May is traditionally the biggest month of the year for auto racing fans in the United States. While much of the action will center around Indianapolis and Charlotte, a couple of tracks in Alabama and South Carolina will be in the spotlight early in the month.
The May NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule starts with the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. The 187-lap race starts at noon on May 6th. The race weekend in Alabama also includes the Aaaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race on May 5th at 3pm. The defending champion of the Aaron’s 499 is Jimmie Johnson. The NASCAR guys return to Talladega for the Good Sam Club 500 on October 7th.
May’s second stop in the Sprint Cup series is at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at 6:30 pm on May 12th. Last year’s winner – when the race was called the Showtime Southern 500 – was Regan Smith. Darlington is in the northeast part of South Carolina, about 10 miles from I-95.
The stock cars spend the last two weeks of the month at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Two special events are scheduled for May 19th, the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race. On May 27th it’s time for the Coca-Cola 600, when Kevin Harvick will be looking to make it two years in a row. The Nationwide Series also stops in Charlotte on May 26th for the History 300.
For open-wheel racing fans, May is always the biggest month of the year as the stars of Indy Car racing prep for the Indianapolis 500. This years race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana starts at noon on May 27th. Sadly, 2011 winner Dan Wheldon won’t be around to defend his title after his fatal accident in Las Vegas at the end of last year’s season.
Regardless of which side of the political world you support, the period from August 27 to September 6, 2012 will probably be of interest to you: that’s when the 2012 presidential nomination conventions will be held. The Republicans will be meeting from August 27th through August 30th in Tampa, Florida, then the Democrats will gather in Charlotte, North Carolina from September 3rd through September 6th. Although the nominee selection process is usually completed before the conventions, they’re still important for generating enthusiasm among the party faithful.
The main events of the 2012 Republican National Convention will be held at The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida. These days The Forum is busy hosting games of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and other events, but hockey season will be long over before the Republicans come to town in late August 2012. The arena is located on the waterfront on the south side of downtown Tampa. Proximity to downtown and Tampa’s convention center (only a block away) make it easy to find hotels near the 2012 Republican convention site.
A week later the most prominent members of the Democratic party will meet in Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The convention’s main venue will be Time Warner Cable Arena (usually home of the Charlotte Bobcats – when the NBA decides to play games). Charlotte’s 20,000+ seat arena is located in the heart of downtown, making it very easy to find nearby hotels, restaurants and other places to spend your time when you’re not making noise on the convention floor.
The 2008 Republican National Convention was held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Most of the events of the 2008 Democratic National Convention took place at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, with Barack Obama making his acceptance speech outdoors at Invesco Field.
The 2010-2011 NCAA college basketball season is well underway and the annual Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is less than two months away. So it’s a good time for TheRealPlaces.com guide to finding hotels near this year’s basketball tournament venues.
You may not know that the NCAA has decided to expand the men’s tournament from 65 to 68 teams for 2011. This means that the old first round “play-in” game has now become a series of four games called the “First Four”. For 2011 the games will be played March 15-16 in Dayton, Ohio, where the play-in game was held from 2001-2010. If your favorite college basketball team is lucky/unlucky enough to be designated one of the lowest ranked teams in the bracket, you may find our guide to the hotels closest to University of Dayton Arena of value.
Second and third round games begin for the winners of the “First Four” and the other 60 teams on March 17th. Basketball fans in the mid-Atlantic region can head to Washington, DC and choose from any of the hotels near Verizon Center for the games to be held on March 17th and 19th. The University of Arizona will also host games on the 17th and 19th in Tucson. Fans coming from out-of-town will find plenty of places to stay near McKale Center. Denver and Tampa are also the sites of games, and we’ve got comprehensive lists of Pepsi Center hotels in Denver and hotels closest to St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
The second and third round tournament games scheduled for March 18th and 20th will be held in Cleveland, Charlotte, Chicago and Tulsa. The Cleveland Cavaliers will step aside for the weekend so college basketball fans can take over Quicken Loans Arena. You can be sure that there will be a loud crowd in basketball-crazy North Carolina, probably spilling over to the hotels near Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, for the games in Charlotte. The United Center on Chicago’s west side will be rocking, as will the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa (and we’ve even compiled a guide to hotels near BOK Center).
The “Sweet Sixteen” of the tournament will get back into action the following weekend (March 24th through 27th). The top four teams in the West Region will gather in Anaheim and will stay at some of the closest Honda Center hotels and motels. This year’s Southeast Region comes to a conclusion at the New Orleans Arena in Louisiana. There will be lots of seats (over 39,000) available for the Southwest Regional finals at the Alamodome in San Antonio on March 25th and 27th. And the New York metropolitan area’s biggest college hoops fans will be in attendance in Newark, as well as traveling fans staying at hotels near Prudential Center.
The best of the best of this year’s college basketball team will participate in “Final Four”, to be held April 2nd and 4th at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
When it opened in October 2009 the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte offered numerous examples of how a modern hotel can be “eco-friendly” on multiple levels – while still providing the ultimate in luxury that visitors to Ritz-Carlton properties expect. The hotel’s “green” features included a rooftop garden that was planted with over 18,000 sedum plants and an herb garden used by the chef’s in the Ritz’s restaurants.
That rooftop garden has now been upgraded to also act as an apiary – with two new bee hives. In addition to providing bees essential to pollination in the garden and nearby Charlotte green areas, the hives will eventually be the source of home-grown honey. They expect over 60,000 bees to call the Ritz roof home by the time it matures later this year. Once the hives start producing honey the Ritz-Carlton plans to add some honey-based items to the hotel’s menu.
The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte is at the top of the growing list of luxury hotels in Charlotte, North Carolina.