Local Hot Spots


Local Hot Spots

Recommendations from inside locals and well-traveled tourists! Check out the secret spots, things to do, top favs, and local fare! This list will be updated continuously so check back frequently!

CHARLOTTE, NC

Wine/Bars/Nightlife:

- Black Chicken Wine Cellar: Quaint and fun wine bar in downtown Matthews.

Restaurants:

- The Cellar at Duckworth's: in Uptown Charlotte

- Fig Tree Restaurant: Fine dining in quaint setting

- The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar: unique restaurant that specializes in sushi and burgers
- Luna's Living Kitchen: Vegetarian fare & juices made with local, organic products.

Things to Do:

- Sports: Charlotte has a great sports scene from NBA, NFL, AHL to hosting many golf tournaments and of course Nascar

CHARLESTON, SC

Wine/Bars/Nightlife:

- Victor Social Club: nuzzled in a quaint alleyway, great cocktails, bites, and atmosphere.

- Cocktail Club: Stylish speakeasy-style bar with craft cocktails, lounge area, rooftop terrace.

- Vendue Rooftop: Craft cocktails and finger food with some of the best views of the city.

Brunch Restaurants:

- Indaco: Rustic eatery featuring Italian fare & wood-fired pizzas, plus a patio, wine list & Sunday brunch.

- Fat Hen: Cozy & lively cafe serving Lowcountry food with a French twist, also popular for brunch.

- Stars Restaurant Rooftop & Grill: This American eatery with a seasonal menu & mid-1930s vibe boasts a rooftop bar & wood-fired oven. Saturday and Sunday brunch.

- The Macintosh: Creative menu items include bone marrow bread pudding at this lively farm-to-table American eatery. Also serves Sunday brunch.

- High Cotton: Genteel eatery with daily live music & Lowcountry fare cooked using ingredients from nearby farms. A scene from The Notebook was filmed here. Also offers Sat. & Sunday brunch.

- Cannon Green: Seasonal Mediterranean fare in a bright room & courtyard incorporating the facade of an 1840s house. Closed Monday.

- Darling Oyster Bar: Oyster and seafood restaurant that offers Sunday brunch options.

- Husk: An ever-changing menu of locally sourced Southern dishes served in a restored Victorian-era home. Sunday brunch.

Lunch Restaurants:

- Goat. Sheep. Cow. Store that carries nice wine, charcuterie, fresh cheese, salami, olives, crackers, sandwiches

- Tokyo Crepes: The Only Japanese style of crepes you can find in the South East. Great for dessert, snack and breakfast. They also have a Crepe Food Truck mainly located on Folly Beach.

- Five Loaves Cafe: Busy eatery serving light American dishes, soups, salads, sandwiches & brunch with vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free options. Great spot for lunch!

- The Grocery (4 Cannon St, Charleston, SC 29403) Welcoming eatery with an innovative, seasonal menu plus signature cocktails, wine & craft beers.

- Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (476 King St, Charleston, SC 29403) Snug counter serve featuring 7 types of biscuits, plus grab-&-go sandwiches, coffee & tea. Great spot for breakfast!

- Lost Dog Cafe Cozy cafe serving all-day breakfast & coffee plus sandwiches, salads & wraps has a dog wall of fame. Dog-friendly.

- Normandy Farm Artisan Bakery (32 Windermere Blvd, Charleston, SC 29407) Morning coffee, bagels, croissants, lunch sandwiches.

- The Taco Spot East Coast Tex Mex. Walk-up window, tiny joint, no frills taqueria with an eclectic menu serving Mexican standards with lots of hot sauce in a counter-serve, counter-eat setting.

Lunch/Dinner Restaurants:

- Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar: Refined seafood dishes.

- Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oysters: Relaxed joint serving oysters, Southern-style seafood & fried chicken in a rustic, trendy setting.

- Xiao Bao Biscuit: Go to spot for Asian Soul Food with specialty cocktails and creative multi-cultural dishes from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand.

- The Griffon: Intimate English pub for fish 'n' chips, burgers & craft beer, with walls covered in signed dollars.

- Pearlz Oyster Bar: Relaxed, light-filled eatery with outdoor seating, serving classic seafood, raw bites & burgers. Lunch only on Saturday & Sunday. Open for Dinner every night.

- Magnolia: A refined take on traditional Southern cooking, served in a warm, sophisticated environment. Best fried chicken.

- Boxcar Betty’s: Located in West Ashley. Gourmet, creative fried chicken sandwiches, plus fries, floats & pickles offered in retro counter-serve digs. Fried chicken sandwich with pimento cheese recommended.

- Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ: Bustling tavern serving generous portions of smoked meat & Southern sides, with nightly live music. Open until 2AM. Try the BBQ and Mac&Cheese.

- Swig & Swine BBQ: House-smoked meats & creative sides served in a funky BBQ spot with outdoor seating, beer & bourbon.

- Triangle Char Bar: Local chain serving cocktails, locally sourced burgers, tacos & more in a vibrant setting. Great grass-fed hamburgers and delicious Cuban food.

- Prohibition: Rustic-chic Modern American restaurant with creative cocktails & a Jazz Age theme. Lamb-chop lollipops were recommended. Open until 2AM.

- Lana Restaurant & Bar: Mediterranean flavors are explored through the lens of Southern cooking in a charming setting. M-F Lunch & Dinner. Saturday dinner only. Closed Sunday.

- Rutledge Cab Company: American comfort food with a twist, plus drinks, in trendy, retro-style digs with a covered patio. Short rib sandwich recommended.

- Husk: An ever-changing menu of locally sourced Southern dishes served in a restored Victorian-era home.

- Osaka Modern Asian / Sushi: Chinese & Japanese dishes, plus creative maki, served in a casual space with sushi bar seating.

- Jim ’N Nick’s BBQ: (288 King St, Charleston, SC 29401) Laid-back chain known for slow-cooked BBQ & cheese biscuits, plus burgers, salads & classic sides.

- Al Di La: Located in West Ashley. Intimate retro trattoria for simple Northern Italian fare & wood-fired pizza, plus craft cocktails. Closed Sunday.

Dinner Restaurants:

- Fig: Our VRBO hosts favorite restaurant. Elevated takes on Southern classics, cooked with seasonal ingredients, in an upscale-bistro setting.

- McCrady’s Bar: Farm-to-Table style. Sean Brock is the chef. Our VRBO hosts 2nd favorite restaurant. Acclaimed spot for high-concept, locally sourced American food in an intimate, brick-walled setting.

- Fulton Five: Italian romantic fine dining gem, local favorite quietly tucked away down lower King Street.

- Michael's on the Alley: Tucked away in a quaint alley, this fine dining steakhouse is one to try while in Charleston.

- The Ordinary: This 1920s bank now houses an upscale seafood restaurant with high ceilings, large windows & a bar.

- Fat Hen: (Johns Island, SC) Cozy & lively cafe serving Lowcountry food with a French twist, also popular for brunch. They said everything is good there, but a few favorites were the mussels aioli, crab crakes, french bread, and the french fries (fried in duck fat).

- High Cotton: Genteel eatery with daily live music & Lowcountry fare cooked using ingredients from nearby farms. A scene from The Notebook was filmed here. Also offers Sat. & Sunday brunch.

- Charleston Grill: Charleston’s original fine dining restaurant. Upscale cuisine ranging from French to Southern dishes plus wine pairing.

- Indaco: Rustic eatery featuring Italian fare & wood-fired pizzas, plus a patio, wine list & Sunday brunch.

- Oak Steakhouse: Locally sourced beef & sustainable seafood in an elegantly renovated historic bank building.

- Stars Restaurant: Rooftop & Grill - This American eatery with a seasonal menu & mid-1930s vibe boasts a rooftop bar & wood-fired oven. Saturday & Sunday brunch.

- The Macintosh: Creative menu items include bone marrow bread pudding at this lively farm-to-table American eatery. Also serves Sunday brunch.

- Coast Bar & Grill: Relaxed eatery tucked in a former warehouse, with outdoor seating & a menu of locally sourced fish.

- Cannon Green: Seasonal Mediterranean fare in a bright room & courtyard incorporating the facade of an 1840s house. Also serves Sunday brunch. Closed Monday.

- Trattoria Lucca: Acclaimed, locally sourced Tuscan cuisine with a nightly changing menu in a cozy corner storefront.

- The Belmont: One of Charleston’s best kept secrets with the cities’ best drinks. Classic black & white films are projected on the wall of this chic bar offering creative cocktails. No dinner options except charcuterie.

- Darling Oyster Bar: Oysters and seafood.

Things to Do:

- Charleston: Eat, See, Do! Check out this extensive list of Things To Do in Charleston where you'll find something for everyone!

- Downtown: Enjoy the endless shops on King Street, amazing restaurants, history, and charm of downtown Charleston.

- Charleston City Market: Take a walk down the 200+ years old, 4-block city market with food, art, and craft vendors.

- Tours: From mansions to museums to Civil War history, there is something for everyone.

- Plantations: Enjoy some of the many picturesque plantations and gardens that Charlston has to offer such as Magnolia Plantation and Middleton Plantation.

