a place that we’ve earmarked for another overnight visit soon… perhaps after a visit to the Zoo!
A glass of wine on the porch at Lumina Wine & Beer capped off our weekend adventure and soon after, we were back at home in Raleighwood, relaxing and ready to take on this week.
I hope this travel guide inspires you to hit the road in NC this fall and enjoy exploring like a local… cheers, y’all!