North Carolina is often considered as the better of the two Carolinas in terms of tourism but honestly, we’ll take our pic out of any of the two any day. This time, however, we are going to explore one of the top cities in North Carolina and that is none other than Charlotte. If you’re looking for a sprawling and culture-rich city to explore, then Charlotte might just be what you are looking for.
Charlotte is the most populous city in North Carolina and it is located in Piedmont. It serves as the county seat of Mecklenburg County. As one of the largest cities in North Carolina, Charlotte serves as a central hub for tourism, sports, and culture.
Other than having numerous museums and historical places to visit, Charlotte is a strong draw for tourism because of its numerous events and festivals that both locals and visitors can participate in. Some of the most prestigious events in the city include the Carolina Renaissance Festival which opens during Sundays and Saturdays from October to November.
Another notable event in the city is the award-winning Yiasou Greek Festival which was founded on 1978. It is one of Charlotte’s largest cultural events and it features cultural exhibits, authentic Greek cuisine, homemade pastries, entertainment, live music, and more. It truly is a taste of Greece in the US.
Last but not least, there’s the Taste of Charlotte. It is a three-day festival that features all of the culinary marvels and wonders that Charlotte has to offer. Aside from great grub, the festival offers amazing live entertainment and performances from locals around the city, thus making it the complete Charlotte experience all in one go. Aside from these three, there are several other memorable events and festivals that happen in the city annually.
Of course, events aren’t the only things that should make you visit this marvelous city. As we’ve said, there are countless sights to see, and activities to experience as well. Before we dive deeper into what those are, let’s take a look at a few important traveling tips for your journey to Charlotte.
- 1 How to Get to Charlotte
- 2 Getting Around Charlotte
- 3 Best Time to Visit Charlotte
- 4 Activities in Charlotte
- 4.1 Join a scavenger hunt
- 4.2 Go birding
- 4.3 Shop at the urban market
- 4.4 Drive a Formula 1
- 4.5 Play in Charlotte’s biggest playhouse
- 4.6 Dig for gold
- 4.7 Go on a picnic like a royalty
- 4.8 Play Bubble Soccer
- 4.9 Hit the beach
- 4.10 Run and drink
- 4.11 Visit a mustache bar
- 4.12 Explore the world without leaving Charlotte
- 4.13 Try different tours
How to Get to Charlotte
Charlotte is a well-developed city so getting to it is relatively easy as there are quite a few options available. However, to help you get to it easier, we’ve found the best routes possible.
From other parts of the world or the US, the top way to visit Charlotte is via booking a flight to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport which is only around 30 minutes away from the downtown area. This airport sees over 700 flights daily and it also offers more than 160 nonstop international and domestic flights from major airlines. This will get you to the city whether you are coming from Europe, Asia, or Canada, and more.
If you are planning on driving to the city, then Interstates 77 and 85 links Charlotte to various locations across the southeastern, northeaster, and midwestern regions of the US. Alternatively, you can take Interstate 40 for a coast-to-coast link from the north of Charlotte.
You can also take Amtrak to get to Charlotte. Currently, there are three routes that serve the city daily. Piedmont connects Charlotte and Raleigh, the Carolinian goes to New York from Charlotte and back, the Crescent travels from New York to New Orleans and then Charlotte.
Lastly, another great way to get to Charlotte is via the daily Greyhound bus service to and from Charlotte. Specifically, you should look for services that connect the city to Raleigh, Atlante, Richmond, and several other cities. Other bus options include Megabus and Wanderu.
Getting Around Charlotte
Ride-sharing services are available in Charlotte and this is the best option if you are specifically limiting your trip within the city. If you want to explore Charlotte, as well as the areas around it, we, of course, recommend renting a car from the airport or from various service providers around the city. In terms of traffic, there’s not much to worry about in Queen City.
Aside from taxis and buses, there are several other public transit options available too and these are tailor-made to accommodate locals and tourists. First is the LYNX Blue Line Light Rail. This is North Carolina’s first light rail line and it connects South Charlotte to Center City, It also passes by NoDa and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. On weekdays, trips are available every 7.5 minutes. Weekend service operates every 20 minutes on the other hand.
Another option is the CityLYNX Gold Line. It is a streetcar system that runs east to west and connects neighborhoods to the key businesses in Charlotte. If you are hoping to get to restaurants and malls easily, this is another convenient option. The Gold Line runs every 15 to 20 minutes from 6 AM to 11 PM from Mondays through Thursdays. From Fridays to Sundays, the trips are from 8 AM to midnight but trips on Sundays close earlier at 7 PM.
