• For a different kind of museum, head over to the theater-museum cluster known as the Levine Center for the Arts and check out the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, which also opened in 2010 and is housed in a fabulous orange terra-cotta building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. It has works by Picasso, Alexander Calder, Jean Tinguely and Andy Warhol, among others.

• For that elusive barbecue, head to Mac's Speed Shop in South End (you can take the new LYNX light rail out there, conventioneers). This barbecue joint in a former transmission shop also is renowned as a biker bar, and, sure enough, there are motorcycles in the parking lot. But inside, I can't tell who their owners might be. No leather that I could see. We ordered a Big Pig barbecue sandwich for me and a mixed barbecue platter for my husband. And, rather sheepishly, white wine instead of one of the 150 brews available, which no doubt would have been a more appropriate accompaniment.

I was feeling rather sissy sipping wine with my pig, especially when a big guy clad all in black came in and took a seat at the bar. Finally, someone who looked like he might be a biker.

Then the bartender came over and plopped down the guy's drink — a glass of red wine.

What can I say? It's the New South.

If you go


Aria, 100 N. Tryon St.; 704-376-8880; ariacharlotte.com. Modern, elegant Italian restaurant featuring delicious Tuscan food. Pizzas from $10, pastas from $11, dinner entrees from $16.

Cosmos Cafe, 300 N. College St.; 704-372-3553; cosmoscafe.com. Relaxed, casual restaurant and bar serving "eclectic" cuisine (terrific sushi) and featuring an extensive martini list. Burgers and sandwiches from $8, dinner entrees from $14.

Mac's Speed Shop, 2511 South Blvd.; 704-522-6227; macspeedshop.com. Locally famous biker bar and barbecue joint. Sandwiches from $8, barbecue platters from $12.


Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. Seventh St.; 704-333-1887; museumofthenewsouth.org. Adults $8, seniors $6, ages 6-18 $5; younger free.

NASCAR Hall of Fame, 400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; 704-654-4400; nascarhall.com. Adults $19.95, seniors and military $17.95, ages 5-12 $12.95.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, 420 S. Tryon St.; 704-353-9200; bechtler.org. Adults $8, seniors and college students $6, ages 11-18 $4, 10 and younger free.