An Optometry Student’s Guide to Charlotte, NC

ICO Blogger and ICO beau pose in front of Charlotte sports stadium

As you may or may not know, NBEO Part 3 takes place in Charlotte, NC. Therefore, not only are you paying $750 to take the exam, you also have to buy a plane ticket, book a hotel, and cover all the other expenses while you are there. Since my nerves and anxiety kick in before anything important, my partner in crime and I decided to fly out on Sunday. That way, we could have Monday to explore and relax. Here is where we stayed, what we ate, and what we saw for other students who have no idea what to do in Charlotte.

Hotel:
Since we were staying in Charlotte for three nights, we decided not to use any of the hotels recommended by NBEO (they cost about $100/night.) We found a cheap Quality Inn for $44/night. I will say, at first look, I was a little nervous we picked a bad area. However, the room was nice and we didn’t have any issues. The exam location was only 15 minutes away, and each Uber/Lyft only cost $10.

Food:
No one should be surprised that we explored Charlotte, NC with our stomachs. We tried to do research prior to our arrival, but it was hard to pick something. Somehow, we ended up at some great places.

Sunday night, Dan and I picked Mexican food. We ate at Que Onda and it was a good choice! Depending on when you are going, they have nightly specials. On Sundays, it is $5 sangria (which is really good.) We shared the trio appetizer which included salsa, guacamole, and queso fundido (we added chorizo.) Dan got a torta and I had steak tacos (they are my weakness.) The tacos are unbelievable. The pieces of steak were huge and cooked to perfection. I would recommend this place to all!

For lunch, we were craving pizza and ate at Brixx. We got the Quatro Queso and the Man special (all the meats!) The pizza was good, and so was the Arnie Palmer. All the pizza is made in a wood fired oven.

For dinner, we found the 7th Street Market. Imagine an upscale food court and give it an Italian twist. As soon as you walk in, you will get hungry. They have a pizza place, crepes, wine, beer and a sandwich/pasta place. We got sandwiches from Zia Pia to go. I got the Rustichella- Prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella and tomato, Tega Hills butter lettuce, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic all on a baguette! Dan got the Butcher’s panino- finocchinona, mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma, provolone, tomatoes, mixed greens with olive oil and balsamic.

For dessert, we found a French place called Amelie‘s. I had the éclair, Dan had the fruit tart, and we split a caramel brownie. We also tried their lavender-honey soda and fizzy lemonade. It’s just a block from the exam site, so it would make a perfect pre- or post- snack break.After the exam on Tuesday, all 7 ICO students went to get BBQ (you can’t go to the south without having BBQ.) We went to City Smoke. The sandwiches are humongous and the sides are really good.At the airport, we finally found the one place on our To Do list: Bojangles. Bojangles is like the fast food of the south, apparently. The iced tea is fizzy, the fries are salty, and the biscuit sandwiches are to die for. If you get the chicken tenders, try the honey mustard! Also, I heard the mashed potatoes are amazing. This is a must!

 

Site seeing:
To be honest, we didn’t see much. We walked around downtown and just enjoyed the weather. There is a mall on the third floor of the testing building. Across the street is the epicenter, which is like an outdoor mall but instead of stores, it’s restaurants (Howl at the Moon, etc.)

We found some of the classic site seeing places such as Green Park, which has some nice statues. The football stadium is pretty cool, as well. There are pieces of art all over the city.

If anyone has recommendations for future test takers, please comment below!

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