While on vacation in a new area, finding things to do to stay busy is tough. Big cities have endless opportunities and narrowing it down often feels impossible.
Charlotte, North Carolina is daunting the first time you visit. You want to see and experience all the best parts of the city, but there’s so much to do. This is where having a guide comes in handy. During your vacation in the city, consult this guide to find 22 of the top picks for things to do in Charlotte, NC.
22 Things to Do in Charlotte, NC
Charlotte is a large city with a lot to see. Here are just 22 of the highlights you should consider visiting during your time there.
1. Hendrick Motorsports Complex
Only a 20-minute drive away from Charlotte is the Hendrick Motorsports Complex. This campus features state-of-the-art technology and facilities used in training NASCAR Cup Series teams for race day. The museum and store are open during the week for you to visit and enjoy. During certain times of the year, the campus even offers tours.
2. NASCAR Hall of Fame
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Keep to the theme by taking a trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The hall educates visitors about the memorable figures in NASCAR history. Celebrate the heritage of the sport in an interactive attraction that will entertain and educate you at the same time. High-tech equipment is used at this museum to ensure you have a memorable experience while paying tribute to NASCAR legends.
3. Charlotte Motor Speedway
After visiting the training center and learning about past NASCAR legends, it’s time to see a race. Take a short drive outside of Charlotte to experience race car driving up close. The Charlotte Motor Speedway has seen various NASCAR races over the years including the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America Roval 400. Enjoy the big league races or take a look at some of the smaller events hosted there.
Time to step away from the cars. If you want a fun and exciting day for the whole family, take a trip to the Carowinds Amusements Park. Enjoy dozens of unique rides, restaurants, games, and more during your visit. During the warmer months, there is a water park included in the price of your pass to help you cool down after being in the hot North Carolina sun.
5. The Mint Museum
The Mint Museum, also known as the Mint Museums, is a set of institutions that allows you to enjoy several different styles of art. Since its founding in 1936, it has been an innovative leader in art and design internationally, challenging limitations imposed by the art world. Take a tour of modern artwork, and the history of art and design with the rotating collections.
Located in an upscale area at the edge of Charlotte, the SouthPark shopping mall offers many luxurious shopping items. Pick from big-name fashion designers or independent boutiques from the local area. Enjoy fine dining, casual eats, and classy bars at the end of the day. Or start your day here, enjoying fresh baked goods and high-end coffee brews. The choices are endless.
7. Billy Graham Library
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Billy Graham was a renowned evangelist who spread the Gospel around the world, preaching everywhere from New York City to remote regions of Africa during his global missions. Located only a few miles from where he was raised, the library was named in his honor. The library also provides information about all that he accomplished in his lifetime. Both he and his wife are buried in the library’s prayer garden where they spent much of their time.
8. Truist Field
If you’re a fan of baseball, you have to visit Truist Field. Home to the Charlotte Knights, this field has hosted Triple-A All-Star Games for the International League. Get your tickets early if you want to avoid high prices because games here tend to sell out quickly. Pick from luxury seating in climate-controlled rooms or get up close and personal to meet the players.
9. Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
The Belk Theater is a huge, multi-venue performing arts center. The goal of the theater is to support artists and share a variety of art forms with others by building a community. As a non-profit, all the proceeds go back to the artists and the workers, helping to facilitate the growth of creative minds.
10. Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens
A half-hour drive outside of Charlotte, gardens, woodlands, and meadows rest on a 380-acre lakefront property in Belmont. The conservatory offers a garden to enjoy during all seasons and weather with a variety of plants on display. Enjoy tropical plants, prairies, fountains, a children’s garden, and more as you walk the dedicated trails.
11. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
As part of the new Levine Center for the Arts in Uptown, the Bechtler Museum is dedicated to mid-20th-century modern art. With over 2,000 pieces in its collection, the exhibitions showcased here change consistently, allowing all the works to be enjoyed and bringing in regular visitors looking to see the new collections. Take a quiet walk through the museum by yourself or learn more from scheduled tours.
12. Lake Norman State Park
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A must-see for any visitor in North Carolina is Lake Norman. It’s technically not in Charlotte. The lake is about 45 minutes away, but it is well worth it to experience the largest man-made body of freshwater in the area. The state park there offers various activities such as hiking, swimming, and nature walks, but it is particularly well known for its challenging mountain biking trails. Escape from the bustling city to enjoy a bit of calm.
13. Discovery Place Science Museum
Dive deeper into science and technology at the Discovery Place Science Museum. The museum is a non-profit institution that places all the money it gets right back into the program. The museum is dedicated to helping people of all ages gain a greater understanding of science. Different events and exhibitions go on at the Discovery Place constantly, so check out their calendar to see what’s coming next.
14. Optimist Hall
If you are looking for a good place to eat, swing by Optimist Hall. Formerly home to Charlotte’s largest textile mill, this building now hosts a large food court within the grounds. Any number of fine dining options can be found within as well as more casual places to eat, drink, and even shop.
15. Wing Haven Gardens
Wing Haven Gardens is made up of three different public gardens, each serving a purpose. Across them all are bird sanctuaries, local wildlife, native plants, and more to help support the ecosystem of the surrounding area. Rules dictate that noise levels stay low, so if you need an escape from the noise of the city, find peace within these gardens.
16. ImaginON, The Joe & Joan Martin Center
If you have kids with you on your visit, make a quick stop for them at this youth-designated location. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience as it mixes books and theater to create a safe learning space for kids. With multiple theaters, vast libraries, spacious classrooms, and interactive exhibits, your kids will learn a lot here while having fun and expelling some pent-up energy.
17. The U.S. National Whitewater Center
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The Whitewater Center is a haven for any outdoor activity lovers or fitness junkies. The center includes over 1,300 acres on the Catawba River. This gives you the space to explore and enjoy activities such as running, hiking, climbing, paddle boarding, and more. The center offers various indoor and outdoor activities to recenter your mind and body while keeping your fitness in check.
18. Freedom Park
Only three miles from the heart of Charlotte’s downtown area is a 98-acre park called Freedom Park. This huge green space offers various activities for you to enjoy. Consider a peaceful picnic along the waterside, stroll the trails and enjoy the lush vegetation, or sit and watch the sunrise on a new day. There are various sites to see within the park including vast bridges, spacious pavilions, and sparkling fountains. You can’t go wrong when you are enjoying the outdoors.
19. The Market at 7th Street
The Market at 7th Street is a one-of-a-kind indoor market that hosts dozens of local vendors. Eat, drink, and shop all in one place while supporting small businesses. Food options vary from fine dining to baked goods. Enjoy coffee or liquor here depending on your mood. Stop by shops with goods from local designers to buy a trinket to help remember your trip. With so many options, how can you go wrong?
20. McDowell Nature Center and Preserve
As one of the oldest and largest nature preserves in the area, the McDowell Nature Center and Preserve offers many sightseeing and learning opportunities. The land itself is mostly undeveloped and centers on a glistening lake. Wander the trails, take educational courses at the nature center, or enjoy the campground and play area during your time here.
21. Levine Museum of the New South
The Levine Museum of the New South is one of a kind as it explores the history of Charlotte and the surrounding area. The museum confronts difficult issues throughout history with grace, exposing both sides of every story and not letting you turn away from the realities of Southern history. Gain a deeper understanding of Charlotte while becoming inspired to keep fighting the struggles that still plague the city.
22. Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
At what is better known as the Gantt Museum, dive into unique cultural experiences. Celebrate African-American culture and all it has to offer by enjoying dance, theater, music, visual art, and more at this community center. The events that take place here are designed to inspire and educate all walks of life to celebrate the arts.