One of North Carolina’s largest cities, Charlotte and its surroundings are a permanent hubbub of activity, with visitors and locals alike flocking to its myriad of entertainment venues, cultural institutions and natural beauty spots.
Great outdoor recreation, top class shopping, superb museums and the NASCAR Hall of Fame – it’s easy to see why Charlotte attracts huge numbers of visitors every year. To help inspire you to make the trip yourself, we’ve picked out 12 of the most fun and cool things to do and see in and around the city.
Visit a fun-packed amusement park
The 407-acre Carowinds amusement park boasts some of the most adrenaline-pumping roller coaster collections anywhere in the world. Among them are two of the tallest steel roller coasters in North America, as well as the terrifyingly named Fury 325, a 325-foot Giga coaster that hits speeds of up to 95 mph. The venue is also home to well-equipped water park as well as several cafes.
LOCATION 4523 Carowinds Boulevard, Charlotte
Get acquainted with fearsome flying predators
Dedicated to the rehabilitation, research and conservation of the world’s most fearsome predators – birds of prey – Carolina Raptor Center is set within the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, around 20 minutes by road from central Charlotte. The site is home to a total of 37 different species of native and exotic raptures, including eagles, ospreys, owls, hawks, falcons and vultures. Visitors can embark on a self-guided nature trail that winds across outdoor aviaries and offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of these majestic rulers of the skies.
LOCATION 6000 Sample Rd, Huntersville HOURS Weds-Sun 10am-4pm Closed Mon-Tues
Sink some points at an acclaimed taproom & brewery
The taproom at Sycamore Brewing has been serving Charlotte’s South End since 2013. Sycamore is known for their easygoing & fun atmosphere for those looking to grab a tasty pint of beer. An especially great stop on a sunny day, Sycamore offer a sprawling outdoor beer garden and hosts food trucks & live music throughout the week. At both the indoor & outdoor bar, guests can choose from a wide range of fresh beers on tap, as well as Sycamore craft ciders and their ultra-refreshing 77-calorie hard seltzer line, BUBS. For food, music, and events schedule, follow Sycamore on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (@sycamorebrewing).
LOCATION 2161 Hawkins Street, Charlotte HOURS Mon-Fri 4pm-9pm Sat 12pm-9pm Sun 12pm-6pm
Attend a magical musical and arts festival
A major event on Charlotte’s entertainments calendar, Festival in the Park has been drawing huge numbers since its debut back in 1964. Primarily a music and arts festival, it provides a platform for over 150 local and national artists to display their diverse talents, while the event routinely attracts renowned acts from the music world to come to perform here. The art on show can be bought as gifts or souvenirs and top notch food and drink provide plenty of sustenance for the energetic crowds.
LOCATION Freedom Park, Charlotte DATES 24-26 September 2021
Join a regional wine tour
Visitors to Charlotte with an interest in wine can join a Private North Caroline Wineries Tour that takes in some of the region’s finest wine producers. Starting with collection at your hotel, the full-day tour will see you and your party of up to 11 guests transported via a comfortable Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van to 3-5 wineries. At each one you’ll get to enjoy a tasting of the home produce, marvel at stunning scenery, and learn all about the wine-making process. The tour in total runs for 6-8 hours, including your return journey.
Book at Viator.com
Positioned on the outskirts of Charlotte, the North Carolina edition of the world famous SEA LIFE franchise not only boasts more than 5,000 marine animals to admire, but also exhibits that tell the story of the state’s long and winding rivers. Set in authentically themed habitats influenced by the local surroundings, the venue invites visitors to can explore those hidden ecosystems with their own eyes. Highlights include 180-degree glass tunnel that’s home to sharks, rays and Carolina’s only rescued sea turtle, Neptune.
LOCATION 8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord HOURS Mon-Sun 11am-5pm
Book at GetYourGuide.com
Bag yourself some top class food & wine at a mouth-watering festival
Back for its thirty-third year of fundraising in the Queen City with a wine and food pairing for every taste, and all for a good cause, Charlotte Wine + Food Week presented by Truist returns bigger and better than ever. Event proceeds benefit Charlotte-area children’s charities including GenOne, Mitchell’s Fund, The Learning Collaborative, and The Relatives. Held over five full days, guests can look forward to socially distant vintner dinners at Charlotte’s top restaurants, an online charity auction, and the 1,000-Point Tasting & Dinner that should not be missed. Visit www.charlottewineandfood.org for more information.
LOCATION Venues across Charlotte DATES 14-18 April 2021
Indulge in some thrilling aquatic-based pursuits
Perched along the Catawba River, 15 miles west of Charlotte, the U.S. National Whitewater Centre features 30 different recreational activities to choose from, as well as the world’s largest artificial whitewater river. Intrepid visitors can choose from such thrills as swooping across a 1000-foot zip line and traversing rope bridges above verdant forest and gushing rapids.
LOCATION 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte
Enjoy a Southern Fried good time
Charlotte’s 15th Annual Biggest, Baddest, Bone-In BBQ Fest is back at a brand new home. Taking place at the home of the Carolina Panthers – Bank of America Stadium- the Charlotte Beer, Bourbon & Barbeque Festival invites revellers to come and enjoy all the pleasures that true Southerners live by – Beer, Bourbon and Barbeque. It’s a great day of beer sipping, bourbon tasting, music listening, cigar smoking and barbeque eating. Your admission buys you a sampling glass so you can enjoy an ALL-YOU-CARE-TO-TASTE sampling of beer and bourbon.
LOCATION Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte DATES 24 July 2021
Board an electric cart for a whistle-stop city tour
It’s hard to imagine a more exciting way to explore Charlotte than aboard an electric cart. The Electric Cart City Sightseeing Tour invites adventurous visitors to hop on board your electrified transport for a fun-filled 1.5-hour whistle-stop tour of the city. Accompanied the whole time by an expert guide, you’ll get to learn about Charlotte’s fascinating history, architecture and unique character while taking in its iconic museums, parks, churches, and sports stadiums. Along the way you’ll even stop for complimentary fried pickles at a renowned local eatery.
Book at GetYourGuide.com
Learn about Charlotte’s haunted history
If you’re keen to get under the skin of a city and discover its darker underbelly then a haunted walking tour could be for you. The Charlotte Haunted Pub Tour lets you explore the dark and creepy side of the city’s historic downtown district, visiting local and historic watering holes while enjoying spooky tales of the their legendary ghostly hauntings told by costumed guides. The tour includes stop offs at 3-4 watering bars and runs for around 2.5 hours.
Book at GetYourGuide.com
Experience a skydive without jumping from a plane
Skydiving would be an aspiration for many, if it wasn’t for the small matter of having to jump out of a plane. Step forward iFLY Charlotte, a premier indoor facility powered by a state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnel that lets you experience all the sensory thrills of a skydive but without the several thousand feet descent. The Indoor Skydiving Experience includes two jumps, all instruction and equipment, and a take-home certificate to show family and friends.
LOCATION 7840 Lyles Lane Northwest, Concord HOURS Weds-Fri 11am-7pm Sat-Sun 10am-8pm Closed Mon-Tues
Book at Viator.com