37 Fun Things To Do in Charlotte, North Carolina

October 01st, 2022

37 Fun Things To Do in Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte NC skyline with the Q city trolley in the foreground - Fun things to do in Charlotte NC

Charlotte is one of the most popular cities in North Carolina, with a population of almost 900,000 residents. There's no shortage of fun things to do in Charlotte. Choosing how to spend your next day off or a day in Charlotte when visiting can be hard.

We put together a list of our favorite Charlotte attractions, so the next time you're in the mood to try something new in Charlotte, you're guaranteed to have a good time. We're covering all of the following categories:

Museums in Charlotte include Discovery Place, The Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, The Charlotte Museum of History, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Discovery Place

Location: 1658 Sterling Rd., Charlotte, NC 28209, 301 N Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202, 105 Gilead Rd., Huntersville, NC 28078

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Science museum

Discovery Place has three museums in the Charlotte metropolitan area:

These North Carolina-based museums focus on bringing STEAM-related education (science, tech, engineering, arts, and math) to the area with their fun and interactive atmosphere. Benefits like $2 admission for EBT and WIC recipients keep the museum accessible for all.

The Mint Museum

Location: 500 S Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Art museum

The Mint Museum was founded in 1936 and was the first art museum in the entirety of North Carolina. Today, it has two locations in Charlotte. The Uptown location is located in the Levine Center for the Arts and the original campus, Mint Museum Randolph, is located in Eastover.

Both locations contain extensive art collections from around the world, and a ticket gives you admission to both museums over two days so you can see it all.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Location: 420 S Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Sun. 12-5 p.m., Mon. to Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Activity Type: Modern art museum

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art opened its doors in 2010 and is dedicated to displaying top artists from the 1950s to today. The museum started as the extensive art collection of the Bechtler family, who later decided to create a public viewing space with famed architect Mario Botta.

The collection includes top names in modern art including Picasso, Warhol, Giacometti, Chillida, and more.

Stop by Wednesdays after 5 p.m. for Wednesday Night Live, where you can enjoy live programming and free admission to the museum. Participating venues also include:

  • The Mint Museum
  • Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
  • The Knight Theater

Harvey B. Gantt Center

Location: 551 S Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: African-American art museum and cultural center

First established in 1974, the Harvey B. Gantt Center is named after Charlotte’s first Black mayor. The space hosts rotating exhibitions, educational programming, and events so visitors of all ages can learn about and celebrate African-American culture.

The center’s Family First program hosts classes for families in literary, performing, and visual arts on the first Saturday of each month. These classes range from Egyptian jewelry making to animation and more.

The Charlotte Museum of History

Location: 3500 Shamrock Dr., Charlotte, NC 28215

Hours: Tues. to Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Activity Type: North Carolina history museum

The Charlotte Museum of History takes a multifaceted approach to teaching Charlotte’s history. The permanent exhibit on the grounds is the 1774 Alexander Rock House & Homesite.

Other temporary exhibits have covered topics like culturally significant signage from around North Carolina and Catawba pottery traditions. You can also explore their virtual exhibits to learn something new without even leaving the house.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Location: 400 E M.L.K. Jr. Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Mon. to Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Activity Type: Racing hall of fame and simulator

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is the perfect place to spend an excitement-filled afternoon. Along with traditional exhibits, the hall of fame offers interactive fun like pit crew challenges, broadcast simulations, and even a race simulator.

Visitors rave that the hall of fame exceeds expectations with every visit. Make sure to buckle up as you explore exhibits and learn about what makes a winning team.

You’ve probably built up an appetite by the end of the day, and there’s great food in that Charlotte area, so be sure to make a reservation to fuel up.

Food and drinks in Charlotte NC - Where to go to grab a bite to eat

President James K. Polk Historic Site

Location: 12031 Lancaster Hwy., Pineville, NC 28134

Hours: Tues. to Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Activity Type: Historic cabin home

The President James K. Polk Historic Site is a reconstruction of the Polk property from the late 18th to early 19th centuries. It features a main cabin, where the family would have lived, a kitchen cabin, and the family cemetery.

