75+ Things to Do in Charlotte, NC: Fun Days Start Here

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Looking for fun things to do in Charlotte, NC? Here’s a list of just a few of the fun things in the Charlotte area. Don’t forget to let us know your favorite things to do in the comments!

Here’s just some of the fun that awaits you in the Queen City! Be sure to check back as we add more first-hand accounts of adventures we have in the Charlotte area. 

Things to Do in Charlotte, NC

Things to Do in Charlotte: Highlights

🆓Our free things to-do list is full of family fun on a budget.

🍓Spring is here! It’s time for strawberry picking and we know just where to go! 9+ Strawberry Farms near Charlotte, NC.

NEW! Our Summer Camp Guide is packed with the best summer camps near Charlotte, NC!

Explore Play 60 Kids Zone at Freedom Park for some obstacle-course challenging fun!

Free things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina for families.

Check out our HUGE list of totally FREE Things to Do in Charlotte, NC



Things to Do in Charlotte, North Carolina

Discovery Place Science Center 
Purchase advance time reserved tickets online year-round
This large kid-friendly science museum in the heart of downtown Charlotte is a great way to spend a rainy day with your family. The museum offers exhibits with live animals, STEM topics, an Imax theatre, and more. 

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve
This is an amazing nature center and preserve about 6 miles northwest of downtown Charlotte, which is located inside of the larger Reedy Creek Park. The park includes a playground, a science center, hiking trails, and more. 

US National Whitewater Center
Purchase online activity passes in advance for 30+ recreational activities

Ice skating at the Whitewater Center

If you are looking for a place full of outdoor adventure, this is it. The center offers white water activities and provides visitors with the opportunity to rock climb, hike, mountain bike, zipline, and much more. We went ice skating at the Whitewater Center and really enjoyed the experience.

Readers shared their love for the US National White Water Center on Facebook with us recently when we asked if they had been. 

Several times and loved it! The rafting is a short loop, but it’s intense depending on where the raft guide decides to go. The zip line is the best I’ve ever been on. There are events for smaller children too, like rock climbing. It’s well worth the trip.

Tina M.

Yes! Have season passes. Great for kids 6 & up, plus families. As an adult that is not crazy about being outdoors I love the white water rafting and flat water kayaking. Plenty to do for a whole day’s visit!

Virginia W.W.

Many times and we’ve done it all! Mountain biking to zip line to rafting and even experienced their live music series, River Jam…. enough to spend a full day there with the fam (10yo+)

Nikki W.

Carolina Raptor Center
Purchase advance tickets online year-round
This rehabilitation and education center is home to falcons, hawks, owls, eagles and vultures from all over the world. Guests will have the chance to learn about and meet these magnificent birds up close.

Raptor Center

Carowinds Amusement Park
Purchase online tickets in advance seasonally.
Find out what makes this park a favorite of Upstate’s families, including how your younger children can get in for free!  

The Rooftop Pool At The Omni Hotel 
Reserve your day pass online through the Coin Bar 
Do you want to live like a high-end traveler, sunning yourself next to a rooftop pool, but sleep in your own bed at night? The Omni hotel offers visitors to the Queen City day passes to use this large pool deck that overlooks the city.

Unique date ideas: Charlotte, NC

Looking for things to do for couples in Charlotte, NC? Our list of unique date ideas has some really great options!

Ninja Nation

Check out Ninja Nation or one of the many camps and classes at Ninja Nation in Huntersville. Kids (and parents) will get to live out their Ninja Warrior dreams.

14120 Statesville Road, Huntersville, NC

Arena and large foam blocks at Ninja Nation near Charlotte, North Carolina

Stay Inside!

If you’re looking for things to do indoors, you’ll want to visit our Indoor Fun Guide.

Seriously, our list has more than 50 great ideas.

Indoor things to do in Charlotte NC

Things to do in Cabarrus County, North Carolina

Plan an entire day in Concord, NC with our guide to the area

Visit Charlotte Motorspeedway
Whether you’re attending a race at the speedway, an event at ZMAX Dragway, an event at the dirt track or stopping by for a tour, there’s always a lot to see at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Look for family-friendly deals like free kids’ tickets at select events, take advantage of activities and music in the fan zone outside the track, and enjoy a race at one of the iconic tracks that make up the Charlotte Motor Speedway.


Great Wolf Lodge – Concord
An easy drive from the Upstate, Great Wolf Lodge is a great one-stop destination for families, and your stay includes an indoor waterpark that’s nice and warm even in the winter. The activities provided at the Lodge mean that no extra planning has to be done to make this a fun-filled trip. 

iFLY in Concord
iFLY is an indoor skydiving simulator where you enter a wind tunnel that is strong enough to allow you to float in the air. 

Escape Game: Concord Mills

The Escape Game in Concord Mills

We visited Escape Game to try out one of their new escape room games. It’s a great place to bring the family or a group of older kids and test yourselves with the puzzles needed to escape the room.

