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Top Things To Do In Charlotte

Charlotte takes Southern hospitality to heart. The Queen City has a deep history and a rich modern culture that values arts, food, nature, and diversity. Thousands flock to Charlotte every year to watch the Carolina Panthers and official NASCAR races. Afterwards, crowds migrate to the thriving Uptown district or the artsy NoDa district for food and entertainment. Scroll down to see all of the best attractions Charlotte has to offer.

The U.S. Whitewater Center is a 1,300 acre active lifestyle haven within the city borders. The center boasts a variety of outdoor activities for all ages, including kayaking, paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, and whitewater rafting. Check the calendar for the next chance to sign up for the Whitewater Race Series.

Here are some of the best things to do in Charlotte:

  • Discover the history of flying at Carolinas Aviation Museum
  • Learn about Charlotte’s role in the American Revolution on the Charlotte LIberty Walk Tour
  • Experience the thrill at Carowinds amusement park
  • Meet the marine creatures at SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium
  • Spend a day in the sun at Lake Wylie

Getting around Charlotte is a breeze thanks to the many free and cheap city transportation options. Walk along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway Fast Paths, hop on the LYNX Blue Line light rail, or jog on the Rail Trail that runs along the light rail tracks.

Some of the top cheap or free things to do in Charlotte include:

  • Understanding religious obstacles at the Billy Graham Library
  • Admiring the art at The Mint Museum for free on Wednesday
  • Fishing on the pier at Reedy Creek Park
  • Checking out the rotating exhibits at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Main Library
  • Browsing the art on the Gallery Crawl in Historic South End

Charlotte is also home to the official NASCAR Hall of Fame. The hall is a museum of the history and heritage of NASCAR, an association that hosts several famous races at the Charlotte Raceway. Guests can interact with the different exhibits and meet the inductees during special events.

Check out the best tourist attractions in Charlotte:

  • Learn about Charlotte’s past on the Charlotte’s History City Tour
  • Attend the yearly civil war reenactments at Latta Plantation
  • Discover post-civil war Southern history at the Levine Museum of the New South
  • Lose yourself in a tropical paradise at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
  • Admire the contemporary pieces at Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

North and South Carolina are famous for Carolina style barbecue, a style that uses oak and hickory wood for flavor. Save room for dessert after checking out some of the top barbecue joints in Charlotte, including Bar-B-King, City Smoke, and Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ Restaurant.

Fun things to do in Charlotte today include:

  • Not Just Coffee crafts flavorful brews that start days off right
  • Metalmorphosis is optical achievement that dazzles the mind
  • Charlotte NC Tours offer segway rides and history lessons
  • 7th Street Public Market is a dining, shopping, and nightlife destination
  • Living Kitchen serves vegan dishes and fresh pressed juices  

Looking for things to do in Charlotte at night? Visit the Epicentre, a multi-level open air nightlife hub full of shops, bars, and live music venues. 210 Rooftop, Wild Wing Cafe, and World of Beer are just some of the options.

Here are more nighttime activities near Charlotte:

  • Enjoy a local, seasonal beer at Birdsong Brewing Company
  • Grab a craft cocktail at the Punch Room
  • Laugh your pants off at The Charlotte Comedy Zone
  • Drink like it's the 20’s at Prohibition Bar
  • Watch a band at The Thirsty Beaver Saloon

Visiting the Lake Norman area is one of the best things to do in Charlotte this weekend. This man-made lake is surrounded by a number of towns that offer a variety of activities and attractions. Of course, boating and jet skiing on the lake blow all the land activities out of the water.

Things to do in Charlotte this weekend:

  • Challenge your friends to a basketball game at Park Road Park
  • Take a comedic tour of the city with Funny Bus
  • Watch a stock race at the Charlotte Raceway
  • Visit the rustic barns and shacks at Historic Rural Hill
  • Enjoys a high-end Southern style brunch at The Asbury

One of the top things to do in Charlotte with kids is to visit Carowinds, an amusement park filled with roller coasters, slides, and a waterpark. The park is an exciting place to spend the weekend, and offers cabin rentals a few feet from the rides and a free dog kennel for your furry friends.

Other family-friendly things to do near Charlotte include:

  • Wing Haven, a garden and bird sanctuary perfect for meeting wildlife
  • Discovery Place is filled with hands-on learning activities
  • Children’s Theatre of Charlotte performs fun productions for kids
  • Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop serves one of the best milkshakes in town
  • 10 Park Lanes has a DJ on the weekends

Staying together at the Ballantyne Hotel is one top date ideas in Charlotte. There are a number of romantic things to do in Charlotte together, including the intimate Gallery Restaurant, a day of relaxation at The Spa Ballantyne, and drinks by the crystal clear pool.

Check out these date night ideas near Charlotte:

  • Singing a karaoke duet at Jeff’s Bucket Shop
  • Having dinner on the water at Queen’s Landing Sighting Seeing and Dinner Cruise
  • Dining in a treehouse at Treehouse Vineyards
  • Sharing a cider over brunch at Red Clay Ciderworks
  • Showing off your strength at Lumberjaxe axe throwing range

Bank of America Stadium, the home of the Carolina Panthers, has two of the best group activities in town - tailgating and watching the Panthers play a home game. Although the stadium has no official parking lot, there are plenty of spaces that offer tailgating spots for small fee all around the stadium.

Here are some top things to do with your friends near Charlotte:

  • Sample local libations with Charlotte Brews Cruise
  • Buy group seats to see the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center
  • See who can last the longest on Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Whiskey River mechanical bull
  • Gather the crew for a round of disc Golf at Hornets Nest Park
  • Test your bravery at the Beyond the Grave Haunted History Tour

Discovery Place Nature holds seasonal star shows on the Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium. Seeing the stars, planets, and constellations on the domed screen from the comfort of your seat is easy one of the most awe-inspiring things to do indoors in the Queen City.

Here are the top things to do indoors in Charlotte:

  • Regal Cinemas Starlight 14 whisks you away with the latest films
  • Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen offers cooking lessons  
  • Urbana Spa has experts massage therapists
  • Charlotte Art League classes help students to explore their creative side
  • Puzzle Adventures unleashes your inner Sherlock Holmes

The gardens, fountains, conservatory, and pavilion in the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden are some of the top sightseeing opportunities in the Queen City. Make sure to pop into the Garden Store to purchase a handcrafted, artisan gifts and collectables.

Check out these active things to see in Charlotte:

  • Perfect your swing at the Dana Rader Golf School
  • Enter a race at Hornets Nest BMX
  • Ride a horse at the Latta Equestrian Center
  • Reel in the catch of the day at McAlpine Creek park
  • Encounter the birds of prey house at the Carolina Raptor Center

Some of the best attractions in Charlotte are the local breweries throughout the city. Experience a true day of beer by visiting NoDa Brewing, The Unknown Brewing Company, and Sycamore Brewing.

Other must-see places near Charlotte include:

  • South End hosts Food Truck Friday every week
  • Enat Ethiopian Restaurant serves world-class sambusas
  • Earl’s Grocery is a foodie’s paradise
  • Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe specializes in simple and savory Southern soul food
  • Park Road Books holds a book club every Tuesday