15 of the Best Things to Do in Charlotte (Food, Outdoor Adventures, and More!)

Last Updated on September 8, 2021

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

We’ve found quite a few things to do in Charlotte, otherwise known as North Carolina‘s “Queen City.” Now, the city’s skyline may seem intimidating at first, but once you settle in, you’ll find that Charlotte has something for everyone.

Even if you’ve been before, let’s take a look at why you need to spend a weekend in Charlotte, to at least get a feel for North Carolina’s largest city.

There are plenty of fun things to do in Charlotte, and we thought we’d break it down to appeal to people in search of something specific.

  • Fun Facts About Charlotte
  • Seasonal Events in Charlotte
  • Things to Do in Charlotte
  • Where to Stay
  • Restaurants in Charlotte
  • Museums
  • Bigtime Sports Events
  • Things to Do Near Charlotte
  • More Things to Do in Charlotte and Nearby (Related Posts)

This post is part of our series on Charlotte and more places to visit in Central North Carolina.

Things to Do in Charlotte NC

Things to do in Charlotte NC Bank of America Stadium Carolina Panthers

If there’s something we’ve left out, please let us know in the comments section or by email and we’ll happily take a look at your suggestion.

Fun Facts About Charlotte

Downtown Charlotte NC Image

Charlotte’s backstory is pretty cool and here are a few things you need to know. Before it was a massive city, the area was inhabited by Catawba Indians. Today’s Tryon and Trade Streets are two remnants of a prominent Native American path.

More recently, the city was part of America’s first gold rush, and Charlotte is still a place of wealth and commerce. Many financial institutions use Charlotte as their headquarters, so the capital that once flowed in and out of Charlotte is still very much here!

It is one of the country’s largest banking centers, with Wells Fargo and Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte.

Seasonal Events in Charlotte

Charlotte North Carolina points of interest Historic South End

Spring (from March to May) and Fall (from September to November) are the best times to visit Charlotte, as the city is less crowded and you can get a great deal on hotels.

Keep in mind, the NFL’s Carolina Panthers home games may impact travel during the fall, but a trip to see them is another reason to visit Charlotte!

While some of the top Charlotte attractions do extend their hours during summer, this tends to be the busiest and hottest time of the year.

Heading to Queen City in the winter? No worries! It’s mild and snow is rare, but don’t count it out. Regardless, there are many winter days when Charlotte temps hit between 50–60 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s a big part of why we consider Charlotte among the best winter getaways in North Carolina!

Where to Stay

Hilton Charlotte Center City

Hotels in Charlotte NC Hilton Charlotte Center City

To really get a feel of what it’s like to live in Downtown Charlotte (or Uptown), stay at Hilton Center City. It’s one of our favorite hotels in all of North Carolina and here’s why.

The hotel is literally walking distance from the Arts District, Charlotte’s ballparks, museums, and more. Heading to another part of the city? Lynx Light Rail stops right behind the hotel!

Uptown is really the best place to stay when visiting. One more reason to book at the Hilton is for their Stay in the City Package, which is a fantastic way to enjoy Uptown Charlotte! 

The Dunhill Hotel

Hotels in North Carolina The Dunhill Hotel in Charlotte

Not too far from the Hilton is the Dunhill Hotel, a charming boutique hotel packed with history and modern amenities. Check in to one of their 60 beautifully rooms, enjoy a meal at the Asbury, and revel in the luxury found at Charlotte’s only historic boutique hotel.

These two hotels are a big part of why Charlotte is one of the most romantic getaways in North Carolina!

More Places to Stay in Charlotte

Staying away from Uptown? If you want to check out life in one of the neighborhoods, we suggest staying in NoDa, Elizabeth, or South End.

Or you can go completely adventurous and stay in one of the coolest Airbnbs in North Carolina. A few we mention are in and near Charlotte!

Explore Family-Friendly Museums

Inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte NC Image
Inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Looking for fun weekend things to do in Charlotte with kids? ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center has two state-of-the-art theaters, a dedicated library space for kids 11 and under, four multi-use classrooms, a teen-only library, a multimedia production studio, and an interactive exhibit space.

It’s hard to mention things to do in Charlotte for families without mentioning Discovery Place Science. It’s one of multiple Discovery Place locations, but we wanted to focus on it because it appeals to the young and even the young at heart.

Just think about what fun you can have at an interactive science museum with an indoor rainforest!

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is also in Uptown and an excellent tribute to the history of stock car auto racing. NASCAR isn’t done here, as we’ll mention the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord and Cabarrus County in a bit.

We included Discovery Place Science and other Charlotte museums among the best in the state here. It also featured in our guide to children’s museums and winter things to do in North Carolina!

Bigtime Sports Events

Charlotte NC Attractions Charlotte Knights BB&T Ballpark
BB&T Ballpark.

We already mentioned NASCAR’s footprint in the area but there are many more sports to explore in Charlotte. With the Hornets (NBA), the Panthers (NFL), the Knights (MILB), and the Checkers (AHL), this is really one big sports town. Out of them all, BB&T Ballpark—home of the Knights—is one of the best places to catch a game.

Just try and grab a seat on the third-base side, so you get a view of the city’s skyline during each inning.

The Arts: Get Your Culture Fix!

There are so many things to name for art lovers coming to Charlotte. You have to check out The Levine Center for the Arts, which includes the Gantt. It’s one amazing spot and an important place to learn about Black history in North Carolina, not just Charlotte.

Don’t forget about the street art and art galleries in NoDa, and join a Gallery Crawl in South End, for starters.

As you can see, the arts are alive and thriving in the Queen City. Want to catch a show? Dress your best and catch a Broadway performance at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center or jam your night away at the Neighborhood Theatre.