It’s free to explore the grounds and visitor center. For just $2 (or less for children and seniors), you can take a tour and see what the cabins look like from the inside. The site also offers specialized tours, historic workshops, and more from their event page.

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Alt text: Some restaurants and bars to visit in Charlotte, North Carolina include The Crunkleton, McKoy’s Smokehouse & Saloon, Copper Modern Indian Cuisine, Amélies French Bakery & Café, Wentworth & Fenn, Brawley’s Beverage, The Auto Pour, Paranoia Pinball, and Charlotte Beer Garden.

The Crunkleton

Location: 1957 E 7th St., Charlotte, NC 28204

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Cocktail bar and restaurant

The Crunkleton elevates Southern classics with world-class food, cocktails, and atmosphere. They do it all here — from signature cocktails to mouthwatering desserts — and they do it well.

Patrons rave about the pecan pie and say their brunch is a must. When it comes to their cocktail menu, you’ll find everything from craft mocktails to a classic Bee’s Knees.

McKoy's Smokehouse & Saloon

Location: 4630 Old Pineville Rd., Charlotte, NC 28217

Hours: Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. to Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Activity Type: Traditional Southern barbecue restaurant

McKoy’s Smokehouse & Saloon is a family-owned restaurant where you can order the Register family’s perfected barbecue recipes. They’re best known for their double-grilled chicken wings but you can find all the barbecue joint staples on the menu.

Along with Southern favorites like smoked ribs and pulled pork, you can find some new twists like their BBQ Burrito. Finish off your meal with their peanut butter pie for a sweet ending.

Copper Modern Indian Cuisine

Location: 311 East Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28203

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Upscale Indian restaurant

Copper Modern Indian Cuisine creates a top-tier experience where you can enjoy the best of modern Indian cuisine, art, and music. Foodies rave that it’s the best Indian spot in Charlotte and that you need to order the Sesame Chili Cauliflower appetizer.

Dive into some warm garlic naan and sip on a mango lassi in a cozy atmosphere. Their lunch specials can’t be beat either, with a weekday special starting at just $13. It’s definitely worth checking out one of the best restaurants in Charlotte for yourself.

Amélie’s French Bakery & Café

Location: 136 E 36th St., Charlotte, NC 28205

Hours: Sun. to Thurs. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. to Sat. 7.-12 a.m.

Activity Type: Classic French bakery

Whether you’re looking for something sweet or savory, Amélie's French Bakery & Café has you covered. Try the crème brulée — they caramelize the sugar right in front of you before serving it.

There are three different locations to check out if you’re new to Charlotte, but the flagship location is on E 36th Street in NoDa. Whether you’re looking for a spot to crack open a new book or grab some dessert after dinner, you can count on Amélie’s to provide the perfect atmosphere.

Wentworth & Fenn

Location: 270 Camp Rd. Suite 103, Charlotte, NC 28206

Hours: Sun., Wed., & Thurs. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Activity Type: Gourmet bakery

Wentworth & Fenn started serving pastries out of a custom-built camper van by award-winning pastry chef Samantha Allen. In 2017, she was named Best Pastry Chef in Charlotte and was nominated for the James Beard title of Best Pastry Chef of the East Coast Region in 2016.

Now, Samantha mostly serves up her fresh baked goodness from Camp North End — saving the camper for special events. You can find sweet and savory baked goods here and we recommend stopping by for her top-notch biscuits.

Brawley's Beverage

Location: 4620 Park Rd., Charlotte, NC 28209

Hours: Daily 12-9 p.m.

Activity Type: Social taproom

Brawley’s Beverage is a Charlotte staple where you can stop by for wine and beer to stay or to go. There’s a spacious outdoor area for seating and lots of food nearby when you get hungry.

It’s easy to see why this is such a popular spot in Charlotte — the friendly service, selection of brews, and casual atmosphere keep Charlotte natives coming back for more.

The Auto Pour

Location: 5033 South Blvd. O, Charlotte, NC 28217

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Wine store with self-service taps

Beer taprooms are a popular hangout spot throughout Charlotte, but have you ever heard of a wine taproom? At The Auto Pour, you can take a bottle to go or try any of the 64 wines they have on tap.

