How to Culture Crawl through Uptown Charlotte
Discover award-winning museums and attractions in Charlotte's central business district.
by Beth Castle
Uptown Charlotte is more than a business center; it’s the heart of the city’s arts and culture scene. While staying in the Queen City, you’ll find renowned art collections, inspired public art, moving musical performances and poignant theatrical productions, all within Center City’s walkable grid.
On South Tryon Street sits the Levine Center for the Arts, which houses three of Uptown’s most revered art museums: the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and the Mint Museum Uptown. Purchase of a $20 Access Ticket grants you 48-hour access to all three museums, but you can also stop by on the third Thursday of the month for “Art Break,” when the center offers free 30-minute tours at lunchtime.
To see smaller scale exhibitions, visit the McColl Center for Art + Innovation’s galleries, SoZo Gallery and the Sonia and Isaac Luski Gallery. Or simply stroll through Center City; the Magic Carpet Murals by the light rail, the Flying Shuttles outside Spectrum Center, The Writer’s Desk outside ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center and the Firebird sculpture outside the Bechtler are iconic Charlotte imagery.
Sit back and enjoy the show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. In addition to hosting big-name resident companies Opera Carolina, Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte Ballet, the arts center also stages Broadway musicals, dance troupes, film screenings and more. Looking for laughs? Try the Comedy Zone in AvidXchange Music Factory, where you’ll also find a handful of late-night entertainment options. You can see a movie Uptown, too; Studio Movie Grill in the EpiCentre plays all the latest flicks, plus select dollar matinee shows for the little ones.
Both ticketed and free music events keep Uptown bumping. The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center books a variety of music performances, is home to the Charlotte Symphony and holds summer concert series Sounds on the Square every Friday in its community gathering space, Spirit Square. You can also catch intimate concerts at the center’s other venues like McGlohon Theater and Duke Energy Theater throughout the year. The center also jazzes things up at Stage Door Theater, where it holds monthly jazz sessions. You’ll find similar tunes elsewhere, too: at swanky cocktail lounge The Imperial on Friday and Saturday nights and at the Bechtler on the first Friday of every month.
Discover the city’s history and heritage throughout downtown. Not only can you trace Charlotte’s Revolutionary roots on the Charlotte Liberty Walk, but you can also learn about the South’s history since the Civil War at the Levine Museum of the New South. The museum also showcases temporary art exhibits related to the changing and diverse region. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is an easy stop, too. Connected to the Charlotte Convention Center, the Hall details the sport’s deep connection to the Charlotte region. When you visit Charlotte for a meeting, trade show or convention, simply show your badge at the Box Office to enjoy a $10 multiday ticket to explore the Hall’s riveting simulators, experiences and artifacts.