The Hidden Gems of Charlotte, NC

Charlotte Skyline by James Willamor, Flickr

Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, is a thriving tourist destination. Despite its modern constructions and business centers, Charlotte carefully preserves its green space. The city’s well-maintained network of greenways makes it a haven for bikers and nature lovers.

There are many ways one can explore Charlotte, such as biking, hiking, nature walks, and the Charlotte Trolley Trail. Check out some of the off-the-beaten ways to experience Charlotte’s charm.

Camping at McDowell Nature Preserve

Camping in Charlotte, NC

Image via Flickr by Pickersgill Reef

McDowell Nature Center provides access to the McDowell Nature Preserve, an 1108-acre land area preserving natural communities and indigenous flora and fauna. The preserve is home to several camping areas and waterfront picnic areas. Set up a camp and escape into nature. Go fishing or kayaking at Lake Wylie. The hiking trail through the forest and Piedmont prairie restoration areas offer scenic views as you walk past the gurgling streams, placid lakes and groves of rare plants. McDowell Nature Preserve offers full-service camping, ranging from motorhomes to tents, that you can book online.

Outdoor Activities With Kids at Paw Paw Nature Trail

Butterfly pavilion, paw paw, nature trail, discovery place nature, charlotte

Image via Flickr by That Geek DouG

Close to Uptown — that’s what Charlotte calls its downtown — Paw Paw Nature Trail is one of the hidden gems of Charlotte where you can enjoy nature in a completely different way. Discovery Place Nature offers a range of nature activities at Paw Paw Nature Trail, as you take a trek through a 100-year-old forest land.

Walk among the butterflies at the Butterfly Pavilion. Catch the whiff of forest air and let loose your imagination in building structures with logs and rocks and other natural objects. As you step into the woods, you might see the barred owls watching over you, perched high on the branches. The woodpeckers’ tapping sound intensifies the quiet of the forest. Marvel at the beauty of seasonal wildflowers covering the forest floor. Look down for box turtles under bushes so that you don’t accidentally step on them.

Biking at Freedom Park, McAlpine Creek Park, Other Nature Trails

Freedom park, greenways,, charlotte, nc

Image via Flickr by Grant Baldwin Photography

Only 3 miles from Uptown, Freedom Park offers refreshing greenery in the heart of the city. The park’s tree-lined pathways circling a large pond can be best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent anytime from a Charlotte B-Cycle near the park. The park comes alive with joggers, dog-walkers, kids, and families in the morning and evening, presenting the perfect picture of Charlotte’s love for outdoor recreation and fitness.

McAlpine Creek Park, the oldest greenway in Piedmont, is a bird watchers’ delight. It is connected to Campbell Creek Greenway at Margaret Wallace Road at the northern end. Apart from a range of outdoor recreational amenities, here you may also get to see a variety of wild animals, including otters, beavers, minks, and about 188 species of birds.

Meeting Birds of Prey at Carolina Raptor Center

eagle, hawk, Carolina raptor center, charlotte, nc

Image via Flickr by John W10

About a half-hour drive from Uptown Charlotte, the Carolina Raptor Center lets you meet, learn about and get close to a variety of raptors as you walk down the outdoor trail within the conservation area. The nature preserve is actually a shelter for sick, wounded, and orphaned raptors.  The center hosts a variety of educational activity programs to increase awareness among students. A guided tour of the raptor rehab can help you become a more responsible and active supporter of nature and wildlife conservation.

Closer Looks at Charlotte Show History, Progress

As a major financial hub in North Carolina, Charlotte has transformed with time. Yet there remain bits of its glorious past in the forms of trolleys (formerly streetcars), Queen Anne style homes, and Colonial Revival architecture in the neighborhoods of Dilworth and Myers Park.

myers park, charlotte, colonial revival architecture

Image via Flickr by UGArdener

Charlotte runs various urban agricultural projects to improve the city’s landscape and develop local food system. Nonprofit organizations are working to convert empty plots into community gardens or productive urban area. The goal is to spread environmental awareness and increase sustainable food production. If you want to try Charlotte’s home-grown food and wine, catch the train (Lynx Light Rail) from Uptown to 7th Street Station for the 7th Street Public Market. It’s a bustling place with local farmers, vendors, vegetable and flower shops, bars, and eateries.

