Motion and Rest: Charlotte Layover

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This week I'm sharing a comic and some tips for a layover in Charlotte, NC. I imagine most readers won't have an immediate application for this exact guide, but I hope that you find some inspiration to explore a new city or your city on foot and by public transit.

On my way home from my family reunion in Memphis, TN, I had a five hour layover in Charlotte, NC. I've flown through Charlotte (CLT) several times, but had never explored the city. Five hours is right on the threshold where leaving the airport might pay off. Fortunately, Uptown Charlotte is only about 25-30min by bus from the airport. It was going to cost me about $50 round trip if I took a ride share which was a little steep for 2-3 hours of time Uptown. I checked rideshare first as it is typically the quickest option and would maximize my time Uptown. Before giving up, I took a quick look at public transit and found that there wasn't much of a time difference and I could get to and from the aiport for $4.40 round trip.

Charlotte Area Transit System - the CATS I'm not allergic to

The next step to getting myself Uptown was paying my fare. I found that CATS has a mobile app called CATS-Pass. The Android app was straightforward and I quickly had a valid bus ticket.

An ad for CATS-Pass on the bus

The next step was to find the bus stop at Charlotte airport (CLT). I asked a few traffic workers in the Arrivals area and found that the bus stop was located on the Terminal side at the very end of the Arrival pickup area. Here's what it looks like:

I took CATS bus route 5 from and to the airport. After a 25-30min ride, I got off at the Chartlotte Transportation Center (CTC), which is immediately adjacent to the Spectrum Center, where the Hornets, NBA team, plays.

The northeast side of the CTC, to the left, across the street, is the Spectrum Center

Uptown Charlotte

I had made it to Uptown Charlotte! Next up was trying some Charlotte Soul Food at Mert's Heart and Soul which was only a few blocks away from the CTC. I had a nice plate of salmon cakes, collard greens, and okra!

The lighting was very warm in the restaurant

I would have liked to go for a run, but having just eaten and a five hour flight to follow, I settled for a walking tour of some of the nearby park spaces. Fourth Ward Park weaves through multi-unit housing capturing the colonial vibe in this part of the city.

On the northeast end of Fourth Ward Park, this building is tagged in Google Maps as Charlotte's oldest house, but in reality is around the corner from Charlotte's oldest house

Some bike infrastructure in the Fourth Ward, I didn't see many people cycling.

My final stop was for some local beans and a restroom at Not Just Coffee. The Church St location is inside the Packard Place coworking space which was very quiet on the Saturday afternoon of my visit and outside of having a very nice restroom and a pretty good decaf Americano didn't seem to offer much else.

I finished my coffee while walking to the closest stop on the number 5 route. The bus picked me up more or less on schedule and I made it back to the airport with plenty of time to get through security and to my gate. I was a bit surprised at how little traffic there seemed to be from Uptown to the airport on a Saturday afternoon, but it made for an enjoyable and stress free layover experience. Thanks to public transit it was also pretty inexpensive! In total, I spent just under $30 for bus fare, meal, and coffee.

Thanks for reading! What are your layover tips?