20 Things To Do In Charlotte NC

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Charlotte’s rich and intriguing history dates back to the late 18th century. This city was named after Queen Charlotte when it was incorporated in 1768. Residents expelled the British General Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War and, less than a decade later, declared their independence from England. During the Civil War era, a significant number of North Carolina residents fought for the Confederacy.

Because of the railway crossroads, this was an important manufacturing hub and supply line for Confederate troops. After the Civil War, the city grew exponentially and eventually became the vibrant and colourful place it is today. You’ll find plenty of historical attractions and lots for families too. Here are the best things to do in Charlotte today.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Top 3 Tours

20 Things To Do In Charlotte NC

1- Take A Historical City Tour

things to do in charlotte an image of a nice horse drawn carriage.
Going on a historical city tour is one of the things to do in Charlotte, NC, and there are several ways to do it.

The city of Charlotte contains a wealth of history to discover and historic buildings and museums waiting to be explored.

Many opportunities exist to facilitate learning about this city’s exciting history, and it can be challenging to choose how to see it all.

Families with kids or visitors with mobility issues can enjoy visiting the Uptown historical section of Charlotte by taking a carriage ride or riding in a van or golf cart.

These rides typically last 20 to 60 minutes in a carriage, 90 minutes on a golf cart, or up to two hours in a van.

Older children, and adults who prefer touring the city more actively, enjoy riding a bike or using a Segway as they follow a guide through the city on a 90-minute tour.

If you want the freedom to explore the city at your own pace, you might enjoy a self-guided walking audio tour or one of these guided tours. 

2- SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium

The SEA LIFE Aquarium in Charlotte-Concord houses thousands of aquatic species, including tropical fish, sharks, and sea turtles.

This aquarium is the only place in North Carolina with a 180-degree tunnel that visitors can walk through and see oceanic species swimming above and around them.

In addition to the tunnel, several other exhibits are designed to allow visitors to interact with and explore in-depth the creatures that live in the ocean.

The Interactive Touchpool provides people with a place to feel a sea star, sea urchin, hermit crabs, and other organisms.

See a rescue turtle up close and learn how the aquarium participates in conservation efforts.

Stingray Bay, Tropical Ocean, Shoaling Ring, and Jellyfish Exhibits are also found at this aquarium, allowing people to immerse themselves in the ocean’s underwater world.

The SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium is at 8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord, NC 28027. Reserve your SEA LIFE Aquarium Tickets and skip the line.  

3- Queen City Ghosts Haunted Walking Tour

family things to do in charlotte nc 4th of July firework over Charlotte skyline.
If you’re visiting in July, one of the things to do in Charlotte is to watch the Fourth of July fireworks display.

The Queen City Ghosts Haunted Walking Tour takes visitors on a guided tour through the dark city streets of Uptown Charlotte.

You will learn about the darker side of Charlotte’s history, starting before the Revolutionary War.

The knowledgeable guides weave together stories from generations of residents about the bloodier history of the city and the strange and supernatural encounters that people have experienced.

Intrepid visitors can take a 60-minute tour to see eight haunted locations or a 90-minute tour to see twelve haunted places.

The most haunted locations include an old cemetery, the Bank of America headquarters, and the Carolina Theatre.

These tours are not wheelchair or stroller accessible. Participants must be able to walk and stand for the duration of the tour.

The scheduled tours meet at The Library Fountain at N Tryon St & E 6th St, Charlotte, NC 28202. Find out more about the Queen City Ghosts Haunted Walking Tour here

4- NASCAR Hall Of Fame

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is where all of the top professionals from the sport are honoured and memorialised.

From drivers to crew chiefs and everything in between, you can see exhibits that display the talents and statistics of these folk. 

See race memorabilia, such as fire suits and race cars, as well as trophies from their favourite racers.

A racing simulator allows you to experience a race as though you are sitting in the driver’s seat or competing to change a tire as part of a pit crew.

Buy NASCAR souvenirs such as shirts, hats, and die-cast cars at the Gear Shop.

NASCAR is at 400 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28202.

5- The Mint Museum

best things to do in charlotte nc
Cool buildings and architecture around Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Mint Museum has two locations in Charlotte. The five-story, visually exciting Mint Museum Uptown is part of a large cultural campus called the Levine Center for the Arts.

The Mint Museum Randolph is housed in a historic building that was once a branch of the United States Mint.

When the Randolph museum opened in 1936, it was the first art museum in North Carolina.

The Mint Museum Uptown showcases contemporary art from international artists.

