Cities Near Charlotte NC: Exploring the Top Ring-City Destinations

Charlotte is a bustling city with a lot to offer, attracting professionals, families, and travelers alike. As the largest city in the state, it’s a hub for industry, arts and culture, sports, and more. While there’s no shortage of things to do in Charlotte itself, it’s well worth exploring the cities near Charlotte, NC, to get a fuller picture of what the surrounding region offers.

From the shopping and entertainment options in Concord to the Southern charm of Belmont or the quaint atmosphere in Davidson, there’s something for everyone in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Venture a little further, and you can experience the storied history of Kannapolis or enjoy family-friendly communities like Gastonia, Huntersville, and Matthews.

Key Takeaways

  • Concord is the largest city in the Charlotte suburban region and features a massive outlet mall and endless dining options. Concord is also home to the local speedway and several NASCAR team headquarters.
  • Davidson is a relaxed college town near Lake Norman. The relaxed vibe is far different than you will find in Uptown Charlotte, but mere miles away.
  • Nearby towns like Huntersville, Harrisburg, and Matthews are perfect for growing families. They offer a little more room to breathe, with easy access to the amenities found in Charlotte.
There are great small towns and cities near Charlotte NC.

All About Charlotte, NC

As you explore this dynamic city, you’ll find a mix of both urban and suburban neighborhoods, providing various living experiences that cater to diverse tastes and preferences.

When you roam through Uptown Charlotte, the city’s central business district, you’ll encounter impressive skyscrapers, museums, and a plethora of dining options. Uptown Charlotte is also home to three professional sports teams: Carolina Panthers (NFL), Charlotte Hornets (NBA), and Charlotte FC (MLS).

The city is also well known for being a major hub for the financial industry, boasting headquarters for companies like Bank of America and Truist, and Wells Fargo’s East Coast operations.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Charlotte’s numerous green spaces, parks, and recreational facilities. With attractions like the U.S. National Whitewater Center and Freedom Park, you’ll find ample opportunities to engage in various activities like hiking, kayaking, and cycling, all within city limits.

As you consider taking a trip to or from Charlotte, remember that there are charming small towns and other major cities just a short drive away. This makes Charlotte an excellent destination for both shorter visits and as a central point for exploring the broader region surrounding the city.

Best Cities Near Charlotte NC – An Overview

When you want to explore new cities near Charlotte NC, you have a variety of options to choose from. Several nearby larger cities offer unique attractions and experiences for all ages and interests.

One of the important cities near Charlotte is Columbia, South Carolina, which is just a short drive away. Columbia boasts a vibrant arts scene, beautiful parks, and numerous historic sites to explore. You can also visit the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, where you’ll find a wide variety of animals and lush gardens.

Greenville is another nearby city on the southern side of the border in South Carolina. Falls Park and the Liberty Bridge make for one of the most unique downtown experiences in all of the Carolinas. Small shops and restaurants line the streets near the downtown river, and it’s just a fun place to explore.

In North Carolina, the biggest nearby cities include Raleigh and Asheville. Raleigh is fun to visit because it has many museums, including the Museum of Life + Science. Asheville is the best-known of the North Carolina mountain times and is known for the Biltmore Estate, which we recommend that you visit near Christmas.

While there are plenty of great cities near Charlotte, the larger cities mentioned above will take a few hours to drive to, but you don’t need to drive that far. There are plenty of great cities within the Charlotte metro area.

While Charlotte is awesome, it is worth visiting some of the best cities near Charlotte NC too.

Visiting Concord

Located just a short drive from Charlotte, Concord offers a variety of attractions and activities that make it a great afternoon destination. As you explore this charming city, you’ll find that there’s something for everyone to enjoy – from shopping and dining to exciting motorsports.

