North Carolina’s largest city reigns supreme for its combination of car racing, big business, extreme sports, theme parks and museums.
Admire fast cars and fly down a roller coaster, see a falcon in flight and browse crafts that are thousands of years old. You’ll find it all in Charlotte, where the attractions range from fast-paced and adventure-filled to leisurely and cultural. It’s easy to enjoy all the city has to offer as there are blue skies and bright sunshine here for much of the year.
Charlotte was settled in 1755 and named after the wife of British King George III. “Queen City” was a sleepy place until 1799, when gold was struck and the discovery attracted fortune seekers. Today, Charlotte is North Carolina’s largest city with one of the country’s most expansive banking districts.
The city is laid out in a grid system and getting around is easy. Use the light rail to hop between the main attractions, including museums and sporting events. Gold Rush trolley buses resemble historic streetcars and service the uptown area, the city’s cultural hub. In this district you’ll find the Mint Museum of Art, where imaginative jewelry and sculptures are among the highlights.
Experience Charlotte’s love for fast cars at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where top drivers hit speeds of close to 200 miles (320 kilometers) per hour. The NASCAR Hall of Fame has car exhibits, video games and racing memorabilia.
Thrill seekers can get their kicks at the Carowinds Theme Park with roller coasters, an Australian-themed water park and live entertainment. There’s also rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Charlotte offers many other family-oriented activities in the form of museums and gardens. Kids can learn about science in the interactive Discovery Place or get up-close to large predatory birds at the Carolina Raptor Center.
For a free attraction, visit the Billy Graham Library and learn about Charlotte’s famous TV evangelist. Admire orchids and other flowers on the South Carolina border in the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.
At night, join locals at the NC Music Factory just north of uptown. The entertainment district offers live music, bars and restaurants.