I was sifting through previous questions on Trulia and came across yours. Please contact me directly with a bit about how you are doing with your move as I'd love to help you find that 'non-cookie cutter home'. I will also be purchasing a property myself this year and am on the same page and know of a few good communities!
P.S. Welcome to Charlotte!!!
There are many areas that fit what you are looking for. If you are looking for something that is not "cookie cutters", neighborhoods that have been established for a while could be a good fit for you and your family like Cotswold, historic South End and Chantilly. Landsdowne is also a neat area located along Providence Rd between the Intersection of Fairview Rd and Sardis Rd and the intersection of Rea Rd and Alexander Rd. Steele Creek (newer) is located Southwest Charlotte and has a lot of shopping and dining. Matthews (right outside of Charlotte) could also be a good fit for you. University, Pineville (especially close to downtown) are also areas you should look into.
You can visit my website http://www.nc-homeownership.com and do a custom search for properties. Look at the walk score (you can set search by walk score) to find areas that lively.
I would be happy to help you find a great home in the Charlotte area. Don't hesitate to contact me with questions.