Charlotte’s NoDa Neighborhood
For much of the 20th century, Charlotte flourished as a textile manufacturing force. An industrial village of cotton mills, textile factories, and workers’ row houses located just a few short miles north of Uptown—Charlotte’s city center—was representative of its legacy. But many felt when the last mill shut down in 1975, the village lost its identity. And that’s how the area remained for a decade before artists came, sparking a transition and establishing a vibrant creative identity for the community.
Today the area is called NoDa, short for North Davidson Street.
With Charlotte’s largest concentration of galleries and studios, NoDa is a paint-splattered counterpart to the city’s white-collar Fortune 500 corporate establishment.
When to go: First and third Friday gallery crawls give patrons a chance to chat with local working artists. (noda.org)
Where to eat: Grab a light bite at the Crêpe Cellar Kitchen and Pub for a side of its signature pesto Brie fries. (3116 N. Davidson Street; 704-910-6543; crepecellar.com)
Where to stay: Hyatt House Charlotte Center where you can relax after your NoDa outing at its rooftop terrace pool. (435 East Trade Street; 704-373-9700; charlottecentercity.house.hyatt.com)
Don’t miss … live music at the Evening Muse, NoDa’s long-running venue for indie music. (3227 N. Davidson Street; 704-376-3737; eveningmuse.com)
Miami’s Wynwood Arts District
The Wynwood Arts District, on the north edge of town, was once a blighted zone of wholesalers, manufacturers, even a former Drug Enforcement Administration warehouse for illegal guns and drug storage. Now it’s the epicenter of edgy art in a city known as an international flashpoint of creative energy. The scads of new galleries, studios, and museums popping up here make art maps outdated as soon as the ink is dry. (The number hovers around 70 at last count.) Northwest Second Avenue is the main drag for galleries, restaurants, and street art.
And then there is Wynwood Walls. In 2009, real estate developer and preservationist Tony Goldman, who died last September, gave a boost to the street art movement when he joined with gallerist-turned-museum director Jeffrey Deitch to co-curate an open-air mural park featuring some of the world’s top graffiti artists including the likes of Shepard Fairey. Spray-paint it and they will come. Wynwood Walls attracts hundreds of thousands to this free “museum of the street.” Goldman riffed on the concept a year later by creating Wynwood Doors on an adjacent lot, a collection of rolling storefront metal gates used as canvases for street and graffiti artists.
When to go: Every second Saturday of the month when venues in the district open their doors for the Art Walk.
Where to eat: Joey’s, a pioneer in the area when Wynwood was transforming into an arts district, for all things Italian. The pappardelle gratinate is a favorite with locals. (2506 N.W. Second Avenue; 305-438-0488; joeyswynwood.com)
Where to stay: The Standard Spa Miami offers an Art Lover’s Package that includes entrance to the Miami Art Museum and a Wynwood gallery guide. (40 Island Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-673-1717; standardhotels.com)
Don’t miss … Wynwood in daylight. Although Art Walk takes place at night, Wynwood Walls and Doors deserve a viewing in full sunshine.