Major cities in the southeast grew in density much later than cities in the northeast and upper northwest and, as a result, are usually fairly car dependent. While Charlotte first boomed around the gold rush, the city’s first major expansion didn’t take place until the 1920’s when the streetcar made travel into, what was then Downtown (now Uptown), possible. The streetcar era didn’t last long, as the car ushered in independence at the cost of congestion due to growth. Post-WWII suburban growth meant fewer people were living in city centers, a trend that has continued until recently as downtowns are experiencing a resurgence once again.
Walkability is the idea that you can leave your car behind and walk, bike, sashay or roller blade (as if this is the 90’s) to things like parks, restaurants and shops. Walk Scores started appearing over the last few years and they can be found for almost every listing in our database. While the Walk Score can be useful, there are a number of Charlotte neighborhoods that may have a lower Walk Score although they are very walkable.
The following neighborhoods are presented in no particular order:
Charlotte’s South End neighborhood is a recent creation, combining mixed use development with a transportation corridor to create a very dense neighborhood. Not only are there sidewalks throughout most of South End, the Rail Trail is a large walking path that runs parallel with the Lynx Blue Line Light Rail and serves as a pedestrian boulevard running from LoSo and Sedgefield to Uptown. The neighborhood is brimming with restaurants, cafes, a full-sized Publix and adjacent Harris Teeter and even two hardware stores (Little Hardware and Lowes). Add to that breweries and the Queens Park Social House, which is a pub with games, and you have almost the ideal in-town neighborhood.
Edward Dilworth Latta was a very humble and modest man who, was so humble and modest, he named an entire neighborhood after himself. As an early street car neighborhood (that he initially held the rights to so as to stifle growth in other parts of town), Dilworth was designed with sweeping streets and sidewalks that guided residents to the street car stops along East Boulevard. His streetcar is long gone but the design of the neighborhood has withstood the test of time.
Dilworth is mostly comprised of single family residences with a few multi-family and townhome complexes added for good measure. Many of the streets have sidewalks, which makes the stroll to the incredible restaurants along East Blvd safe and convenient. Also, the addition of a Harris Teeter and Fresh Market grocery stores, enables residents to option on whether to walk, ride, or drive to complete routine tasks. Additionally, Dilworth is home to Latta Park and shares the border of Freedom Park with Myers Park, an amenity not found in every neighborhood.
If you want the ultimate in convenience while living Uptown, purchase a condo in the Fifth and Poplar. Not only is Uptown’s only grocery store in the basement of the building (but it is accessible to the public), it’s also adjacent to Fourth Ward Park. Aside from Fifth and Poplar, what makes Uptown so nice is it’s size, only 2 square miles, which means everything is convenient to get to. Uptown is home to Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Regions Bank, BB&T and NASCAR among countless other businesses, Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers), BB&T Ballpark (home of the Charlotte Knights), and the Spectrum Center (home of the Charlotte Hornets). From high-class dining to night clubs to live music at the NC Music Factory – Uptown really does have a little bit of everything.
The Lynx Blue Line and the Gold Line and Gold Rush run through the center of Uptown so residents can easily find their way to South End, NoDA, Elizabeth, and even University City. With its four parks, soon-to-be two grocery stores (Whole Foods is set to open on Stonewall Street), numerous transportation options (including dockless bikeshare), restaurant and entertainment options, Uptown is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Charlotte.
NoDa is one more eclectic neighborhoods in Charlotte, rivaled only by nearby Plaza Midwood in style. NoDa, also known as The Arts District, was initially developed as a mill community for workers at the Mecklenburg and Highland Cotton Mills. The smaller homes on smaller lots led to a naturally occurring dense neighborhood. Today, the former mills are apartments and many of the old mill houses have been heavily renovated into highly desirable cottages. The downtown at 36th st and North Davidson street features restaurants, bars, art galleries, a branch of the Charlotte YMCA, and even two light rail stations. Also, there’s a jail cell in the basement of the firehouse.
