Last Updated on July 20, 2022
Last Updated on July 20, 2022
When many people think about things to do in Concord, North Carolina, mental images quickly flash to races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, waterpark fun at Great Wolf Lodge, and shopping at Concord Mills.
All of these things are awesome and impressive on so many levels, but this guide is going to take you beyond them.
How? By sharing local food, a whiskey prison, and Intimidator tributes, and even more fun! So buckle up for a fun-filled ride through these things to do in Concord and elsewhere in Cabarrus County.
We’ve organized the guide into the following sections:
- Map of Things to Do in Concord (and Cabarrus County)
- Where to Stay
- Racing-Related Things to Do in Concord
- More Things to Do
- Where to Eat
- Where to Drink Craft Beer
- Things to Do in Concord’s Surroundings (Kannapolis, Mount Pleasant, and More!)
Read More: The Best Day Trips from Charlotte
Map of Things to Do in Concord (and Cabarrus County)
If you’d like to visually plan your trip, check out our map of things to do in Concord and Cabarrus County.
Read More: Our North Carolina Travel Map
Where to Stay
Whether or not you’re in town for a race, you should stay somewhere on Bruton Smith Blvd near Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each of these hotels are in a perfect spot, with easy access to and from I-85.
- Homewood Suites is close enough to zMax Dragway that we could hear cars running from our room, though it wasn’t that bad. Just a cool effect, in my opinion.
- We’ve also stayed at the Embassy Suites next to the Concord Convention Center. It’s a huge golf resort hotel and spa, also fun to watch from above as you ride the glass window elevator. There is a nice restaurant and bar inside, too, which will keep you from venturing out during busy evenings.
- Great Wolf Lodge is another perfect accommodation option, especially if the whole family is traveling. You can hang out at the waterpark before you check in and after you check out. Why is that great? Because you always need one more exhilarating ride down a waterslide.
Our friends at Visit Cabarrus have hosted us at each of these places, and I really have a hard time choosing which place is best.
Anyone who’s visited Concord and Cabarrus County a few times will tell you that there’s always something going on here. That’s why you can come back at any time and find these things to do and even more.
Here are a few prominent events that we know will convince you to get out and enjoy Concord and other spots in Cabarrus County:
- April to November: The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is the first of many Charlotte Motor Speedway races that keep bringing people back to Concord. We’ll share more about the Speedway in our next section.
- Minor League Baseball Games at Atrium Health Ballpark in Kannapolis (from April to September).
- October: The Riverbend Farm Pumpkin Patch in Midland is open from October 1 to 31. It’s possibly the coolest collection of slides and play structures. We also mentioned this in our guide to kid-friendly events in North Carolina.
- November: The Concord Christmas Parade is a wonderful celebration of Concord and surrounding towns in Cabarrus County. Held in downtown Concord for more than 90 years, this is one of North Carolina’s oldest Christmas parades.
- November to January: Speedway Christmas is an awesome kid-friendly event and among our favorite displays of Christmas lights in North Carolina.
Read More: Unique Things to Do in North Carolina
Racing-Related Things to Do in Concord
We wrote that you could find things to do in Concord beyond racing, but we also think you should investigate the excitement in and around Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Speaking of which, Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the first things to do in Concord for so many people.
This huge complex is often referred to as “the Home of NASCAR.” That’s because many teams are based in the area.
Five tracks officially make up Charlotte Motor Speedway. They host some of the biggest events in racing, making a visit here a must if you’re into cars and driving them fast.
We’re going to break down each part of the Speedway, with each of its parts hosting some the best events in Concord. You can keep tabs on Charlotte Motor Speedway events here.
The Oval, Short Oval, and Roval
Inside the main Speedway, you’ll find the 1.5-mile quad Oval, the .25 mile Short Oval, and 2.28-mile road course (Roval). Seating capacity here is 84,000, welcoming crowds each time NASCAR comes to town.
Read More: May in North Carolina
Across US 29 from the Oval is zMax Dragway.
After visiting this place a couple of times, I’m a bit hooked on drag racing and will never turn down an invitation. This 30,000 seater holds the first two-by-four-lane drag strip in the US.
Apparently, Las Vegas decided they needed one, too, after seeing zMax.
Watching the cars get put together on the first day of big events like the NHRA Carolina Nationals is almost as much fun. That’s when you get to see the teams in action and even meet many of the drivers.
Read More: October in North Carolina
The Dirt Track
Across US 29 is the Dirt Track, which is the smallest venue at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 14,000 can be seated at this stadium-style facility, which surrounds a 1,300 ft clay oval.
The biggest-named event that comes through here is the World of Outlaws World Finals. This always-exciting sprint car series brings the speed to the Dirt Track each year.
