With tours, history, delicious foods, family-friendly excursions, sports, museums, and outdoor experiences — Charlotte NC has a lot going on!
I mean if you want, you can go whitewater rafting, take in a NASCAR race, grab a bite at a food truck, take a Segway tour of Uptown, and spend the night at an indoor water park! (It admittedly, would be a busy day…but you *could* do it.)
There are just so many amazing things to do in Charlotte, NC — no matter what kind of getaway you’re looking for, you’re sure to find the perfect adventure here in North Carolina.
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MUST-DO — THINGS TO DO IN CHARLOTTE NC
You cannot go to Charlotte without making plans to do at least some (or all!) of these things!
NASCAR HALL OF FAME
If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, then a visit to the Nascar Hall of Fame is a definite must-do.
With more than 50 interactive experiences, this place is full of fun. Get behind the wheel of an iRacing simulator to see if you have what it takes to make the team in the Pit Crew Challenge. Tour the museum and learn more about the history and future of the sport. Get creative and build your own race car at the Virtual Painting Booth. You can even jack up the car, change a tire with a real airgun, and fill up the fuel tank to complete an entire pit stop. The possibilities are endless.
US NATIONAL WHITEWATER CENTER
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping, then a visit to the U.S. National Whitewater Center is the place to go! With more than 30 different recreational activities available, there is sure to be something for you and your crew to enjoy.
Here you’ll find whitewater rafting, ziplining, yoga, mountain biking, hiking trails, flatwater and whitewater kayaking and SUP, a ropes course, climbing, ice skating, and more.
They also have some amazing restaurants on their property, some of which overlook the whitewater so you can watch the rafters while you eat. The Center also hosts events throughout the year. One such event is River Jam, a live music event that runs from May through September on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday! You can’t miss it!
VISIT LAKE NORMAN
Whether you’re looking for action and adventure, or a place to relax and unwind, Lake Norman is the perfect place to visit. Located only 20 minutes from Charlotte, Lake Norman is North Carolina’s largest man-made lake.
Rent a boat or jet ski and explore the water, go fishing, take a chartered cruise, go hiking or biking, enjoy amazing restaurants, visit their downtown shops, or take the kids to Frankie’s Fun Park for a day full of arcade games, bowling, bumper cars, and mini golf.
MORE LAKE NORMAN FUN: Take a sightseeing or dinner cruise with Queens Landing.
TAKE A TOUR
With so many amazing restaurants in Charlotte, a food tour is a great way to experience the delicious eats the city has to offer.
Taste Carolina offers a couple of food tours in Charlotte, and you can’t go wrong with either of them. The Charlotte Uptown Tasting Tour is perfect for brunch or lunch and takes you to several unique, independent restaurants to sample chef’s creations while learning about the history and architecture of the city and its culinary culture. Try the Uptown Evening tour for dinner.
Looking for a tour that will show you the town? Try a Segway tour with Charlotte NC Tours! Tour Uptown, or tour markets, parks and museums. This tour company also offers bike tours, ghost tours, walking tours, and bus tours too.
DANIEL STOWE BOTANICAL GARDEN
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is the Carolinas’ garden for all seasons, and is a great (and beautiful!) way to reconnect with nature.
Located within 380 acres on the banks of Lake Wylie, spectacular gardens, sparkling fountains, a conservatory dedicated to the display of tropical plants and orchids, a visitor pavilion, a garden store and nature trails await you here.
This place is amazing, and has so many places to explore, like a children’s garden, a conservatory dedicated to the display of tropical plants and orchids, a Dry Piedmont Prairie, and annual and perennial displays. They offer rotating special exhibits and events throughout the year as well.
BECHTLER MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
You must make a stop at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Bechtler is one of the most amazing art museums in the southeast, and has an extensive collection of modern art.
The collection here includes works by some of the most important and influential artists of the mid 20th century including Miró, Giacometti, Picasso, Calder, Hepworth, Nicholson, Warhol, Tinguely, Ernst, Le Corbusier, Chillida and others.
There are also special tickets if you’d like to see more than one museum while you’re in Charlotte. Experience the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and The Mint Museum Uptown within 48 hours for $20 through the purchase of the new Levine Museum Access Ticket.
MORE ART: Explore public art with the Arts & Science Council’s Public Art Walking Tour
VISIT A FOOD TRUCK
There is no shortage of delicious food available in Charlotte — and the food trucks here are some of the best!
Make a point to grab some amazing fare from beloved local food trucks such as Papi Queso for grilled cheese that’s out of this world, Yummy Banh Mi for awesome banh mi sandwiches, or The Dumpling Lady for Sichuan hand-made dumplings, noodles, and wontons.
CATCH A SHOW AT THE BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is the perfect place to celebrate the arts in Charlotte.
The center houses the Belk Theater, Booth Playhouse, and Stage Door Theater. The shows here are all amazing!
CHARLOTTE MUSEUM OF HISTORY
Want to learn everything you need to know about the history of this great town? Then make a stop at the Charlotte Museum of History.
