TOURS: There are three options:

Charlotte Visitours (704-364-3655) offers tours by bus or van, on Tuesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m.; cost is $8 per person.

Adams Stage Lines (704-537-5342) will take you in a stagecoach, surrey or Amish carriage. Weather permitting, you should see them daily on the downtown streets (a city tour is $6 per person), or you can hire one by appointment.

Balloons Over Charlotte (704-541-7058) offers an overview from a hot-air balloon, daily at sunrise or in late afternoon, weather permitting; cost is $85 per person.

WHERE TO EAT: There are dozens of restaurants and different kinds of restaurants in Charlotte. Among those that are exceptionally good or somewhat offbeat are Chez Daniel, 1609 East Boulevard, and an Indian place named Raga, 6140 East Independence Boulevard.

For something with more local color, try Wad's Soda Shop at 1608 East Boulevard. Wad's is a neighborhood place, as popular with mechanics as it is with bankers in business attire. Community leaders drop in to take the pulse of the city, and if they are campaigning for office they had better do some politicking at Wad's. As a bonus, the food is good.

A couple of my personal favorites are the Calabash Cove, 2920 Central Ave. -- for fresh seafood -- and the Chateau, 800 East Morehead St. Everything at the Chateau is superb, always. Besides, it is the best deal for the dollar in town.

INFORMATION: For more information about restaurants, accommodations and the city in general, contact the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau Inc., 229 N. Church St., Charlotte, N.C. 28202, (704) 334-2282. -- Jim Dumbell