Things to Do

40 of the Hottest Things to Do this Summer

Although this will certainly be a different summer in the Queen City than we've ever experienced, there are still plenty of ways to safely enjoy it — from a distance and with a face mask of course. From hiking to a staycation, here's what you should have on your summer bucket list.

Ninety's Ice Cream and Sanwiches - Photo by Robert Kisiah

1. Cool down with a Cookies by the Sea ice cream cone from Two Scoops Creamery or go for the Salted Oreo from Golden Cow Creamery. Enjoy your sweet treat by soaking up the beautiful weather outside. Other local ice cream shops include Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream, La Michoacana and Ninety’s Ice Cream and Sandwiches.

2. Grab a cozy blanket, prepare a delicious lunch and pack up the family for a sunny picnic at Freedom Park or Park Road Park. Treat the resident ducks to a healthy bite with snacks like frozen peas and corn or shredded lettuce, too.

3. Relax on the Catawba River by the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Take on stand-up paddle-boarding or flatwater kayaking with one of your friends. Then treat yourself to a cold brew while overlooking the world’s largest man-made whitewater river at the center.

4. Explore all that the Rail Trail has to offer. Start your morning off by devouring the Chicken N’ Biscuit from The Suffolk Punch. Continue the day by perusing the shops at Atherton Mill and Market. Snap a pic in front of the Instagram-worthy Confetti Hearts Wall, and wrap up with a tasty treat from Pepperbox Doughnuts.

5. Answer the call of the wild with a day trip to surrounding North Carolina towns, where exotic animals roam. Visit Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, Tiger World in Rockwell, Zootastic Park of Lake Norman in Troutman or the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville.

6. Check out one of the new breweries in town – go south for Edge City Brewery or north for Royal Bliss Brewing in Denver, NC, along the banks of Lake Norman.

7. Grab your pup and go on an outdoor ArtWalk in NoDa, Plaza Midwood, Elizabeth/Midtown or Uptown and be inspired by the latest Charlotte street art.

8. Become a Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden member and grab an easel to channel your inner Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe or Bob Ross all summer long.

Crowders Mountain - Photography by Cody Hughes

9. Grab some water and hike to the top of Crowders Mountain for a view of the Charlotte skyline on a clear day.

10. Tee off at one of the 40 public and semi-private golf courses in the region, like the Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation.

Rhino Market and Deli - Image by Kate Magee

11. Grab The Beaut, a fried chicken sandwich, from Jim Noble’s Wesley Heights restaurant Bossy Beulah’s or sandwiches from nearby Rhino Market and Deli. Then drive out to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Overlook for a picnic at one of Charlotte’s most unique skyline views.

12. Experience life in the wilderness while camping at McDowell Nature Center and Preserve’s 56-site camp ground set along hundreds of scenic acres. Take shelter at Copperhead Island for more primitive digs.

13. Grab a Salted Caramel Brownie from Amelie’s French Bakery’s flagship location in NoDa one last time, before they relocate down the street.

14. Schedule a private swim party or add open swim days at The Quarry at Carrigan Farms to your calendar. Take a cool dip in the boulder-bordered water or paddle board, canoe or kayak along the currents. After working up an appetite, swing by their new Quarry Kitchen for favorites like the "Quarry Burger" and snow cones.

15. Give wake boarding a try at SouthTown Wake Park in Rock Hill, SC. For both beginners and experienced wake boarders, the cable system lets you enjoy this sport without the need for a boat.

16. Drive up to an outdoor movie at Hound's Drive-In for just $20 per car. Upcoming features include "Jurassic Park" and "Jaws." They'll also have a drive-in movie concert experience featuring Garth Brooks.

17. Whether you’re here for just the weekend, or have been a local for years, anyone will enjoy hopping aboard one of Queen City Rides’ tours. Sign up for a City Tour and take a ride through North Carolina’s largest city on a guided tour of Charlotte’s history. Or sit back and relax on the Brewery Crawl Tour and enjoy three of the best breweries in Charlotte, all in different and unique neighborhoods.

18. Grab a sanitized, socially-distanced seat for a candle making workshop at Paddywax Candle Bar in South End. Choose your fragrance and vessel and let the experts walk you through the steps on pouring your own candle.

19. Spend a day pampering yourself at a spa. Splurge for a full day of relaxation at the Ritz-Carlton in Uptown or find 30 minutes of bliss when you book a facial at Clean Your Dirty Face in SouthPark. Check out our full roundup of spas here.

Chef Alyssa's Kitchen - Image by Kate Magee

20. Live out your "Master Chef" fantasy and book a cooking class.Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen is a Queen City culinary staple where you can learn how make fresh pasta, bake beignets, stir up some gumbo and more.

21. Grab some snacks and hop in the car for a quick road trip. Get away from the city life for a day on one of our picture-perfect day trips.

