It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That is, until a snow storm hits and you get stranded in an airport, or sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 12 hours on the way to grandma’s house. And do you really want to hear Aunt Edna tell you why you’re not married yet or that your kids don’t have any manners? It’s enough to make you want to plan a staycation for your holiday vacation.

Being together with family this time of year can be wonderful, but it can also be stressful. So, maybe you’ve decided not to travel for the holidays this year. Great! Now, you’ll have less on your to-do list, lower blood pressure and more time to enjoy the special holiday happenings right here in Charlotte. 

We’ve put together some ideas for a Stella-style staycation. 

There are so many fun and funky places to stay, eat and explore, why not play tourist in your own town? Here are some suggestions.

Courtesy: Grand Bohemian Hotel


Where to stay

Toss a few things in an overnight bag and check in to the Grand Bohemian Hotel. Often, when we stay at hotels our focus is on the reason for our travels and not the place where we’re staying. This time you’ll have time to explore your surroundings and you will be richly rewarded. The Grand Bohemian is a feast for the senses. The Argentinian-influenced décor features bold jewel tones with marble and crystal fixtures. It feels both luxurious and whimsical. There’s a lush Bohemian Garden on the ground floor where you can enjoy a charcuterie outside with a glass of malbec. Don’t miss the rooftop Búho bar where you can enjoy live music while sipping a flight of the three signature cocktails: Blushing Búho, La Vida Bohemia and Girl from Ipanema. 

What to do

Stroll through the winter wonderland at Truist Field for the Light the Knights Festival. Here you can whiz down the brand new snow tubing hill, go ice skating, walk through the Christmas displays and shop at the holiday village. The market has unique gifts, a German-inspired menu as well as hot cider and beers.

Don’t miss

Inside the Mint Museum uptown location is Mariposa. The multi-cultural restaurant features mezze (shareable dishes) including Gullah Paella, Pork Belly Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps and Piri Piri Chicken. Or, reserve a table for brunch and indulge in shrimp and grits or a smothered fried chicken biscuit with a hibiscus mimosa.

Courtesy: Refuge on Central


Where to stay

Take a deep dive into Plaza Midwood at the Refuge on Central. We’ve been following this gem for more than a year now. It’s a five-room mini-hotel in the old Kickstand burger joint. The owners call the Refuge an experiment so they can try a few things, get feedback and make sure  the neighborhood embraces it. Each room has its own style and color palette, which as a stager I truly appreciate. The decor includes vibrant artwork and photography from their travel and experiences. You can even order up a custom mini-bar with choices like beer, coconut water, a charcuterie plate and a floral arrangement. The Refuge is accepting bookings at least through this year, but the owners do plan on closing when they’re ready to build a full-size hotel on the site so don’t delay.

What to do

Jump in the car and head over to the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s 11th annual Christmas Market. For four weekends a year, OMB transforms its biergarten into a German-style village. There’s holiday music, spiced wine, German eats and dozens of vendors. This is such a fun way to get your Christmas shopping done.

Don’t miss

Just a few blocks down Central Avenue is the newly-opened Milkbread. The people behind the wildly successful Kindred restaurant opened this place in October where the Dairy Queen used to be. Just like the original Milkbread in Davidson, this place serves up milk bread donuts, crispy chicken, bowls and salads. 

Courtesy: The Ballantyne Hotel


Where to stay

A weekend at the Ballantyne Hotel is like stepping into another world that just happens to be just a few miles away from home. This place is pure luxury and decadent southern charm. Many people come here for the PGA golf course, but seeing this place all dressed up for Christmas is spectacular. Every year, the hotel hosts Gingerbread Lane, where professional, amateur and children compete for top honors. This alone is worth the trip. Top that off with a high tea experience featuring sweets, savories and a glass of sparkling wine. 

What to do

Check out the Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular in Ballantyne’s Backyard. This nightly experience has hundreds of decorated Christmas trees and more than one million lights along a half-mile walking trail. You can also go on the snow tube slide, shop at the Christmas Village, see live performances and meet Santa. 

Don’t miss

The Spa at Ballantyne. This place is absolute bliss. Book a river rock massage or Carolina lavender body scrub. Why not both? After your treatment, float in the indoor pool then put on the plush robe and chill in one of the relaxation lounges. Pick up a gift card for someone you love on the way out. It will no doubt be their favorite gift.

Whatever you choose to do during the holidays, enjoy yourself. Take a well-deserved break from everything that stresses you out, try something new and delight in some of Charlotte’s many holiday experiences. 

Merry Christmas, Neighbor!

Holiday gift-giving guide

Winter décor ideas