Charlotte, North Carolina, can be considered a city of contrasts. Shaded streets lined with historic brick buildings can be found next to modern skyscrapers, and world-class business and entertainment opportunities are offered along with old-fashioned southern charm. This vibrant city offers plenty of recreational opportunities for all ages and tastes, so it's a great spot for everything from a romantic weekend getaway to a fun-filled family trip. Make sure to include these must-see spots on your next trip to Charlotte.
Charlotte's vibrant local beer culture features several breweries, such as the Old Mecklenburg Brewery, Sugar Creek Brewing Company, and Sycamore Brewing. It follows, then, that Charlotte would be home to a number of great beer crawls. These will have you walking through the city's scenic streets, stopping off for all the ale and stout your heart could desire, and witnessing the process of crafting beer firsthand along the way. Sounds like a great way to spend a day.
If you like to hike, you should make sure you take advantage of the beautiful terrain of North Carolina. The McDowell Nature Preserve features a stunning view of Lake Wylie and tall trees lining the shore. You could hike along their numerous trails or even stay the night camping to feel more intimately acquainted with nature.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is not like other museums. It offers an immersive, hands-on experience, allowing you to take part in interactive exhibits such as a racing simulator. You can see vintage and present-day racing cars and learn about NASCAR's extensive and rich history. If you're a fan of autosports, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is a stop you can't miss.
Or perhaps you're a fan of the theatre, in which case the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center has you covered. The center is vast, housing several theatres such as the Booth Playhouse and the Ovens Auditorium. The schedule features a wide range of shows, including opera performances, musicals, dramas, and comedies.
One of Charlotte's most exciting attractions, Discovery Place Science, is an interactive museum perfect for families, tourists, and lifelong learners.
Begin your visit by exploring the museum's diverse exhibits covering topics like the human body, Earth's ecosystems, and outer space. Delight in hands-on experiences at the Thinker Space, where you can engage in creative problem-solving or navigate through the rainforest exhibit and encounter exotic animals along the way.
For families with young children, don't miss KidScience, an area designed specifically for kids aged 0-7. Here, little ones can explore a variety of STEM-focused activities and exhibits that cater to their developmental needs.
Charlotte's art culture is rich and dynamic, and stunning work can be seen immediately if you arrive at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, adorned with colorful murals by Colombian artist Nico Amortegui. The beautiful pieces extend into the city itself, with gorgeous street art at every turn. You don't have to try too hard to get an experience of the city's art world -- just walk around.
Charlotte has been a thriving city since before the Revolutionary War, so there's plenty of historical experiences to be enjoyed. Traditional museums include the Charlotte Museum of History, the Wells Fargo History Museum, and the Levine Museum of the New South, which offers plenty of educational exhibits that all ages can enjoy. If you prefer to explore, try a self-guided tour of the Liberty Walk, which features plaques marking important Revolutionary War sites.
If you love to eat, Charlotte is the place to be. Barbecue is a popular choice, and numerous Charlotte restaurants offer plenty of styles to choose from. If barbecue isn't your preference, don't worry. This eclectic city offers everything from authentic international foods to soul food classics to raw vegan fare. Keep an eye out for food trucks as you explore, as they're a foodie favorite in this city.
If you feel like a change of scenery, book a sightseeing tour on nearby Lake Norman. Many include food and drinks for a unique dining experience, and you'll get to see the area from an unusual vantage point. Boat options range from luxury yachts to old-fashioned riverboats, so you can select the option that suits your trip. Book a sunset tour for a particularly romantic experience.
Charlotte is located in the heart of car racing country, and you can experience the modern version of the sport firsthand at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. If you want more information or a chance to feel the rush yourself, visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame nearby. This fascinating museum details the history of the sport as well as prominent figures in it, and it also offers hands-on exhibits like racing simulators so you can experience the driver's seat.
Charlotte has a vibrant art and culture scene, so there's plenty to explore. Fans of sculpture and painting should check out the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art for some amazing work or follow the Arts and Science Council's Public Art Walking Tour to see gems hidden among the urban landscape. For a change of pace, visit the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, which shows a mix of traditional folk art and modern design by African-American artists. If you're a fan of performing arts, Charlotte is also home to numerous excellent community theater programs, a symphony, and a ballet company.
