Many people don’t realize that Charlotte, North Carolina is one of the 20 largest cities in the United States. But is Charlotte NC worth visiting? Absolutely. The booming city offers a little something for everyone.
Is Charlotte NC Worth Visiting? Top 5 Reasons To Visit
Charlotte is a vibrant city with one of the most impressive skylines in the southeastern United States. From cultural attractions to popular outdoor activities to professional sports, Charlotte proves it is worth the visit. And the mild weather means you can visit year-round.
1. Cultural Attractions
Charlotte offers a unique variety of museums, galleries, and theaters. For example, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art showcases mid-century modern art. But not everyone is a fan of sophisticated art collections. Charlotte also is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
There are plenty of things to do in Charlotte, and the variety of cultural attractions is just one early signal of the eclectic reasons to visit Charlotte.
The Bechtler is a big-time attraction in Uptown Charlotte in part because of its impressive art collection but also because of the building’s architecture. Architect Mario Botta designed the museum’s interior to match the mid-century vibe.
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Arts is part of the Levine Center for the Arts in Uptown, so it sits next door to the Mint Museum. The Mint museum was established in 1936, which makes it North Carolina’s oldest art museum. Inside the museum, you will find one of the largest art collections in the entire Southeast.
Beyond art, the Belk Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and the Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Arts offer even more variety. Check out their event page, and you will see that you can catch Charlotte Ballet, the Charlotte Symphony, Opera Carolina, Broadway plays, and more!
And for those of you that have kids, be sure to check out the schedule at the Ovens Auditorium (on the grounds of the famous Bojangles Coliseum). Sure, the Ovens Auditorium mostly features concerts and comedians for adults, but they also seem to be the Charlotte circuit for kids-focused shows like Blippi or The Wiggles.
2. Sports & Outdoor Activities
Once you’ve had your fill of cultural attractions, Charlotte offers plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors and catch professional sports. The first place we tell our guests to visit is the Whitewater Center.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center is only about 20 minutes from Uptown Charlotte, but you would never know. The main event at the Center is the artificial whitewater rapids channel, which serves as a training center for the U.S. Olympic team. The controlled environment is a great way to experience rafting.
Beyond rafting, the Whitewater Center offers rock climbing, mountain biking, flat water SUP and kayak, and hiking. Plus, there is a summer concert series worth checking out.
If that sounds a little adventurous for you, Charlotte’s parks are beautiful. The best parks in Charlotte include Freedom Park, First Ward Park, and Park Road Park. Each is a little different vibe, but all are great places to go for a stroll.
One thing that I find unique about Charlotte is that many people are still unfamiliar with the city, despite the fact it is one of the largest cities in the country. Professional sports teams help close this gap.
The Charlotte Hornets were the first franchise that the city won, followed by the Carolina Panthers. Most recently, the Panthers ownership group succeeded in bringing Charlotte FC, an MLS franchise, to Charlotte. The city is also home to minor league baseball (AAA) and minor league hockey.
3. Great Food And Drink
There are two things that continually sprout across Charlotte that people love to critique: Stick-built apartment complexes and breweries.
Despite the “another brewery” comments, many of the breweries are highly successful and frequently visited. Some of the popular breweries include Wooden Robot Brewery, The Olde Mecklenburg, and NoDa Brewing.
I myself am more of a fan of good food than brews. Charlotte has its fair share of high-end steak houses and local fast-food joints that you must try. Our favorite steak house is a hole-in-the-wall joint called Beef ‘N Bottle, but Steak 48 is popular if you prefer a refined location with a dress code.
While there are popular local joints all across the city, we recommend you visit Optimist Hall, an eclectic food hall full of culinary choices. You will find gourmet grilled cheese (not an oxymoron), dumplings, empanadas, ramen, sushi, pizza, gelato, baked goods, and more!
Charlotte’s Blue Line (light rail) runs next to Optimist Hall, so it is easily accessible even if you are in Uptown or South End. For dessert, I recommend you hit up Amelie’s Bakery, a French patisserie, and cafe.
Camp North End is also a cool mixed-use community with fun food options, so check it out after you visit Optimist Hall.
4. Shopping & Entertainment
If your idea of a weekend getaway is shopping and entertainment, Charlotte has some of the best malls and shopping districts in all of the Southeast.
While it’s a little cliche, the first place that you need to hit up on a shopping spree is SouthPark Mall. But let’s start by stating that this mall is far different than your average American mall that is on its last leg. SouthPark Mall is massive, thriving, and has high-end shopping.