Here’s our review of the Escape Game.

8111 Concord Mills Boulevard #129b, Concord

Visit Reed Gold Mine

Explore the site of the first gold discovered in the United States, learn to pan for gold, walk through the mine and much more! This site is totally free to visit and panning for gold costs just $3. See how our visit went in our review of Reed Gold Mine.

Explore the Outdoors

Go see something beautiful!

Crowders Mountain State Park

Hike Crowders Mountain for Amazing Charlotte views!

Check out a park!

We had so much fun at Play 60 Kids Zone at Freedom Park.

And, we love the wide-open Walter Y Elisha Park in Fort Mill.

Seasonal Fun in The Charlotte, NC Area 

Don’t miss these annual events and things to do happening seasonally in the Charlotte, NC area.

Spring

Spring in Charlotte, NC

Warmer weather arrived?

Here’s the Kidding Around Guide to Spring in Charlotte, NC

Summer

Splashpads near Charlotte

Winter

Charlotte, NC Winter Things to Do

Love Winter?

Here’s our Kidding Around Winter Guide to Charlotte!

Go Ice Skating at the Whitewater Center from mid-November to mid-February each year. We went with our family of 6, including those hard-to-please teens, and we all had such a great time! You can see our full review of skating at the Whitewater Center.

Here’s where you can go snow tubing near Charlotte, NC

Snow tubing Charlotte NC

Valentine’s Day in Charlotte, NC

Time to plan your Valentine’s Day? No problem! Here’s our big Charlotte Valentine’s Day Guide!

Christmas

Christmas Town USA – McAdenville, NC
This tiny town of just under 700 people takes the Christmas season very seriously. It all started with nine trees being decorated by the Men’s Club. The following year they did a few more, and that continued every year. By 2004 nearly 400 trees were decorated, and the town residents all decided to join in the fun. The joint effort resulted in almost half a million lights adorning the 1.3 mile stretch of road that visitors see as they pass through the town.

Christmas Lights at The Charlotte Motor Speedway
Purchase advance tickets online
Speedway Christmas is unique in that you get to drive your own car on the racetrack that is normally driven on by professional NASCAR drivers.  Unfortunately your mini-van will be going at a snail’s pace, but it’s still pretty cool in my opinion. On the 3.75 mile drive-thru course visitors get to view displays consisting of over four million lights!  

Charlotte Motor Speedway Lights

Kannapolis Village Park
Enjoy the totally free Christmas light display you can walk through at Kannapolis Park. Or, hop aboard the Winter Express train for just $2 and view the lights from the rails. The park’s double-decker carousel also operates during the lights events.

Fall in Charlotte, NC

Pick Apples! Here are all the best apple orchards near Charlotte, NC.

Apple picking at Grandad's

Carolina Renaissance Festival
Fall: Purchase advance tickets online

Fans of a time long forgotten can weave their way through huge roasted “turkey legs”, unique handcrafted item vendors, mermaids, fairies, sword jugglers, falconry demonstrations, and a jousting tournament. Your child can even be knighted by Queen Isabella while you are there!

More Seasonal Things to Do in Charlotte

The Quarry at Carrigan Farms
Summer: Purchase online tickets in advance for Open Swim all summer
Looking for a unique place to cool off this summer? The Quarry at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville, NC, might be just the place. The quarry at Carrigan Farms offers guests a full day of water activities, including several rock jump-off points, rope swings, swimming areas, and a sand beach volleyball area. Slots book up quickly, and planning is recommended. 

York County, SC: Fun Just Across The Border from Charlotte in South Carolina 

Charlotte is so close to the state border that several popular attractions straddle both states. For example, did you know that Carowinds is in both North Carolina and South Carolina? In addition, visitors to the area often zip back and forth across state lines, so we decided to include some of our favorite things in the Charlotte area, across the state line in South Carolina. 

Plan an entire day in York County, SC with our guide to the area.

Kings Mountain State Park 
The Kings Mountain State Park and the Kings Mountain National Military Park are right next to each other and visible from I85.  You will cross into North Carolina and then back into South Carolina to get to the park, that’s how close this historical state park is to Charlotte. 

The Sunflowers of Draper Wildlife Area
If you are looking for a magical place to take family photos or just a place to visit for fresh air and a change of scenery, we found a place just south of Rock Hill that won’t cost you a dime to enjoy. The Sunflower Fields of Draper Wildlife Area are only in bloom for few weeks over the summer, but if you plan correctly you can see them in full bloom in July.

Kings Mountain Battlefield

Anne Springs Close Greenway
The Greenway is a 2,100 nature preserve that is a continuation of the Springs’ family tradition of providing recreation options to the workers of the Springmaid Brand Mill workers. The park is a little more than a third of the land that the Springs family purchased from the Catawba Indians. The preserve includes hiking trails, lakes, creeks, wildflower gardens, and so many other things for your family to enjoy. 

