Jul 12, 2016 - Things to Do

How to play Pokémon Go in Charlotte

By now, you’ve probably heard something about Pokémon Go. People are addicted — and Charlotteans are no exception. I’ve never seen any video game gain so much attention among adults in such a short amount of time.

Yes, people all over the country are slowly losing their minds. They’re playing while they drive, running into glass doors, and walking in the middle of the street trying to catch Pokémon.

So what’s the deal? Is this game fun? Dangerous? Should I be playing too? I downloaded Pokémon Go and went Uptown to learn more and to find some other players.

I found more than a couple.


This is what you need to know about playing Pokémon Go in Charlotte.

What is it?

This isn’t the Pokémon card game that was around when you were a kid. The app lets you travel in a virtual reality world. The Pokémon inhabit the streets around you — yes, even in Charlotte. You exist as a “Trainer” of Pokémon, and it is your job to capture Pokémon, level up, challenge other players in battles, and collect achievement medals.


What am I looking for?

The point of the game is to catch different species of Pokémon to add to your Pokédex. As you play, you will level up, and at higher levels you will be able to catch more powerful Pokémon to complete your Pokédex.

There are also different challenges that can be completed that have to do with exploration. When you complete challenges, you gain achievement medals.

Am I playing alone?

Definitely not. I walked along South Tryon and met maybe 50 people, phone in hand, throwing virtual PokéBalls.

And eventually (after you reach level 5) you will be asked to join one of three teams. As a team member, you are expected to work together to defend and control Gyms.

Most of the people I met Uptown were team Mystic. Team Instinct and Team Valor better step up their game (just saying).


Pokémon Go vocab essentials:

PokéStops: Located at interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments, these places are where you can refuel and get new items like PokéBalls. Local Charlotte places like the Bechtler’s Firebird state and Whiskey River are among the many PokéStops.


Gym: Gyms are basically special PokéStops that you want to control as a team. In order to do so, you have to place one of your captured Pokémon at the Gym to guard the location.

Other members of your team can also place Pokémon at the Gym. The more Pokémon that your team has guarding the Gym, the higher the Gym’s Prestige is. High Prestige is good. If the Gym isn’t open, then you have the option to battle the opposing team for control of the Gym.

There are Gyms everywhere, but a popular one is at the Whitewater Center.


Battle: Each player can choose one of the Pokémon that they’ve caught to participate in battle. Each Pokémon has two attacks, and if your Pokémon wins the battle, then the opposing team’s control of the Gym, or the “Gym’s Prestige” is reduced. When the Prestige of the Gym is 0, then the defending team loses control of the Gym.

Pokédex: As you catch different kinds of Pokémon, they are logged automatically into your Pokédex. If you catch the same species of Pokémon enough times, you’ll get the opportunity to evolve one of them.

Did anyone else see this Zubat on Tryon?


PokémonEggs: Found at PokéStops, Pokémon Eggs will hatch after you’ve walked a specific distance. When they hatch, a surprise Pokémon appears. I walked a little over 2 miles this afternoon playing — definitely an interesting way to motivate yourself to work out.

PokéBall: Use Pokéballs to capture different Pokémon. Find more Pokéballs at PokéStops or buy them using real money.

Where can I catch Pokémon in Charlotte?

Everywhere. But hot spots include Carowinds, UNC Charlotte, along Central Avenue, Midtown Park, along South Tryon, along North Davidson, Renaissance Park, Concord Mills, Ballantyne Corporate Park, SouthPark Mall, and Symphony Park.

During lunch, The Green is a great place to find other players as well as Romare Bearden Park. The key is to find some shade near a PokéStop and to eat your lunch there.

Click here to see a collaborative Pokémon Go map for the Charlotte area with marks for Gyms and PokéStops.

Created just two days ago by therealdrago, the map already has over 9,000 views.


Want to connect with other Pokémon Go players?

Check out this Charlotte Facebook group that has over 2,000 members. Or, visit the Charlotte Pokémon Go reddit community.

There’s also a meetup this Saturday at 9 p.m. at Romare Bearden Park to “Go” in public. The event organizer sees the game as “a gateway to our childhood and a common denominator of peace.” Let’s see what mayhem this stirs up.


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