- Folly Beach, Sullivan's Island, Isle of the Palms: Enjoy a day at one of the many nearby beaches. Folly has a great pier but a little more touristy. Sullivan's is more relaxing, and Isle of the Palms is equally nice.

- Kiawah Island: Stay at the Sanctuary and do everything up right. Eat the steak house, golf at one of the resorts, etc.

- Golf: Some of the best golfing is at Kiawah Island.

DENVER, CO

Breakfast/Brunch:

- Snooze an AM Eatery: Favorite breakfast spot with unique combinations and half and half options. Put your name in early, then grab some coffee, as there's always a wait!

Restaurants:

- Root Down: Local, fresh, creative dishes that won't disappoint. Great Sunday brunch as well.

- Linger: Try a variety of foods with global small plates. Once an old mortuary, now a lively restaurant with lots of Character, great service, scenic views, unique dishes, and reasonable prices.

- Ocean Prime Denver: Fine dining with tasty seafood and fun atmosphere.

- Osteria Marco: Great food, atmosphere, and happy hour specials.

Things to Do:

- Skiing/Hiking: Take a day trip to one of the many resorts to enjoy skiing or hiking with breathtaking views.

- Mount Evans Scenic Byway: Spectacular views. Stop at Summit Lake and hike to top of trail to right of lake.

- Denver Botanic Gardens: Beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall with special events and outdoor concerts.

- Mount Evans: A short drive from Denver with beautiful views. You can drive right up to the top in season, but be warned of the crowds.

- 16th Street Mall: Enjoy walking the streets, shopping, dining, and taking in the local scene.

- Museums: Enjoy some of the many museums Denver has to offer such as Denver Museum of Nature & Science and the Denver Art Museum.

FLAGSTAFF, AZ

Wine/Bars/Nightlife:

- Dark Sky Brewery: Local brewery that offers unique craft beer creations

- Blendz: Wine bar where you can create your own wine blend

- FLG Terroir: Hidden gem wine bar

Coffee Shops/Breakfast Stops:

- Macy's Fresh Roasted Coffee

- Late for the Train Coffee

- Wicked Az Coffee

- Matador Coffee Roasting

- Fractured Prune: If you like cake donuts, you've come to the right spot

- Tourist Home Urban Market: Pastries, Breakfast, Gourmet market

- Route 66 Dog House: Biggest and best breakfast burrito around

Restaurants:

- Salsa Brava: Try the Lobster & Shrimp Enchiladas

- Karma Sushi Bar: Great sushi, cocktails, and entrées

- Pato Thai Cuisine: Delicious Thai

- La Vetta Ristorante Italiano: Wonderful food, service, atmosphere

- Tinderbox Kitchen: Fine Dining

- Cuvee 928: Great lunch spot

- Pizzicletta: High quality ingredients, brick oven pizza

- Delhi Palace: Indian Cuisine

- Coppa Cafe: European-style cafe/bistro
- Cottage Place Restaurant: Fine Dining
- Tourist Home Urban Market: Pastries, Breakfast, Gourmet market
- Zenith Steak House Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort: Fine Dining Steak House
- Route 66 Dog House: Dive that features hot dogs and burgers and amazing breakfast burritos. Great for families.

Things to Do:

Flagstaff is an outdoor lover's paradise as there is so much to see and do, you won't possibly have enough time to do it all. Here are a few things to check out when you're in the area:

  • Day Trips: Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Day Tour, Sedona

  • Coconino National Forest: Picturesque views, hiking, waterfalls, and natural beauty set in the mountains and canyons between Flagstaff and Sedona.

  • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument: Check out the crater and lava flow trails with beautiful surroundings that look completely different throughout the seasons.

  • Arizona Snowbowl: Enjoy skiing in the winter, or hiking any other time. In summer, take the Scenic Chairlift to the top of Arizona for beautiful views.

  • Historic Downtown and Railroad District: Shop and dine local in this cute downtown.

  • San Francisco Peaks: View the remains of ancient volcanic peaks, especially beautiful around sunset.

  • Flagstaff Extreme: Elevated outdoor adventure course set in the Ponderosa Pines with ziplines, suspended bridges, aerial surfboard, and more.

  • Walnut Canyon National Monument: Scenic and historic hiking area, once populated by the Sinagua Indians. Beautiful views from the rim. Lots of stairs, so be prepared.

  • Lava River Cave: Around a 1.5 mile through an old, hollowed-out lava tube. It is dark so bring a bright flashlight or headlamp and jacket as it can get chilly.

  • Lowell Observatory: Observatory & Planetarium founded in 1894 - Great activity for families that offers telescope viewing, exhibits, tours, and science center. On clear nights, they are open until 10PM.

