Although it is probably best known for high-octane NASCAR races and the official NASCAR Hall of Fame, there are plenty of other things to do in Charlotte NC. You can get far away from the track with the many beautiful green spaces, museums and tour opportunities around the Queen City. With a temperate climate, this North Carolina metropolis is the perfect travel and event destination.
Whether you are alone, with friends or with your family, there are plenty of activities that will keep your interest and that will help you appreciate all that Charlotte has to offer. Check out these great opportunities around the city.
1. Tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame
If you are going to be in the Charlotte area and if you have any interest in auto racing, you need to tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The 150,000-square-foot museum houses interactive exhibits, hands-on presentations and informative displays that will tell you all about the cars, races and even the greatest fans of the sport. Spend time in the High Octane Theater to discover more about the history of NASCAR, and visit the Great Hall for videos and rotating displays. Finally, check out Glory Road for historic cars and Race Week for a behind-the-scenes look at race-day preparations.
The Hall of Fame is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. So, if you are looking for things to do in Charlotte NC this weekend, this is a great option. Adult racing fans pay $19.95 while children ages 5-12 owe $12.95. There are also a number of combo packs available if you want to spending the day and purchase your admission, a packed lunch and a turn with the racing simulation ride.
2. View the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Located within the Levine Center for the Arts is the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. You will recognize the Bechtler by the 17-foot Firebird created by 7000 different mirror mosaics that stands in front of the entrance, and that impressive sculpture sets the tone for your visit. Mario Botta designed the museum, and it features more than 1400 different modern artworks, including those by famed artists like Matisse, Warhol, Picasso and Degas. For more information about the impressive art you are seeing, there are film series, lectures and even guided tours available at the museum.
If you are looking for things to do in Charlotte NC, you can visit the museum Monday through Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. or Sunday between 12:00 and 5:00 p.m. The Bechtler closes on Tuesdays. Adults will only pay $8 for entry, and youth ages 11 to 18 will cost $4. Children under age 11 are free, and there are additional discounts for seniors, students, educators and military personnel.
3. Stroll Through the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens
Although UNC is often more famous for its college basketball program, the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens are beautiful, especially in the spring and summer months when everything is in full bloom. You will find three different areas to explore, including the 7-acre Van Landingham Glen, the McMillian Greenhouse complex and the 3-acre Susie Harwood Garden. There are a wide variety of different shrubs, flowers and trees throughout these three gardens, and you will have plenty to admire and to smell as you wander leisurely through the grounds. The well-maintained areas also offer volunteer opportunities, plant society meetings and even plant sales if you are interested in taking home one of the plants you found.
You can enjoy the botanical gardens and the greenhouse for free, but the university and the caretakers appreciate all donations. Feel free to visit Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., but there may be school groups on the premises as well that will make the paths more congested, especially at opening times. This is one of the great free things to do in Charlotte NC.
4. Learn at Discovery Place
One of the top family things to do in Charlotte NC, is a visit to Discovery Place to explore the many hands-on exhibits geared for visitors of all ages. The museum prides itself as a leader in STEM education. When you visit, you will see inspirational science, technology and nature at work in the interactive activities. If there is something that you wonder about in science or nature, Discovery Place probably has an exhibit designed to answer all of your questions, and the IMAX theater offers intriguing and informative films as well.
You can be part of the action Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. or Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. A ticket to the museum only is $17 for adults ages 14 and up or $13 for children ages 2-13 years old. If you want to include the IMAX film with your admission, the cost is $22 for adults and $18 for children.
5. Shop the 7th Street Public Market
You will see all kinds of people at the 7th Street Public Market looking for things to do in Charlotte NC. This is not surprising once you see and smell all the fresh breads, coffees and desserts for sale. Located in the heart of Center City, this market aims to bring artisan foods and local products to residents and visitors on a daily basis. If you are interested in high-quality, fresh and affordable food with a little bit of culture too, this is the place to be.
The market is open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There is no cost for you to browse, but you simply cannot leave the market without sampling some delectable dishes.
6. Feel the Thrills at Carowinds
One of North Carolina’s favorite amusement parks is Carowinds. Whether you are looking for a thrill ride or a family experience, Carowinds is one of the most exciting things to do in Charlotte NC. Check out the Intimidator, a roller coaster designed to mimic the driving experience of Dale Earnhardt, or spend some time cooling off in the 20-acre Boomerang Bay water park. Carowinds also offers specialty programming around the holidays, including Scarowinds at Halloween, for a special day at the park.
Visit on a weekday, and there will be short lines at most of the major attractions of this local amusement park. A single-day admission costs $57.99 per person, plus you will have to pay $15 for parking. Locker rental at Boomerang Bay, a necessity if you are going to spend some time in the pools, runs between $10-18. Gate times vary by season, so it is best to check online for the official opening and closing times each day.
7. Gain a Skill at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen
No matter your current culinary skill, there is something you can learn at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen. Even better, you will spend the entire lesson sampling your work, drinking and making new friends in the kitchen. Located in South End and run by Alyssa Gorelick and Andrew Wilen, this cooking school aims to teach you healthy and sustainable methods suitable for everyone. You will work with seasonally available ingredients according to one of five skill levels ranging from beginners to professionals looking for additional practice.
These classes are unique things to do in Charlotte NC. Class dates are listed online, and you will need to sign up and prepay for your reservation in the sessions. Most classes run from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., and costs range from $50 to $70 depending on the skill level, ingredients and other supplies necessary for the lesson. This is a great activity for couples, family members and friends to do together.
Whether you are a racing fan ready to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame or Carowinds, or you are more interested in slowing down at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens or Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen, there are many different things to do in Charlotte NC. Spend time gazing at Bechtel Museum of Modern Art or sampling local fair at the 7th Street Public Market, and you will have a royally good time befitting the Queen City. These are just a few of the activities in this city that can make your time there exciting and enjoyable. If you want to visit other cities in North Carolina, Asheville is a great choice.