45 of the Hottest Things to Do This Spring
Like the dogwoods and daffodils, Charlotte is emerging from another Carolina winter. From park picnics and egg hunts to drive-in movies and the Wells Fargo Championship, the Queen City is blooming with experiences you won’t want to miss.
by Amanda Lea Mar 02, 2021
Per a COVID-19-related Mecklenburg County health directive issued Jan. 12, 2021, please note that some businesses may have modified their hours of operation and changed procedures in order to comply with CDC and Mecklenburg County Health Department guidelines. Please wear a mask, limit any non-essential activities and refrain from gathering with anyone outside of your household.
1. Spend the day enjoying the outdoors at Camp North End. Explore 14 food and drink spots, ranging from Saru by Bow Ramen to Leah & Louise; discover 11 shops and art collectives; check out the creative hub’s 50+ murals; and stay awhile at their socially distant seating across 76 acres.
2. Famous Toastery Virtual Shamrock 4 Miler Presented by Novant Health. Kick up your heels for St. Patrick’s Day with a 4-mile run or a kid’s “leprechaun jog” in south Charlotte. Bonus: The race’s finish line is conveniently located at Famous Toastery, so a post-run brunch will be a must.
When: March 13, 2021.
3. Feel the rumble with the Charlotte Thunder, the Queen City's indoor football team. The whole family will have a blast cheering on the home team at the Bojangles' Coliseum.
When: March 27, 2021 through June 5, 2021.
4. Naturalist Egg Hunt at Wing Haven. Celebrate the songbirds with this natural take on the traditional egg hunt. Children can craft their own binoculars and search for replicas of real bird eggs hidden in nests in the gardens. Egg- and nest-themed activities will be provided for families to enjoy.
When: March 27, 2021
5. Easter at the Library at Billy Graham Library. This family-friendly event includes story time on the patio and crafts for kids, plus an Easter photo booth opportunity to take some family shots. Each family will also receive a free copy of a special Billy Graham Classics DVD.
When: March 27, 2021
6. The annual Tuck Fest at the U.S. National Whitewater Center is on hold for now. But you can still grab a day pass and have an adventure-packed day of rapids, ropes, jumps and trails in the great outdoors. (Bonus: Be sure to check their website for upcoming activities and races, like The Whole Enchilada MTB race on March 27, and The New South Trail Full and Half Marathon on April 3.)
8. Charlotte Wine & Food Week Presented by Truist. This culinary experience brings together leading winemakers and chefs from around the world. The event also makes significant contributions to charitable organizations that benefit children and their families in the Charlotte community. This year, the event will include an online charity auction, socially distant vintner dinners at Charlotte's top restaurants, and The Grand Finale: a 1,000-Point Tasting & Dinner.
When: April 14-17, 2021
9. Kids’ Night Out: An Egg-cellant Adventure at Anne Springs Close Greenway. Celebrate Earth Day (April 22) at the Anne Springs Close Greenway with exciting outdoor activities happening all weekend including lead-line horse rides, fishing clinics, kayaking, guided hikes, reptile encounters and historic cabin tours.
When: April 16-18, 2021
10. Use the city’s Charlotte Trail Guide to find a trail that piques your interest, then appreciate the sights and sounds of Mother Nature in the Queen City.
11. Queen’s Cup Steeplechase. Although this year’s races will be run without an audience, you can still suit up in your seersucker and pour yourself a mint julep to watch the event via livestream.
When: April 24, 2021
12. Wells Fargo Championship. Celebrating its 19th year, the Wells Fargo Championship is one of the most prestigious golfing events in the state. Practice your golf clap as legends like Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler make history at the Quail Hollow Club.
When: May 3-9, 2021
13. Charlotte’sCinco de Mayo party is postponed for this year, but you can grab some tacos and tequila and have a fiesta at home. Use this Mexican Food Roundup as menu inspiration and be sure to snag a margarita kit to complete the festivities.
14. Water Lantern Festival at Symphony Park. Join family, friends and fellow community members for this magical night of light. Peruse the local vendors and customize your own floating lantern. Then grab a spot to watch the water reflecting thousands of lanterns illuminated with messages of life and love.
