All the best things to eat, see, and do in Charlotte, North Carolina for family outings, date nights, and day trips from a local.
There’s a slight possibility I will be raked over the coals for this blog post by other Charlotte locals, but I’ll come out and say it. The Charlotte area is the BEST place to raise a family. I’m only slightly biased being raised here myself. Wink wink.
Transplants from all over the country are flocking here for good reason. It’s 3-4 hours from the beach, 2 hours from the mountains, has the bustling urban scene, quiet suburbs, and sprawling countryside all within minutes of each other. We have all four seasons (but with only maybe a day or two of snow, if we’re lucky).
Not to mention… there’s that Southern hospitality as the cherry on top.
We’re able to drive 2 hours to the Great Smoky Mountains pick out a Christmas tree from the local tree farms.
And we’re able to road trip 3.5 hours to Charleston and Myrtle Beach in the summer.
There is SO much to do, see, and eat in the Charlotte area! And since I’ve received a huge influx of Instagram messages and emails lately from people ready to travel again, it’s time to spill all of our family’s favorite spots.
Fun Things to Do, See, and Eat in Charlotte (and Surrounding Areas)
Fair warning: Robert, the girls, and I live in the outskirts of Charlotte (about 30 minutes south from Center City), so my experiences are likely way different from someone who lives the single life in Uptown. If you’re married and have kids, our list is likely more geared toward you.
Best Things to Do in Charlotte with Kids
- U.S. National Whitewater Center – Always a fun day if you’re in the mood for an outdoor adventure like ziplining, rock wall climbing, kayaking, and rafting. The food is great, and they sometimes have live music and fireworks shows.
- NC Transportation Museum – Trains, planes, and automobiles… literally every kind you can imagine! Our kids love the railway turntable and riding the train up the track.
- Carowinds Amusement Park – A definite must if you’re a roller coaster fanatic. The Fury will blow your mind.
- Discovery Place Science – Great for an educational, hands-on learning museum day with the kids.
- Discovery Place Kids – If you have kids 5 and under, this place is a blast. It’s like “playing house” on steroids.
- Lazy 5 Ranch – A safari-style drive-through animal park. We love getting extra up close and feeding the animals by the horse-drawn wagons.
- Great Wolf Lodge – The indoor waterpark is especially a blast for cold or rainy days.
- Concord Mills – This mall is crazy huge and has an arcade, movie theater, speed park, and aquarium.
- Billy Graham Library – If you’re a Christian, this museum centered around the Gospel and life of Billy Graham is very moving.
- Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens – Beautiful in every season. The Christmas lights tour is a must for us every year.
- Historic Brattonsville – The Patriot was filmed here, but more than that it’s filled with history of the area dating back to the Revolutionary War.
- The Duke Mansion – A historical grand bed & breakfast quietly tucked inside the heart of the city.
- Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill – The Rusty Gold hard cider and cinnamon apple doughnuts are a must here in the fall!
- Charlotte Knights Games – One of our favorite family activities in the summer is going to watch this Triple-A team. There’s often fireworks shows after the games too.
Best Charlotte Date Spots
- Queen Park Social – A lively spot with food, drink, bowling, shuffleboard, and games.
- Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – One of our favorites for having a pint and listening to live music in the beer garden.
- PNC Music Pavilion – One of the main spots for large live concerts that come to town.
- Blumenthal Performing Arts Center – So many good shows + the Charlotte Ballet and Charlotte Symphony. Broadway shows pass through here often.
- AvidXchange Music Factory – A major hub for concerts, events, restaurants, and bars.
- The Comedy Zone Charlotte – The best date nights full of laughter!
- Epicentre – If you love nightclub hopping, this is the place to be.
- Farenheit – Even though it’s a restaurant, this one made the date night list purely for the amazing view of the skyline.
- Treehouse Vineyard – A quaint place for a wine tasting. And you can even rent a treehouse!
- 10 Park Lanes – Another great bowling spot and in walking distance to several great restaurants (see below)
- The Spa at Ballantyne – Definitely the best place for a pampering sesh in Charlotte.
- Abari Game Bar – If you’re a grown up who loves arcades and craft beer, this is the place to be.
Best Uptown Charlotte Restaurants
- Sea Level – Get the Paella… oh em gee!
- Good Food on Montford – Tapas galore! The menu constantly changes but everything we order always blows our minds.
- Dogwood Southern Table & Bar – Classic Southern fare buttoned up.
- 300 East – I know it sounds weird but get the sweet potato ravioli… just trust me on this. Incredible.
- Mimosa Grill – My favorite Uptown spot of all time.
- Napa – The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio… just do it.
- Pinky’s Westside Grill – Best burger in Charlotte… I will fight you on this.
- Mac’s Speed Shop – Slap yo mama good BBQ
- Midwood Smokehouse – More amazing BBQ… the Burnt Ends are bomb
- 131 Main – Classic Southern food made upscale… we love the grilled artichokes
- Miro Spanish Grill – Their tres leche cake is legendary.
- Firebirds Wood Fired Grill – Everything is always amazing here.
- Beef n Bottle – Like being transported back to the 60s but in a Quentin Tarantino/Hugh Hefner kind of way. THE place for a dang good steak.
- Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe – Nothing compares to their huge array of desserts. The French macarons are a must.
Favorite Restaurants Surrounding Charlotte
- Fort Mill, SC – Local Dish – Located in the nostalgic downtown area of Fort Mill. The chicken and waffles are to die for.
- Fort Mill, SC – The Improper Pig – Two words: BBQ Nachos. Do it.
- Fort Mill, SC – The Flipside Cafe – For being healthy, their warm asparagus salad has no business being so darn good.
- Rock Hill, SC – Kounter – This chef is a genius. The fried ribs and smoking tuna poke will hook you for life.
- Rock Hill, SC – Burgers & Barley – Feels like a dive bar… food like a culinary burger genius. The Brinner burger makes you wonder what 5 year old had a field day in the kitchen but it works!
- Rock Hill, SC – The Flipside Restaurant – The braised short ribs are like a hug in a bowl.
- Rock Hill, SC – Knowledge Perk – Without a doubt the best coffee around roasted right in house.
- Rock Hill, SC – The Pump House – Located riverfront in an old pump house, the shrimp & grits will knock your socks off.
- Lake Wylie, SC – Copper Premium Pub – Our go-to spot after a boating day on Lake Wylie. Redneck egg rolls and bang bang shrimp tacos are out of this world.
- Belmont, NC – Old Stone Steakhouse – We love downtown Belmont and this place is always amazing.
- Belmont, NC – The String Bean – The food is nuts (in a good way) but browsing their unique wine & beer section will win you over.
Frequently Asked Questions About Charlotte
I love driving around Myers Park, Elizabeth, Dilworth, and Foxcroft. Their stately, historical homes are hands down the best for house gazing. NoDa is a vibrant, funky area of town rich in culture with a thriving arts scene. Ballantyne and South Park are both the best neighborhoods for shopping but are quiet at night. South End has a great nightlife scene with a more industrial feel thanks to many old warehouses and mills being turned into pubs and night clubs.
Charlotte locals, got any others you’d add to the list? These are all just based on my personal experiences over the years, but I know there are so many more great spots all over our area.
If you’re not local, do you love where you live?! I’d love to hear all about the great places to visit all over from you guys!
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