The mall features more than 150 stores, including exclusive retailers like Gucci, Saint Laurent, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and staples like Apple. Plus, there are great food options in and around the mall. Maggiano’s and The Cheesecake Factory also call the mall home.
For a more unique eating experience, we recommend trying The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar located next to Crate & Barrel in The Village at SouthPark. The Village is next door to the mall (accessible from the same parking lot) and features even more shopping options.
Of course, Gucci-level clothing isn’t accessible to most people. We recommend that you check out Atherton Mill and South End if you are looking for trendy clothing that is high-quality yet, more affordable.
Atherton Mill is located along Charlotte’s Rail Trail, which features additional shopping at the base of some of the city’s newest high-rises. Popular stores such as Allbirds, Outdoor Voices, Warby Parker, and Madewell all call South End home.
If you are looking for entertainment beyond the cultural attractions we already mentioned, we have a few more recommendations. PNC Pavillion, The Spectrum Center, and Bank of America Stadium all host concerts and other events.
Country music stars frequently perform at PNC Pavillion, while big-time musicians of all genres put on shows at The Spectrum Center. When stadium concerts come to town, they are hosted at Bank of America Stadium.
5. Proximity to Other Attractions
One of the reasons that we moved to Charlotte is that it’s within a day’s drive of both the beach and the mountains. This makes it the perfect city to visit as part of an extended road trip.
The Carolinas are known for their many outdoor adventures, and we love that Charlotte is a big city with access to an outdoor lifestyle.
Our favorite mountain towns include Asheville and Boone. Asheville might be best known for the Biltmore Estate. Asheville is also within a stone’s throw of beautiful waterfalls within driving distance from Charlotte. Boone is smaller than Asheville, but it is surrounded by the best attractions in the high country.
Near Boone, you will find the beautiful Moses Cone Manor along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Tweetsie Railroad. Tweetsie Railroad is a small amusement park centered around a running steam locomotive.
If you drive a few minutes further from Boone, you will also find Hawksnest Snow Tubing and Zipline and Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is a thrilling roller coaster built into the mountainside. Unlike traditional roller coasters, you sit on a sled to ride the alpine coaster.
There is no shortage of great day trips from Charlotte. For those of you traveling with kids, you might consider visiting the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. The NC Zoo is just over an hour from Uptown Charlotte.
The mountains (and the zoo) are closer to Charlotte than the beach, but you can still make a day trip out of visiting the ocean. Our favorite beaches to visit include Wrightsville Beach, near Wilmington, and Folly Beach, near Charleston. Myrtle Beach is also popular but has a much more touristy vibe than the other beaches.
And by the way, Charlotte is along the South Carolina border, which confuses some people. Still, though Charlotte is a proud North Carolina city, it is nice that South Carolina locations are so accessible.
Charlotte may be a big city, but it is close to mountains, oceans, and fun small towns.
Reasons Charlotte, NC, Is Worth Visiting
Is Charlotte, NC, worth visiting? You better believe it. Charlotte is a burgeoning city, which means entertainment and cultural attractions are always evolving. You can watch Opera Carolina one day and then go whitewater rafting the next day.
You will find fine dining at national chains and local spots famous for Charlotte BBQ. Surprisingly, Charlotte has quite the pizza scene too.
Plus, since Charlotte is known as an economic center for both Carolinas, you will find the best shopping and concerts within hundreds of miles. All of this is found under the shadows of one of the best skylines in all of the Southeast.
And neighborhoods like South End are among the few truly walkable neighborhoods in the South East. You can spend an entire day out and never get in your car. Charlotte doesn’t have a subway system like New York or Chicago, but the light rail system is still transformative.
What Is The Best Month To Visit Charlotte NC?
While Charlotte has a moderate climate, it still gets hot and sticky during the summer. We recommend that you plan your visit during the fall or spring. You can drive up to the Blue Ridge Mountains during the fall to see some of the most beautiful foliage in the country.
Or, during the spring, you can enjoy strolling in Uptown or on the local greenways. Really, there is no bad time to visit Charlotte, but the fall and springtime are extra special in the Queen City.
How Many People Visit Charlotte Each Year?
The Charlotte region hosts nearly 30 million visitors a year, so if you are on the fence about visiting, jump off the fence and find your way to Charlotte.
The Queen City is an excellent choice for a weekend getaway or any vacation really. We recommend that you visit soon and visit often.