Burgers, Beer, Baseball: It's Springtime in Charlotte

Moo & Brew fete, Led Zeppelin tribute, Knights' Triple-A baseball and a brand-new, hornet-themed ride at Carowinds all get the Queen City buzzin'.

Spring in Charlotte means burgers on the grill, craft beer to be enjoyed, thrills on a new roller coaster, baseball and a symphonic tribute to Led Zeppelin, as these recent openings and upcoming events attest:

Riding a Stairway

If there's a bustle in the Uptown hedgerow on the first day of spring, don't be alarmed now: It's actually the Charlotte Symphony paying tribute to one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Led Zeppelin. "The Music of Led Zeppelin" will feature the symphony with show creator Brent Havens and a heavy-hitting, five-piece band fronted by Randy Jackson: All collaborating on such Zeppelin classics as "Stairway to Heaven," "Heartbreaker," "Black Dog," "Immigrant Song" and more. 8 pm; tickets from $25 plus tax and fees. Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. ticketmaster.com

Of Cows and Suds

Biting into a juicy burger and washing it down with a finely flavored craft beer always seems like a perfect weekend activity. Turn up the coals a bit and imagine biting into and imbibing from dozens of burgers and vessels of brews. That will make April 11 a perfect weekend in Charlotte as the inaugural Moo & Brew unfolds at the NC Music Factory's festival grounds. More than 40 breweries will offer samples of their craft beers while a like number of eateries compete for the title of "best burger" at the event. Tickets $65 (VIP) and $45 (general admission) include an open-tasting session with live music—with Ancient Cities, DJ Overcash and Langhorne Slim performing—from 2 to 6 pm (VIPs enter and take part in “best burger” voting at 12:30 pm). 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd., 704.987.0612

Moo & Brew
Beef and beer are in the spotlight at the inaugural Moo & Brew. (©iStock)

Feel the Swarm

The excitement of a spring opening will be even more elevated March 28 at Carowinds, the 108-acre theme park that straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina state line. Carowinds is unveiling an updated, $50-million look—including the addition of Fury 325, the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster, to its large ride lineup. Simulated as the flight of a daring hornet, Fury features an ascent of 325 feet and an 81-degree drop before riders are twisted about a series of hills and curves. Carowinds’ new look also includes a new SlingShot ride, expanded parking, a new welcoming/ticketing area, revamped dining options featuring Carolina favorites and new entertainment options. 14523 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte, 704.588.2600

Fury 325 roller coaster
The Fury 325 roller coaster's ready for riders. (Courtesy Carowinds)

Properly Prepared Pig

The Improper Pig is a newer Charlotte eatery that actually pays heed to proper barbecue manners. Knowing that much depends on the sauce, the Pig delivers a variety of sauces to your table—including the locally popular, vinegar-based, Eastern NC, of course, but also nods to other regions, such as a Midwestern-style “Mary B's.” And it extends its praises to barbecue with such dishes as St. Louis-style ribs, Southern egg rolls and Korean barbecue salmon. The sides are what bring an Improper Pig meal full bore, though: The mac ’n’ cheese renders true, creamy Southern goodness, and the light and crunchy slaw is a refreshing departure from the heavy, wet stuff plopped on your plate at most barbecue joints. 110 S. Sharon Amity Road, 704.714.7878

Southern egg roll
A Southern egg roll, prepared with sweet potato hash mixed with collard greens. (©Peter Taylor)

Shining Knights

The Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, opened their 2014 season in a brand-new stadium in Uptown. BB&T Ballpark was standing-room-only on opening day and would draw nearly 700,000 fans by year's end: The most in minor-league baseball. The 2015 season at BB&T gets under way April 3 when the parent Sox and the Knights play an exhibition game. Regular-season and International League play get under way April 9 when the Knights host a four-game series against the Norfolk Tides. Other upcoming home games: Durham Bulls (April 13-14), Gwinnett Braves (April 17-19), Toledo Mud Hens (April 27-29) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (April 30 and May 1-3). See website for starting times and ticket prices. BB& T Ballpark, 324 S. Mint St., 704.274.8282

BB&T Ballpark
Tops in 2014 attendance. (©Buren Foster/Charlotte Knights)

Sample Local Eats With Feast

What’s the best way to indulge in all the great foods Charlotte has to offer? Go on a walking tour with Feast Food Tours so you don’t feel as guilty afterward. Tour Charlotte’s eclectic neighborhoods, such as Dives to Dining Plaza Midwood (offered March 7 and 21) and Bars & Bites South End (March 13 and 27), as you sample, sip and chat with local restauranteurs and chefs. Other tours include Local Flavors of NoDa (March 14 and 28) and Soul of the South Uptown. Private events and tours are available, too. 980.258.9992

Feast Food Tours
The Dives to Dining Plaza Midwood Tour (Courtesy Feast Food Tours)

From Branch to Tap

It’s well known that olive oil is a healthy natural product, but The Olive Tap takes the succor a step further, searching for the freshest oils from around the world in their current seasons. It not only specializes in 100-percent virgin oils; its infused oils are flavored naturally, ensuring that they’re 100-percent virgin, too. And there’s much more on the Tap’s shelves of health and flavors, including nut-and-seed oils, balsamic vinegars, gourmet gifts, sea salts, peppercorns and other spices. 15235 John J. Delaney Drive, Suite E, Charlotte. 980.237.3573

Olive Tap
(Courtesy The Olive Tap)