Explore Charlotte

Top Things to Do in the Charlotte Area

It might be three hours to the higher mountaintops and three hours to the coast, but Charlotte's got a lot that seems to keep everyone pleased right here. Keeping attractions and other things to do fresh seems to be a chief part of the Queen City's success—take, for example, Discovery Place, the science museum that has consistently ranked as one of Charlotte's most popular museums.

“We are honored to welcome so many guests each year, and we are inspired to make each visit an extraordinary experience,” said Catherine Wilson Horne, president and CEO of Discovery Place Inc. “Whether you are a young child learning to ask questions at Discovery Place KIDS, or you are sipping on science and cocktails during Discovery Place’s adult party Science on the Rocks, all of our museums offer programs, exhibits and films that are designed to continue connecting our community with the wonder of science at any age.”

Also keeping it fresh is Carowinds, which unveiled a $50-million makeover that not only sports a new look but new thrills, including adding the world's largest giga coaster to its lineup. The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC), meanwhile, has expanded by 140 acres to 700 acres overall and is adding four more zip lines, a 40-foot rappelling wall, a 120-floor launch tower, 11 miles of trails and the Pump House Biergarten to its grounds. Charlotte Motor Speedway now offers "glamping" for its fans—glamorous, infield camping tents that are perched near its giant video board, also described as a 16,000-square-foot HDTV. ("It's bigger than Jerry's TV in Dallas," speedway owner Bruton Smith quipped, teasing Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones when the Guinness World Record-breaking video board was added to the speedway in 2011.)

From the rushing rapids at the Whitewater Center to the captivating programs at Discovery Place to the one-year-old BB&T Ballpark, which set a minor-league attendance record in its first year, here's a list of some of the top, and oft-freshened, attractions and things to do in the Charlotte area:

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Home to the Coca-Cola 600 in May and the Bank of America 500 in September, Charlotte Motor Speedway is the beating heart of NASCAR country. Built in 1959 by Bruton Smith, the 1.5-mile track surrounded by 89,000 seats entices many of the industry’s best to set up shop in Concord, N.C.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Get a hands-on experience of the sport of racing through driving simulators, a pit-crew challenge and all the racing memorabilia you can handle. Visit the Hall of Honors to see the racing greats who have been inducted this year. In November, the hall’s plaza transforms into an ice-skating rink. $12-25.

Carowinds

This 400-acre theme park includes thrill rides like Fury 325, the world's-tallest giga coaster, the stand-up Vortex and the NASCAR-themed Intimidator. Straddling the North Carolina/South Carolina state line, the park offers 60 rides, shows and attractions for the entire family.

Mint Museum Uptown

The uptown location is a five-story architectural marvel that houses the internationally renowned Craft + Design collection plus outstanding collections of American, contemporary and European art.

Discovery Place Science IMAX Dome Theatre

A popular family attraction that features hands-on displays in which guests can walk the rain forest, participate in jaw-dropping experiments or wonder at the aquatic world. Become immersed in larger-than-life IMAX adventures, where science and nature spring to life. Museum: $15-$19; IMAX: $9-$10; Museum + IMAX: $20-$24.

EpiCentre

Like moths to a flame, this multi-story complex of clubs, restaurants and shops draws revelers from all over Uptown.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Explore the botanical wonders in this complex founded by Belmont textile magnate Daniel Stowe. Located along the banks of Lake Wylie, the gardens spread across 110 acres of rolling landscape. Guests are awed by the large visitors pavilion with its stained-glass dome, fountains, canals and nine themed gardens.

AvidXchange Music Factory

Formerly known as the NC Music Factory, this enormous refurbished textile mill offers a one-stop shop for dining, entertainment, live music and more. Catch a show at The Fillmore or an act at The Comedy Zone. Schedule of events online. Hours vary by venue.

BB&T Ballpark

Home to the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The ballpark has a seating capacity of 10,200 and also hosts concerts, festivals and community events. Opening day 2018: April 5.