Charlotte is best visited during summer or fall. Whether on a business trip or a vacation, book your stay at any of the hotels near Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. They ensure an easy walk to downtown attractions and entertainment hubs. The city has all sorts of attractions, from art and history museums to motorsports and adventure, to keep you busy on a vacation. Families can enjoy the amusement parks, while outdoor lovers can seek adventure in whitewater rafting, canoeing, or rock climbing at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

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The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Reflecting the Past in the Present

reflection, window, palace window, rajasthan, jodhpur

“We always project into the future or reflect in the past, but we are so little in the present.”  

~ Marina Abramovic

Modern glass window reflecting the old palace windows in Meherangarh Fort in Jodhpur.

reflection, window, palace window, rajasthan, jodhpur

Published in response to The Daily Pose Photo Challenge: Reflecting

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The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Wanderlust

A couple of weeks back, in mid of April, I was in Ooty, a hill station in the Nilgiri Mountains in southern India. On April 17, I went for a day trip to the neighboring town of Coonoor, known for its greenery and scenic beauty.

I enjoyed every bit of this road trip as we drove past beautiful bungalows, orchards, canopied roads and sprawling tea gardens along the slopes.

Coonoor, tea garden, nilgiri, hills

And it was during the Ooty trip, I realized the usefulness of smartphone cameras. They are very handy when it comes to clicking pictures from a moving bus or car. Thanks to my Lumia540. 🙂

I’ll be sharing my Ooty Diaries soon…

Published in response to The Daily Pose Photo Challenge: Wanderlust
Indian Bloggers

Experience the Myriad Hues of India in 15 Days

dal lake, kashmir

To pack countless cultures and innumerable landscapes within the confines of a 15-day journey is an incredibly challenging yet exciting task. India is a land of diversity, whether it is the languages that people speak or the clothes that they wear. Each corner of this vibrant nation tints your experiences a different colour. With such a fantastic range of experiences that you can immerse yourself into, India forms an absolute paradise for someone who yearns for travelling. In order to truly understand the richness of India’s cultural and natural wealth, you need to acquaint yourself with all the four directions India’s limbs stretch towards. Fully explore all the myriad hues of India by visiting these 5 places, for a period of 3 days, to fulfill your travel appetite in 15 days.

1. Serene Srinagar

Dal Lake, Kashmir, lake, srinagar

Dal lake, Photo by confused_me, CC0 1.0

Beginning from the north, your exploration of India is incomplete without visiting this epitome of natural beauty. Srinagar, an absolute paradise, is the most tranquil, breathtaking and magical place in India. It offers the perfect combination of architectural feats, cultural vibrancy and nature’s stroke of artistry. Start your journey by visiting the glistening Dal Lake, an iconic attraction of this place. Beam with joy while cruising on Shikaras in its evergreen waters. You can also visit the nearby Shalimar Bagh, an exquisite garden with Mughal designs. Other places that would leave you in awe are the Pari Mahal, the wilderness of Dachigam National Park and the Shankaracharya temple.

2. Regal Jaipur

hawa mahal, jaipur, architecture, rajasthan

Hawa mahal, Photo by Barthwo, CC0 1.0

The pink city of Jaipur offers a grand insight into the country’s astounding palaces, forts, and beautiful architectures. The local markets bustling with colorful skirts, blouses, and mirror-work kurtas are a feast for your eyes and your shopaholic soul. Hawa Mahal is one of the must-visits in Jaipur when you find yourself in this glorious town. Built with the ancient wisdom of science, the palace offers cool breeze to its inhabitants all year round. Another mesmerizing sight in Jaipur is the Amer Palace. Gigantic gates with intricate artwork greet you at the entrance, followed by a huge wealth of paintings, murals, and regal interiors. Other places of interest here are the Abhaneri step-well and Jal Mahal.

3. Grand Agra

taj mahal, agra, delhi, architecture

Taj mahal, Photo by TLSPAMG, CC0 1.0

India’s entry into the Seven Wonders of the World has been enabled by the presence of one eternal monument in the city of Agra. To visit India without seeing the grandeur and splendor of the Taj Mahal might be a huge loss for any traveler. Even an initial glimpse of this white edifice is enough to blow your breath away. Emanating a romantic aura from the bygone era, the Taj Mahal is a concrete legend of the power of love. Another beautiful sight to visit in Agra is Akbar’s tomb, Sikandra. Resonating Hindu, Muslim and Christian architecture, visiting the tomb of the greatest Emperor of the Mughal Empire is a truly inspiring experience.

