Last Updated June 21, 2021 6/21/2021

11 Best Things to Do in Charlotte, North Carolina

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Nicknamed the “Queen City,” North Carolina’s largest city was named in honor of the wife of King George II, Charlotte of Mecklenburg. NASCAR fans can rally at Lowe’s Motor Speedway or the Hall of Fame, while nature lovers are able to soak in Charlotte’s natural beauty at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Boasting a perfect combination of museums, history, and action-packed attractions, Charlotte is one of North Carolina’s coolest cities and a lively destination for both adventure or relaxation. Discover the city’s cosmopolitan flair and unique charm with these top things to do in Charlotte.

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Rev Your Engine at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
NASCAR Hall of Fame

Rev Your Engine at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

What Is It? For any true NASCAR fan, Charlotte is a must-see destination as it’s home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 

Why Do It? You can explore 150,000 square feet of NASCAR-related everything, from historic race cars to a 64-foot-wide projection screen in the High Octane Theater with surround sound. 

Good to Know: Ideal for NASCAR fans of any age, this interactive entertainment attraction offers a peek into the history and heritage of NASCAR racing with over 1,000 artifacts, racing simulators, and four floors filled with high-tech exhibits.

Support Local Farmers at the 7th Street Public Market
7th Street Public Market

Support Local Farmers at the 7th Street Public Market

What Is It? Health-conscious foodies will be in heaven at Charlotte’s 7th Street Public Market.

Why Do It? You will find an indoor marketplace filled with home-grown produce, fresh-baked bread, locally made pizza, deliciously brewed coffee in addition to stalls selling wine, flowers, and gourmet treats. A bustling scene, the mission at this marketplace is to offer high-quality food, support local farmers and celebrate the vibrant food culture in Charlotte.

Good to Know: With a convenient location next to the Levine Museum and open seven days a week, it’s easy to make a day trip to the two attractions.

Explore Science at Discovery Place
Discovery Place Science

Explore Science at Discovery Place

What Is It? Charlotte’s premier children’s museum, Discovery Place boasts a family-friendly and hands-on exploration into science, technology, and nature through interactive exhibits. 

Why Do It? You can browse through learning labs, an aquarium and a rainforest, in addition to an IMAX and 3D theater that is sure to fire up imagination and creativity in science lovers of any age. 

Good to Know: Perfect for the little ones, the museum showcases everything from space travel to bugs and covers scientific concepts like earth science and physics in a fun and entertaining learning environment.

Get on the Water at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
Credit: usnwc.org
U.S. National Whitewater Center

Get on the Water at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

What Is It? Boasting the world’s largest man-made river, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is a non-profit recreation and athletic center that leaves you spoiled for choice in outdoor activities.

Why Do It? In addition to the river, the Whitewater Center offers a variety of land and water activities for all ages and skill levels to choose from in its 1,110-acre facility northwest of downtown Charlotte. 

Good to Know: Nature lovers and outdoor adventurers will be impressed with the variety of activities to go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and whitewater rafting in addition to the abundance of trails, mountain biking, rock climbing, and zip-lining opportunities.

Appreciate Art at Mint Museum Uptown
Mint Museum Uptown

Appreciate Art at Mint Museum Uptown

What Is It? One of Charlotte’s most beloved museums dedicated to the city’s vibrant art scene, the Mint Museum Uptown showcases an expansive set of artwork pieces from America and Europe. 

Why Do It? The five-story 145,000-square-foot facility combines awe-inspiring architecture with unique cultural and educational experiences.

Good to Know: You will find contemporary exhibits, a world-renowned Museum of Craft + Design, and an international collection of jewelry, furniture, and wood and clay art.

Join the Action at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Charlotte Motor Speedway

Join the Action at Charlotte Motor Speedway

What Is It? Setting the standard for any fan of NASCAR, the Charlotte Motor Speedway is considered the home track of the action-packed sport with over 2,000 acres and 1.5 miles of this awe-inspiring speedway. 

Why Do It? For an ultimate thrill, immerse yourself in the heart of NASCAR country and join the racing experience by driving one of the real cars on the same tracks as the pros. 

Good to Know: Catch an adrenaline-fueled live race or take a behind-the-scenes speedway and race shop tour for an unmatched fan experience.

Catch a Thrill at Carowinds
Credit: Carowinds
Carowinds

Catch a Thrill at Carowinds

What Is It? One of North Carolina’s most beloved amusement parks, Carowinds is a family-friendly attraction with a variety of rides that will make any thrill-seeker happy. 

Why Do It? Whether visitors indulge in the Dale Earnhardt-inspired roller coaster, the 20-acre water park at Boomerang Bay, or visit the kiddie rides at Planet Snoopy, families will be spoiled for choice at this “Thrill Capital of the Southeast”. 

Good to Know: Visit the interactive 3D digital theater, explore the dinosaur exhibit, watch the live acrobatic show, or cross over the North and South Carolina line inside the park.

Learn About History at the Levine Museum of the New South
Levine Museum of the New South

Learn About History at the Levine Museum of the New South

What Is It? Perfect for history buffs, the Levine Museum of the New South is an interactive history museum that boasts the most comprehensive post-Civil War history exhibits in the United States. 

Why Do It? You will be enthralled with the permanent exhibits like the Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers that highlight the history of Charlotte and enjoy exploring temporary exhibits that detail the social and political change in the South.

Good to Know: Engaging and hands-on, you are presented opportunities for learning and gaining an appreciation of the area’s rich history.

Soak in Nature at Freedom Park
Freedom Park

Soak in Nature at Freedom Park

What Is It? A peaceful oasis in the midst of the Uptown hustle and bustle, Freedom Park is over 100 acres of pristine natural beauty and offers activities for outdoor lovers of any age. 

Why Do It? Considered the “Central Park” of Charlotte, the park surrounds a 7-acre lake and boasts paved trails, tennis and volleyball courts, athletic fields, and a children’s playground. 

Good to Know: Films and musical performances in the park are common, in addition to locals spending the day enjoying the abundance of picnic, jogging, and dog walking spots.

Learn Something New at The Billy Graham Library
The Billy Graham Library

Learn Something New at The Billy Graham Library

What Is It? The Billy Graham Library takes visitors down a journey of the famous television pastor’s life.

Why Do It? Set in 40,000 square feet and 20 landscaped acres, visitors can join the 1.5-hour tour of the Graham family home to explore Billy Graham’s personal library, a memorial prayer garden, and other notable memorabilia.

Good to Know: You can learn about his life, from a humble farm boy to an international sensation through a series of displays and multimedia presentations. 

Take a Walk on the Wild Side at Carolina Raptor Center
Carolina Raptor Center

Take a Walk on the Wild Side at Carolina Raptor Center

What Is It? Located only 14 miles northwest of Charlotte in the city of Huntersville, the Carolina Raptor Center is a perfect place for visitors to take a walk on the wild side.

Why Do It? Situated in a 57 acre Nature Preserve, the rehabilitation center for injured, sick, and orphaned raptors was designed to provide educational opportunities to the public through live bird presentations and an introduction to over 30 species of birds.

Good to Know: Enjoy a face-to-face interaction with an abundance of stunning eagles, hawks, vultures, falcons, and owls.

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