Top Attractions for First Time Visitors to Charlotte

History and Culture

Immerse yourself in Charlotte’s rich heritage at the Levine Museum of the New South to learn about post-Civil War history or walk the grounds of the lush Latta Plantation for a glimpse into 1800s farm life. The historic Fourth Ward neighborhood is home to the Harvey B. Gantt Center which showcases African American arts and culture.

Family Fun

Discover Interactive exhibits and activities at Discovery Place Science Museum. Let kids run wild at ImaginOn children’s museum and library. Get up close with butterflies at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden or penguins at the aquarium. Catch panoramic city views from Crowder’s Mountain or hike woodland trails at McDowell Nature Preserve.


Catch a game at the Bank of America Stadium where the Panthers pro football team plays, or Time Warner Cable Arena where the Hornets NBA team competes. NASCAR fans can get their racing fix at the NASCAR Hall of Fame or Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Arts and Entertainment

Take in a show at one of Charlotte’s top performance venues like the Knight Theater, Ovens Auditorium, or Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Shop designer brands at SouthPark Mall then hit the neighborhood bars, clubs, and music halls to experience Charlotte’s vibrant nightlife.

Outdoor Fun

Ride the rapids of the U.S. National Whitewater Center, an outdoor recreation hub with rock climbing, zip lining, trails, and more. Enjoy the lakeside scenery and watersports at Lake Norman or Lake Wylie. Tee off on the greens of Charlotte’s numerous championship golf courses.

Delicious Dining

Sample Southern delicacies and barbecue favorites at restaurants like Midwood Smokehouse and Dish. For a food hall experience, head to Optimist Hall or Camp North End filled with artisan shops and eateries. Find creative comfort food at Pinky’s Westside Grill and modern Mexican fare at Haberdish.

Uptown Icons

Visit the striking 60-story Bank of America Corporate Center, the tallest skyscraper in Charlotte. Take a photo in front of thecolorful Circles@Blumenthalpop art installation. Stop by Romare Bearden Park for sculptural artwork and waterfalls. Enjoy skyline views from the Levine Avenue of the Arts pedestrian bridge.

Theme Parks

Scream your way through rollercoasters at Carowinds amusement park, home of the intimidating Fury 325. Get your adrenaline pumping on the drop tower and go-karts at the Concord Mills themed attraction, Great Wolf Lodge. Enjoy kitschy charm at Santa’s Land, a Christmas-themed amusement park.

Historical Sites

Step back in time at the early 1800s Hezekiah Alexander Homesite. See a Revolutionary War battle reenactment at Historic Brattonsville. Take a guided tour of historic homes like the 19th century Rosedale Plantation. Walk in the footsteps of President James K. Polk at his preserved birthplace and museum.

Kid Friendly Activities

Little ones will love riding the carousel and train at Freedom Park. Race mini cars at the Formula Fun Grand Prix indoor track. Jump on trampolines and climb rock walls at Sky Zone trampoline park. Cool off splashing and swimming at Ray’s Splash Planet water park.


Find big name department stores and brands at SouthPark and Northlake Malls. Browse local art and crafts at Atherton Mill Market. Shop vintage fashion in the artsy NoDa neighborhood. Peruse stylish boutiques in the historic Myers Park neighborhood.


Sip craft beers and ciders at spots like Bold Missy, Legion, Ascend Prime, and Sycamore. Many breweries like Wooden Robot and Sugar Creek offer fun games like cornhole. Take a brewery tour or attend a yoga event at Free Range, Resident Culture, or Unknown.


Celebrate at Charlotte Pride, Taste of Charlotte food festival, Festival in the Park, or Charlotte Oktoberfest. Enjoy live music at Country Music Fest, World of Beer Fest, or Breakaway Music Festival. Groove to jazz at the Charlotte Jazz Festival held in Romare Bearden Park.

Day Trips

Escape the city to picturesque small towns like Belmont, Davidson, Huntersville, Concord, and Fort Mill. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian mountains. Go wine tasting in Yadkin Valley’s vineyards. Explore the charming college town of Chapel Hill.


Take a guided food tour through Uptown to sample bites from top restaurants. Hop on a double decker bus or open air trolley for a narrated sightseeing tour. Join a ghost tour or haunted pub crawl to learn chilling tales of Charlotte history. Do a walking brewery tour to taste samples from local beer makers.


Have a picnic surrounded by public art installations at Marshall Park. Take a boat out on the large lake at Edgewood Park. Walk woodland trails and explore historic buildings at Latta Nature Preserve. Enjoy expansive views from Crowder’s Mountain State Park.

Quirky Attractions

Get your photo taken with the 30-foot King Kong statue outside the ballpark. Check out relics like vintage cars at the Oddities and Curiosities Expo. See exotic animals like zebras and camels at the Lazy 5 Ranch drive-thru zoo. Learn about moonshine at the Bootlegger’s Homemade Wine shop.

How to Get Around Charlotte

Public Transportation

The Charlotte Area Transit System operates bus and rail service around the metro area. Purchase passes online, by mobile app or at station vending machines. The light rail Blue Line offers convenient transportation between Uptown and South Charlotte. Major bus routes can get you to most popular attractions and neighborhoods.

Taxis and Rideshares

Metered taxis can be hailed curbside around Uptown or called by phone to arrange a pickup. Yellow Cab and Crown Cab are two major Charlotte taxi companies. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft also operate throughout the city for on-demand rides. Rates vary by company, distance traveled and time of day.

Charter Buses

For group travel or transportation to special events, consider renting a charter bus or minibus. Charlotte Party Bus Company offers luxury bus rentals in a range of sizes to accommodate groups from 18 to 56 passengers. Our buses all have luxe amenities like DVD players and wifi. Getting a charter bus allows your entire group to ride together with easy point-to-point transportation. Call us at (984) 208-0198 for a quote!

Ready to Get Started?

Charlotte offers something exciting around every corner, making it a great place for first timers to explore. Whether you’re interested in theme parks, gardens, pro sports or nightlife, Charlotte has it all. Navigating the city is easy with public transit, taxis, rideshares or charter buses. Use these tips to start planning your unforgettable Charlotte vacation!