The largest city in North Carolina, cosmopolitan Charlotte can be found in the south center of the state, just a stone’s throw away from South Carolina. Located in Piedmont, it boasts interesting museums, historical sights, and countless tourist attractions.
As it is a significant economic, cultural, and financial center, the city has grown rapidly in recent years, with new shops and restaurants opening every day. Besides attracting businesses and residents, tourists have also flocked to its skyscraper-dotted Uptown, which rises futuristically above the sprawling city below. Here, visitors can find a number of excellent museums, with the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the motorsport’s roaring races a popular draw. With so many different things to do in Charlotte, it fully deserves its nickname ‘the Queen City.’
12. Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Meandering peacefully through the heart of the city and beyond is the lovely Little Sugar Creek Greenway, which will stretch 30 kilometers in total when completed. A very popular and picturesque place to go walking, running, and cycling, the paved path follows the charming creek of the same name, taking you past superb scenery and nature as you go.
First conceived of in 1968, the plan is to restore the local natural area while also rejuvenating urban spaces along the sparkling stream. While many scenic sections have been completed, others are still works in progress, with gorgeous water gardens and wetlands planned for the rambling route.
Already a pretty greenway, the completed version will see visitors be able to stroll, cycle or run all the way from Cordelia Park near Uptown Charlotte to the state line with South Carolina, passing through the city center as they go.
11. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Set just half an hour’s drive to the west of the city is the delightful Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Sprawling over a vast area, it boasts magnificent meadows and lush woodlands, with divine views on offer of Lake Wylie from its scenic shoreline.
Since being founded in 1991 by Daniel J. Stowe, a retired textile executive, the luscious gardens have gradually grown in size, with picturesque fountains springing up alongside arresting artworks. Nowadays, there are peaceful paths to amble along, lovingly landscaped gardens, and a conservatory full of orchids and tropical plants to explore.
At the heart of the beautiful botanical gardens lies a fetching pavilion, which makes for a fine sight with its 20 tall Tuscan columns. Created to inspire and instil a love of nature, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden certainly does that with all its enchanting plants and dazzling flowerbeds.
10. U.S. National Whitewater Center
An absolute must if you’re into exhilarating adventure sports, the exceptional U.S. National Whitewater Center has everything from kayaking and ice skating to rafting, rock climbing, and zip-lining for you to try. Set on a huge swathe of land next to the Catawba River, it lies around 20 minutes’ drive to the west of Charlotte.
Founded in 2006, the cutting-edge center features outstanding facilities. Its artificial whitewater river is the largest and most complex in the world. Besides its standout sight, it also has an enormous outdoor ice rink, an aerial obstacle course, and circuit of sky bridges and canopy tour for visitors to enjoy.
In addition to all of its world-class whitewater rafting and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities, the center has almost 60 kilometers of trails to hike or mountain bike along.
9. Charlotte Motor Speedway
Lying to the northeast of the city on the way to Concord is the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosts fast and frenetic NASCAR races. As many teams are based in and around the city, the track is considered to be the home of the motorsport, with an array of exciting events taking place there every year.
Built in 1959, the complex sports a state-of-the-art four-lane drag strip, which the stock cars speed around before shooting off along the rest of the oval track. Watching one of the raucous races really is an electrifying experience; the prestigious Coca-Cola 600 and the NASCAR All-Star Race are the picks of the season’s spectacular shows.
In addition to watching a race, visitors can get behind the wheel of a race car themselves and shoot along the speedway. On top of this, there is also a fun karting course to try out, while thrilling monster truck shows and sprint car competitions can be enjoyed at the site’s dirt track.
8. BB&T Ballpark
Set right in the center of the city is the BB&T Ballpark, home to the Charlotte Knights – a Triple-A Minor League baseball team. While in town, it’s well worth going to a game for the fun and friendly atmosphere- and for the superb stadium’s high home-run factor.
Only opened in 2014, the beautiful ballpark looks a treat as Charlotte’s sensational skyline rises dramatically above its immaculate green grass. Due to its setting in the centre of the city, it’s slightly smaller than other stadia, which means visitors are certain to see lots of big hits and home-runs.
While most people still know it as the BB&T Ballpark, a recent merger saw the state-of-the-art stadium renamed to the Truist Field. Whatever the name, it’s certainly worth catching a Charlotte Knights’ game if you have the chance.
7. Levine Museum of the New South
A fascinating place to visit, the Levine Museum of the New South is home to various interactive and educational exhibits on life in the south of the States after the Civil War. Located in the city center, it offers an interesting insight into the painful past, the promising present, and the future of the region.
Founded in 1991 as the Museum of the New South, it was renamed a decade later after its patron Leon Levine. Created to ignite dialogue and inspire action, its exhibits explore everything from the years of Reconstruction and the Great Depression to Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights movement.