Top Reasons to Visit Concord

  1. Motorsports: Concord is a hub for motorsports, boasting Charlotte Motor Speedway, Zmax Dragway, and the Richard Petty Driving Experience. If you’re a racing fan, these attractions are must-visits during your trip. There is a reason Concord is known as “America’s Home for Racing.”
  2. Outdoor activities: If you prefer some fresh air and green spaces, Concord offers numerous parks, including Frank Liske Park. The park features walking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds for a perfect day outdoors.
  3. Family-friendly attractions: Check out the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park and the SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium for visitors traveling with kids. These venues provide a fun, engaging experience for the whole family.
  4. Downtown Concord: Take a stroll through the historic downtown area, where you’ll find unique shops, delicious dining options, and interesting architecture. Press & Porter is a great spot to grab a latte and soak in the charming atmosphere before continuing your exploration.

As you plan your trip to Concord, remember these fantastic reasons to visit and make the most of your experience in this inviting North Carolina city. There is a reason it is one of the largest cities near Charlotte NC.

Concord is one of the great cities near Charlotte NC.

Exploring Matthews

Located just southeast of Charlotte, the town of Matthews is an attractive destination for families and young couples alike. In recent years, Matthews’ main street has evolved from a sleepy rail town into a bustling hub of activity.

For this reason, it’s a popular suburb for those lookin for connectivity to the city while preserving a more traditional family lifestyle.

Highlights of Matthews

Four Mile Creek Greenway: A trip to Matthews wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Four Mile Creek Greenway. While the creek is longer, the greenway features 2 miles of paved trails connecting many of the local neighborhoods to downtown Matthews.

Take a leisurely stroll along this beautiful, well-maintained greenway, where you’ll likely spot various types of wildlife. It’s a perfect outdoor excursion for both kids and adults.

Local dining: Matthews provides plenty of options for food enthusiasts, From ‘slow-culture coffee’ shops to cut-to-order cheese shops, you’ll find something for everyone’s taste buds. Check out the variety of dining spots in town and savor a delicious meal or a refreshing drink as you explore the town.

Matthews Sportsplex: While every outlying town has a recreation center and sports fields, the Matthews Sportsplex takes things up a notch. The facility boasts 9 synthetic turf fields, 2 grass fields, and a 2,500 seat stadium. For a time, the Sportsplex served as home to the Charlotte Independence, a United Soccer League (USL) team.

Matthews is the quintessential Charlotte suburban town. It borders Charlotte, so it doesn’t need the many entertainment and attraction options inside Charlotte. Still, it is just a short drive away, and offers plenty of shopping and dining options for the suburban family lifestyle.

Experience Huntersville

For a more laid-back vibe, with easy access to North Carolina’s largest man-made lake, Huntersville just might be the answer.

Why Choose Huntersville

Huntersville is a charming town located just 14 miles from Uptown Charlotte, making it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while still enjoying easy access to its amenities. As one of the 20 largest municipalities in North Carolina, Huntersville offers a perfect blend of small-town charm and big-city convenience.

In Huntersville, nature thrives, with numerous outdoor attractions encouraging visitors to interact with protected wildlife and explore miles of history-rich trails. The town is situated near beautiful Lake Norman, inviting you to enjoy water sports, fishing, and boating. Additionally, the town boasts a variety of parks, which provide ample opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and more.

For those interested in history and culture, Huntersville has much to offer. You’ll find various museums, cultural centers, and historical sites that showcase the rich heritage of the area. While exploring the town, you can also participate in interactive classes and workshops to learn new skills and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Huntersville’s proximity to Charlotte allows for the best of both worlds – the charm of a smaller town combined with the attractions and amenities of a major city. So, on your next getaway, experience Huntersville and see all it offers.

Gastonia – Gateway to Charlotte Region

Located just 22.3 miles from Charlotte, Gastonia is a thriving city that serves as the gateway to the larger Charlotte region. Nearby Kings Mountain makes this an attractive spot for those who like hiking. Gastonia also offers easy access to major South Carolina features, like Greenville and Spartanburg.

In recent years, the downtown area has undergone a revitalization of sorts. Now, the downtown area is a neat place to live, work, and play.

It is also worth noting that Gastonia is a stone’s throw away from Christmastown USA. Literally, hundreds of thousands of visitors visit Mcadenville, North Carolina, each year to see the beautiful display. There are more than half a million lights adorning the festive Evergreens near downtown.

