Here’s a guide to 25 fun things to do in Charlotte

Here’s a guide to 25 fun things to do in Charlotte

Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

By Staff Reports

June 13, 2024

Charlotte is a dynamic city known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and diverse attractions. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor, there’s never a shortage of things to do. Here are 25 must-see activities and destinations in Charlotte to make the most of your time in the Queen City.

Discover Charlotte’s Cultural Gems

Charlotte’s cultural scene is a dynamic tapestry of history, art, and innovation waiting to be explored. Dive into the city’s rich past at the Levine Museum of the New South, where exhibits vividly depict the region’s history from the Civil War to the present day. Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts community at the Mint Museum, home to a diverse collection of American and international art spanning thousands of years. Explore the historic streets of Fourth Ward, where beautifully preserved Victorian homes stand as a testament to the city’s heritage.

1. Explore the Mint Museum

Charlotte’s oldest art museum is located in both Uptown and Randolph, and features a diverse collection of American, European, and contemporary art. Explore The Mint Museum’s extensive galleries and exhibitions on their website.

2. Visit the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art features a collection of mid-20th-century modern art, including works by Picasso, Calder, and Warhol, housed in an architecturally stunning building. Learn more about their exhibitions and events on their website.

3. Experience the Levine Museum of the New South

Dedicated to interpreting the post-Civil War history of the Southern United States, the Levine Museum of the New South offers interactive exhibits that engage visitors of all ages. Discover more about their exhibits and events on their website.

4. Enjoy the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center

Catch a Broadway show, concert, or ballet at this premier venue for performing arts at Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Check out their upcoming shows and events on their website.

5. Tour the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture

Explore exhibits and programs celebrating African-American culture and contributions to American arts. Named after Harvey Gantt, the city’s first African-American mayor, the museum focuses on the contributions of Africans and Afro-Americans to culture and history. The museum covers music, dance, theater, literature, and education, just to name a few exhibits you might encounter during your visit. Discover more about their exhibits and events on their website

Family-Friendly Attractions

Charlotte offers a plethora of family-friendly attractions sure to create lasting memories for visitors of all ages. From thrilling amusement parks to immersive museums and outdoor adventures, there’s no shortage of fun-filled activities to enjoy together. Whether you’re exploring the wonders of science at Discovery Place, embarking on an adrenaline-fueled adventure at Carowinds, or discovering the natural world at the Charlotte Nature Museum, Charlotte’s family-friendly attractions provide endless opportunities for excitement and exploration. Plan your next family outing and create unforgettable experiences in the Queen City!

6. Spend a Day at Discovery Place Science

Discovery Place Science offers hands-on exhibits and interactive displays that make science fun for all ages. If you’re interested in science of technology, this interactive museum has all the exhibits and experiments to keep you learning and exploring.

7. Visit Carowinds Amusement Park

Located on the border of North and South Carolina, Carowinds is a thrilling amusement park with roller coasters, water rides, and family-friendly attractions. Carowinds is the biggest amusement park in the state, so it obviously deserves a spot on this list. Have you ever heard of Cedar Point, aka the 16-time winner of the “Best Amusement Park in the World” award and home to the tallest, fastest, and longest hybrid roller coaster? Well, Carowinds is run by the same company, so expect nothing short of greatness. 

There you’ll find more than 60 rides, the famed Camp Snoopy, Carolina cuisine, and the biggest waterpark in the Carolinas: Carolina Harbor. You can even stay over at the onsite campground or hotel if you want to make a weekend out of it!

8. Tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame

For racing enthusiasts, the NASCAR Hall of Fame offers interactive exhibits and a chance to learn about the history of stock car racing. If you’re a NASCAR fan, you’ll want to check out the all-time greats when it comes to drivers, crew chiefs, and other big names in the industry.

9. Enjoy the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte

Offering performances and educational programs, the Children’s Theatre is a great place for family entertainment. Your kids can check out the touring productions or participate in classes and summer camps. 

Outdoor Activities and Parks

Charlotte’s lush green spaces and scenic parks offer endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and relaxation. Explore the miles of hiking and biking trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where you can also enjoy whitewater rafting, zip-lining, and rock climbing. Discover the tranquility of Freedom Park, with its picturesque lake, playgrounds, and walking paths perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic. For a taste of history and nature combined, visit the Historic Latta Plantation, where you can tour a preserved 19th-century farm and explore the surrounding nature trails. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping thrills or peaceful moments in nature, Charlotte’s outdoor attractions have something for everyone to enjoy.

10. Relax in Freedom Park

Known as Charlotte’s “Central Park,” Freedom Park features walking trails, sports fields, and a picturesque lake. This gorgeous park has sprawling fields and waterways to admire, and it’s the perfect place for a long walk, picnic, or to simply enjoy nature.

12. Explore the U.S. National Whitewater Center

The US National Whitewater Center (USNWC), which opened in west Charlotte in 2006, has many opportunities for you to enjoy your time. The center maintains more than 50 miles of trails for mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners—no activity pass needed. Just be sure to check the status of the trails on the website prior to accessing them. 

In the warmer months when the rapids open up, you can picnic on the grass next to the water and watch folks kayak and raft down the class IV rapids all day (you will see some spills). Catch some live roots rock, Americana, bluegrass, folk, and funk for free during the River Jam sessions on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from May through September. 