Not everyone’s a wine person, so of course they have 18 beers and ciders available, too. If you start craving a snack to go with it, The Auto Pour offers charcuterie boards and even allows you to bring in your own food.

Paranoia Pinball

Location: 412 W Palmer St., Charlotte, NC 28203

Hours: Tues. to Fri. 4-10 p.m., Sat. 2-11 p.m.

Activity Type: Arcade bar

Paranoia Pinball is the perfect casual hangout or date spot for anyone looking for a different bar experience. Sip on some wine or local draft beer while you try out the 20+ rotating expert-maintained pinball machines.

When you need a break from the excitement, you can check out their back patio for a quiet ambiance. Be sure to check out their Facebook page before you go, too — they’re known for some great weeknight drink specials.

Charlotte Beer Garden

Location: 1300 S Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28203

Hours: Daily 11-2 a.m.

Activity Type: Beer garden and restaurant

Charlotte Beer Garden is known for its sprawling draft selection and menu chock-full of bar food favorites. This location boasts three floors and an outdoor patio. Regulars say you should try stopping by at night — fire pits and string lights create a cozy atmosphere to hang out with friends.

This spot is family-friendly during the day and patrons under 21 can enjoy the space over lunch or dinner. It later transforms into a great spot to enjoy a night out and meet new people.

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Location: 4150 Yancey Rd., Charlotte, NC 28217

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Brewery tours and dining

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery offers tours, a brauhaus, and biergarten to show off their famous brews. What sets this brewery apart is their dedication to “reinheitsgebot,” meaning all their beers only contain four ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast.

Their beers have won numerous awards and their menu features German classics that are perfect for enjoying in the taproom or biergarten. Order the Sampler to give their beloved sausages a try.

Taste of Charlotte

Location: 101 N Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Annual food festival

Taste of Charlotte is a free three-day festival with local and national vendors. The primary focus is sampling food but there are also live performances, family-friendly activities, and more.

Taste of Charlotte is also home to the Pink Cupcake Walk, where participants lap Truist Field while enjoying cupcakes and raising funds to support breast cancer charities before the festival starts.

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Alt text: If you’re looking for something to do outdoors in Charlotte, North Carolina, check out Whitewater Center, McGill Rose Garden, Latta Park, McDowell Nature Preserve, or McAlpine Creek Greenway.

Outdoor activities and things to do in Charlotte NC

Whitewater Center

Location: 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte, NC 28214

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Adventurous experiences

Outdoor activities are some of the most popular things to do in Charlotte. The Whitewater Center is a 1,300-acre facility with so many activities to try that you’ll never be bored. Stop by to explore your more adventurous side and try:

  • Whitewater rafting
  • Whitewater kayaking
  • Flatwater kayaking
  • Deep water soloing
  • Ziplining
  • Ropes courses
  • Rock climbing/bouldering
  • Platform jumping
  • Mountain biking
  • Trail running/hiking
  • Yoga
  • Ice skating

Availability for certain activities rotates, so check out the daily activity schedule to see which experiences are open before you head over to the center. Some activities are restricted by age or skill level, but there’s something for everyone.

If the physical activities are not your jam, check out their event calendar, as they often have concerts, movie screenings, and other fun activities going on.

McGill Rose Garden

Location: 940 N Davidson St., Charlotte, NC 28206

Hours: Mon. to Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Activity Type: Public garden with wine and coffee

McGill Rose Garden is a local favorite for large events and weddings, but as long as nothing’s planned, the space is open for anyone who wants to explore the grounds. McGill Rose Garden is pet-friendly as long as your dog remains on leash.

Be sure to check out Rosie’s Coffee & Wine Garden, where you can sip on handcrafted coffee drinks, beer, and wine. Be sure to check the website before you head out the door to make sure the garden’s not closed for a wedding.

Latta Park

Location: 601 E Park Ave., Charlotte, NC 28203

Hours: Daily sunrise to sunset

Activity Type: Parks and recreation

Latta Park is a public park in the middle of Charlotte with facilities including:

  • Picnic sites
  • Soccer fields
  • Basketball courts
  • Volleyball courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Athletic fields
  • Playground
  • Sprayground
  • Walking paths
  • Recreational center
  • Outdoor shelters

This park is family-friendly year-round, whether you’re looking to take the kids to cool off at the sprayground or check out the changing leaves along the walking path.

