With three days in Charlotte, you can sample the Queen City’s top sights and experiences—from its rich history and museum offerings to its outdoor activities and live events—and take a day trip elsewhere in North Carolina. Here’s how to make the most of three days in Charlotte.
Day 1: Essential Charlotte
See the highlights of Charlotte on a morning sightseeing tour. Whether by Segway, bike, trolley, or bus, these tours offer an overview of the city’s top attractions. Pass by historic Fourth Ward and central Uptown, home to many of the city’s top cultural institutions.
Spend the afternoon at a museum that reflects your interest. The Levine Center for the Arts houses several museums within, including the Mint Museum Uptown. History buffs have choices among the Levine Museum of the New South, the Charlotte Museum of History, or a tour of local plantation such as Rosedale or Latta. Racing fans won’t want to miss the NASCAR Hall of Fame, while aviation fans have the Carolinas Aviation Museum. Finish things off with tickets to a sports event, race, or music and entertainment show to wrap up your first night.
Day 2: Taste the Outdoors
Spend your morning experiencing the inspiration behind Charlotte's other nickname, “Tree City.” Wander one of the city's outdoor spaces and parks, from the centrally located First Ward Park and The Green to the massive Freedom Park. Nature lovers head to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary, and Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve. More active visitors tackle water activities at Lake Norman or Lake Wylie, tumbling down rapids at the US National Whitewater Center, or experiencing the thrills of theme park rides at Carowinds.
In the afternoon, reward yourself with a food, beer, or whiskey tour. Sample favorites such as barbecue, shrimp and grits, and fried cornbread at the Seventh Street Public Market or from a food truck. With multiple distilleries and more than 40 breweries, the city offers plenty from which to choose. Or combine food and sightseeing on a dinner cruise on Lake Norman.
Day 3: Head Out of Town
Your choice of day trip out of Charlotte depends on your interests. Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy getting lost in the Uwharrie National Forest. Home to some of the oldest mountains in America, the wilderness is filled with trails, scenic overlooks, and Badin Lake. Thrill seekers head out to Boone, which offers bouldering, ziplining, and river tubing in summer and snowboarding and skiing in winter.
Only two hours away, Asheville attracts foodies and history buffs. Go on a tour of Biltmore House, the largest house in America. Art and music lovers will be spoilt for choice, from mainstream to eclectic. This city, known as “Beer City USA,” has a thriving microbrewery and food scene. If wine is more your style, join a guided winery tour around North Carolina, which allows you to leave the driving to someone else.