It may be August, but if you’re in the Carolina’s, summer is just coming into full swing. With the hottest days upon us, I thought it would be fun to share 10 things to do in Charlotte right now. After all, I spend most of my time here and talk about it the least – so let’s switch it up a little! Charlotte has a lot to offer. In fact, of all the traveling my husband does, it’s still his favorite city. With a major boom in recent growth (one of the most rapid growth rates for cities across the country), new spots are popping up on every corner and young people are flocking this way. It’s not just a financial city anymore, it’s becoming a destination for people all over the country in search of four seasons, the lake, the beach, the mountains, and a lower cost of living. Over the last 5 years, I have watched this city evolve into something really cool, so let’s take a look at the newest local “must see/must do” hangouts.
1. Do it for the ‘gram
Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams is the newest kid in town and arguably the most Instagrammable location our city has to offer (pictured above). Mark my words, this will become one of the most photographed places by locals and bloggers alike. Located just outside of uptown, it’s easily accessible by light rail, bike (or bird these days), and surrounded by great restaurants within walking distance (try Oku or Superica for dinner). Oh, and the ice cream is pretty good too!
2. Grab drinks and watch the sunset at Merchant & Trade
Merchant & Trade is located at the top of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in the middle of uptown. It is hands down my favorite spot for happy hour in Charlotte, and the cities newest rooftop bar! They opened last fall, and have no shortage of business. If you’re headed there for an evening out, expect a line – they don’t take reservations. However, my recommendation is to head there for happy hour and sunset. The views are spectacular, the drinks are fantastic (try the Rosa if you like sweet, the Beet it! if you like tart), and it’s trendy. Also makes for a great photo opp! This blog post was photographed there.
3. Rent a boat on Lake Norman
Lake Norman is the largest man made body of fresh water in North Carolina. With 520 miles of shoreline, there is plenty to see for everyone. While this is one of the pricier activities on this list, you can actually make it pretty cost effective by grabbing a group of friends and splitting the cost. We typically rent from this marina, and split the cost between 4 couples (8 people), bringing the total with gas to around $50 per person for an 8 hour rental and an exponential amount of fun. Local hangouts on the lake include Governors Point (sand bar), and Hello, Sailor – a popular restaurant accessible by boat.
4. Date night at Topgolf
New to Charlotte, Topgolf opened it’s first North Carolina location just over a year ago in Charlotte. I’m not a big golfer, so I was skeptical as to how fun this would be but I was pleasantly surprised. We had a blast! Bays are rented by the hour, ranging from $25-$45 per hour depending on what time of day you play. The number of people playing doesn’t make a difference, so again – a great opportunity to gather a group of friends or make it a double date! The food here is also fantastic!
5. Listen to live music at the White Water Center
River Jam is hosted Thursdays-Saturdays from May-September at the White Water Center. This is a live concert series that takes place at the worlds largest man-made whitewater river which is an outdoor venue. Outside of the music, they offer other activities like evening yoga, big water sessions, and open water swimming (if you’re feeling adventurous). It’s fun to grab a beer, listen to the music, and relax on the lawn while listening to live tunes. It’s a free event, but parking is a $6 fee. Dogs are welcome!
6. Catch a Charlotte Knights game at BB&T Ballpark
I’ve never been much of a baseball fan, but when the Knights moved their stadium to uptown and our balcony looked at center field, I felt obligated to give it a go. To my surprise, it’s actually a great evening out! The Knights have broken their all-time attendance records at this stadium which was recently built in the heart of uptown, and the ambiance alone is worth it. I recommend catching an evening game so you can walk to dinner or drinks (try Merchant & Trade for drinks, and Angelines for dinner) afterward. If you’re catching a weekend game, make sure to keep an eye out for the fireworks display post game. It’s worth it! Tickets are typically under $20.
7. Spend quality time with friends and your four-legged fur baby at Lucky Dog Bark & Brew
This was my husbands idea, and is perfect for dog lovers like us. He loves being able to bring the dog anywhere that involves beer and sports, and I enjoy being outside and socializing while the pups run free. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but they offer cocktails as well (and Mimosas if you’re out and about early on a Saturday). Lucky Dog has three Charlotte locations, with the uptown location being 25,000 square feet. This is a great place to meet new people in the community and give your furry friend a safe place to play.
8. Grab ice cream at Golden Cow Creamery
Depending on who you ask (and if you’re asking me), this is hands down the best ice cream shop in Charlotte. We frequent this place every Sunday during the summer months, and the line stays wrapped around the building. Golden Cow offers hand crafted small batch ice creams, and rotates flavors seasonally. The golden child of flavors that always stays is the Salted Oreo, and you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it. They are locally owned and operated, and use only fresh ingredients to produce the fruits of their labor.
9. See the city by Bird or Bicycle
The hottest new trend in Charlotte are electric scooter rentals. Located all across town, you can download the Bird or Lime bike app, locate a scooter or Lime bike via GPS tracking, and unlock a ride by paying an hourly rental fee. The concept is super simple, they are reliable, and it’s a fun way to see the city and get some fresh air on a sunny day. You can probably catch my husband riding his to lunch during work daily if you look hard enough.
10. Indulge in South Ends newest restaurant scene
Although Charlotte isn’t necessarily known for it’s food scene, it has definitely stepped up the game recently. South End is a historic area just outside of uptown where the locals love to hang. Old mixes with new, contemporary meets retro, and the food scene is booming. Check out Superica for a frozen margarita and fajitas (it’s the ultimate tex-mex in town), walk over to Oku for chic Japanese dishes and a trendy vibe, or head to Zeppelin for drinks and apps under al fresco lighting.
For additional posts about Charlotte, NC – click here.