Best Time to Visit Charlotte
The best time to visit Charlotte would be during its springtime. This is from March to May. At around this time of the year, the weather is warm and comfortable enough to move around it. This is also the peak season for tourism but the good thing is that there are enough rooms and space to go by and accommodate everyone.
Aside from this, it’s worth noting that the city is very busy during this time of the year. There are several events and occasions to look forward to including Charlotte Craft Beer Week, Kings Drive Art Walk, 600 Festival, Wells Fargo Championship, Tuck Fest, the Charlotte Wine and Food Festival, and a whole lot more.
If you want to visit when there are fewer tourists and cheaper rooms, eye for a trip from June to August or during the summer. Although its the summer season, the temperatures remain very bearable.
Activities in Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina is a favorite place of many auto racing fans from around the world. And it is one of the things that draw tourists. From speedways, racing schools, and even motorsports museums, this city is really a haven for fans of auto racing fans.
However, this place is more than just that and you should explore them too. If you want to know what else awaits you in this city, here are some cool things to do in Charlotte NC besides auto racing.
1Join a scavenger hunt
One of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC is scavenger hunting. And we’re no juts talking about a scavenger hunt in an indoor attraction or any other small venue. Rather, we’re talking about a scavenger hunt in Uptown Charlotte. Yes, you read it right, the whole Uptown Charlotte. All you need is a smartphone to participate, thanks to 3Quest Challenge that transformed Uptown Charlotte into a massive playing field for such activity. For starters, the game consists of quests to locate checkpoint where you and/or your friends should answer riddles or complete tasks to collect clues that you will use to solve a bigger overall puzzle. The first team to complete all the quests will win the game. It’s a test of wit, speed, and sometimes physical strength that will surely make your day filled with fun, excitement, and, of course, memories.
Charlotte NC is also a place where you can get to see lots of birds, both migratory and non-migratory ones. But if you want to get a good look at some of the birds that you can spot in this city, going to the Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary is one of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC. Hidden in the heart of the historic Myers Park neighborhood, this place has plenty of nesting sites and a sprawling woodland area where birds can nest and fly freely. Hence, you will definitely spot some birds here. Most bird watchers have even spotted a number of exotic birds. What’s even better is that the Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary also has stunning gardens that will give you the best views and backdrop for the perfect Instagram photo to remember your travel experience by.
3Shop at the urban market
If you’re looking for some unique finds, shopping at the urban market is one of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC. Located exactly at the heart of Charlotte’s center city, the 7th Street Public Market sure has a lot of local things to offer. It probably has everything, including delicious pralines, fresh coffees, and even local bath soaps. It is also where you can find the Local Loaf where you can get to taste the most delicious praline bars. And if you’re looking for some unique gifts to give to your loved ones back to your home town, don’t forget to visit the Small Keys bath and body and buy their peppermint eucalyptus soap. You’ll surely love this place so don’t forget to allot ample time exploring this place. Who knows, you might even find some rare items.
4Drive a Formula 1
You might wonder why we’re talking about a race car when we said that we’re going to give you recommendations of some of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC besides auto racing but hear us out first. For this activity, you’re not going to race or watch a race, though. Rather, this experience lets you feel what it is like to be a race car driver for a day, without the car racing part, though. With this experience offered by Mario Andretti Racing Experience, as its name suggests, you can get to learn how to drive a race car and even hop in a Formula 1 replica car and drive around the Charlotte Motor Speedway at speeds of more than 170 MPH. It’s definitely a unique experience so don’t forget to add this to your travel itinerary as well, in case you’re traveling to Charlotte.
5Play in Charlotte’s biggest playhouse
If you will head to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, you can get to play in its “Wee Houses: Places We Play” exhibit that has 10 interactive playhouses, forts, and treehouses created by local artisans that kids and even kids at heart will surely enjoy as this unique exhibit lets you enjoy nature and let your imagination run wild. And the best part of it is that every corner of this exhibit surely makes a good backdrop for a good Instagram photo. Don’t worry if you miss this exhibit as Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden has plenty of things to offer besides that. Aside from this and its gardens, it also has several exhibits that not only provide entertainment and fun but some learning as well. If you’re traveling to Charlotte with the whole family, this place is one of the best attractions to see.
6Dig for gold
Digging for gold is, needless to say, one of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC. And if you will go to Reed’s Gold Mine, you can experience this unique activity. And yes, you can really get to dig some gold as Reed’s Gold Mine is the site of the first documented gold find in the US. Also, because of this, the state led the nation in gold production until 1848. Gold panning isn’t for free, though, as such activity costs $3 (plus tax) per pan. But the good news is that no fee is charged for admission or tours of the site if you’re not up for some gold panning. It’s one of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC that you shouldn’t miss. And who knows, you might even get to find the next big gold nugget.