Through artifacts, photos, and displays, visitors delve into the history and heritage of the south, while temporary exhibits focus on current issues important to the community – as well as local art and culture.
6. Mint Museum Uptown
Spread over five floors are an astounding array of artworks and designs for you to peruse at the marvelous Mint Museum Uptown. Housed in a distinctively designed modernist building, its colossal collection can be found in the heart of Charlotte’s city center.
Opened in 2010, the museum consists of two delightfully different halves: one focuses on craft and design and the other on American, contemporary, and European art. In its beautifully presented galleries, you can find everything from ceramics and clay models to furniture, fashion, and fibre art.
Besides exploring all its evocative and eclectic artworks, visitors can also stop by its on-site art studios and the Lewis Family Gallery, while its attractive auditorium regularly holds performances and cultural events.
Straddling the North Carolina – South Carolina state line is the awesome Carowinds amusement park, which lies on the outskirts of Charlotte. With plenty of exhilarating rides, rollercoasters, and a waterpark on offer, it makes for a fun day out for all of the family.
Since opening in 1973, the phenomenal theme park has entertained generations of families from the Carolinas. Now, there are nearly 60 exciting attractions to try out. While riveting rides and rollercoasters can be found at both Blue Ridge Junction and the Thrill Zone, Camp Snoopy’s carousels, climbing areas, and balloon rides are more suitable for younger visitors.
In addition, you can stroll along and take in the lively ambience at the Carolina Boardwalk and Celebration Plaza, while the Carolina Harbor has lots of wild and wet water attractions to enjoy.
4. Freedom Park
One of the most popular and picturesque places to visit in the city, Freedom Park can be found just to the south of Uptown Charlotte. Centered around a sparkling lake, it has many peaceful paths to stroll along, with playgrounds, tennis courts, and sports fields dotting its gorgeous green spaces.
Founded in 1949 to honor veterans who fought in WWII, it now boasts idyllic scenery and nature, with its lovingly landscaped gardens home to a plethora of pretty plants and flowers. As it has so many excellent facilities on offer, many locals come here to play basketball, baseball, and volleyball. Soccer and tennis also attract many visitors.
While lots of free films and musical performances are held in its pavilion during the sunny summer months, one of the best times to visit Freedom Park is in September. This is when the fantastic Festival in the Park takes place, and thousands upon thousands of revelers pack into the park to enjoy the ambience and artists.
3. NASCAR Hall of Fame
As it is part museum and part interactive racing experience, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is well worth visiting, even if you aren’t interested in the fast and frenetic sport. Opened in 2010, its shiny stock cars and race simulators can be found in a sparkling modern building in Uptown Charlotte.
Dedicated to the daring drivers and exceptional owners and crew members who turned NASCAR into one of the most popular motorsports in the US, it has lots of interesting exhibits to peruse on its history and roots. The city was actually chosen as the site of the museum as lots of teams are based in the area, and many of its most famous drivers hail from North Carolina.
In addition to this, the sport’s roots lie in the South and date to Prohibition, when drivers tried to evade authorities and run moonshine. Besides delving into its past and checking out the generations of race cars, visitors can have a go at being in a race simulator and try out their pit-crew skills.
2. Discovery Place Science
Another of Charlotte’s most popular attractions is the educational and interactive Discovery Place Science, which lies in the center of the city. Suitable for all ages, the superb science and technology museum takes you on a whirlwind journey of our natural world through engaging exhibits and hands-on experiments.
Founded in 1946 by a local school teacher named Laura Owens, the museum has since grown dramatically in size and scale. It is now a leader in STEM education in the Carolinas. As well as boasting an indoor rainforest, it also has delightful displays on Earth’s biodiversity, with fun physics and chemistry experiments performed in its lab.
As interesting and educational as it is engaging and exciting, Discovery Place Science has inspired and instilled a love of discovery and learning in countless generations.
1. Billy Graham Library
Set just ten minutes’ drive to the southwest of the city is the Billy Graham Library, which celebrates and commemorates the life and ministry of the superstar Christian evangelist. At his boyhood home, there are now lots of pictures and presentations on the preaching of the ‘pastor to the presidents’.
Born in 1918, Billy Graham grew up on the pretty and peaceful farm that now makes up the public museum dedicated to his life and legacy. Following massive rallies and Christian ‘Crusade’ campaigns in the 40s, he shot to fame and renown, which led to him providing spiritual guidance and counsel to every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
On an interesting and informative tour, visitors learn all about the famous evangelist as well as see artifact, memorabilia and videos from throughout his ministry. The ‘Journey of Faith’ culminates at the Memorial Prayer Garden where Billy Graham and his wife Ruth were laid to rest among the scenic and serene setting.