13. Visit the UNC Charlotte Botanical Garden

Launched in 1966 on the newly-established Charlotte campus of the University of North Carolina system, the Botanical Gardens were the brainchild of biology professor Dr. Herbert Hechenbleikner and UNC Charlotte founder Bonnie E. Cone, created to serve as a living classroom for biology students and as a horticultural and botanical resource for the campus and greater community. 

In more than a half-century since, the Botanical Gardens have evolved into the special resource that exists today, comprising 10 acres of outdoor gardens, a 4,500-square-foot glasshouse with attached workspace, and teaching classroom that contains a 1,200-plus-book botanical and horticultural library. The three garden sites feature 16 collections, including the rare Titan Arum, and admission is always free. 

14. Walk the Charlotte Trail

This urban greenway offers scenic trails perfect for walking, biking, and enjoying the natural beauty of the area. The Charlotte Area Transit System opened its long-awaited Lynx Blue Line light rail in South End in 2007, and while it has since become a main artery of the city’s transportation system, what has formed alongside that first phase of rail is equally special. The 3.5-mile Charlotte Rail Trail connects Sedgefield, Southside Park, Brookhill, Dilworth, Wilmore, and South End to Uptown, and is by far the most scenic urban walking trail in the Charlotte area. 

The Rail Trail is a great place to discover cafés and bars, explore galleries, see artists at work, stumble upon an impromptu jam session, take an afternoon stroll with your family, or relax on a bench and watch the city come alive around you.

Shopping and Dining Experiences

Charlotte boasts a vibrant culinary and shopping scene that caters to every taste and preference. Indulge in a diverse array of dining options, from upscale restaurants serving gourmet cuisine to cozy cafes and food trucks offering delicious street eats. Explore the eclectic shops and boutiques of neighborhoods like South End and NoDa, where you’ll find everything from unique fashion finds to handmade crafts and artisanal goods. For a taste of local flavor, don’t miss the bustling farmers’ markets and food halls, where you can sample fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and gourmet treats. Whether you’re a foodie, fashionista, or simply love to explore, Charlotte’s shopping and dining experiences offer endless opportunities for culinary delights and retail therapy.

15. Shop at SouthPark Mall

SouthPark Mall is Charlotte’s premier shopping destination, featuring high-end retailers and a variety of dining options. With over 150 stores, the SouthPark Mall is a great way to spend an afternoon wandering through shops and treating yourself to a meal at one of the many dining options available. 

17. Explore the 7th Street Public Market

This indoor market offers fresh produce, local foods, and unique artisanal products, making it a great place to sample local flavors. If you want to spend an afternoon trying out sweets and treats while looking at locally-made items, the 7th Street Public Market is a great place to explore.

18. Dine at Optimist Hall

This historic textile mill has been transformed into a food hall with diverse culinary offerings, including local and international cuisines. Optimist Hall has a long-standing industrial history, and the building itself has undergone a variety of changes, the building becoming Charlotte’s first food hall in 2019. From shops to food, Optimist Hall is a great way to grab a bite to eat and relax.

19. Visit the NoDa Arts District

NoDa is Charlotte’s historic arts and entertainment district, known for its eclectic galleries, unique shops, and vibrant nightlife. Known as the city’s premier arts district, you can find a number of eclectic galleries and music venues. Simply strolling through the streets might introduce you to a new gem worth exploring.

Sports and Entertainment

20. Attend a Charlotte Sports Game

Whether it’s the NBA or the NFL, or a variety of other sports, Charlotte is home to the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Knights, and NASCAR. You can experience the excitement of an NFL game or the roar of engines at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Unique Charlotte Experiences

Charlotte offers a plethora of unique experiences that capture the essence of the city’s culture, history, and spirit. 

21. Tour the Billy Graham Library

Learn about the life and legacy of the famous evangelist Billy Graham through exhibits, films, and memorabilia. The library is open for tours, and you can also tour his original home. The Billy Graham Library is a great experience for anyone interested in learning more about Graham’s work or his archive. 

22. Explore the Historic Rosedale Plantation

This historic home and gardens offer a glimpse into Charlotte’s antebellum past. Historic Rosedale, also known as “Frew’s Folly,” is a historic plantation located in Charlotte. The home was built in 1815, and the home is now open for tours. The Historic Rosedale Plantation aims to educate and preserve, while also shifting towards a more inclusive understanding of the past. Daily house tours are available

23. Visit the Carolina Raptor Center

Located within the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, the Carolina Raptor Center rehabilitates injured birds of prey and offers educational programs. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about birds of prey, the Carolina Raptor Center can englishten you.

24. Discover the Charlotte Museum of History

This museum offers exhibits on Charlotte’s history and heritage, including the historic Hezekiah Alexander Homesite. Long an integral educational institution of east Charlotte thanks to its location next to the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander homesite, the city’s oldest home, in recent years the Charlotte Museum of History has reinvented itself by consistently offering more contemporary exhibits and programming that’s appealing to younger and more diverse populations.

25. Enjoy the McGill Rose Garden

This hidden gem in Charlotte features a beautiful collection of roses and other flowering plants. Many claim that the McGill Rose Garden is Charlotte’ best kept secret, but the garden is open to the general public. You can take a stroll or have a picnic. 

Read more: 10 ways to celebrate the summer solstice across North Carolina


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