4. Relaxing Komarkum

house boat, kerala, backwaters, kumarakom

Photo by ravishahi, CC0 1.0

Kerala forms the rejuvenating leg of your thrilling journey. And the scenic beauty of this state is captured beautifully by the backwaters in Kumarakom. The never-ending queues of coconut trees and a rich fauna make Kumarakom an ideal place to unwind, and at the same time be in awe of its natural charms. The most unforgettable experience that you can gain from your visit here is undoubtedly the houseboat cruise. Delightful houses offering different levels of luxuries, you can lie down in its bed while watching the water recede from your window, lulling you into a soothing sleep. Another place to visit in Kumarakom is a bird sanctuary housing varied species of colorful birds.

5. Pristine North East

namchi, sikkim, samdruptse monastery

Photo by Stefan Krasowski, CC BY 2.0

Two places that can give you a flavor of India’s north-eastern heritage are Assam and Sikkim. Sikkim, with its lofty mountains and pleasant climate, is the personification of the ultimate hill station. You can visit the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary where the endangered and delightful red pandas await your presence. The Lake Tsongmo is an exquisite frozen lake that is a true treasure of India, one you must visit in Sikkim. Assam is another such state which offers to its guests the majestic sights of the one-horned rhinos and Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world.

The amount of variety offered by less than 10 places in India can be extrapolated to predict the multiplicity of experiences that await you in more than thousand such places. Catch a glimpse of this kaleidoscopic country by exploring these five places that exemplify to the best of their ability all that India has to offer.


A Guest Post by Rohit

Rohit is a passionate traveller and writer who shares his experiences on TransIndiaTravels.com from his many travelling excursions and expeditions of around the world.
Indian Bloggers

Plan a Weekend Trip to Phoenix, Arizona

heard museum, phoenix, arizona

This post is originally posted by Lori on April 1, 2017 on Travel Moments In Time.

Arizona’s capital, Phoenix, is the sixth largest city in the United States. There is plenty to do here, so make sure you plan your weekend trip to Phoenix in advance to make the most of your time. Choose a hotel in Phoenix that’s close to the things you want to visit, and enjoy your trip! To help you better plan your visit, listed below are a few attractions to include on your weekend getaway.

Heard Museum

Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by Mark B. Schlemmer

Founded in 1929, the Heard Museum is dedicated to the sensitive and accurate portrayal of Native arts and cultures. It is a perfect museum for both history buffs and art aficionados. Here you will find traditional and contemporary Native American art, including jewelry, textiles, pottery, kachina dolls, and more. The museum organizes many festivals and houses temporary exhibits, so make sure to stay near the Heard Museum and get there early to see as much as possible.

Symphony Hall

The Phoenix Symphony Hall was completed in 1972 and was renovated in 2004. It is home to the Phoenix Symphony, the Arizona Opera, and Ballet Arizona and hosts events from September to May. It’s also a famous events venue for other shows, seminars, and performances. If you don’t have time to take part in an event here but you find yourself booking a hotel in the area, then take a moment to admire its exterior at least.

Orpheum Theater

If you are in downtown Phoenix, then you can’t miss the Orpheum Theater. Completed in 1929, this theater has a complex history and has had many owners through the years. Now it is not only a great place to enjoy a play, but it is also a beautiful building and a fine example of the Spanish Revival style of Spanish Baroque architecture.

Chase Field

Opened in 1998, Chase Field is a multipurpose facility built to accommodate the games of Arizona’s first Major League Baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. The field also hosts football, soccer, and basketball games, too. It is a huge place that’s divided into six levels. It also has a swimming pool. If you stay near Chase Field but you don’t want to watch a game, then you should at least consider a tour of the field.

Papago Park

Papago Park, Desert, Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by HomeToIndy

Designated a Phoenix Point of Pride, Papago Park is a great place for outdoor lovers. All types of travelers will find something to do here, and you will definitely enjoy the view. The geological formations and desert vegetation will be an interesting discovery. In addition to this, you may want to plan a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden located here. This is a wonderful place to discover desert plants and to enjoy the cactus garden.

Phoenix can be a great destination for a weekend trip. Its attractions, from interesting museums to parks and iconic buildings, make it great for solo travelers, couples, and families. Make an itinerary before your weekend trip to Phoenix to maximize your time here!

