One of Downtown Charlotte's major draws - particularly for the young families and education-oriented professionals who are moving to the area in droves - is the quality of the local education system and the availability of institutions of higher learning. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Davidson College, one of the country's best liberal arts schools, are both within driving distance.
With a sunny, moderate climate and a central location, Charlotte has attracted nearly 300 of the top Fortune 500 companies and more than 340 foreign firms. It is the nation's second largest banking center. The same qualities that appeal to visitors have made Charlotte one of the Southeast's premier places to live. More than 500,000 people reside within the city's borders with approximately 1.3 million within the metro area.
Charlotte's limitless recreational possibilities are certainly another one of the reasons for the city's ever-increasing popularity. Ice skating is possible year round, thanks to two indoor skating rinks. Horseback riding is offered at Latta Equestrian Center and Lake Norman provides opportunities for all sorts of water activities. Charlotte has 14,000 acres of parks and 19 recreational centers. Many parks have picnic areas, lake areas with fishing, lighted tennis courts and athletic fields. Golfers will want to check out the city's variety of outstanding courses and clubs, including Ballantyne Resort Golf Club, Birkdale, Stonebridge, The Charlotte Golf Links, and Verdict Ridge, among others. Center City is just minutes away from popular Lake Norman where fishing and water-craft sports are prevalent.
Sports fans who would rather watch than participate won't be disappointed. The Triple-A Charlotte Knights play baseball at the Castle, while basketball enthusiasts can watch the city's professional women's basketball team, the Charlotte STING. NASCAR fans flock to Charlotte every year for events at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The football stadium is located in center city and hosts the winning Carolina Panthers. Charlotte is soon to get a new basketball arena located uptown and the new professional Carolina Bobcats will be playing there.
The city only gets more exciting after dark. Charlotte offers its residents a wide variety of music, dance and theatre opportunities. The Performing Arts Center is home to many of the city's professional arts groups and the Neighborhood Theatre hosts an eclectic mix of bands from Carolina Gator Gumbo to Afro-Cuban salsa. The Belk Theater draws professional New York City theater road shows. The Charlotte Symphony is rated one of the best. Clubs are both popular and diverse - salsa, swing, country-western and techno are only a few of the music and dance possibilities. Fine dining is no understatement for Charlotte. Johnson and Wales University hosts the finest chefs in Charlotte. With so much to offer its residents, Charlotte will certainly continue to grow and establish itself as one of the finest cities in the United States.
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