  • Wupatki National Monument: See the ancient Wupatki Pueblo ruins. Spend the morning here and visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument nearby.

TIPS: Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument are close to eachother, so visit both if possible. The drive is picturesque with many photo spots along the way. Fascinating views of the San Francisco Peaks, and the Painted Desert can also be seen. Bring water and food!

OMAHA, NE

Restaurants:

- Mark's: One of my favorites. Quaint restaurant with exceptional food and service. Sit outside on their charming patio if possible.

- Spezia's: Lovely Italian restaurant with great atmosphere and Sunday brunch.

- Blue Sushi: Some of my favorite sushi along with great happy hour specials.

- Drover: Fine dining local steakhouse

- Plank: Fun seafood restaurant in downtown Omaha

- Upstream Brewing Company: Brewery that offers a variety of food and delicious Sunday brunch.

- Pitch Coal-fire Pizzeria: Trendy local favorite, coal-fired pizza and creative dishes beyond pizza.

- Salt 88: Delicious cuisine, speciality cocktails, and gluten free options

- Wilson and Washburn: Pub food with a twist. Cool atmosphere and eclectic beer selection.

- Brother Sebastian's Steakhouse & Winery: Steakhouse with old-time traditional feel. Great prime rib.

- Block 16: Unique sandwich shop in downtown Omaha with reasonable prices.

- Orsi's Italian Bakery & Pizzeria: Step back in time and enjoy this old-time Italian pizzeria with some of the best pizza and garlic bread.

- Flatiron Cafe: Fine dining in a romantic, historical setting.

Things to Do:

- Henry Doorly Zoo: The best zoo in America (it rivals San Diego's Zoo).

- College World Series: If you visit during CWS, take in a game and the atmosphere and the downtown bustles with energy and excitement.

- Lauritzen Botanical Gardens: Enjoy a stroll through the many gorgeous gardens. Close to the zoo so you could see both in one day.

- Old Market: Enjoy the local downtown scene with shops, restaurants and local musicians.

- Museums: Visit one of the many museums such as the Josyln Art Museum, Durham Museum, or Omaha Children's Museum.

- Heartland of America Park: Located downtown. On a nice summer evening, take a stroll to see the 300-foot water fountain, complete with nighttime light show and the city skyline in the background

- Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge: Take a stroll across the bridge from Nebraska to Iowa where you can be in two spots at once (Nebraska & Iowa).

PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE, AZ

Breakfast/Brunch:

- Snooze an AM Eatery: Favorite breakfast spot with unique combinations and half and half options. Put your name in early, then grab some coffee, as there's always a wait!

- Wrigley Mansion: Enjoy one of the best brunch buffets around in the elegant Wrigley Mansion, with beautiful views of Arizona as well.

- Butters Pancakes & Cafe: Long wait, but worth it!

Restaurants:

- Dominick's Steakhouse: High-end chophouse with steaks & seafood served in a chic setting with poolside dining on the roof.

- El Encanto: Amazing Mexican food with enchanting atmosphere including a small pond is in the middle of the restaurant. Try the Pollo Fundido.

- Cafe Monarch: Fine dining with lovely courtyard

Mastro's City Hall: Fine dining, amazing food, and great atmosphere. Make reservations to sit on the pool deck where they open the ceiling to give an

- Franco's Italian Caffe: Some of the best Italian in Arizona

- La Hacienda: Creative Mexican dishes at the Fairmont Princess Hotel. Sit outside and enjoy the lovely atmosphere with lighted palm trees, and make sure to enjoy the unique guac appetizers as they are some of the best in town!

- Mastro's City Hall: Fine dining, amazing food, fabulous atmosphere. Make reservations to sit on the pool level where they open the ceiling on nice evenings to give an alfresco type of atmosphere.

Things to Do:

- Hiking: Enjoy the many hikes that Arizona has to offer such as Camelback, Pinnacle Peak, Tom's Thumb Trail, and McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

- Taliesin West: Even non-architects will enjoy the tour through Frank Lloyd Wright's winter retreat and studio.

- Old Town Scottsdale: Enjoy the local scene, Western feel, restaurants, and shops in Old Town Scottsdale with a variety of souvenir shops, art, home decor, and beautiful turquoise jewelry.

- Fashion Square: If you love shopping, you'll love this mall from high end department stores, to speciality shops, there's something for everyone.

- Take one of the many day trips to the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Day Tour, Sedona, or Flagstaff.

- Golf: Enjoy a round of golf at one of the many spectacular golf courses in the area.

- Spring Training: Enjoy watching some of your favorite teams during spring training. If you do come during this time, make sure to make reservations well in advance as restaurants fill up quickly.

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