Markets and museums, sports arenas and science centres, cocktail bars and rooftop patios – the sheer diversity of entertainment in downtown Charlotte makes it a magnet for visitors.
In fact, the district’s uniqueness begins with the fact that, owing to a historical quirk, it is known among locals both as “Uptown” and “Downtown”. But whatever you call it, one thing remains certain: to find the heart of the action in Charlotte, this is where to go. The area positively brims with energy day and night: the former when bankers and businessfolk mix with a burgeoning creative community; the latter when the district’s nightlife scene bursts into view. Here are 7 of the best things to see and do in Uptown/Downtown Charlotte.
Walk in the footsteps of revolutionary heroes
Due to its geographical position, the city of Charlotte played a vital role in the American Revolution, in particular serving as a crucial bulwark when the British invaded North Carolina in the fall of 1780. Visitors keen to learn more about this aspect of the city’s history can do so by joining the Liberty Walk, a one-mile guided trail that stretches through downtown. Along the route, guests will pass bronze plaques and monuments as the expert guide reels off fascinating facts and stories about the origins and growth of Charlotte, and how its citizens participated in the Revolution.
Check out a top-class museum
One of Charlotte’s biggest and most prestigious cultural institutions, The Mint Museum consists of two separate museums – Mint Museum Randolph and Mint Museum Uptown – which together showcase a diverse assortment of art and design from around the world. At the architecturally striking uptown site, part of the Levine Center for the Arts cultural campus, visitors can explore the largest visual arts institution anywhere in Charlotte. Highlights include a vast collection of works by Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden, whose work offers a unique insight into the city’s artistic heritage. The museum also features an auditorium, art studios, a restaurant, and a gift shop.
500 South Tryon Street / Tues & Sat 11am-6pm Weds & Fri 11am-9pm Thurs 11am-8pm Sun 1pm-5pm Closed Mon
Chronicling the history of the greater Charlotte metro following the American Civil War, the Levine Museum of the New South transports visitors back in time via an assortment of evocative exhibits and displays. Shining a light on epochal periods such as the years of Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement, among the museum’s main highlights is a permanent exhibition titled ‘Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers’ that features reconstructed displays including a one-room tenant farmer’s house, a cotton mill, an African-American hospital, and a 19th-century Belk department store.
401 South Tryon Street / Tues-Sat 11am-5pm Sat 10am-5pm Sun 12pm-5pm Closed Sun
Delve into the world of NASCAR
Anyone keen to take a deep dive into the enthralling sport of stock car racing has the perfect opportunity in Charlotte at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The popular attraction charts the long history and heritage of the high-octane sport, honouring the drivers who have captivated racing fans down the years, as well as celebrating the contribution of the crew members and team owners who have helped popularise NASCAR since its origins way back during the Prohibition Era of the early 20th century. Interactive displays and hands-on exhibits help create an immersive experience for visitors.
400 E M.L.K. Jr Boulevard / Weds-Mon 10am-5pm Closed Tues
Catch an immersive show on a super-sized screen
An IMAX Theater and live animal displays are just some of what you can look forward to at Discovery Place, a science and technology museum that attracts large numbers of visitors throughout the year. Particularly popular with families keen to spark their kids’ interest in scientific topics and themes, the attraction is designed to provide an engaging and educational experience for all ages. The region’s largest IMAX screen is a perennial favourite, as are the butterfly pavilion and the chance to observe other live species and insects. The venue also hosts educational programs and summer camps.
301 North Tryon Street / Mon-Fri 9.30am-4.30pm Sat-Sun 10.30am-4.30pm
Take in a live show
At the heart of Charlotte’s thriving cultural scene is the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, a multi-venue complex comprising four separate theatres. Among them is the renowned Belk Theatre, the largest and grandest of the four – large enough, indeed, to host rock concerts and operas. The theatre and its counterparts host a busy programme of events throughout the year, ensuring there’ll be something to see whenever you happen to be in town. Tickets can be purchased at the venue’s official box office, either online or by phone.
130 North Tryon Street
Catch a baseball game
As in almost every city across America, baseball is a seriously big deal in Charlotte, and at the heart of the city’s passion are the Charlotte Knights Triple-A Minor League Baseball team, who play their home games downtown at Truist Field. The arena offers visitors the chance to experience that most American of recreational activities – attending a ball game – with tickets available to the public for most matches. Expect plenty of great sporting action, along with lashings of fast-food favourites including fries, chilli cheese dogs, boiled peanuts and beer.
324 South Mint Street