When: May 8, 2021
15. Circle K Speed Street and 600 Festival is postponed until the fall, but you can honor racing icons and legends of the sport at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In addition to the “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit, the Hall is currently featuring “A Legendary Decade: The First 50 Inductees,” which celebrates the first decade of accomplishments of the legends of NASCAR racing. Mark your calendars for April 2-11, Kids Go Free with a paying adult during spring break.
16. Taste of Charlotte. Enjoy samples from local tastemakers during this three-day festival in the heart of Uptown. During the weekend, there’s even a Race to the Taste 5K with cupcakes from local vendors sprinkled throughout the course. It’s all about balance, right?
When: June 11-13, 2021
17. The annual Paws in the Park event, one of the largest dog events in the Charlotte area hosted by Charlotte Black Dogs, is set to return next year. But you can help support the organization and their year-round efforts to advocate for black dogs in the Charlotte region.
18. If you enjoy the Girl Tribe Pop-Up events, you’ll love the vibrant “loft” experience above their brick-and-mortar store. (The shift brings you the same energetic vibe of a pop-up event but in a safer setting.) You’ll still find an incredible line-up of women-owned businesses selling goods for every style and season.
19. Create your own entertainment adventure with a variety of live events at one of Charlotte’s many venues. Although some events have been rescheduled for venues like Spectrum Center, PNC Music Pavilion and Bojangles Entertainment Complex, keep an eye on The Music Yard and Hound's Drive-In Theater. These spots have been hosting weekly drive-in concerts and movies that make it easy to social distance.
20. Plan the perfect picnic by packing up a basket with provisions from Earl’s Grocery, Laurel Market or Rhino Market & Deli, throwing out a blanket and enjoying your feast at one of Charlotte's beautiful parks.
21. For more outdoor explorations, conquer this bucket list of “Safe Outdoor Activities to Discover in the Queen City.” From family-friendly parks to urban trails, these spaces are a breath of fresh air for everyone – from a distance.
22. See the glass half-full with a “make your own” class at Hot Glass Alley. Work with an artist to create a unique hand-blown glass piece like an Easter egg, a flower, or a vase. There’s also a “date night” session every other Friday night for small groups of couples ages 21 and older.
23. Spring into action and learn something new at a SkillPop class. Topics range from hand lettering and hip hop to meditation and marketing. These pop-up classes are taught by local professionals and present bite-sized info to help you kickstart your passion.
24. Take in the thrills of the region’s premier amusement park, just a 20-minute drive from Uptown Charlotte. Carowinds straddles the borders of the Carolinas and is home to some record-breaking coasters such as Fury 325 (the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster) or Copperhead Strike (the Carolinas’ first double-launch roller coaster).
25. If the travel bug is biting but you don’t want to stray far from home, be a tourist for a day by discovering a different part of town. Charlotte is teeming with beautiful boroughs waiting to be explored. Use our neighborhood guide to plan your itinerary, then hit the pavement and see how the day unfolds. You never know what new gems you’ll uncover in the Queen City.
26. Shop local and eat fresh by visiting one of Charlotte’s community farmers markets. The Charlotte Regional Farmers Market is one of four markets owned by the state of North Carolina and operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The NoDa Farmers Market is located in NoDa Company Store and encourages a “growers only” approach, meaning there’s a direct connection between the consumer and the farmer. For live music, local coffee and unique baked goods, visit the Matthews Community Farmers Market. You may catch some of Charlotte’s well-known chefs and food bloggers if you go early.
27. For even more local options, check out our 24-hour guide on how to support Black-owned businesses in the Queen City. You’ll find everything from Curio, Craft & Conjure, a supplier of personalized magickal supplies, to LuLu’s Maryland Style Chicken & Seafood, known for having “The Best Crab Cake in Charlotte.”
28. Run it out and reward yourself with a beer. Charlotte running clubs aren’t all about beer, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little motivation, right? Check out local events to meet up with fellow runners through Work For Your Beer and Charlotte Running Club.