K1 Speed Indoor Karting
And after watching the races or prepping for the next one, you need to check out K1. Their only North Carolina location is in Concord and great for rainy days, hot days, or any day that ends in “y.”
I struggled during my first run, which is why I recommend at least five or six times going through the course. That way, you’ll get the hang of their 15 corner turns and that uber fun back straight to get up toward 45 mph.
Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store
Fans of racing’s best-known racing teams should visit the Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store. It’s one of the coolest free things to do in Concord and perfect for fans of the history behind Hendrick and the team’s best-known drivers.
You can see cars from the 80s, when Rick Hendrick created the team, through today. I don’t want to spoil things, but big names’ cars on display include Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Jimmie Johnson.
Mustang Owner’s Museum
On the opposite side of the Speedway from Hendrick, you can also see dozens of pony cars at the Mustang Owner’s Museum. There are a variety of rotating exhibits throughout the year, which keeps the experience fresh for even return visitors.
Note: Admission is $15 for adults and free to kids ages 15 and under.
More Things to Do in Concord
For this section, we’ll include other big names in the area (Great Wolf Lodge and Concord Mills) before moving onto some more of our favorites.
Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge also calls Concord “home” and is close to Charlotte Motor Speedway. Once you step inside, you’ll feel miles away from all the action.
They keep temps inside nice and cozy for you, at 84 degrees year-round. That way, you can enjoy all 11 waterslides, four pools, games, and much more in style no matter when you stay.
Add in Concord Mills and Cabarrus County begins to feel like the Texas of North Carolina. Since it’s our state’s largest outlet and retail shopping mall, I’m beginning to wonder if everything is purposefully built on a bigger scale here.
More than 200 stores reside here and we could go on about our favorites, but…Okay, here’s one.
But if you know anyone in this family, you’ll know we love trains. And that’s why we flocked to Lionel inside Concord Mills. It’s the famed toy train builder’s only directly owned store.
Here, you’ll find ready-to-run train sets, train cars, locomotives, and Imagineering for the little ones.
As parents and kids at heart, SEA LIFE is one of our favorite things to do inside Concord Mils. Visitors have 10 Interactive Zones to explore and 5,000 sea creatures to learn about at this fun-filled aquarium.
Sensory-Friendly Sundays are another reason to love SEA LIFE. During this time, sensory triggers are reduced throughout the aquarium and a safe place or comfort room is available.
If you’ve been to Concord Mills, do you have a favorite thing to do or place to go? Let us know about it!
Gibson Mill once housed a huge manufacturing company (Gibson Manufacturing) and has since transformed into a multi-purpose space, with shops, breweries, and more.
Here are a few places you should visit at Gibson Mill:
- Antique Mall: This is the largest collection of antiques in the South. Walk through here and you may get lost or easily distracted with all the cool stuff at each booth.
- Cabarrus Brewing: This is Cabarrus County’s first full-scale craft brewery and a major part of the community. They host events throughout the year to go with great beer and food.
- High Branch Brewing: They share the building in the back of the complex with Luck Factory next door. HBB has a nice and diverse selection of beers and a beautiful space for consuming them. We’ll share more about both of these breweries shortly.
- Luck Factory: Speaking of Luck Factory, this is a fun place to play some board games with your friends and family. They have more than 1,000 games for all ages, food and drinks, and you can bring a High Branch beer over, too.
- Food Hall (coming soon): We’re beyond excited about the food hall set to open at Gibson Mill.
Explore Downtown Concord
We think downtown Concord gets overshadowed when discussing fun things to do in Concord, but you can also slow down here. We love walking around and checking out the many buildings that appear on the National Register of Historic Places.
We always stop to admire the amazing Avett Brothers mural before continuing our walk around downtown.
Frank Liske Park
Before we get to restaurants, we think you’ll want to know about Frank Liske Park. This 238-acre park has multiple playgrounds, a disc golf course, mini-golf, paddleboats, and much more.
We highly recommend adding Frank Liske Park to your Concord itinerary.
Read More: Things to Do in Shelby and Cleveland County
Where to Eat (Restaurants)
Read More: Restaurants in Concord and Cabarrus County
Before a day at the races or if you’re enjoying things in Concord beyond cars, start with a visit to OMG Donuts. A dozen of their colorfully topped and filled creations go perfectly with a brewery’s coffee or Vietnamese Coffee if you’d really like a boost.
Grab some good, honest food at 44 Mills where Chef Mike Watson keeps more than his ingredients fresh. He sources as local as possible, with examples including bread from Charlotte and pork from Boone.
