20 Things to Do in the Queen City (Charlotte, NC)

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U.S. National Whitewater Center – An active person’s oasis. USNWC is located just 10 minutes outside of uptown Charlotte and offers a plethora of outdoor activities. I enjoy stand-up paddle boarding, whitewater rafting, running trails, and kayaking. Other activities include ropes courses, zip lines, canopy tours, mountain biking trails, and rock climbing. USNWC also has fun events throughout the year. We are going to the Whitewater River Jam Uncorked event this month, which features live bands and a $20 wine tasting.

USNWC River’s Edge Bar & Grill has great food and an excellent selection of draft beers, so be sure to check it out.

What you need to know: Parking costs $5; an All-Day Sports Pass costs $49; no outside food or beverage allowed; pet-friendly; nice bathrooms and showers.

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center – Perfect for those who have an interest in performing arts. I have been awed by every show I have watched. I love that I can get a taste of Broadway right here in Charlotte.

What you need to know: Charlotteans tend to dress up when going to the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Dress with class. I recommend parking at the Hearst Tower. It is nearby and you can get $5 preferred parking if you purchase your parking with your tickets or if you purchase the parking at the theatre before you return to the garage.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art – Don’t miss visiting this museum. It features works by the most influential and important artists of the 20th Century. We visited during a BMW 5-Series unveiling party, so we benefitted from the extra fun of having wine and hors’devours.

What you need to know: Admission is $8 for adults; it’s closed on Tuesdays; hours are typically 10 AM-5 PM; receive discounted parking at the Levine Center for the Arts garage located at 550 South Tryon Street.

Southend – Famous in Charlotte for its eclectic vibe and renovated factories. The Design Center in South End features a vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, and galleries. My favorite restaurants include: Pike’s Soda Shop, The Liberty, and Sullivan’s Steakhouse.

What you need to know: Parking is plentiful; you can walk most places; LYNX trains zoom through South End to uptown; on 1st Friday of each month, Southend has a Gallery Crawl.

The EpiCentre – This is uptown Charlotte’s center for nightlife. Conveniently located near the Charlotte Bobcats Arena, this area has plenty of restaurants, clubs, and even has an upscale bowling alley. (Fun fact: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the owner of Whiskey River).

What you need to know: Parking is $10 in the epicenter parking garage; travel with women if you want to get into the night clubs; dress to impress.

SouthPark Mall –The Carolinas’ best source for luxury fashion and casual staples. Shops include: Burberry, J. Crew, Kate Spade, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., and Urban Outfitters.

What you need to know: SouthPark is easy to get to from I-77; there are additional shops and restaurants in The Village at SouthPark located next to Crate and Barrel (we recommend dining at The Cowfish if you like burgers and/or sushi).

Lake Norman – Known best in the summer time for its “Party Cove,” Lake Norman is a great spot to mingle and have some fun. Rent jet skis to get in on the Party Cove fun. Lake Norman State Park is also worth a visit if you can’t get out on the water. It features a sand beach, campgrounds, and hiking and biking trails.

What you need to know: It takes 30-45 minutes to get to, depending on where you stay in Charlotte.

Montford Drive – A place best known for attracting fraternity boys and sorority girls, or at least those who look and act like them. It’s an area that crawls with nightlife fun without having to be in the heart of uptown. Everyone in Charlotte seems to agree that Good Food is a favored restaurant in the area.

What you need to know: Cops patrol the area in abundance; park at one bar/restaurant and you can easily walk to others.

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – Located in south Charlotte, this brewery produces all natural, premium beer. We suggest getting a glass of OMB Copper.

What you need to know: Closed on Sundays and Mondays; tours offered on Saturdays, brewery also serves some food.

Uptown’s Little Sugar Creek Greenway – We love jogging this greenway since it takes us from the suburbs to the skyscrapers. It’s also perfect for walkers and bikers.

What you need to know: Bugs can be horrible on the greenway (run with your mouth shut and sunglasses on); enjoy the greenway with a friend since some areas are desolate.

NC Music Factory – Although it’s not our favorite spot, this area tends to be popular for the music and nightlife. It’s a little out of uptown, but once you park, you can easily walk to all the venues. We went to the Drake concert last year and had an absolute blast.

What you need to know: The preferred club here is Butter (“upscale”); arrive to the Fillmore early if you want to a good view of the concert.

Metropolitan – An urban mixed-use community; features condos, restaurants, shops, and large retailers such as Best Buy. Metro offers some of the best views of our beautiful QC. We recommend dining at Pisces Sushi Bar or Dressler’s.

What you need to know: There is plenty of parking and it’s FREE!

Phillips Place – A place for those who truly love the finer things in life. Phillips Place has outstanding restaurants, a movie theatre, Dean & Deluca wine bar, and many specialty shops. The fountains, flowers, and benches make this area one of my favorite places to visit.

What you need to know: Parking can be a pain; the shops and restaurants are expensive, so if you’re on a tight budget, this place isn’t for you.

The VanLandingham Estate, Morehead Inn, Duke Mansion – All three of these historic residences feature breathtaking elegance. They are also all bed & breakfasts.

What you need to know: I don’t even know what you need to know. Just go!

Crowder’s Mountain – Another fun place to visit for those of you who enjoy the great outdoors. This state park has wonderful hiking trails and also has rock climbing. I absolutely love the views at the peak and enjoy watching raptors soaring in the sky.

What you need to know: It’s about a 45-minute trip from Charlotte; pet-friendly; bathrooms located at trailheads; don’t take the trail with the stairs if you’re out of shape.

Wing Haven Gardens – Located in affluent Myers Park, this has been a unique area of Charlotte since 1927. The gardens and bird sanctuary span three acres and are enclosed by brick walls.

What you need to know: Admission is $6 for adults; convenient parking; only open Tuesdays (3-5 PM), Wednesdays (10 AM-12 PM), and Saturdays (10 AM-5 PM).

Shelton Vineyards – This isn’t exactly close to Charlotte, but I’m a bit of a wino, so obviously I have to include a vineyard on the list! It’s absolutely gorgeous and there are plenty of tasting options to choose from.

What you need to know: Nearly two hours from Charlotte; tastings will cost you $5-$40 per person; the tour is well worth your time.

NoDa: Charlotte’s Historic Art District – Great for the artsy types who love to peruse galleries and fun little performance venues. Visit NoDa on the 1st or 3rd Friday of the month to experience NoDa’s unique street scene, the Gallery Crawl. (Fun fact: Marc and I had our first date at Cabo Fish Taco in the NoDa neighborhood)

What you need to know: Parking is tight and may be difficult to find. Lots of live music and dive bars. The surrounding area is rough, though.

Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – Enjoy a concert at Charlotte’s open-air music venue. This amphitheatre attracts the nation’s best musical performers. Marc and I went to the Zac Brown Band concert this summer … amazing.

What you need to know: Traffic can be a little rough, so go early to tailgate; drinks are outrageous (duh).

Historic Latta Plantation – Take a tour through this circa 1800 cotton plantation and living history farm. The guided tours are informative and well worth the money. Then head over to Latta Equestrian Center to go horseback riding around the plantation!

What you need to know: Adult admission is $7; Horseback rides are typically $25 unless you opt for a two-hour sunset ride, which will run you $65 (dinner included).

 ~ Lyndsi

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