This museum also offers educational programs for all ages, live performances, and interactive, creative spaces.

The Mint Museum Randolph showcases contemporary and ancient art in exhibits such as Art of the Ancient Americas, Arts of Africa, Native American Art, European Art, and a Heritage Gallery.

The ticket price allows entry into both museum locations for two consecutive days.

The Mint Museum Uptown is at 500 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202, and the Mint Museum Randolph is at 2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte, NC 28207.

6- Carowinds

Carowinds is a large amusement park on the border of North and South Carolina.

More than 50 rides, including 13 roller coasters like Afterburn and Carolina Cyclone, offer hours of entertainment for kids and adults.

For young children, the Camp Snoopy section is a fantastic place to play.

When the weather is hot, Carowinds also has an excellent waterpark with water slides and pools to help families cool off.

Live entertainment with performers and musicians provides families with additional ways to enjoy themselves.

Restaurants offer various food options so you can eat well all day long.

Special events occur throughout the year and season passes are available to make visiting often more affordable for families.

Carowinds is at 14523 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28273.

7- Discovery Place

things to do in downtown charlotte skyscrapers from a distance
Enjoying the sunrise over the city skyline downtown is on of the things to do in Charlotte, NC, to get a flavour for this city.

Discovery Place is a non-profit science museum that uses the study of nature, science, and design to educate visitors about the surrounding world.

This museum teaches in a variety of ways. Interactive labs allow kids to enjoy hands-on activities designing, creating and experimenting.

Exhibition rooms allow children the freedom to explore and discover information for themselves.

An IMAX theatre showcases amazing videography that allows you to feel as though you are a part of the experience.

Discovery Place also uses a variety of ways to reach students outside the museum through outreach programs and community classes.

Discovery Place is at 301 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202.

8- Little Sugar Creek Greenway And The Trail of History

things to do in charlotte today Captain jack liberty monument pool in autumn.
Going on the Liberty Walk is one of the best things to do in Charlotte for history fans. You’ll likely come across this bronze statue of Captain James Jack riding to Philadelphia on the Trail of History in Little Sugar Creek Greenway, east of here at the corner of Fourth Street and Kings Drive.

The Little Sugar Creek Greenway is several miles long and runs through a small section of Charlotte.

This trail is part of a stream restoration project and will eventually be around twenty miles long (32 km) when it’s completed.

Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a small piece of the larger Carolina Thread Trail, which passes through fifteen counties.

One part of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is called the Trail of History, which is a section of the greenway that runs from 7th Street to Morehead Street in downtown Charlotte.

The Trail provides pedestrians with a glimpse into the region’s most famous contributors throughout history.

Some of the most notable statues along this trail include Captain James Jack, Chief King Haigler, Jane Wilkes and Thaddeus Tate.

9- McDowell Nature Center And Preserve

top things to do in charlotte nc
Admiring the sunset at Lake Wylie is one of the things to do in Charlotte, NC.

The McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is a place where you can go to learn about and spend time surrounded by nature.

The nature centre has an exhibit hall and contains live, native animals on display, and behind the building, a Backyard Habitat Garden displays bird feeders, a garden pond and a butterfly garden.

It’s the entrance to a 1,100-acre (445-hectare) nature preserve containing an undeveloped forest along the banks of Lake Wylie.

This large, biodiverse preserve contains trails that wind through the trees.

Visitors can see numerous plant species, including some endangered species, as well as many bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.

The McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is at 15222 York Rd, Charlotte, NC 28278.

10- Fourth Ward

fourth ward charlotte blue timber cottage house
One of the things to do in Charlotte for history lovers is to admire the charming architecture in the Fourth Ward.

The Fourth Ward of Charlotte is a neighbourhood in the Uptown part of the city and a local historic district revitalised in the 1970s.

Admire a variety of architectural styles throughout the neighbourhood’s streets, and there’s a free, self-guided walking tour on the Friends of the Fourth Ward website.

This tour map has 48 points of interest in the neighbourhood and describes a bit of the history behind each of those points.

This section of Uptown Charlotte also has excellent restaurants, attractions, and a shady park.

If you decide to join the tour, make the time to get a beer at a local brewery or taste some local cuisine.

11- Charlotte Brewery Tour

things to do in charlotte nc for adults Pressure gauge on a metal beer tank, brewer working on the background.
Tasting local beer is another top thing to do in Charlotte for adults.

Charlotte is home to some popular local breweries.

