Charlotte is the most populous city in the southern state of North Carolina, with 872,000 people. It’s known for its banking industry and being the home of Wells Fargo’s east coast operations and Bank of America’s HQ. It’s also the major base for the US Motorsports Industry. Charlotte is a melting pot of races and cultures, with a substantial mix of Black, White, Asian and Hispanic residents.
It’s difficult to know where to start with things to do in Charlotte, NC as there’s so much to choose from. The city has a great mix of historic cultural and modern attractions for visitors and locals. Let us take you on a guided tour of the top things to do in Charlotte, NC on your visit!
NASCAR Hall of Fame
NASCAR Hall of Fame has quickly risen to become one of the most fun things to do in Charlotte, NC, despite being a fairly new attraction. The HoF was opened in 2011 and tells the history of the sport, as well as honoring exceptional drivers, teams, managers, and crew. The building includes the Heritage Speedway, which details more than 60 years of NASCAR history since its inception to the present day. There’s Glory Road, which is a banked ramp meant to imitate the speedway track at Talladega. It showcases a range of original cars and details the sport’s premier race tracks. The highlight is the Hall of Honor, where the inductees are listed.
Tickets required, available at the entrance, $18-$25
7th Street Public Market
The market at 7th Street is one of the best places in Charlotte, NC to indulge in a little shopping, eating, and drinking. Alternatively, you could also indulge in a lot of shopping, eating, and drinking. What you decide is entirely up to you, and we’re not here to judge. 7th Street Public Market is located in downtown and is home to a range of vendors. The focus of the market is promoting fresh local produce from the Carolinas. It does this by providing space for artisans and farmers to display and sell their goods. On top of the day to day offerings, the vendors run some fantastic foodie themed events and evening classes. Ever wanted to learn how to make donuts? Of course, you do. Everyone does. We think the couple who deep fries together, stays together, so this is obviously a great romantic thing to do in Charlotte, NC. Honestly, it really is.
Botanical Garden @ UNC
The Botanical Garden at the University of North Carolina was the brain-child of a former Professor of Biology and the founder of the University. The aim of the garden was to build somewhere the biology students could use to enhance their studies. From a starting point of basically nothing, the garden is now of an incredibly high standard and covers 10 acres of land. In addition, it has a huge horticultural library. Well, it is a University, after all. It’s also so hip that it even has its own podcast. Now, that’s not something you can say about many botanical gardens. Then again, not all botanical gardens are created equal. Check out the beautiful orchid room, the tropical fruit and spice room (a gin drinkers paradise), the sunroom, and the slightly worrying dinosaur room. This is a great free thing to do in Charlotte, NC if you don’t mind students. We jest, of course.
Located in Charlotte’s uptown district, Discovery Place is a science center and museum for all the family. Even Grandma can go, if she wants to. Don’t force her or anything, though. The DC experience is designed to be hands-on and interactive, so this is a particularly educational (read: fun) thing to do in Charlotte, NC with kids. The attraction started as a teeny museum, opened by a local school teacher in 1946. It captured the imagination of students and the wider community and started to grow. And it’s hardly stopped since. In 2010, it was transformed with the help of the small sum of $31.6 million dollars. It now has the largest dome IMAX in the Carolinas, Discovery Place Nature, Discovery Place Kids, Discovery Place Science, and the Discovery Place Education Studio. There’s a whole lot of discovering going on at Discovery Place.
Tickets required, available online or at the ticket office, $9-$24
Billy Graham Library
A visit to the Billy Graham Library is another great free thing to do in Charlotte, NC. This 40,000 square foot complex includes the library, Pastor Graham’s original home, a memorial prayer garden, and a Christian bookstore. The Dairy Brothers Cafe serves up delicious ice cream and milkshakes, as well as meals reflecting Graham family favorites. Billy Graham grew up on a farm just a few miles from the site and the campus tells the story of his life. From simple beginnings, his career, to the end of his life in February 2018. There’s also information and works by Billy’s wife, writer, and poet, Ruth Bell Graham.