If you've ever wanted to try whitewater rafting, Charlotte is a great place to launch. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is located just a short drive away. This innovative facility features various man-made rapids to let you test your skill under the direction of experienced guides, as well as zip lines, climbing walls, and more. If you prefer a more slow-paced approach to the water, consider paddle-boarding, canoeing, or kayaking in the Mississippi Rental or on Lake Norman. Multiple rental companies can provide you with gear if you don't want to bring your own.
If you want a cool experience without leaving town, consider one of Charlotte's water parks. Ray's Splash Planet is a local favorite due to its convenient location in the Uptown district, and it features a variety of slides, pool areas, and other attractions that are great for all ages. It's also indoors, so it's a great choice for rainy days. If you want a little more adventure, head over to Great Wolf Lodge in nearby Concord. It features both large and small slides, a wave pool, a treehouse, and more.
Whether you prefer manicured gardens or pristine wilderness, Charlotte has what you're looking for. For the former, take a stroll through the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden or the gardens at UNC Charlotte. The city itself also has several protected wilderness areas, many of which have educational exhibits and accessible nature trails. These include the Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve and the Anne Springs Close Greenway. For a bigger challenge, heat out to Crowders Mountain State Park. The peak offers a view of the Charlotte skyline on clear days.
After a day exploring nature and history, you might feel like kicking up your heels a bit. Head down to City Center to check out the EpiCentre, a sprawling entertainment facility that is home to numerous nightclubs, restaurants, and entertainment venues. If you prefer to head off the beaten path, check out Brevard Court. The cobblestone street might make you feel like you're stepping back in time, but it is home to world-class dining and entertainment.
You cannot visit North Carolina without paying a culinary visit to Merchant and Trade eatery. Located at 303 South Church Street in Charlotte, the restaurant tempts the taste buds with a charcuterie board featuring the chef's choice of cheeses and meats, along with accompaniments. Enjoy late-night drinks or save room for the restaurant's S'Mores Cheesecake, made with homemade marshmallows and a graham cracker crust and topped with a coating of chocolate.
A must-see garden attraction and bird habitat, the Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary sits in the heart of Charlotte. The natural oasis highlights three public gardens where you can appreciate the area's flora and fauna. Some 142 species of birds have been recorded at the site. Many travelers visit the attraction in the spring when migrating winter birds return to the gardens. The popular three-acre Charlotte site, which opened in 1927, was developed by Edwin ("Eddie") and Elizabeth Clarkson. Mrs. Clarkson was also known, at the time, as Charlotte's "bird lady."
Known as a place where South Carolina and North Carolina meet at the junction of "Fun," the Carowinds Amusement Park (located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Fort Mill, South Carolina) features thrill rides and waterpark entertainment for just about everyone. Take the Boogie Board Racer, the longest mat-type race slide in the southeastern U.S., or get an adrenaline rush on one of the park's roller coasters - the Carolina Cyclone, the Carolina Goldrusher, or the Afterburn. Camp Snoopy, at the park, features rides for the kiddies.
If you want to explore the spooky side of North Carolina, you need to schedule a time to take part in a tour hosted by Carolina History and Haunts. Whether you learn more about the ghostly history of Charlotte by lantern, stroll through the west-end district of Winston-Salem past Victorian architecture, or learn more about Greensboro's haunted past, you will enjoy a delightfully frightening tour. Tours are conducted for 90 minutes - always after nightfall. Tickets are available for purchase online.
Located on 6500 South Hope Road in Belmont, North Carolina, the 380-acre Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden sits west of Charlotte on Lake Wylie. The Garden represents one of the best places to see Southern plants and flowers. The garden's beautiful pavilion regularly welcomes visitors to the site's tropical orchid and plant display, the Lost Hollow Children's Garden, glistening fountains, annual and perennial exhibits, and a variety of walking paths. Visit the park from 9 am or 10 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Sunday, or during the evening from 5:30 pm to 9 pm any second, third, or fourth Thursday in May or June.