The Olde Mecklenburg is the oldest and largest brewery in the city.

They have an eight-acre (3.2-hectare) beer garden offering German-style beers and beer cheese.

The Wooden Robot Brewery offers beers in a variety of flavours and continuously adds more through its experimentation techniques.

NoDa Brewing Company has a relaxed, family atmosphere full of local art.

They are famous for crafting an award-winning brew called Coco Loco.

  • The Olde Mecklenburg is at 4150 Yancey Road, Charlotte, NC 28217.
  • Wooden Robot is at 1440 S Tryon Street UNIT 110, Charlotte, NC 28203.
  • NoDa Brewing Company is at 2921 N Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28206.

If you prefer to let someone else do the driving, this brewery tour includes a visit to four breweries and a meal.

12- Historic Rosedale Plantation

The historic Rosedale Plantation, also called Frew’s Folly, was built in 1815 by Archibald Frew and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

It is the oldest home in Charlotte, and the Historic Rosedale Foundation restored and preserved it.

This plantation offers tours through the house museum, which has been restored to its original look.

The extensive gardens contain native plant species and have been designated as an Advanced Certified Wildlife Habitat and a part of the Butterfly Highway.

You can stroll through the property’s shady woodlands and enjoy the 8.9-acre (3.6-hectare) green space in the middle of Charlotte’s urban sprawl.

Visit the blacksmith shop that was rebuilt on the property near its original location.

Rosedale Plantation is open for tours Wednesday through Saturday and is at 3427 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28206.

13- Wing Haven

Wing Haven is a collection of three public gardens with an incredible history and legacy.

Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary provides essential habitat for birds and wildlife in downtown Charlotte.

Next to this space is the SEED Wildlife and Children’s Garden, where visitors can receive hands-on learning about the natural world and see wildlife in their natural habitat.

Several houses down the street, the Elizabeth Lawrence House and Gardens, sit on a beautiful lot.

This property is a living laboratory garden with a house museum that once belonged to Elizabeth Lawrence, a famous gardening writer.

These three gardens offer visitors of all ages a rich experience in the natural world and tell the story of the two remarkable women named Elizabeth, who created these gardens.

There is one admission price for all three gardens, and they are open Wednesday through Saturday.

Wing Haven is at 248 Ridgewood Ave, Charlotte, NC 28209.

14- Bechtler Museum Of Modern Art

things to do in charlotte north carolina
Wandering around the downtown and admiring public art is one of the things to do in Charlotte for free.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is a contemporary art museum that houses a collection of art from many 20th-century artists.

The Bechtler Family collected artwork for over 70 years, and Andreas Bechtler later donated this collection to the museum.

This collection of mid-century modernism artists includes Warhol, Hepworth, Picasso, Giacometti, Nicholson, and Ernst.

Until these pieces came to the Bechtler Museum, most were privately held at the Bechtler home in Switzerland and never seen before by the general public.

This museum was created as a way to inspire people and enhance the cultural lives of others.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is at 420 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202.

15- UNC Charlotte Botanical Garden

things to do in charlotte nc this weekend Botanical plants and flowers in the summer garden.
Exploring the botanical garden is one of the things to do in Charlotte to relax.

The UNC Charlotte Botanical Garden contains a series of outdoor gardens designed to provide a “living classroom” for the university and the greater community of Charlotte.

The outdoor gardens cover approximately ten acres (four hectares) and are open every day during daylight hours.

These gardens are famous for some of the rare plant species in the collection, including two Corpse Flowers Amorphophallus titanum.

The Susie Harwood Garden and Van Landingham Glen sections offer several smaller, themed garden areas such as an Asian garden, Rhododendron garden, and a Camellia garden containing a diverse set of species.

The Carolina Garden Trail has a path that winds through different crops that tell the story of this area’s history from Pre-European colonisation through the present day.

The Botanical Gardens Greenhouse contains a large collection of orchids and is open to the public Monday through Friday.

The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens is at 9090 Craver Rd, Charlotte, NC 28262.

16- Levine Museum Of The New South

things to do in uptown charlotte
Another thing to do in Charlotte is to check out the ‘cube’ building at the corner of East Ninth and Brevard Street, designed after a twisted Rubik’s Cube.

The Levine Museum is a non-profit history museum that focuses on the history of the North Carolina Piedmont region during the years of Reconstruction after the American Civil War.

The museum’s goal is to educate the community about what life was once like for all of the people in the region and how things have changed through the years.

By connecting the community to their cultural heritage, people within the region can better understand one another and continue the drive for equality for all people.