Nothing says ‘fun thing to do in Charlotte, NC with kids’ quite like a trip to the adrenaline capital of North Carolina: Paramount’s Carowinds! The 400-acre (seriously…) theme park is a mecca for people who like paying for the pleasure of being thrown around, turned upside down, made to fear for their lives and, generally have the bejesus scared out of them. We know y’all want to go. The Carolina Goldrusher ride is one of the most popular in the park, despite the fact it’s been there since 1973. It’s probably been checked over a time or two since then, so don’t let its age put you off… If just being tossed in the sky doesn’t do it for you, hit up the water park and get drenched AND tossed in the air at the same time. Carowinds is an all round fun place to be. In fact, it’s crazy to think of having this much fun in one day is still legal.
Tickets required, available online or at the ticket office, from $19.99 upwards
Charlotte Liberty Walk
This is a self-guided walking tour of the history and development of the city of Charlotte. It also details the enormous effort of its residents during the American Revolution. There’s a downloadable guide you can print off and an app to download for your phone This will help to guide you to all the points of interest. The entire walk is six blocks long and three wide, so it’s not a case of trudging from one end of the city to the other. Plus, you could always stop in the middle for a coffee or beer if you feel it’s all getting too much for you. Just bear in mind that, during the Revolution, the people of Charlotte wouldn’t have been lucky enough to be able to stop for refreshments. No. They had British people to defeat before they got to stop and take a breath. Please take advantage of this free thing to do in Charlotte, NC and find out about the part the people of Charlotte, NC played in paving the way for the USA of today.
If we asked you to name the most boring thing to do in Charlotte, NC in a downtown garage, you’re bound to say ‘parking my car,’ right? We agree. However, if we told you, you could park it in a MUSICAL parking garage, we bet you’d be there like a shot. Parking your car has literally never been this fun. Located on East 6th Street in downtown, the nine-story structure’s official title is ‘Touch My Building’. Unfortunately, that’s slightly creepier than just straight up calling it the ‘Musical Garage,’ but we’re not in charge of that. Anyway, the garage is covered in fins that light up and play sounds when touched. Random tunes play every hour and there’s an intriguing riddle on a plaque with instructions to solve it. If you can solve the puzzle, it sets up the garage to play a full rendition of ‘DNA’ by Kendrick Lamar. I made that last part up, it doesn’t play that but it does put on quite a show if you can crack the code. This is a pretty good thing to do in Charlotte, NC with kids. Particularly if they enjoy a spot of problem solving.
Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers About Charlotte, NC
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about things to do in Charlotte, NC. The questions cover a range of topics and will help you research and plan your next trip.
What are the must-see things to do in Charlotte, NC?
Where should we start?? At the top, we suppose. The must-see things to do in Charlotte, NC include the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Discovery Place Science Center, the 7th Street Public Market, Botanical Garden and taking in a show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Basically, everything we’ve listed on this guide and so much more.
What are some fun things to do in Charlotte, NC?
‘Fun’ and ‘Charlotte’ go hand in hand and this southern powerhouse knows a thing or two about showing visitors a good time. Some of the most fun things to do in Charlotte, NC include catching a sports game. You can opt for NFL with the Carolina Panthers, NBA with the Charlotte Hornets or baseball with the Charlotte Knights. All that said the city’s main obsession is with motorsports; namely NASCAR. Around 85% of the NASCAR teams in the US are located in and around the Charlotte area, so there’s a LOT of high-quality racing themed things to do in Charlotte, NC.
Charlotte is a typically southern city, full of historical landmarks, southern hospitality, and sports-obsessed locals. The combination has resulted in a proud and progressive city where change is welcomed and history fiercely protected. The climate is welcoming, with mild winters and baking hot summers. The city sits close to the border with neighboring South Carolina and is an easy gateway to explore deeper into the southern US. The cost of living in Charlotte is lower than the national average, meaning accommodation, eating out and transportation costs pretty reasonable. This makes Charlotte a great place to visit, even on a tight budget. We hope we’ve managed to convince you to come see all the things to do in Charlotte, NC for yourself.