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Things to Do in Charlotte, NC in the Summer

Charlotte, North Carolina is a jewel of the Southeast. No wonder it’s called the Queen City. You’ll find there’s something for everyone in this growing city. Check out this selection of things to do in Charlotte this summer, and have fun!

Expand your mind.

Many of Charlotte’s museums are all walking distance from one another in the center of the city:

  • Mint Museum Uptown is best known for its Craft and Design collection but also displays American, contemporary and European art.
  • Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is an arresting building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta to hold a collection of influential modern artists such as Miró, Giacometti, Picasso, Calder, Warhol, and Le Corbusier.
  • Levine Museum of the New South explores the diverse history of the South since the Civil War.
  • Nascar Hall of Fame celebrates legends of the sport and even has an exhibit where you can time your efforts doing pit stop duty.

Tip: These museums are all found in what Charlotte calls Uptown, its named for the hub of the city, others might call Downtown. Why? The trading paths to what is now Charlotte used to require going up to the ridge.

Catch a game.

The Charlotte Hornets’ basketball season has wrapped up now. There’s still a chance you might catch a Carolina Panthers training session at the practice fields beside Bank of America Stadium. But, your best bet for summer nights is watching the Charlotte Knights play ball. You’re surrounded by Charlotte’s skyline when watching the action on this MLB Minor League diamond in the heart of the city.

Tip: Soccer fans can cheer on the Charlotte Independence, the local USL team. Or see Arsenal take on AC Roma at Bank of America Stadium on July 20 as part of the International Champions Cup.

See a show.

Charlotte is home to several indoor concert venues as well as outdoor amphitheaters. The biggest acts play the Spectrum Center. In 2019 the city’s stages welcome tour stops from the likes of:

  • Beck/Cage the Elephant
  • The Head and the Heart
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Nelly
  • Third Eye Blind/Jimmy Eat World
  • Mary J. Blige
  • Iron Maiden

Local entertainment offerings include:

  • Charlotte Symphony, which plays in its regular Symphony Hall in the summer but also offers outdoor experiences with Symphony in the Park.
  • Charlotte Ballet’s Summer Concert Match Game June 21
  • Actors Theatre of Charlotte performing the Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home June 6 -29

Taste a new brew.

Charlotte is a craft brewery hub. Many of these breweries also offer food and green spaces where kids can run around and play games while parents relax to live music. Whatever part of the city you’re in, you can find a brewery option:

  • Old Mecklenburg Brewery — A German bier garden style experience.
  • Sycamore Brewery — Along with craft brews this brewery offers ciders and wines on tap along with a beer garden and live music.
  • GoodRoad Cider Works — For those who prefer their alcohol fruit-based.
  • Legion Brewing — This Plaza Midwood brewery offers a free behind-the-scenes tour every Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.

Free Fun Things to Do in Charlotte

Relax in Freedom Park.

This is one of the top free Charlotte attractions. This 98-acre park in the city’s South End offers walking trails and pathways around a 7-acre lake. Along with baseball and soccer pitches, there are also basketball and sand volleyball courts. Kids can climb on the playgrounds or pretend they’re trying out for the Panthers in the NFL Play 60 KidZone obstacle course.

Tip: Discovery Place Nature is accessible from the park via a bridge in its southeast corner. This primarily animal-focused outpost boasts a Butterfly Pavilion, a planetarium, and an indoor climbing area where your young critters can pretend to be burrowing underground.

Take a walking tour of Uptown.

Charlotte’s central city area is a compact area with green space, public art, murals, and lots of history. Make pitstops at these must-sees:

  • Four sculptures at the corners of Trade and Tryon, also known as Independence Square, representing Charlotte’s industry, transport, commerce, and future.
  • Peters Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1834 as the first Episcopal Mission in Charlotte.
  • The Firebird is a perfect place for a Selfie.This 17-foot sculpture of mirrored and colored glass by Franco-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle was completed in 1991.
  • Green Park at the end of the Charlotte Convention Center holds an array of public art and sculptures.
  • Fourth Ward architecture including the Eastlake Victorian Cottage, Crowell-Berryhill House, Newcomb-Berryhill House and the Queen Anne style Morrison-Lawry House.

Pullout: Charlotte is called the Queen City because it was originally named for King George III’s wife Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. You can see a statue of the British king’s wife on your tour of the city (200 N College St.).

Experience Faith.

The Billy Graham Library in west Charlotte is a barn-shaped building dedicated to the evangelist’s faith journey. The library is on 20 acres of forested land, which includes a recreation of the two-story Colonial house in which Graham grew up and a prayer garden.

Family Fun in Charlotte

Learn something new.

Discovery Place Science features a range of fascinating and hands-on science and technology exhibits. Kids can lie on a bed of nails, visit the Aquarium, explore an indoor rainforest, or play in a special play zone for little kids. A special exhibition this summer focuses on LEGO towers. The IMAX films feature Pandas, Superpower Dogs or Backyard Wilderness.

Enjoy books & stage.

Local kids will love checking out Imaginon. This children’s library, which shares a building with the excellent Charlotte Children’s Theater, has many resources (including a Teen area) and offers a couple of indoor scavenger hunts. Out front there are places to climb and if that’s not enough, head across the street to the First Ward park to play after picking out your books.

Tip: The Market next door to Imaginon has a bakery, coffee shop, creperie and more if you need fuel before continuing on your exploration of the city.

Amuse yourselves. The Carowinds amusement park on Charlotte’s border with South Carolina (the park is actually in both states) has 14 rollercoasters, Camp Snoopy for smaller kids, and a water park. The newest addition to the park is the double launch Copperhead Strike, which reaches a max speed of 50 m.p.h.

Outdoor Fun Around Charlotte

Get active.

Another point of interest in Charlotte is the U.S. National Whitewater Center. This sprawling outdoor facility offers whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, zip lining, rock climbing, hiking, paddle boarding and mountain biking. Adjacent to the Catawba River, the center is also an official Olympic Training Center. The River Jam music concerts Thursday through Saturday are free except for the $6 parking fee.

Get out on the water.

Lake Norman, to the north of Charlotte, is the largest man-made body of water in the state of North Carolina. If you’re into water sports, this is the place to be. You can wake-board, row, fish, sail, or take a boat tour. You’ll also see pontoons, paddle boards and kayaks out on the water.

Climb a mountain.

Crowders Mountain State Park. 30 miles west of the city, is home to The Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain. You can hike one of the park’s 11 trails to enjoy towering cliffs and sweeping views of the surrounding area.

Tip: Want to get outdoors without driving as far? Try the 1,116-acre McDowell Nature Preserve in south Charlotte. Some of the many hiking trails will lead you to Lake Wylie’s waterfront.

When wondering what to do in Charlotte, NC, the problem is never that there’s nothing to do. With such an abundance of fun things to do, it’s really a question of which Charlotte attractions you’ll start

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