Day Trips from Charlotte

Things to Do in Gastonia, NC

Plan an entire day in Gastonia, NC with our guide to the area. 

Schiele Museum of Natural History
Purchase online tickets in advance year-round
This museum makes a great day trip. We had a lot of fun visiting the museum and enjoyed exhibits on dinosaurs, minerals, animals, critters, nature, and so much more! If you haven’t been yet, you should add it to your museum bucket list.

Hickory, NC

Head up to the Catawba Science Center for lots of fun learning opportunities. We love their hands-on exhibits and aquarium space.

Catawba Science Center

Things to Do in Greenville, SC

We know a thing or two about Greenville, SC! Our sister-site, Kidding Around Greenville is the top family- fun resource in Greenville. Check out these awesome things to do in Greenville, SC.

Things to Do in Columbia, SC

We’re also covering all the family fun things to do in Columbia on our Kidding Around Columbia sister-site. Check out our huge list of things to do in Columbia for a super-fun day trip.

Places To Eat In The Charlotte Area 

Finding a spot to eat in the big city can be daunting, but luckily there’s good food to be found with a little bit of guidance. 


Kids Eat Free Charlotte, NC

Looking for kids’ meal deals? Visit our list of restaurants in Charlotte, NC where kids eat free (or cheap).


Food Halls in Charlotte

I love places where you can go and everyone can decide what they want, and it can be varied. My kids can usually only agree to disagree and this makes mealtime easier. 

Optimist Hall

A food hall in a converted warehouse that offers a kaleidoscope of options for hungry families.

  • AVA – authentic Italian and wood fired pizza
  • Bao & Broth – Bao buns and ramen bowls
  • Billy Sunday – award-winning cocktails and elevated bar menu
  • Botiwalla – Indian street food
  • Boxcar Betty’s – Fried chicken sandwiches
  • The Dumpling Lady – Szechuan street food
  • El Thrifty – Mexican inspired menu 
  • Felix Empanadas 
  • Harriett’s Hamburgers 
  • Honeysuckle Gelato
  • Mezeh Mediterranean Grill – a unique twist on the “mezze” dining experience
  • Noble Smoke – Southern barbecue
  • Papi Queso – grilled cheese kitchen
  • Suarez Bakery & Barra – Donuts and Cuban food
  • Undercurrent Coffee – coffee, tea, and light fare
  • Velvet Taco – funky tacos
  • Village Juice Co. – organic raw juice and clean food
  • Xiao Bao – Southeast Asian favorites
  • Zukku – rice bowls, sushi, burritos, poke

Camp Northend 

This multi-use venue is a 100-year-old Ford Model-T factory that now houses art exhibits, food vendors, and more. 

  • Babe & Butcher – charcuterie boxes and boards
  • La Caseta – the pocket size version of Sabor Latin Street food that we also have in Greenville
  • PopBar CLT – a handcrafted gelato pop vendor
  • Leah & Louise – (reservations recommended) Elevated deep south menu 
  • Plus vendors that serve burgers, plant-based menu items, cocktails, coffee and more! 
Gibson Mill Market in Concord

Gibson Mill

Gibson Mill has been renovated into a multi-use space with antique stores, entertainment like escape rooms and ax throwing, as well as a family-friendly food hall, the Gibson Mill Market.

We tried food from several of the vendors, and can report that the chicken sandwich from Johnny Rogers BBQ and Burgers is about as crispy as it gets. The kids really enjoyed their pizza from Livy’s Neapolitan Pizzeria.

You’ll also find vendors with tacos, cookies, ice cream, seafood, and more. For your adult beverages, there’s a cocktail bar upstairs and also a tap room downstairs.

Seating is available both indoors and outdoors.

For the kids, there is a small arcade room upstairs off the dining area.

And, for kids, families, and kids at heart, you’ll want to check out the board game cafe downstairs. Admission to the Luck Factory game cafe is $8 per person for a day pass. Stay and play games from their huge library all day long.

Gibson Mill Market
325 Mcgill Avenue NW, Concord
Hours vary by individual business

More Restaurants in Charlotte

Savory

I like to eat like the locals do when I travel, and in Charlotte that means soul food, BBQ and Fried Chicken dishes. 

Sweet

Save room for dessert, because there are too many delicious spots to skip if you don’t! 

Food from Sunflour Baking Company

One of our favorites for breakfast or lunch, stop by a Sunflour Baking Company location!

Get a delicious donut or pastry at OMG Donuts

Case of donuts and pastries at OMG Donuts & Bakery in Concord, North Carolina
About the Author
How does Kidding Around® bring readers high-quality and up-to-date content month after month and season after season? We have a dedicated team of writers and editors who regularly update our fabulous content to keep it current and relevant for our readers. This team combs lists of events, heads out into the community to experience new Upstate offerings, and communicates with local businesses. Many of our updated articles and event lists, like this one, reflect the contributions and hard work of multiple Kidding Around® team members.

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