7Go on a picnic like a royalty
Going on a picnic is one of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC, particularly in the Duke Mansion. But it’s not just an ordinary picnic wherein you will eat on a picnic pavilion or bring a basket of foods with you, etc. Instead, this Bed and Breakfast will give you a unique picnic experience wherein the food you’ll eat are all chef-prepared. Plus, you can also enjoy a bottle of wine or champagne along with it. And to top it all off, you can choose to have a picnic in twelve of the picturesque gardens in the Bed and Breakfast. Don’t worry if you want to try this picnic experience if you’re not staying here as you can also avail their Picnic in the Garden package even if you are not booking a room.
8Play Bubble Soccer
Playing soccer is also one of the fun and cool things to do in Charlotte. But this city really likes to give some twists to its activities so this kind of soccer that we’re talking about is not the type of the usual soccer game we used to know. This is because in this activity, you and your playmates will wear giant bubble suits to make the game more challenging, fun, exciting, and, of course, unique. For starters, this activity is basically a full-contact soccer but you will play it while you’re inside a giant bubble suit. If you’re traveling with a group of friends or with your family, this activity is a must-try so don’t miss out adding this to your travel itinerary too.
9Hit the beach
When the sun’s high up and the temperature rises, one of the literal cool things to do in Charlotte NC is to hit the beach. One of the best North Carolina beaches we recommend is Ramsey Creek Park located on the shores of Lake Norman. And the best part of it is that the entrance to the beach will only cost you $3 per car if you are a resident of the county. But don’t worry if you’re not a resident of the county as you will only have to pay $5 per car. And if you will frequent this place, they also offer a season pass option that will run you $52 if you are a resident and $77 if you’re not. However, note that Ramsey Creek Park only has a limited parking space; there are only less than 130 parking spaces available. Thus, make sure to arrive early or carpool instead.
10Run and drink
Who says running and drinking don’t go together? Apparently, in NoDa Brewing, you can as it’s not just a brewery but it is also a running club. It’s the best place to get fit while you enjoy some booze. And the best part of it is that if you are on a limited budget but want to tour the place, learn about the brewery, and even sample for a drink for free, make sure to stop by in this place on Monday through Saturday as NoDa Brewing offers free brewery tours on these days. On top of that, you can also get to fuel yourself up with some delicious snacks that they serve. It’s definitely something that you shouldn’t pass on as well, especially if you’re traveling with your friends or family of adults.
11Visit a mustache bar
Another weird combination but is also one of the cool things to do in Charlotte is to visit Stache House Bar and Lounge, a place where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a proper drink or a craft beer as you learn about the classic symbol of masculinity. It’s a different bar experience and it is something that you need to visit too if you’re traveling to Charlotte. The best part of this place is that you can also enjoy good music ranging from neo-soul and jazz to house and 80’s dance-pop.
12Explore the world without leaving Charlotte
Also one of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC is to explore the world without even requiring you a passport or even leaving downtown. Yes, you read it right, it is possible in Charlotte, thanks to Discovery Place, a Science museum that mainly caters to families. Through the various exhibits that it has, you and your family can have a lot of fun discovering and having a deeper understanding of the world around you. With its 3D IMAX movie and interactive exhibits, you love this place even more regardless of your age. This place combines art, science, and all the senses which will give you the most fun, entertaining and educational experience. That being said, it is definitely not to be missed if you’re traveling to Charlotte too, especially if you’re with your family with younger members.
13Try different tours
There’s plenty of things to see and stories to hear in Charlotte. And what better way to get to know them all by trying out the different tours that the city offers. But what makes trying out most of these tours worthy to be listed as some of the cool things to do in Charlotte NC is that some of them are so unique that you might not experience them anywhere else but here. One of which is the Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours wherein, you guessed it right, you will be taken around the city on a horse-drawn carriage giving you a unique travel experience as you delve deeper into the city’s history.
Also one of the unique tours that this city has to offer is the Funny Bus Comedy City Tours. In this tour, while you will not hop on a unique mode of transportation as you will only ride a bus, you will still have a unique tour experience as this tour will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a stand-up comedy bar but in a different setting – a bus. And as you have fun inside, this tour’s guides will show you around town.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as Charlotte still has plenty of cool activities to offer. While these are just a small part of what the city has to offer, we’re sure that you will definitely have a lot of fun.