29. Embark on a Queen City Instagram photo hunt. Snap a pic of your Pepperbox Doughnuts by the Confetti Hearts Wall in South End. Take flight on the Magic Carpet Mural on the Charlotte Rail Trail. Or pose for a selfie with the iconic Firebird that sparkles outside the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
30. Draw, write and collect items along the way as you amble through The Owl Forest: A Nature Notebook exhibit at the Carolina Raptor Center.
31. Take time to stop and smell the roses at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, which dates back to 1966 and features 10 acres of breathtaking outdoor beauty. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden boasts sparkling fountains, plentiful nature trails and a conservatory that would make any orchid lover swoon.
32. Take a hike to the top of the area’s tallest peak at Crowders Mountain State Park. The 25-mile views of the surrounding Piedmont will make the destination as memorable as the journey.
33. Work on your backstroke at Topgolf, where Dave & Buster’s meets a technology-run golf paradise. With three levels of 102 climate-controlled hitting bays across 65,000 square feet, a chef-driven menu and hand-crafted cocktails, Topgolf is top-notch fun for everyone.
34. BYOM (bring your own mat) to Good Karma Ranch and practice yoga in a peaceful pasture among alpacas. (Yes, you read that right – alpacas.) The 50-minute session will help you find your inner peace… or at least a sheepish smile. (Bonus: They also offer farm tours for the whole family.)
35. Create a self-guided beer tour at Charlotte’s best breweries. Enjoy a spring evening sipping on a Juicy Jay IPA at Legion Brewing’s stunning SouthPark location. Unwind with your crew in Free Range Brewing’s family-friendly atmosphere. Or head to The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s picturesque Biergarten.
36. Explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) works, what it can do today, and its future potential during an interactive, limited-run exhibition at Discovery Place Science.
37. Stay on pointe with Charlotte Ballet’s plethora of virtual performances available to watch online. You won’t want to miss the behind-the-scenes insider info and magical masterpieces.
38. Create your own custom candle at Paddywax Candle Bar. You and your friends each choose a vessel and fragrance, then go step by step through the candle pouring process. You can BYOB, but beer and wine are also available for purchase. Candles take about three hours to cool. While you wait, try the “Tommy’s Margarita” at Superica, or a scoop of “Gooey Butter Cake” at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
39. Whip up a culinary creation or sharpen your knife skills with a cooking class at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen. Their adult classes make cooking at home approachable and fun. Class options are refreshed often and designed to accommodate cooks at every skill level.
40. Put a grownup twist on your childhood memories of secret handshakes and high-up hideaways at Treehouse Vineyards. Three cozy treehouses are available for hourly and overnight rentals. Limited snacks are available for purchase, but you can stop by the nearby grocery store to stock up on your favorite snacks and pack your own picnic.
41. Opt for some retail therapy options in Charlotte. Grab an iced coffee and discover the latest trends at SouthPark Mall. Brunch with friends at Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe then meander your way through Park Road Shopping Center. If you’re looking for today’s top deals, check out the stores at Charlotte Premium Outlets. Or explore one of the quaint boutiques at Ballantyne Village.
42. Unlock the wonder of creativity at ImaginOn, the youth destination with interactive experiences that challenge, inspire and excite young minds. This collaborative effort between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is a 102,000-square-foot facility located in Uptown and visited by more than 300,000 people each year.
43. See all the fantastic creatures that dwell beneath the waves at Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium. You don't have to be there in person for kids to interact with the sea life through the aquarium’s “Making Magic with Merlin” initiative. Watch creatures from the touch pool get their lunch, meet some beluga whales or check out Under the Sea Storytime, all viewable from the aquarium’s national Facebook page.
44. Get your dose of culture at one of Charlotte’s award-winning museums. Check out North Carolina’s oldest museum at The Mint Museum. Learn about the history of Charlotte and the New South at Levine Museum of the New South. Dive into African American heritage at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. Or explore today’s art trends at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
45. For potential plant parents, take a stroll around The Plant Room at Lenny Boy Brewing. Sip on an organic kombucha or beer brewed on-site and peruse the selection of tropical plants and ceramics. The graceful greenery carries over to the taproom, where vines trail from the rafters and create an inviting oasis of mindfulness.