Transparently, the McAdenville traffic is a nightmare around Christmas, but you have to visit at least once. You will be glad you did. Gastonia is one of the cities near Charlotte NC that offers a true southern suburbia experience.

Davidson Charm

Davidson, a charming town located just 20 miles north of Charlotte, offers a perfect blend of college-town charm and a close-knit community near picturesque Lake Norman.

Davidson’s Main Attractions

  • Downtown Davidson: The town’s picture-perfect Main Street is lined with antique stores, clothing shops, and a variety of restaurants catering to different tastes. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a bit of shopping.
  • Davidson College: As a prestigious liberal arts institution, Davidson College offers a beautiful campus for you to explore. Take a walk around the campus, visit their art galleries, or catch a college sports game during the season. One Steph Curry played at Davidson College.
  • Outdoor Activities: Davidson is a great place to get active, with many parks, walking trails, and water sports at Lake Norman. The town is also proud of its strong commitment to sustainability, making it an ideal destination for eco-minded travelers.
  • Arts, Food, and Wine: With its slow-paced atmosphere, Davidson provides opportunities for you to enjoy the arts, food, wine, and shopping. For example, you can visit local galleries, indulge in gourmet cuisine, and taste some of the finest wines in the region.

Davidson is a lovely destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Charlotte while still enjoying a vibrant, small-town atmosphere.

All About Kannapolis

Kannapolis is a city in North Carolina, located in both Cabarrus and Rowan counties. It is a suburb in the Charlotte metropolitan area, but it is more of a hike from downtown than some of the other cities.

Still, this small town is at least worth the visit. Downtown is revitalized and busy. In fact, the city designated one of the first Charlotte-area social districts, which allows for people to stroll the streets of the social district with an adult beverage.

The social district runs along a minor league baseball stadium, which is home to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers. And by the way, the Cannon Ballers have one of the best logos in all of baseball.

And while Kannanpolis is a small hike to downtown Charlotte, it still plays an important economic and academic role in the state of North Carolina. The North Carolina Research Campus sits near the minor league stadium, and covers 350 acres. The campus is a scientific community focused on nutritional research and development.

Since Kannapolis adds a few minutes to your drive to Charlotte, the housing is also more affordable than some places in the region. Combine all of this, and Kannapolis is one of the best cities near Charlotte NC to consider as an alternative home base.

Great small downtown.

In Summary – Best Cities Near Charlotte NC

Charlotte, North Carolina is surrounded by various cities and towns that offer a mix of historical charm, outdoor activities, and natural beauty, making them worth exploring. As you venture to some of the best cities near Charlotte, you’ll discover destinations that offering everything you might imagine.

Some notable near Charlotte that we didn’t previously mention include:

  • Rock Hill, SC: Just a short drive south of Charlotte, this city boasts a vibrant downtown area with a range of dining and entertainment options.
  • Monroe, NC: Known for its historical significance, Monroe offers an array of antebellum architecture and glimpses into the region’s past.
  • Mooresville, NC: As a lakeside town, Mooresville provides water-based recreational activities, making it an ideal destination for those seeking outdoor adventures.
  • Harrisburg, NC: Harrisburg is smaller than some cities on this list, but its location makes all of Charlotte easily accessible. It is just a few miles from UNC Charlotte, which provides access to Uptown via the light rail system. Harrisburg is known for top-tier school ratings and a youth recreational program that attracts people from Charlotte.

These small towns are just some examples of what you can find in the Charlotte area. Whether you seek quaint, historic towns or locations rich in outdoor experiences, these neighboring destinations can provide a unique perspective on North Carolina’s culture and charm.

As you explore these cities and towns near Charlotte, you’ll undoubtedly uncover a wealth of fascinating activities, natural beauty, and local history to enhance your understanding of the region.

Jeremiah moved to the Charlotte area with his wife, Erin, back in 2013. The family has grown over the years, and they now call the Carolinas home. They enjoy hiking and adventures, road trips, backyard fire pits, and pizza night. Jeremiah loves to explore, and looks forward to sharing tips, tricks, and resources for your next trip.