Charlotte, NC is home to a variety of professional sports teams, historic sites, arts & culture, fun recreational activities and so much more. Whatever you’re into, Charlotte has something for you. The weather is mild but can be unpredictable. Here are my top 10 things to do in Charlotte
The United States National Whitewater Center
Whether you are an outdoorsy adventurist or a laid back beer drinker, there’s always something to do at this multi-recreational family-friendly site. The USNWC is the official training center for the Team USA whitewater programs and houses a number of athletes year-round. The main attraction is the rushing rapids that run over 3,700 feet long and provide group rafting and individual kayaking. In addition to the rapids, the USNWC also caters to those who want a more relaxed environment with flat water activities, which include kayaking and paddleboarding.
For those who want to stay out of the water, there is rock climbing, zip lines, challenge courses, free yoga classes, 50+ miles of mountain biking/hiking trails and a full-service bar and restaurant. During the summer months, there are also free concerts every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings in addition to the number of festivals and races they hold throughout the year. They are open year-round, even though some activities are weather permitting.
Attend a Sports Game
With Charlotte being home to several professional sports teams, there is almost always a game to go to. Charlotte is home to the Carolina Panthers (NFL), Charlotte Hornets (NBA), Charlotte Knights (MiLB), Charlotte Checkers (AHL), Charlotte Independence (USL), and the unnamed Charlotte MLS team, coming 2020. During the spring, Charlotte also hosts the Wells Fargo Golf Championship, but make sure to get tickets well in advance as it can sell out fast! No matter what time of the year you visit Charlotte, there is a game to go to. And who knows maybe you’ll run into a pro player at the local grocery store (it’s happened before!).
Carowinds Amusement Park
If you’re a thrill-seeker who loves the rush of a rollercoaster drop, Carowinds Park is the place for you. Carowinds sits right on the NC/SC border and with 14 roller coasters and almost 60 different attractions, there are attractions for all ages! The park is only open from March to December and not on every day during that time span, so check your dates before buying tickets. There is a waterpark, Carolina Harbor, open during the summer months and SCarowinds in the fall for all things spooky, as well as special events throughout the year which can be found here.
Go to a Concert
Charlotte is always hopping with live music, whether a big arena performance or small acoustic set. Charlotte is home to the Spectrum Center Arena (also home to the Charlotte Hornets), Fillmore Music Hall, and PNC Music Pavilion. In addition to the bigger music venues, Charlotte is filled with bars, restaurants and small music halls that will host weekend bands or smaller concerts. Two of the smaller music venues are Coyote Joe’s and Tin Roof. Check out their websites for upcoming shows.
Shopping is not something Charlotte is short on, by any means. There are several malls in the area, as well as countless shopping centers. If you’re a shopaholic like me, South Park Mall is not something you want to miss! South Park Mall is a higher-end mall with a large variety of stores ranging from H&M, Express, and Sephora to Tiffany’s, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. It hosts 5 department stores and over 150 other stores. The mall is also surrounded by shopping centers that are home to more boutique stores. Carolina Place Mall has a large variety of stores, with generally more affordable options. There are 3 department stores with 120 other stores. Carolina Place is also surrounded by a number of stores, but typically more chain stores than boutique shops. Concord Mills Mall is a little bit out of the city on the north side of town but boasts an impressive 200+ stores, including a movie theater and aquarium.
Another notable shopping center is the Blakeney Shopping Center in South Charlotte. It holds a wide variety of stores and restaurants with a mix of chain and boutique options. No matter where you are in charlotte or what your shopping style is, there’s a place for you.
Freedom Park // Colonel Francis Beatty Park
Both Freedom and Beatty Park offer an impressive array of activities. Listen to the music at the Freedom Park amphitheater. Go mountain biking in the trails at Beatty Park. Both parks offer full playgrounds, large ponds, soccer fields, tennis courts and more. Near the playground at Freedom Park also stands and old locomotive car that people can go into. If you’re wanting something more indoors, check out the Nature Museum connected to Freedom Park. Freedom Park also hosts Festival in the Park. Wanting to host a wedding or go kayaking? Beatty Park is the place for you! Beatty Park also offers fishing, picnic areas, and more!
Spend the Day at the Lake
Within a short drive of center city, you can be at the banks of Lake Norman or Lake Wylie. If you want to spend time on the water, there are boat, jet ski, kayak, paddleboard rentals and more! There are also a number of restaurants on the water if you wanted to sit and eat while watching the sunset. It’s a great place to hang out on a warm day, and relax as the sun goes down.
Charlotte Center City
Yes, its exactly what it sounds like. The city of Charlotte is over 300 square miles total, and uptown is the center of it all. Here you’ll find the skyscraper building and apartment high rises, but you’ll also find amazing restaurants, 3 of the pro sports facilities, museums, parks, and so much more. Stroll through Romare Bearden Park to get awesome, close up views of the city. The Epicentre is not something you’ll want to miss either. It is a lively area with bars, restaurants, events and more.
Visit One of the Many Museums
Charlotte is overflowing with art and history. Within the city center, you can find the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum, Mint Museum Uptown, Discovery Place Science Museum, Levine Museum of the New South, among others. Also within a short distance from the center city, you’ll find the Carolinas Aviation Museum (reopening in 2022), which showcases the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk and includes the Miracle on the Hudson plane, which was piloted by Captain Sullenberger.
Grab a Drink and Relax!
The NoDa and South End districts of Charlotte are the hubs of the bars and breweries in town. Whether you want a self serve taproom (Hoppin’ is my favorite!), laid back brewery to watch a game (Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is the real OG), or want a little extra excitement to the night (check out Pins Mechanical), there is definitely something for you! Most of these breweries and taprooms are local to Charlotte and some are even dog friendly! Other honorable mentions: Triple C, Birdsong Brewing Co., The Unknown Brewing Co., and so many more! Whatever your taste is, there’s a place for you here!