22. Spend a day out on Lake Norman and take up wakeboarding or wakesurfing lessons with Ride LKN. Whether you've tried either of these sports before or are new to the experience, owner Martin Cagle has been teaching both water sports for more than 12 years, making these personal sessions comfortable for all levels.

23. Charlotte is home to one of the most active and passionate disc golf communities in the country, with courses ranging from beginner-friendly to world championship caliber. Get out and play disc golf at any of the city's public parks, and then head to Another Round in NoDa, a disc golf shop and hangout spot that serves local beer.

24. With more than 50 miles of greenways, there's no shortage of space to get outside in the Queen City. Break off the monotony of self-quarantine and hike, bike or stroll along the trail closest to you. Here are a few greenways to get you started.

Black Lives Matter Mural - Image by Cody Hughes

25. Go on a free public art tour throughout the city. From the Black Lives Matter mural Uptown (between 3rd and 4th Streets) to taking a picture in front of the Firebird to Nick Napoletano's mural dedicated to National Travel and Tourism Week, Charlotte is a canvas for artistic expression.

26. Virtual family-friendly activities have become more popular than ever, and local attractions are all in. The Mint Museum is offering the Museum From Home program, where families can enjoy crafts and activities inspired by art in their own dwellings. The NASCAR Hall of Fame has combined educational experiences with hands-on exhibits through online education called SPARK! Education. These STE(A)M-driven activities give students from elementary school to high school the chance to apply lessons to real-world problem solving.

27. Grab a sweet sorbet treat from Popbar Charlotte. Head to NoDa to customize your all-natural, handcrafted gelato on a stick or at the Camp North End Mini Pop Shop coming June 2020.

28. Pick your own blueberries, strawberries and blackberries at Bush-N-Vine Farm. Pick-your-own patches are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

29. Spend a day supporting black-owned businesses in Charlotte. Grab a coffee from Cynthia's Coffee Cup; order breakfast from Uptown Yolk; get a manicure or pedicure at AlphaMale Nail Care; and end the day with Cajun cuisine from Freshwaters.

Charlotte Knights - Image by Cody Hughes

30. Eat and play disc golf at one of the best views in the city at Truist Field (BB&T Ballpark's new name) on Saturday, June 28 at 3 p.m. The ballpark is also promoting a Play on the Field event on Tuesdays through Thursdays where friends and family can have batting practice like the Charlotte Knights do.

31. Enjoy wine tasting on the outdoor patio Davidson Wine Co. If you’re looking for more scenery for your glass of sauvignon blanc, sit outside at Veronét Vineyards & Winery or have a tasting with less than six people at Childress Vineyards.

32. Paint, sip and wind down with a take-home painting kit from Wine and Design Charlotte or Painting With A Twist. Here's to getting creative in the comfort of your own home.

33. Dine on a dinner cruise and take on all the views with Queens Landing Sightseeing & Dinner Cruises. Enjoy a three-course chef crafted meal on Lady of the Lake, a 93-foot luxury yacht, or enjoy all the unique views of Lake Norman on the “Catawba Queen.”

34. Although many dine-in establishments are offering curbside pickup or takeout, you'll still be eating incredibly well locally. Try takeout from Anntony's Caribbean Cafe, Chaat 'N' Dosa Indian Cafe or Eddie's Place.

35. Visit a Charlotte-area farmers' market to pick up local produce. Then, make a picnic and eat outside at public parks like Freedom Park, Independence Park or Reedy Creek Park.

36. Missing the music scene? Catch a concert from home with Center City Partner's Music Anywhere CLT initiative, which provides a one-stop shop for audiences looking for livestreams by local bands.

Optimist Hall - Image by Kate Magee

37. Make a day of it at Camp North End and Optimist Hall. Grab an iced coffee from Hex Coffee's walk-up window service on Fridays and Saturdays; try an outdoor fitness class with Bloc.CLT; and check out the 45 murals on site at Camp North End. Head over to Optimist Hall to fill up on empanadas at Felix's Handmade Empanadas, authentic noodles and dumplings from The Dumpling Lady and wash it down with a brew from Fonta Flora Brewery.

38. Make a Charlotte cocktail from home — from Bardo's "Putting Down Roots" cocktail to Rosemont's "Soccer Mom Special" cocktail. Cheers!

39. Sure your travel plans have probably changed but how does a staycation in Charlotte sound? Relax at The Ivey's Hotel in Uptown, Dilworth's historic Morehead Inn or the luxurious Ballantyne Hotel.

40. Follow CDC guidelines in style by stocking up on fashionable face masks from local boutiques. Check out places like BOEM, CLT Boutique, Covet Atelier and Girl Tribe for a selection of face masks that will fit all personal styles.