McDowell Nature Preserve

Location: 15222 York Rd., Charlotte, NC 28278

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Hiking trails and camping

McDowell Nature Preserve is a 1,132-acre property that shows off Charlotte's native flora and fauna. There are 56 campgrounds with facilities ranging from primitive sites to full RV hookups.

Copperhead Island is also part of the preserve with 20 acres of hiking trails, fishing access, and campgrounds. You can stay for a couple of hours or a couple of days to take in the fresh air and see some of the most beautiful sights in North Carolina.

McAlpine Creek Greenway

Location: 110 Old Bell Rd., Charlotte, NC 28270

Hours: Mon. to Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Activity Type: Walking path

The McAlpine Creek Greenway spans nearly 5 miles and is where nature meets the city in Charlotte. In addition to the views that range from urban to rural, this is the only greenway where you can see otters, beavers, and minks all in one place.

This is also a greenway where you can sometimes spot a rare native wildflower called larkspur. To see more of Charlotte’s wilderness, you can switch to the Campbell Creek Greenway at the Independence Boulevard intersection.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens

Location: 9090 Craver Rd., Charlotte, NC 28262

Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Activity Type: Botanical gardens

The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens features two gardens and a greenhouse with walking trails, picnicking spots, and plenty of spaces to rest and take in the beautiful plants.

You can register for a self-guided or staff-guided tour and explore the McMillan Greenhouse Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also stop by to attend classes and workshops in topics like botanical drawing or plant identification.

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Alt text: Charlotte sports teams to see play include the Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Checkers, and Charlotte Knights. You can also see racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sports teams in Charlotte NC

Charlotte Hornets

Location: 333 E Trade St., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Box office open Fri. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Activity Type: Professional basketball game

The Charlotte Hornets play out of Spectrum Center in Charlotte’s Uptown neighborhood. The Hornets play in the NBA and have been owned by Michael Jordan since 2010.

You can check their schedule to snag tickets to their next home game and watch the Hornets dominate the court in the Queen City.

Carolina Panthers

Location: 800 S Mint St., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Hours vary based on scheduled games

Activity Type: Professional football game

Once football season starts, it’s time to head over to the Bank of America Stadium and catch a Carolina Panthers game. The Carolina Panthers are just one of only two teams in the entire NFL to represent more than one state.

Though they played their first season in South Carolina, they’ve called Charlotte home ever since. Consult the team’s schedule to catch a game next time the Panthers are in town.

Charlotte Checkers

Location: 2700 E Independence Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28205

Hours: Box office open Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Activity Type: Minor league ice hockey game

The Charlotte Checkers have an interesting history, as they played in New York from 1990-2010 before moving to Charlotte. They currently play out of the Bojangles Coliseum.

The Checkers play in the American Hockey League. Be sure to plan around their schedule so you don’t miss a game this season.

Charlotte Knights

Location: 324 S Mint St., Charlotte, NC 28202

Hours: Box office hours vary

Activity Type: Minor league baseball game

The Charlotte Knights play in the International League as the Triple-A affiliate team to the Chicago White Sox. They play out of Truist Field and many team alumni have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Minor league baseball games are a family favorite thanks to games between innings and firework shows. Check out the team schedule for any special events and to watch the Knights reign victorious.

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Location: 5555 Concord Pkwy. S, Concord, NC 28027

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: NASCAR racing

NASCAR is one of the most exciting American pastimes. At Charlotte Motor Speedway, you can catch a race like the famous Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America ROVALl 400.

But there’s more to this speedway than just racing. You can stop by on the third Saturday of each month for the Cars and Coffee car show. If you find yourself in the area in December, you might just catch the 4-mile long Christmas light show that happens each year.

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Alt text: Other things to do in Charlotte include going to Carowinds, the Queen City Jam Session, Carolina Renaissance Festival, Camp North End, Optimist Hall, The AvidXchange Music Factory, and Sleepy Poet.

