Known as the Queen City, Charlotte is North Carolina’s largest. In professional circles it’s known as one of the biggest banking centers in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean you’ll find a stiff company town with nothing fun to do.
In fact, some of the best things to do in Charlotte center on sports, a bustling nightlife, and tons of outdoor activities for all levels of adventure.
Best Times to Go to Charlotte
For milder temperatures and smaller crowds, consider visiting Charlotte in the spring, from March through May, or in the fall months, from September through November. Going when schools are back in session will ensure that you enjoy the best things to do in Charlotte without feeling overcrowded. Plus, these months tend to have milder weather.
Spring and fall are also packed with festivals and other popular events. Check out Festival in the Park in September, which has been a Charlotte tradition since 1964. And in the fall, the sky is filled with hot air balloons in Balloon Fest, held in nearby Statesville.
Recommended: Where to Keep Your Travel Fund
Bad Times to Go to Charlotte
Charlotte is known for hot summer temperatures, which peak in July, with average highs around 91 degrees. You can also expect more rain in the summer. July has the most rainy days out of the year, averaging 13 days per month. So if you want to stay dry, it may be worth avoiding Charlotte during the summer.
Winters are chilly, averaging in the 40s on most days (although it does sometimes get below freezing). January also tends to be overcast about half of the days each month.
Average Cost of a Charlotte Vacation
How much can you expect to spend during an fun-filled getaway in Charlotte? BudgetYourTrip.com, a crowdsourced travel site, estimates daily food costs to be $37, plus another $27 for getting around. The average nightly hotel price is $189 in Charlotte, although you can always explore ways to save on hotels if you want to spend less. Here’s the breakdown for a weeklong vacation for solo travelers and couples:
• $259 meals
• $189 transportation
• $1,323 lodging
• $1,771 Total
• $518 meals
• $378 transportation
• $1,323 lodging
• $2,219 Total
10 Fun Must-Dos in Charlotte
Ready to dive into the best things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina? We found a mix of attractions and events for solo travelers, couples, and families looking for affordable travel.
1. NASCAR Hall of Fame
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is one of Charlotte’s biggest attractions. It contains over 50 interactive exhibits to explore. You can even indulge your NASCAR racing dreams by participating in a Pit Crew Challenge or getting behind the wheel in an iRacing simulator. Pick your favorite track from around the country.
Avoid the Hall of Fame on a Tuesday when the building is reserved for group visits. With a convenient downtown location, it’s easy to get to. 400 E. MLK. Jr. Blvd. Adults $27, children $20. NascarHall.com
2. Mint Museum
Can’t visit a city without checking out an art museum? The Mint Museum will double your pleasure. Not to be confused with the U.S. Mint, which produces American coins, this Mint is a cultural center and museum of international art and design. The original Randolph location in Downtown houses art exhibits from Europe, Ancient Americas, and Africa, plus ceramics and decorative arts. At the Uptown museum, you’ll find American art, contemporary pieces, craft, and design work. Tickets are good for two days at both locations. Closed Mondays. Adults $15, children free. MintMuseum.org.
3. Carowinds Amusement Park
You can’t have a list of fun things to do in Charlotte without including Carowinds. Located 20 minutes south of downtown, this amusement park is ideal for thrill seekers of all ages. There are 60+ rides spread across the park, with a mix of adrenaline-pumping roller coasters and milder, family-friendly options.
Kids can say hi to Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts crew at character meet-and-greets. And the whole family can sit back and relax at music shows all year long. If you need to cool off, Carolina Harbor Waterpark is included in the daily ticket price. Daily tickets from $45. Carowinds.com
4. Pro Sports Games
Charlotte is home to professional football, basketball, and soccer teams, making it a popular vacation spot for sports fans. The Carolina Panthers play at the Bank of America stadium in uptown Charlotte, with regular season games running from September to January (Panthers.com).
In the offseason, you can now catch a different type of football at the same stadium. Charlotte FC (CharlotteFootballClub.com) is a professional soccer team that arrived in the city in 2022.
You can also catch a Charlotte Hornets game during the NBA’s regular season, which lasts from October through April (NBA.com/hornets). Other sports include the PGA’s Wells Fargo Championship in May (WellsFargoChampionship.com) and the Charlotte Checkers hockey team (CharlotteCheckers.com).
5. US National Whitewater Center
The Whitewater Center on the Catawba River is a must for adventurers of all ages. The nonprofit outdoor recreation park offers 1,300 acres of whitewater rafting and kayaking, climbing, ropes courses, ziplines, mountain biking, jumps, and more. The Center’s mission “is rooted in the belief that all human beings share a genetic code that compels us to play outside.”
There’s even a solo climbing course that lets you free-climb walls up to 45-feet high and then fall into deep water below. Choose a single activity (from $27 for climbing to $55 for rafting) or all-access pass (adults $75, youths $65). Whitewater.org
Recommended: 6 Souvenirs You Won’t Regret Buying
6. Freedom Park
Looking for free things to do in Charlotte? Head over to Freedom Park, which is a few miles north of downtown in a residential area. Its 96 acres are full of wooded trails, playgrounds, and sports fields. Plus, you’ll find plenty of space to walk your doodle or puggle if you’re traveling with pets.
