Did you know that Charlotte, North Carolina was named in honor of the former Queen of England? Or that it’s America’s largest metropolitan areas without a zoo? Did you know that the city’s “downtown” is almost always referred to as an “uptown,” instead? How about the fact that the city is somewhat obsessed with pimiento cheese? Seriously, one of the city’s producers turns out 45,000 pounds of the stuff every week. There are a lot of interesting things to discover about city, and even more places to see. Below, we’re bringing you a list of our favorite things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Quick View: 27 Best Things to do in Charlotte:
- Great Wolf Lodge
- Freedom Park
- Nascar Hall of Fame
- Mint Museum
- National Whitewater Center
- Lake Norman
- NoDa Brewing Company
- Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
- Bank of America Stadium
- 7th Street Public Market
- Carolina Raptor Center
- Charlotte Motor Speedway
- Discovery Place
- The Billy Graham Library
- BB&t Ballpark
- Ruth’s Salads
- Wells Fargo History Museum
- Skyzone Trampoline Park
- Charlotte Comedy City Tours
- Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
- Hall’s Family Farm
- Carolina History and Haunts Ghost Tour
- Feast Food Tours
Located in the neighboring city of Concord, Great Wolf Lodge provides a great option for families looking for things to do around Charlotte, or even a place to stay. Our Northwoods-themed resort contains a 98,000 square-foot indoor entertainment area to explore, including our signature indoor water park — the largest in the state! Beyond that, we have a 100-game arcade, 18-hole outdoor miniature golf course, and tons of places to eat, including our bar and grill and gourmet buffet. If you’re interested in spending the night, check out any one of our 402 guest suites. Think about holing up in one of our unique themed rooms! Check out our main site to explore more.
2. Freedom Park
If you’re looking to spend some time in nature, look no further than Freedom Park. This 98-acre area contains 4 baseball fields, 12 tennis courts, 4 soccer fields and 2 volleyball courts. If you’re not all that into athletics, worry not. There are tons of other things to do. The park also features a 7-acre lake, walking paths and sprawling botanical gardens. There are even outdoor shelters with grills, so you don’t have to worry about getting hungry!
Did you know that during prohibition, moonshine manufacturers needed drivers to smuggle hooch from the distilleries to customers across the region? While the vehicles used appeared normal from the outside, they had been outfitted with heavy-duty shocks and springs as well as high-powered engines for extra speed. Believe it or not, this is what gave birth to the modern Nascar movement, and it’s just one of many facts you’ll learn over at the Nascar Hall of Fame. The center was constructed to help celebrate the history, heritage and heroes of the sport. The high-tech venue includes artifacts, hands-on exhibits, a 278-person state-of-the-art theater, Hall of Honor, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop and the NASCAR Productions-operated broadcast studio.
4. Mint Museum
With two locations across Charlotte, there’s really no excuse not to visit the city’s Mint Museum. The American Art collection houses approximately 900 works created between the late 1700’s and 1945. The Mint Museum also features summer camps, adult courses and other educational initiatives to help spread the word about art and culture.
If you’re into parks, pack up the car and make your way to the National Whitewater Center. The venue grants access to over 30 land and water activities — all in one place. There’s ice skating, whitewater rafting, zip-lines, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and more. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be on-the-go the entire time. There are grass areas to picnic and relax, which serves as a perfect place to park when attending one of the property’s many outdoor festivals or live music events. Open daily!
6. Lake Norman
Located in Huntersville (just 20 miles north of Charlotte), Lake Norman offers tons of year-round attractions. First, there are the lake activities, which consist of fishing, swimming and sailing. There are also paddle boards and kayaks and canoes to play around with. There are also spas, shopping centers and restaurants to check out. Maybe most interestingly, however, are the historic sites scattered around the property. The lake borders the towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville which have preserved some of the oldest standing architecture and rural farms in North Carolina. Depending on the time of your visit, you might just be able to experience a historical enactment or living history event.
Ok, so this isn’t exactly “kid-friendly” suggestion to appear on this list, but it is a Charlotte staple, so we figured it was worth including anyways. Having been opened back in 2011, the NoDa Brewing Company has been hailed as one of the “original forces” in Charlotte’s beer scene. The extensive craft beer selection, the exposed brick walls, and natural light and wood-paneled bar all contribute to an amazing brewery experience. Thanks to their hard work and quality brews, the company has now expanded to three locations throughout the city.
Enjoy over 380-acres of natural plant life, rolling meadows, woodlands, and lakefront views. The property also contains a stunning 13,500 square-foot Visitor Pavilion armed with a 100-year-old stained-glass dome, eight garden rooms and 12 amazing fountains. There are children’s classes, summer camps and birthday party packages available, as well! There are even a host of adult classes to check out, ranging from “Orchids 101” to “Learning to Paint.” There are typically special events going on during the weekend’s so make sure to check out the exhibit schedule!
The Bank of America Stadium is home to the Carolina Panthers, the state’s only professional football team. The sports stadium is in uptown Charlotte and can seat over 75,000 fans. Take a break from the parks and museums and enjoy a day with fellow Panthers fans instead! The stadium also hosts a bunch of live music events, so make sure to check out who’s on tour!
Animal lovers, rejoice. There’s a spot right outside of the Queen City where you can get up-close-and-personal with some of North Carolina’s most amazing regional species. Huntersville, North Carolina is the Carolina Raptor Center, a wildlife preservation for birds of prey. The center is home to 97 permanent resident birds, from eagles, hawks, owl, falcons, cultures and corvids. The center also specializes in the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors. The 1500-acre reserve also contains trail tours to help connect visitors to birds and other elements of the natural world.