You can find Blumenthal and more ways to find the arts in our guide to winter things to do in North Carolina!

Charlotte Restaurants to Dig Into

Noble Smoke Charlotte restaurants
Noble Smoke

Have the finest brunch buffet at The Coastal Kitchen and then finish it up with a macaroon across the street at Amelie’s French Bakery.

The 7th Street Public Market is a perfect place to grab some lunch. Vendors change, so every visit to the market will be a new one! We even mentioned a couple of places there (Hazelnuts and Rico’s Acai) in our guide that covers restaurants in Charlotte.

And if you’re starting in Historic South End? Do yourself a favor and head to Holler and Dash for a Kickback Chicken Biscuit!

Grab Dessert in Style

Charlotte NC Things to do Popbar NoDa Image

Satisfy your ice cream craving with a funky popsicle at nearby Popbar or a wild combination macaroon sandwich from Ninety’s Ice Cream and Sandwiches in U-City

Sample Queen City’s Finest Dishes

And if you want to sample the Queen City’s (and North Carolina’s) finest cuisine in an afternoon? You can do that by joining a Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour, which is one of the best things to do in Charlotte any weekend throughout the year!

NoDa and More: Charlotte Breweries

Beer at Heist Brewery Charlotte Breweries

Craving a brew with your food? The kitchen and beer at NoDa’s Heist Brewery can quench that craving! Innovative beer and a menu that serves more than just your typical bar food, (Hello, Duck Confit Flatbread!) you’ll leave more than satisfied.

By the way, we’ve mentioned both NoDa and Heist when discussing our favorite North Carolina breweries.

US National Whitewater Center

What to do in Charlotte NC US National Whitewater Center Image

Another must-see outside of the city is the US National Whitewater Center, home to the world’s largest recirculating artificial whitewater river. The center is located on the raging Catawba River and has whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, zip-lining, and hiking.

One big event there that we must mention is the Green River Revival. We mentioned it in our Things to Do in North Carolina in March. Ever been?

Got another favorite outdoor thing to do near Charlotte that you’d like to share? We’d love to know about it! 

Things to Do Near Charlotte

Get around Charlotte and explore even more ways to make the most out of your trip! Here are a few that we recommend.

Cabarrus County: Zoom Into It

North Carolina Tourism Charlotte Motor Speedway

If you’re wanting to get out of the city and explore the surrounding area, we recommend heading to Cabarrus County. There is always something going on at Charlotte Motor Speedway, so bring your cooler for tailgating before catching a race or a car show.

Are you visiting Charlotte with your family? An entire day of family fun can be found at the Great Wolf Lodge from the water park, spa, arcade, and bowling alley.

No matter what you’re in town for, we think you’ll love the great breweries and delicious restaurants in Concord and Cabarrus County.

We mentioned these things to do and more in our guide covering things to do in Concord and Cabarrus County, too!

Uwharrie National Forest Hiking and More!

Things to do in Charlotte NC this weekend Uwharrie National Forest Image

If getting lost in the wilderness if your mission, Uwharrie National Forest is your destination. Spanning over 5,000 acres, Uwharrie is filled with some of the oldest mountains in North America.

There’s also undisturbed evidence of early American Indians and settlers, but we come for the hiking and scenery, too. It’s also popular for ATVs, boating, and more fun throughout the year!

Morrow Mountain and Crowders Mountain State Parks

Things to do in Charlotte this weekend Morrow Mountain State Park Image
Morrow Mountain State Park.

Nearby Morrow Mountain State Park is also fun, albeit much smaller than Uwharrie. You can hike or drive to the top for a nice view of surrounding areas on clear days. Crowders Mountain State Park is a close 40-minute drive from uptown and also boasts 11 trails for you to explore.

Each of these state parks rank high among our favorite spots for hiking in North Carolina.

Ready to Enjoy these Things to Do in Charlotte?

Queen City really is a place for everyone. There are tons of fun weekend things to do in Charlotte and learn about while hanging out there.

Honestly, a couple of days simply isn’t enough, but It’s a great start and we hope you can enjoy your time there.

No matter how much you dedicate to this awesome city, have a great time and we look forward to hearing about what you did. If there’s something we should go back and explore more. We’re always itching for a return trip to Charlotte, so you may see us there!

More Things to Do in Charlotte (and Nearby)

7 thoughts on “15 of the Best Things to Do in Charlotte (Food, Outdoor Adventures, and More!)”

  1. Thank you for including my photo and mention about the whitewater center. Also nice to learn about other cool places to visit in Queen City!

    • Thanks for being such a good friend of NC Tripping, Charles. Hope you can make it back to Charlotte and if you don’t call us, I’ll be sad…only half kidding. Thanks again!

  2. Charlotte looks like so much fun Carl and Christina. I knew it was home to BOA and also, one of my fave NBA players plays for the NBA team there. Michael Gilchrist as we know him from his high school days in New Jersey. He is such a nice kid. Well, man now, I guess, LOL.

    • Hey, thanks for reaching out! Looks like you’ll be over by Bojangles Coliseum. There’s only one hotel close to it (Golden Green), so there’s that. Uptown is only about 10 minutes away and we loved the Hilton Center City. Going back in a couple of weeks, so we might have another favorite:) Hope you enjoy the show!

  3. Right now, lots of stuff isn’t open, of course, but if you’re in Uptown Charlotte, check out the Cool Globes exhibit all through Uptown, and the BLM street mural on Tryon between 3rd and 4th Streets!

    When things open back up, if you enjoy live music go to The Evening Muse!


Leave a Comment