Charlotte’s Plaza-Midwood neighborhood was the birthplace of Harris Teeter, Dollar General, and is home to Charlotte’s oldest country club: Charlotte Country Club. Developed at the same time as Myers Park, Plaza Midwood was a street car neighborhood that developed in a unique way due to the level train crossings that separated the neighborhood from Chantilly, and Elizabeth and on to Uptown. As a result, a vibrant neighborhood center sprang up and is the source of excellent restaurants, bars, clubs and shopping even today. Today’s Plaza Midwood is a mix of old and new, with apartments along Central Avenue, historic cottages along Thomas Ave, and bungalows along The Plaza. Yeah – the main boulevard in the neighborhood is simply The Plaza. It has a better ring to it than Poor House Road (the original name). The best way to experience the neighborhood is on foot or bicycle so leave the car in one of the designated neighborhood parking lots and explore the Vanlandingham Estate, Midwood Park or enjoying the evening on the patio at Snug Harbor.
Located along the Catawba River and is the gateway to Gaston county, Belmont stands as a mill town that is undergoing a renaissance as more are discovering this gem. The former textile mills are being transformed into housing and shops while the highly-desirable mill houses are being scooped up as soon as they’re listed for sale. Like in other former textile mill towns, the downtown neighborhoods are designed to allow pedestrian flow to the city center and are dotted with numerous parks (there are 7 plus the Loftin Park along the Catawba River). Enjoy a little trainspotting at Stowe Park before grabbing a bite at Nelly’s and capping off the day at The Jailhouse, a speakeasy located in the old Belmont jail.
Located in Southwest Charlotte, Ayrsley started development in the mid-2000’s and construction is still underway today. It is a dense neighborhood mixed with businesses, a movie theatre, restaurants and bars, the Piedmont Social House and even a branch of the Charlotte YMCA. Housing is a mix of apartments and townhomes and the neighborhood has wide sidewalks for safe pedestrian travel and I have spotted a few ride share bikes lying about. Additionally, the nearest grocery store is adjacent to the neighborhood at Sandy Porter and South Tryon, with other stores offering home grocery delivery.
Along Ayrsley Town Blvd are work-live townhomes, which are incredible for someone who owns a small business in which they need to see customers. While all deeded together as one unit, the lower work space has separate electrical, plumbing, and a separate entrance from the two-story townhouse above.
When you think of Ballantyne, being a walkable neighborhood may not be what immediately springs to mind. The suburban business park and housing development grew up in the 90’s as a way to lure Sears out of Ohio, and while that may not have happened, it is home to countless other businesses like SPX and Metlife. Ballantyne itself is rather small, consisting of the neighborhood within the monuments located on Johnston Road and Ballantyne Commons Parkway. The outlying area is commonly referred to as the Ballantyne Area (also Ballantyne is trademarked to refer only to the area inside the monuments).
With wide sidewalks, a plethora of dining options, a golf course at the Ballantyne Resort and another inside Ballantyne Country Club, and a movie theatre, you can easily and safely navigate the neighborhood. Also, the addition of bike-share to the neighborhood makes traversing that much easier.
Located adjacent to Uptown Charlotte, the Elizabeth neighborhood is among the most walk-able in all of Charlotte. Developed as a street car neighborhood, the streets were laid out to ensure smooth pedestrian traffic to 7th street where the street car station was located. There’s even the Trolley Walk (today we would refer to his as a greenway) which provided a cut-through lane, free of vehicles, from Kenmore Ave to 7th St.
Today, the Gold Line street car has stops along Hawthrone Lane and will eventually link Plaza Midwood with Uptown through Elizabeth. Elizabeth is also home to Novant Medial Center, CMC-Mercy, Kings College, Central Piedmont Community College, The Grady Cole Center and Memorial Stadium. Additionally, Independence Park is a featured destination as it plays host to many festivals and events.