Dubbed the Queen City, Charlotte is that quintessential mix of old and new existing in perfect harmony. The largest city in the state of North Carolina, it is home to a vibrant modern centre, a rich sporting heritage, and an array of excellent museums, galleries and other acclaimed cultural venues.
Charlotte is also famous for its diverse music scene, with the city hosting a myriad of music venues and several festivals each year. Together with its excellent weather, it’s little surprise that Charlotte attracts large numbers of visitors from around America and beyond. If you’re planning a trip, we’ve picked out 14 of the best things to see and do here.
Plan your trip: There’s no better way to give yourself more independence on your city travels than by hiring a car, ensuring you never have to worry about negotiating unfamiliar public transport systems or paying for expensive taxis to ferry you from A to B. Happily, there are a number of car rental agencies based in Charlotte that you can pick from.
A head turner in more ways than one, Metalmorphosis is one of Charlotte’s most unique and distinctive landmarks. Located in the centre of a circular public fountain, this stunning 23-foot modern art piece is the brainchild of artist David Cerny and comprises an intricate assortment of horizontally moving stainless steel plates that together form a giant metal head that captivates all who see it.
LOCATION 3701 Arco Corporate Drive
Tickle your funny bones on a comedy bus tour
Taking guests on a 90-minute ride through the cool hip neighbourhoods surrounding Uptown Charlotte, the Funny Bus Comedy City Tours is a truly unique – and mirthful – experience. Guests will pass all the fun things to see in the city such as the Panthers Stadium, Knights Stadium, and Nascar Hall of Fame, as well as several historical buildings and statues. Along the way guests get to learn about the city’s rich history via stories told by an onboard comedian while playing music, games and more. Guests can bring their own beer and wine along for the journey as they’re invited to sit back and enjoy rolling through the Queen City while they laugh and learn. Guests can book their tours online at www.funnybus.net or call directly 704-659-3186.
Sink some delicious craft beers
Charlotte has a burgeoning craft brewery scene and at the forefront of this city-wide revolution is Lenny Boy Brewing Company. Founded in 2011, Lenny Boy is a fully licensed microbrewery and tap room located in Charlotte’s South End neighbourhood that produces and serves mouth-watering craft beer and organic kombucha, as well as playing host to regular art shows, fitness events, documentary & short film screenings, festivals, and more. The tap room itself offers a wide assortment of beverages including organic kombucha, traditional ales and lagers, sours, gluten-free hard kombucha, gluten-free hard kombucha, and gluten-free wild ales, plus a tasty food menu. They regularly have live music on the weekend too.
LOCATION 3000 South Tryon Street HOURS Tues-Thurs 4am-9pm Fri 3pm-11pm Sat 11am-11pm Sun 11am-7pm Closed Mon
Make sweet music in a parking garage
Parking lots don’t usually make many people’s lists of city attractions, but the Musical Parking Garage known as Touch My Building in Charlotte may just be an exception. This is because the facility doubles up as an “urban musical instrument”, which uses photoelectric sensors and a sound sampler to create music when someone walks or dances along a set of steps. The quirky site is the work of American sound artist and architect Christopher Janney whose projects are famed for combining the principles pf music and architecture.
LOCATION 231 East 7th Street
Delve into the history of auto racing
Auto racing is one of the great American traditions and central to its heritage has been NASCAR. Fans of NASCAR can visit this vast, state-of-the-art NASCAR Hall of Fame that pays tribute to the cars and their drivers who have lit up American race tracks down the years. Highlights include a range of interactive exhibits, racing simulators, artefacts and a theatre.
LOCATION 400 East M.L.K. Junior Boulevard HOURS Weds-Mon 10am-6pm Closed Tues
Enjoy poetry in motion
During an amble around uptown Charlotte you’re likely, at some point, to encounter a painted wall featuring written poetry. If so, you’ve just stumbled upon one of the Wall Poems of Charlotte, a project that spans 11 walls across the city and has been designed to make poetry more accessible by increasing its visibility in public areas. Some of the walls feature a single verse, while others boast the full composition.
Catch a quality baseball game
Baseball fans visiting Charlotte are in for a treat thanks to the presence of a top class minor league baseball arena called BB&T Ballpark. Home to the Charlotte Knights, a cherished local baseball team with a long history, the venue plays host to regular matches, with tickets generally available to purchase both in advance or on the gate. There are plenty of food vendors, as well as easy parking to make life simple.
LOCATION 324 South Mint Street
Discover interactive science
Perfect for whiling away an afternoon on a rainy day in Charlotte, Discovery Place is your quintessential family attraction, with something to satisfy the tastes and interests of all ages. Visitors can see science in action through interactive exhibits on the human body and other species, as well as movies screened in a high-tech IMAX cinema. For sustenance, there’s also an on-site restaurant.
LOCATION 301 North Tryon Street HOURS Mon-Fri 9am-4pm Sat 9am-5pm Sun 12pm-5pm
Watch a world class theatre performance
Theatre buffs in Charlotte should certainly block out time in their itinerary for attending a play or musical at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Acclaimed for its exceptional acoustics, the modern cultural venue hosts a diverse programme of shows and events, with every seat in the house offering superb views of the action. Be aware, there are no restaurants on-site but plenty of eateries nearby.
LOCATION 130 North Tryon Street
Learn about Charlotte’s spooky side
Most cities have a spooky underbelly and Charlotte’s can be explored by joining a Carolina History and Haunts Ghost Tour. During the 90-minute eerie adventure you’ll embark on a candlelit stroll through the streets of Charlotte, all the while being regaled with spine-tingling tales and fear-inducing facts. Despite the creepy subject matter, the tours are designed to be suitable for all ages.
Hit the rapids
One of Charlotte’s most popular attractions for adrenaline junkies is the U.S. National Whitewater Center, which is dedicated to the promotion of active, outdoor lifestyles over 1,300 acres on the Catawba River. Here visitors can take part in a range of thrilling activities including whitewater rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lining, canopy tours, and mountain biking. The venue also plays host to regular live music and outdoor festivals throughout the year.
LOCATION 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway
Get back to nature
Charlotte has plenty of outdoor attractions too, and one of the very best is the McDowell Nature Center. Home to an outdoor amphitheatre, native animals, an array of natural flora and fauna, and an exhibit hall, the centre is both an educational venue and somewhere you can come to relax, unwind and simply feel at one with nature. There are also several walking trails, as well as a kids’ play area, water fountains and fishing opportunities to be enjoyed here.
LOCATION 15222 York Road HOURS Mon-Sat 9am-5pm Sun 9am-5pm
Immerse yourself in Charlotte’s rich history
If you’d like to learn about Charlotte’s long and fascinating heritage then there’s no better place to do it than at the Charlotte Museum of History. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the venue houses a wide range of exhibits that tell the stories of the people, places and events that helped make Charlotte the city it is today. Guided walking tours are available daily and are included in the admission price.
LOCATION 3500 Shamrock Drive HOURS Tues-Sat 11am-5pm Closed Sun-Mon
Peruse an antiques emporium
If you’re looking for a souvenir or memento to take home from your stay in Charlotte then the Sleep Poet Antiques Mall is a great place to head. Spread across 55,000 square metres of retail space, there’s everything from vintage clothing, jewellery, books, pictures, antique furniture, modern and classic home furnishings, and plenty more to be procured here, while several on-site food trucks provide refreshments.
LOCATION 4450 South Boulevard HOURS Mon-Thurs 10am-6pm Fri-Sat 10am-8pn Sun 12pm-6pm