Freedom Park also hosts the annual Festival in the Park each September (FestivalinthePark.org). The three-day event features live performances, art exhibits, concessions, and a family fun zone. It’s definitely worth adding to your list if you’re traveling to Charlotte for some late summer travel.
7. The Market at 7th Street
Channel your inner foodie by exploring the culinary delights at The Market at 7th Street. This indoor food hall is located in uptown Charlotte. Inside you’ll find multiple vendors offering an array of options to eat on the spot or take with you.
Try Asian fusion, pizza, liege waffles, gourmet street food, and more. There are also specialty shops with smoothies, popcorn, wine, and cheese. While the market itself is open daily, individual vendors may have different operating hours, so check to see what’s open before you head over. TheMarketat7thStreet.com/
8. Charlotte Wine Country
North Carolina as a state has over 500 vineyards, and the Charlotte area plays a prominent role in this growing wine scene. You will need a rental car or shuttle service to reach many of the vineyards, since most are located a one- to two-hour drive from the city.
With award-winning wines to enjoy, it’s worth the drive time. Or you can avoid having to drive home, and opt for a wine tour (WineMeDown.com and others). Local experts will craft an itinerary on your behalf, arrange transportation, and even bring you food to nibble on between wineries.
9. AvidXchange Music Factory
Get a taste of Charlotte’s nightlife at the AvidXchange Music Factory. This downtown entertainment complex is a hub for live performances at multiple venues. The Fillmore is housed in an old textile mill, with the feel of the original San Francisco venue of the same name. A huge outdoor amphitheater offers a lovely view of the Charlotte skyline. And the Underground is your ticket to a more intimate concert experience.
When you’ve had your fill of live music, take in some laughs at the Comedy Zone, the only full-time comedy club in Charlotte. And check out the Bazal Gallery Nightclub for late-night dancing. AvidXchangemusicfactory.com
10. Little Sugar Creek Greenway
We’ll round out this list with one more free thing to do in Charlotte. The Little Sugar Creek Greenway is an ideal spot to walk, run, or bike down a linear trail in the heart of the city. There are actually several connecting segments of this trail — some of them paved — giving you the opportunity to tailor the length of your workout or stroll.
Thanks to Mecklenburg County’s restoration efforts, this narrow strip of land is now an ever-expanding rec area and wildlife habitat that will eventually stretch all the way to the South Carolina state line. You’ll feel immersed in nature despite going straight through downtown Charlotte. 1133 Metropolitan Ave.
Charlotte is known for many things, from a sports haven to a nature lover’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly family trip or an action-packed weekend getaway with friends, there are countless fun things to do in Charlotte at any price point.
Whether you want to travel more or get a better ROI for your travel dollar, SoFi can help. SoFi Travel is a new service exclusively for SoFi members that lets you budget, plan, and book your next trip in a convenient one-stop shop. SoFi takes the guessing game out of how much you can afford for that honeymoon, family vacation, or quick getaway — and we help you save too.
What is Charlotte, North Carolina, popular for?
There are quite a few things Charlotte is known for, particularly in the sports world. The city houses the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. You’ll also find the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Is Charlotte a walkable city?
Charlotte is not considered a walkable city. Of course, it depends on where you’re staying and where you plan to go, but overall the city ranks low for walkability scores.
What is the best month to visit Charlotte, NC?
Soak in Charlotte’s outdoor atmosphere in the early fall months. September is considered to be one of the best months to visit because temperatures turn mild after the heat of summer, and both cultural and sports events are flourishing.
Photo credit: iStock/Kruck20
Terms, and conditions apply: The SoFi Travel Portal is operated by Expedia. To learn more about Expedia, click https://www.expediagroup.com/home/default.aspx.
When you use your SoFi Credit Card to make a purchase on the SoFi Travel Portal, you will earn a number of SoFi Member Rewards points equal to 3% of the total amount you spend on the SoFi Travel Portal. Members can save up to 10% or more on eligible bookings.
Eligibility: You must be a SoFi registered user. You must agree to SoFi’s privacy consent agreement. You must book the travel on SoFi’s Travel Portal reached directly through a link on the SoFi website or mobile application. Travel booked directly on Expedia's website or app, or any other site operated or powered by Expedia is not eligible. You must pay using your SoFi Credit Card.
SoFi Member Rewards: All terms applicable to the use of SoFi Member Rewards apply. To learn more please see: https://www.sofi.com/rewards/ and Terms applicable to Member Rewards.
Additional Terms: Changes to your bookings will affect the Rewards balance for the purchase. Any canceled bookings or fraud will cause Rewards to be rescinded. Rewards can be delayed by up to 7 business days after a transaction posts on Members’ SoFi Credit Card ledger. SoFi reserves the right to withhold Rewards points for suspected fraud, misuse, or suspicious activities. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, a statement credit, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.