Other activities in Charlotte NC


Location: 300 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28273

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Amusement park

Carowinds is a local amusement park where admission grants you access to rides of all thrill levels. There are plenty of options for fun, whether you’re a thrill seeker or you’d rather take it easy.

When you need to beat the heat, Carolina Harbor, the largest water park in the Carolinas, has an abundance of water slides, play areas, a lazy river, and more.

The Queen City Jam Session

Location: 2921 N Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28206

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Summer music festival

For many people, summer means festival season, and with The Queen City Jam Session, Charlotte’s getting in on the fun. This festival features food and drink from local vendors and over 40 musical acts to enjoy throughout the weekend.

Located at NoDa Brewing Company, this event is for music lovers of all ages, though you must be over 21 years old to purchase a multi-day pass.

Carolina Renaissance Festival

Location: 16445 Poplar Tent Rd., Huntersville, NC 28078

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Annual Renaissance festival

The Carolina Renaissance Festival has been bringing ancient fun to the Charlotte area since 1993. You’re bound to discover something new visit after visit. The festival grounds boast 500+ actors, 140+ artisanal vendors, and 16 stages of performances.

On top of all that, you can stop by to watch jousting performances three times a day, falconry shows, and even interact with mermaid performers. Make sure to bring cash, as many vendors don’t accept credit cards, and drop by early to snag some free parking.

Camp North End

Location: 300 Camp Rd., Charlotte, NC 28206

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Market, office, and event space

Camp North End is unlike any other food market. A walk on the grounds reveals that the former Ford factory and World War II military depot has been transformed into a space that fosters growth for small businesses in Charlotte.

This commercial space is rented out to various bars, restaurants, merchants, and even startups. They host events nearly daily, varying from food drives to concerts and everything in between. The campus also boasts more than 50 murals, and locals love spending the weekend browsing the shops after checking out the food stalls and restaurants.

Optimist Hall

Location: 1115 N Brevard St., Charlotte, NC 28206

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Food hall

Optimist Hall is a testament to the growth and resilience of the Charlotte metropolitan area. Once a 19th century textile mill, Optimist Hall was also Charlotte’s first food hall.

You can find nearly 30 vendors at Optimist Hall, ranging from Cuban to Ethiopian fare. Among the food stalls there are other shops to explore. Visitors love that the food’s never a miss and there’s always something new to discover.

The AvidXchange Music Factory

Location: 1000 North Carolina Music Factory Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28206

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Live music and entertainment campus

The AvidXchange Music Factory is a local music venue with a sprawling campus that features:

Whether you’re stopping by to catch a show or dance with friends on your night off, the AvidXchange Music Factory has everything you could want to have a good time.

Sleepy Poet

Location: 6424 South Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28217

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Antique mall

The Sleepy Poet is an antique mall perfect for browsing all types of oddities, vintage treasures, and thrifted clothing. This antique mall is perfect for anyone who enjoys hunting for a good deal or rare find.

Vendors offer home decor, clothing, vinyl records, and furniture 362 days out of the year. Each time you stop by, you’ll have a new experience, as vendors rotate stock and new knickknacks appear.

Big Air Trampoline Park

Location: 2408 Sardis Rd. North, Charlotte, NC 28227

Hours: Hours vary

Activity Type: Trampoline park

Big Air Trampoline Park is a great way to spend a rainy day, especially if you’ve got kids to entertain. They have all sorts of adventurous activities to try out, including:

  • Trampoline room
  • Airbag jump
  • Dodgeball
  • Trampoline basketball
  • Laser maze
  • Obstacle course
  • Rock climbing
  • Mechanical bull
  • Virtual reality arcade

Big Air runs deals every day so you and your family can have fun on a budget. For older kids, Cosmic Nights on Fridays and Saturdays are the place to be, where the lights turn down a bit and kids can enjoy three hours of music, party lights, and attractions.

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Charlotte is a great place to move in North Carolina — it's a safe place to live and there are so many things to do in the Charlotte area. When you’re ready to make your move to the city, check out our listings in Charlotte to find your dream home for keeping close to the action.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.