You can’t travel to Charlotte, North Carolina without spending a day at Carowinds! The “thrill capital of the southeast” is home to 13 world class roller coasters and other themed rides designed for kids of all ages. This year, they announced plans to add another 60 world class rides, waterpark, live show and other incredible attractions! There’s even plans to introduce the longest mat racing slide in the southeast! Don’t worry about getting hungry, either. There are over 30 food options sprinkled around the park. The place can get a little crazy during the weekend so try to sneak in a mid-trip visit and beat the crowds!
If the kids had fun at the Nascar Hall of Fame, then they’re going to love what comes next on our list. The Charlotte Motor Speedway is home to some of the fastest racing vehicles in the country. The place is so popular, they even carved out a space for people to camp out before a car race!
14. Discovery Place
Does your family have a thing for science? Look no further than Discovery Place, Charlotte’s premiere science and technology museum. Bring your future engineers and allow them to explore the interactive exhibits, from the hands-on learning lab, live shows to the IMAX theater presentations.
It’s hard to mention Charlotte, North Carolina without thinking of Billy Graham, one of the state’s most famous pastors. Entrance to the 40,000 library is free. it’s also located just a few miles away from Graham’s childhood home. There are other attractions around, as well. Visitors can pick up a fresh sandwich, salad, cookies or ice cream over at the Graham Brothers Dairy bar. They’re also encouraged to visit the Memorial Prayer Gardens, a serene setting and home to the burial site for Billy Graham and Ruth Graham as well as George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows, longtime members of the Billy Graham Crusade Team.
16. BB&T Ballpark
If you don’t come from a football family, don’t worry. There are plenty of other sports stadiums around Charlotte. The BB&T Ballpark is best known for hosting the Charlotte Knights, a Triple A International League baseball team. The stadium also offers terrific views of the Charlotte skyline. You can find tons of food vendors around the stadium, too.
17. Ruth’s Salads
Did you know that North Carolina is the country’s leading pimiento cheese consumer? The spreadable snack has become so popular throughout the Queen City, it’s been dubbed “the pate of the South.” Ruth’s Salads, open since 1953, produces 45,000 pounds of “Carolina caviar” every week. That effort makes it one of the largest pimento cheese producers in the country. Stop into a local grocery and pick something up!
Known as “one of the seven wonders of Charlotte,” the Metalmorphosis moving sculpture is in front of the Whitehall Corporate Center. The centerpiece was conceived, crafted and executed by world-renown Czech Sculptor, David Černý. The art piece consists of nearly 40 steel pieces group into 7 segments. All rotate independently at a 360-degree angle.
The Wells Fargo History Museum presents visitors with interactive displays tracing the history of Wells Fargo bank and gold mining throughout North Carolina. Free tours are available for all ages. Explore the museum’s collection of original stagecoaches, banking and express documents, working telegraphs, western art, gold coins, old money and more!
Keep the family entertained with a trip to the Skyzone Trampoline Park, located in Charlotte’s booming “uptown.” Watch the kids race around the indoor arena, from the free jump area to the rock-climbing wall. There’s even a toddler zone for the little ones who aren’t quite big enough for the most advanced attractions.
Give your legs a rest and explore Charlotte’s most interesting neighborhoods by bus instead! Part informational city bus tour, part comedy show, Charlotte Comedy City Tours ranks as one of the most popular tourist attractions in North Carolina. Certainly, this is one experience you’ll want to pepper into the itinerary.
The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center houses the Belk Theater, Booth Playhouse and Stage Door Theater. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of music and other events, from symphony to jazz. The best part? Every seat offers a great view of the stage, which makes it that much easier to enjoy the art!
Welcome to Hall Family Farm, one of Charlotte’s most celebrated local attractions. Originally acquired back in the 1920’s, the farm has been one of the region’s most infamous strawberry-picking spots. The 600-acre plot also offers hayrides and covered picnic tables for visitors to enjoy. Admission is free but there are slushies, hot drinks and local produce for sale in case you want something to remember the place by!
Embark on a search of the supernatural! Carolina History and Haunts Ghost tour provides a candlelight tour of Charlotte’s city streets. Walk around the Queen City’s most haunted areas and listen to stories of the dead. Of course, we’ll note that if the kids are easily spooked, maybe think about leaving them at home for this one!
Head over to one of Charlotte’s most notorious escape rooms! Check out the live-action, interactive escape room games. Each are designed to engage the visitors by incorporating authentic sets, special effects and multi-sensory puzzles. See what your family can accomplish when coming together as a united front.
If you’re looking for an educational outlet to explore, look no further than the EnergyExplorium at the McGuire Nuclear Station. Located in the neighboring town of Huntersville, the explorium offers self-guided exhibits of topics that include the environment, weather, electricity, the nuclear energy process and more. Of course, the experience doesn’t end there. There’s also an auditorium, nature trails and a butterfly garden to discover!
27. Feast Food Tours
Who doesn’t like to eat when on vacation? If you want to get more familiar with Charlotte’s food scene, think about signing up for a Feast Food Tour. The company can connect you to some of the best chefs, restaurateurs, farmers and artisans behind Charlotte’s culinary scene. They also offer walking food tours and custom excursions.
That’s about it for our list of things to do in Charlotte. As you can see, the Queen City is packed with attractions for visitors to explore. From art museums to strawberry fields, breweries to marketplaces, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do. If you happen to be heading south, think about making Great Wolf Lodge home base. To learn more about the Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, head to our official site. There, you can learn more about our indoor waterpark, adventure zone and all the other activities we offer on-site! Make sure to check out our selection of themed rooms, too. You’ll feel like your camping out in the Northwoods in no time. You can also sign up for our email list to learn about our best deals!