Exhibits at this museum include “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers,” “It Happened Here: Lynching and Remembrance,” and “Lumbee Indians: A People and A Place.”

The Levine Museum of the New South is at 401 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC, 28202.

17- President James K. Polk State Historic Site

things to do in charlotte nc today A red, white and blue satin or silk ribbon banner with the text James K. Polk and stars and date in office.
Looking for things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina? Check out our top 20 list.

The President James K. Polk Historic Site is the early childhood home of James K. Polk, the eleventh United States President.

This property was restored to what it looked like when Polk lived here as a child.

People who visit this site should start in the Visitor’s Center and can take either a guided or self-guided tour through the reconstructed log buildings on the property.

These buildings include the Main Cabin House, where the family lived, the Kitchen Cabin, and a barn.

A nature trail and a monument erected by the Daughters of the Revolution are also on the property.

Learn about the significant events during Polk’s presidency, such as the Mexican-American War, the annexation of California, and the Oregon boundary resolution.

President James K. Polk State Historic Site is at 12031 Lancaster Highway, Pineville, NC 28134.

18- U.S. National Whitewater Center

fun things to do in charlotte
Going on a whitewater rafting adventure is a fun thing to do near Charlotte for a thrill.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte is a training facility for various outdoor sports.

More than 30 outdoor sports are found at this facility, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and more.

The purpose of this centre is to inspire people to live a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle with day camps, field trips, daily activity passes and equipment rentals.

You can reserve a spot for an activity in advance.

Spend the day ziplining, standup paddleboarding or canoeing on flat water, kayaking or rafting in whitewater, rock climbing, doing a ropes course, trail running, hiking or biking through 50 miles of wooded trails, or jumping and free falling for a thrilling experience.

Outdoor events such as races, concerts, yoga and music festivals occur throughout the year.

A decent selection of shopping and restaurants is also available at the centre.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center is at 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28214.

19- Charlotte’s Liberty Walk

free things to do in charlotte
Charlotte is stunning to visit in autumn.

The Charlotte Liberty Walk is a walking tour through the historical events that made Charlotte the city it is today.

The city of Charlotte played a significant role in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War and helped the nation succeed in winning that war.

The Liberty Walk takes you on a tour through Uptown, where you can find the locations of some of these significant historical events.

While most of the places on the map are no longer there except for the Settler’s Cemetery, historical markers designate where these places once stood.

A map brochure that details the locations of these markers tells a bit of the history of each place.

It can be printed from the Liberty Walk website, picked up from the Charlotte Visitor’s Information Center at 501 S. College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202, or found at the Levine Museum of the South at 401 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC, 28202.

Guided tours are available through the Mecklenburg Historical Association.

20- Charlotte Museum of History

things to do in port charlotte fl public art and skyscrapers
Wandering around the financial district is one of the things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina, to get a feel for the city’s modern side. This is the Grand Disc sculpture.

The Charlotte Museum of History is housed in the oldest house in Mecklenburg County, the 1774 Alexander Rock House.

Built in 1774 by Hezekiah Alexander and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this house is the only remaining building in Charlotte from the Revolutionary War era.

A kitchen garden and several outbuildings are also onsite, including a reconstructed two-story springhouse, reproduction house kitchen, reproduction slave quarters, and a relocated barn from that era not originally from this site.

This museum explores the civic and cultural history of the black, indigenous, and immigrant peoples that populated this region and how those communities evolved.

The exhibits focus on justice, liberty, freedom, equity, democracy, and more.

The Charlotte Museum of History is open Tuesday through Saturday and is at 3500 Shamrock Dr, Charlotte, NC 28215.

21- Cheer On The Carolina Panthers

things to do in charlotte, nc panthers statue
Watching the Carolina Panthers play football is one of the iconic things to do in Charlotte, NC.

The NFL team competes in the south division of the National Football Conference and their home ground is the Bank of America Stadium. 

For more places to visit in the Southern states, see:

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Angie Grier is a spicy señora living in central Mexico with a penchant for freelance writing. Having spent most of her adult life writing as a scientist and then as a teacher, she now contributes articles on a wide variety of topics for print and online media. Originally from the US, she has lived in several different states on the US West and East coasts, the Gulf Coast, and the Upper Midwest. These days, when she’s not camping in the woods in a US national park or shopping in Tonalá or eating chilaquiles, she writes a travel blog detailing her life and adventures in Mexico at www.onaroadleadingsomewhere.com.