Exploring Nature in the Valley of the Sun

phoenix, phoenix skyline, arizona

Spread across the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix Mountain Preserve is home to mountains, valleys, and desert trails, which provide great hiking, biking, and outdoor experiences. While downtown Phoenix is a bustling area with exciting nightlife, restaurants, sports arenas, and art galleries, there are many activities you can enjoy in the Valley of the Sun. Hotels near downtown Phoenix are convenient accommodation options for tourists, as many of the desert trails are directly accessible from central Phoenix.

Desert Botanical Garden – Learn About the Desert

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona

Image via Flickr by RightBrainPhotography

Situated in Papago Park, Desert Botanical Garden exhibits an impressive collection of desert flora. The sprawling garden comprises five thematic trails. The garden hosts various outdoor activity programs to educate visitors about the ecology of the desert.

The Desert Wildflower Trail, which includes Monarch Butterfly Exhibit, is best visited in spring. The Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail offers a wider spectrum of desert life by showcasing the lifestyle of the native tribal communities and how they use plants for food, medication, and home construction. In April, the evenings are jazzed up with concerts and ballet performances against the backdrop of stunning desert landscapes.

Phoenix Zoo – Encounter the Wild

monkey, phoenix zoo, monkey village, wildlife

Image via Flickr by mightyb

The Phoenix Zoo, the home to nearly 1,200 animals, is the place to learn about the region’s wildlife. The zoo provides shelter for several endangered species. You can catch a glimpse of them when you trek along the specially designed areas in the zoo, such as the Enchanted Forest and Monkey Village. From feeding giraffes to playing with stingrays, you can join interactive tours or stop by the 4-D theater to keep busy throughout the day.

Camelback Mountain – Hikers’ Haven

Camelback mountain, hiking, sonoran desert, Phoenix, arizona

Image via Flickr by ThreeIfByBike

Only a 20-minute drive from downtown Phoenix, Camelback Mountain awaits adventure seekers with moderate to difficult hiking trails. As you hike or climb its red sandstone cliffs, you’ll come across a variety of animals along the way. Camelback’s highest point offers a 360-degree view of Phoenix.

Although hiking to the top of the mountain is quite challenging and is recommended for advanced hikers only, the view from the top is rewarding. Beginners can try The Praying Monk rock formation for climbing or Cholla Trailhead for hiking.

The Sonoran Desert – Explore Nature

purple cactus, sonoran desert trail, desert flora, phoenix, arizona

Image via Flickr by Ed Suominen

The desert is home to several unique North American species of plants and animals. Monsoon rain twice a year is the secret behind the immense biodiversity of this region. The desert is the playground for jaguars, gila monsters, jackrabbits, and big horn sheep.

From a day-long hike to a multi-day backpacking trip, from camping to rock climbing in the desert, there are options galore for travelers. As you roam around, you’ll come across the native Indian communities that have lived in the desert for thousands of years. Go for a Jeep safari or a hot air balloon ride if you aren’t a hiker.

Grand Canyon and Sedona – Soak In the Views

grand canyon, grand canyon national park, phoenix, arizona

Image via Flickr by ChrisM70

This is a must-see when you are in Phoenix. Arrange day trips to Grand Canyon National Park and explore Arizona’s unique natural wonders, including the Painted Desert and the Little Colorado River Gorge. The road through the desert is lined with giant saguaro cacti that can be 50 feet tall. Stop in the picturesque town of Sedona or at the historic sites of the Navajo Nation. The Jeep will take you up along the Oak Creek Canyon. Soak in the views of the pine forests and San Francisco peak from a height of 6,000 feet.

As you can see, Phoenix has a long list of attractions when it comes to exploring nature. South Mountain Park, North Mountain Preserve, and Shaw Butte are treasure troves of aboriginal flora and fauna. The Valley’s diverse landscapes beckon intrepid travelers for exciting experiences. The best time to visit Phoenix is spring, as cacti are in full bloom. Since November through April is high season here, expect highest rates for hotels and accommodation during this time.

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The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Dense

jungle geranium, flower, red flowers

I found these Jungle Geraniums, thick and beautiful, blossomed on the office premises.

pink flower, jungle geraniums

jungle geranium, flower, red flowers

And these blue Snowball Bushes by the roadside in Sikkim.

blue, snowball bush, flowers

And these Bromeliads at a flower exhibition in Gangtok.

bromeliads, flower show, gangtokPublished in response to The Daily Pose Photo Challenge: Dense.
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