And due to the local nature of his produce and meats, the 44 Mills menu changes twice daily—yes, you read that right. Even a week after visiting when I wanted to compare what we ate, I could find maybe one or two familiar dishes.
As you can see from Christina’s photos, the food alone at 44 Mills is worth a visit. Peruse the drink menu, too, and hopefully, one of your party will order a cocktail.
Where to Drink Craft Beer (and Liquor)
If you love breweries as we do, you’ll know that Cabarrus Brewing is a pretty big deal around here. As Concord’s first full-scale production craft brewery, these guys know there’s pressure on them to deliver an experience.
And when you visit their 5,000 square foot taproom in Gibson Mill, you’ll see that Cabarrus Brewing goes above and beyond.
More Breweries in Concord
More breweries in Concord and around Cabarrus County include Red Hill and Buzzed Viking. Our guide to breweries in Concord and Cabarrus County covers these amazing places and more!
Ready to Find Your Favorite Things to Do in Concord (and Cabarrus County)?
The first time I visited Concord, I had no idea what we’d find. Now, I’m hooked and want to go back for more races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but more importantly at K1 so I can best Christina.
I’ll also be back for more at 44 Mills and other local restaurants, fun at Great Wolf Lodge, and anything else we find along the way.
We know there’s more and look forward to sharing it with you as we continue exploring. If you’re from the Concord/Cabarrus area or know it well, let us know.
If you’ve visited any of these spots or others in the area, we’d love to know which ones you love!
Things to Do in Concord’s Surroundings (Kannapolis, Mount Pleasant, and More!)
We can’t just focus on things to do in Concord because Cabarrus County is filled with interesting places to visit, too!
Read More: Things to Do in Charlotte
Needle through the Carolina Thread Trail
One of our favorites is Irish Buffalo Creek Greenway in Kannapolis. It’s currently 2.7 miles and connects Bakers Creek Park, Safrit Park and Vietnam Veterans Park.
The Thread Trail continues to grow, thanks to the tireless efforts of the people behind it.
Reed Gold Mine
Head to Midland and you’ll find Reed Gold Mine, which is the site of America’s first documented commercial gold find. Today, there’s a visitor’s center with exhibits documenting the gold rush’s history and displaying mining equipment.
Outside, portions of the Reed Mine’s underground tunnels are open for you to explore. And for just a few dollars, you can pan for gold. If you’re lucky, you might just take something shiny home!
Read More: The Best North Carolina Road Trips
Kannapolis calls both Cabarrus and Rowan counties home and is one of our favorite small towns in the area. Since it’s the Earnhardt racing family’s hometown, there are a few reminders of their influence in town.
If you want to know more about the Earnhardts, check out the Dale Trail. It’s a self-guided tour with 19 stops along the way, where you can learn more about the Intimidator’s life, his career, and places where he hung out.
Start off by paying your respects to the nine-foot bronze statue of Dale Earnhardt inside Tribute Plaza on the corner of Main and West B Streets.
NC Music Hall of Fame
Some notable Hall of Fame inductees include the Avett Brothers, George Clinton, John Coltrane, and Earl Scruggs. Learn more about them here.
Mount Pleasant sits in Eastern Cabarrus County and NC Highway 73 runs through it. It’s also the hometown of NC Hall of Fame inductees The Avett Brothers.
We visited a couple of places here and look forward to coming back and see what pops up next.
73 and Main
If you’re looking for something to eat in Mount Pleasant, look no further than 73 and Main. The first thing to catch your eye is the interior, as this restaurant sits inside a former hosiery mill.
The focus and work to remain faithful to the early 20th century-era code are only a part of what makes this place such a special one. On the upper floor, a massive event space awaits to entertain weddings, class reunions, and networking events.
When sitting down to enjoy a meal, you’ll also find delicious steaks and elevated pub fare on the menu. They’re the perfect accompaniment to 73 and Main’s made-in-house brews and their antique bourbon bar.
I can’t decide on what I liked best about this restaurant, brewery, and massive event space. I’ll just say their PB & J Burger is something you must try.
Southern Grace Distilleries
We looked forward to visiting Southern Grace Distilleries for so long and the tour lived up to the hype. I really don’t want to spoil much for you, but if you’re interested in learning about award-winning spirits inside a former prison, visit this distillery.
The tour and kind people behind Southern Grace impressed us on so many levels. We share more about this wonderful place and its story here.
In the meantime, you can see why it’s one of our favorite distilleries in North Carolina.
There are quite a few vineyards and wineries scattered around Concord and Cabarrus County, too. A few that we’ll mention here include Rocky River in Midland, Cabo in downtown Concord, and Douglas in Kannapolis.