Best Things To Do in Charlotte NC, a Quick Overview:
- Discovery Place Science
- Charlotte Funny Bus
- Wing Haven
- Mint Museum
- Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
- Nascar Hall of Fame
- Sea Life Charlotte-Concord
- Haunted History Tour, Charlotte NC
- Metalmorphosis Statue
Where to Stay:
How to get around Charlotte, NC:
A car is your best option. You can rent a car inexpensively at the airport, make advanced arrangements.
What to Eat:
For high-quality dining hit the Ballantyne and try the duck. Be sure to hit up a local bar for down-home southern beer and food culture.
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What is Charlotte like?
Charlotte NC manages to be both cool and family-friendly, hip and old fashioned, fun, artistic and ensures you feel welcome. At only 1.5 hours flight from New York, it’s an entirely different world. People greet you on the street, the vibe is decidedly relaxed and southern. There is also plenty of things to do in Charlotte. One of the things that struck me the most is how inexpensive everything is.
From the meal, I had at The Ballantine to admission to museums exhibiting most famous artists in history, to kid-friendly activities and even car rental (a must around here). You can expect to pay half to a quarter of what you would pay in New York, Philadelphia or DC. With all that and only a short (and very inexpensive direct flight) from JFK plus mild weather, this is an ideal long weekend gateway with kids or with a spouse. If you enjoy going to Boston or Philly for the weekend book yourself a trip to Charlotte, you will love it.
To explore even more of North Carolina, take a look at: “20 Best Resorts in North Carolina“
Discovery Place – Things to do in Charlotte
If you are looking for something fun to do in Charlotte with kids, be sure to check out the Discovery Place in Charlotte. This is the quintessential children’s science museum. There is a rainforest to explore, experiments to conduct and structures to build. Of particular interest are their jellyfish breeding facilities and coral growing program.
Before your visit, check out the website for a list of special programs. You will find many different classes and activities offered throughout the day. Here you will also find a separate toddler room and tons of activities for school-age kids. This nature center is one of many reasons that make Charlotte such a family-friendly city to visit.
Looking for even more United States family-friendly vacation ideas? Check out Things To do in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Charlotte Funny Bus
One of the best new things to do in Charlotte NC, The Charlotte Funny Bus tour is a different take on a familiar activity. The bus tour, which takes roughly 90 minutes covers uptown Charlotte and the surrounding areas. The tour is so good even many locals rave about it. Jokes tend to be on the politically incorrect side and you can bring wine and beer aboard. On Thursdays, the funny bus offers a raunchy R rated version of the tour. The R rated tours are very popular and sell out quickly so be sure to book in advance. More than just a fun comedy show, while on tour you do learn a lot about the history and the architecture of Charlotte. The cost is relatively pricy (for the area) $27 but the experience is absolutely worth it.
Explore further with your family. Check out: A vacation in Ecuador – An affordable family holiday guide.
Wing Haven Garden
Wing Haven, is a four-acre meandering garden located in a tony Charlotte suburb. It’s a short drive from downtown. If you are looking for the best thing to do in Charlotte, NC this is a must. Bring your camera as you are likely to see birds and flowers in season. I wish I brought a book too, there are many secluded benches to read and relax. Wing haven features a cute children’s garden area complete with some resident animals and a sister garden, called Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden just a few houses away. As many things in Charlotte, admission to this garden is very reasonable at $10 per person. You can learn more at their website (see links at the top of my page).
The Mint Musem – Things to do in Charlotte, NC
Featuring an extensive collection of American and European art, the mint museum may be the most famous art institution in Charlotte. The museum offers two locations – uptown and downtown. The uptown Mint Museum features the American Art collection including the famous American impressionists, the craft and design collection, and the Modern and Contemporary Art. The Uptown Mint Museum is located close to the Bechtler Museum.
The Mint Museum Randolph is located only a ten-minute drive towards downtown Charlotte. One of the many best things to do in Charlotte, NC, the Randolph Mint Museum features an extensive decorative art, fashion and Native American art collection. Several special collections are due to be exhibited at the Mint Museum Randolph, including the whimsical and kid-friendly “Never Abandon Imagination: The Fantastical Art of Tony DiTerlizzi,” (due to run through November 2019).
Want more east coast travel ideas? Don’t forget to check out East Coast USA bucket list.
Things to do in Charlotte – the Bechtler Museum
If you appreciate art, there is no shortage of great things to do in Charlotte, NC. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has an amazing collection of modern and contemporary artists. It’s large, airy, galleries are packed to the brim with priceless artwork. Here you will find the likes of Andy Warhol, Picasso, Degas plus a dozen more.
The Bechtler Museum is nowhere near as busy as its quality collection might suggest, and so it would be here that you can have an almost unique experience of being one on one with some of the worlds greatest artists. If you enjoy the Moma in New York this museum is a must-do. I loved wandering the galleries, discovering new work and new points of view from artists I have known all my life, and learning about new ones.
Nascar Hall of Fame
One of the most fun things to do in Charlotte, NC for the kid – and the kid at heart, is the Nascar Hall of Fame. Four floors of interactive exhibits await you here. Perhaps the most popular attraction at the Nascar Hall of Fame is the racing simulator. Visitors describe the experience as “as heart-pounding” and “crazy fun.” Many who come here aren’t Nascar fans, but few people leave disappointed. Between the interactive adventures, the history of the automobile and the look behind the hood of amazing modern tech, there is something here for everyone. The museum is large and takes several hours to explore, but the experience is worth it. The Nascar hall of fame is located within close walking proximity to the Discovery Science Center.
Sea Life Concord Aquarium
There are so many great things to do in Charlotte, NC with kids. Although this may be the first aquarium I ever visited inside a mall I must say I was very impressed with it once I got inside.
A bit out of the way of downtown, the aquarium is located in a huge mall. This just might just be your ticket to get the kids to agree to a couple of hours shopping in Charlotte. I loved the kid-friendly touch tank featuring sea stars. Also worth seeing is the octopus (you can watch octopus enrichment activities, just check the site for schedule). The highlight is definitely a cool walk through the tunnel with sharks, Rays, and school of fish swimming over and all around you. Right before the exit, you will find an indoor playground. I do wish there was something like this closer to home when my kids were little. Seems awful convenient 🙂 The Sea Life Concord Charlotte aquarium is involved in sea turtle rescue and other conservation work.
The Haunted History tour, Charlotte, NC
The Haunted history tour is probably one of the most spooky things to do in Charlotte, NC. While on this ninety-minute walking tour you will visit the fourth ward – and its most infamous landmarks. Discover a whole new side to Charlotte as your host (dressed in Victorian costume) shares with you the grizzly history of the city. Murders, ghosts and gowls await you as you eventually make your way into the to the graveyard. More than just ghost stories, the tour is designed to both educate and entertain. For the best effect, most tours start at dusk – 8 pm.
The Metalmorphosis Statue was commissioned by the American Assets Corporation and created by the world-renowned Czech Sculptor, David Cerny. You can find the statue in the American Asset’s Corporation office park development. More than just a work of art, the fountain incorporates complicated technical infrastructure. The water comes out of the statue in choreographed movements.
Update: As of 2019, the statue appears to have been removed.
Ready for your trip to North Carolina? Check out the best Charlotte hotels for every budget.