In addition to a wonderful museum full of information, the oldest structure — and the reason for the museum’s location — is the Hezekiah Alexander House, a 5,000-square-foot rock house. The Hezekiah Alexander House is the oldest surviving house in Mecklenburg County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was built circa 1774 and stands on its original site. It’s a really neat place and worth a visit.
THE BILLY GRAHAM LIBRARY
Retrace Charlotte native and Christian evangelist Billy Graham’s journey from a North Carolina dairy farm to stadiums across the globe with a visit to the Billy Graham Library.
The library here is styled after a dairy barn, and his boyhood home has been restored and is a short walk from the library. The both sit on 20 beautifully landscaped acres. The library includes exhibits about Graham’s life and legacy. Admission is free, and it’s closed on Sundays.
MORE: Take a Virtual Tour of the Billy Graham Library
ROCKY RIVER VINEYARDS
Located in Midland, NC, Rocky River Vineyard is a family-friendly wine tasting venue.
You can sample their wine (we love the wine slushies!) while the kids drink non-alcoholic slushies. Then head out on the property for a 1.5-mile hike around the grape vines and into the forest. Bonus! It’s located just down the street from Reed Gold Mine (see below!).
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS
There are so many great kid friendly things to do in Charlotte, NC with kids! Here are some of our favorites from our visit to Charlotte.
Your kids will absolutely love a visit to Freedom Park. The park here surrounds a 7-acre lake and includes paved trails, athletic fields, and an awesome playground.
Your kids will also love looking at a steam engine (it’s fenced) — but they can walk into the cab!
If you’re visiting in late September, catch the Festival in the Park held here. It’s a massive arts and crafts festival, with live music, delicious foods, and lots of family-friendly fun that’s free to attend. This popular festival has been around since 1964.
GREAT WOLF LODGE
Looking for a great place to stay and play with the kids in Charlotte? You just cannot go wrong with Great Wolf Lodge.
We spent the weekend at Great Wolf Lodge, taking in the water park, lobby shows, and having fun with the kiddos. Both of our boys were celebrating their birthday, also. This was our second time visiting GWL because it is such a fun and easy birthday party idea for kids. There are packages, games and the water park, of course! Take a look at our guide about GWL for tips while there!
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Cabarrus County is “Where Racing Lives,” so be sure to visit Charlotte Motor Speedway while you are there. It is only about five minutes down the road from Great Wolf Lodge. We had a great time at the Over The Wall Tour, which I cannot recommend highly enough! That ticket allowed us to dine VIP style at The Speedway Club, with spectacular views of the raceway.
Saturday, we were lucky enough to take in a Monster Truck show on the dirt track!
REED GOLD MINE
Just outside Concord is Midland, NC. Midland is special because it was the site of the first documented discovery of GOLD in the US. Cool, huh?
Visit the Reed Gold Mine and walk the trails, visit the historic structures, see the exhibits in the Visitor Center, and you can even pan for gold in the warmer months. A visit is free, and panning for gold is $3 for kids 8+. The kids will love this one!
CHARLOTTE AREA FARMERS MARKET
There’s nothing like enjoying locally grown and raised produce, product and proteins. Charlotte-area farmers and local farmers’ markets help make farm-to-table eating easy.
SEA LIFE AQUARIUM
SEA LIFE Aquarium is at the Concord Mills Mall, just across the street from Great Wolf Lodge. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much when we visited, but I was sorely mistaken. This excellent aquarium is perfect for kids.
There are interactive games, feeding times, kid-talks about sharks and sting rays and a great behind the scenes tour. While you’re out, stop at Jim N Nick’s for barbecue lunch or dinner, also just right outside GWL and near SEA LIFE.
WEEKEND GETAWAYS IN THE SOUTHEAST (printable)
Download this 1-page checklist of Weekend Getaways in the Southeast to print at home or your local print shop. Perfect to keep in a binder, bring on your adventure or just put on the refrigerator!
(PS. This entire list is detailed in our article, 51+ Best Family Weekend Getaway Ideas in the Southeast.)
Format: PDF, US Letter Size, Portrait (8.5”x11”)
You will receive one PDF file. File will be emailed and available for download up to three times upon payment. No physical item will be shipped.
What is Charlotte, North Carolina known for?
Charlotte, North Carolina is known as the home to the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
What are the top attractions in Charlotte, North Carolina?
Some of the top attractions in Charlotte, North Carolina include Carowinds, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Discovery Place Science, Freedom Park and the Billy Graham Library, to name a few.
Which movies and shows were filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina?
Charlotte is a popular spot for filming including the movies, The Hunger Games, Sully, Talladega Nights, The Last of the Mohicans, and the show, Homeland.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO NORTH CAROLINA
- NORTH CAROLINA VACATION
- NC BEACHES: 16 SENSATIONAL NORTH CAROLINA BEACHES YOU NEED TO VISIT THIS SUMMER
- OBX: 33 THINGS TO DO IN OUTER BANKS (+ AN ITINERARY)
- RALEIGH: 17+ UNFORGETTABLE THINGS TO DO IN RALEIGH, NC THAT YOU’LL LOVE
WHERE TO STAY IN CHARLOTTE
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