Charlotte, North Carolina’s airport, the world’s seventh busiest (ranked by aircraft movement), is so unique a standout it could be added to a list as one of the city’s tourist attractions.
The big ole’ painted-white rocking chairs scattered as seating throughout the huge facility, create a soothing recreational calm in the midst of the inevitable buzzy stress of air travel. On a recent business trip to Charlotte, the old school front porch style rocking chairs, nearly all occupied in favor of the ubiquitous chrome bolted chair rows, seemed a noteworthy welcoming surprise.
Although a few airports blend functionality with individuality such as featuring art work of local artists or creative plant displays like the wondrous sunflower garden in the midst of Schipol Airport (Amsterdam), most airport terminal decors consist of the fungible dreary commercial sameness of hypnotic electronic gadgetry and automated food dispensers.
With its high cavernous, vaulted glass ceilings and walls, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of a very few where you can actually see above and around you, the endless sky into which you travel. The open concept design gives the illusion of pulling the sky inside the airport terminal.
Although I wasn’t able to visit this area, it is, according to printed material, “one of a few U.S. airports which has a public viewing area where visitors can watch planes land and take off.”
It also houses an aviation library and aviation photo collection. It is one of a few “international hub” airports that has an aircraft museum located on its grounds.
In 2016, the airport began a $55 million remodeling project, scheduled for completion this year.
Some of Charlotte’s other tourist attractions include The NASCAR Hall of Fame where, riding a simulator, you can have a racing experience akin to the rides of famous drivers, and the Hendrick Motorsports Museum to view the construction of race cars and engine components.
The Billy Graham Library honoring the evangelistic minister known as “America’s pastor” is only a few miles from the dairy farm where Rev. Graham grew up. The Levine Museum of the New South traces Charlotte’s historical evolution since the Civil War. To stretch your legs, you can follow the Liberty Walk connecting a dozen Revolutionary War sites uptown.