Things to do

45 of the Hottest Things to Do this Summer

Check these cool Queen City musts off your list this summer.

Charlotte’s sunny summer landscape beckons locals and visitors to get out and explore. From foodie expeditions to fun in the water and everything in between, we’ve put together the ultimate Queen City summer checklist for Charlotte-area adventurers. See how many you can check off the list and share with us on social media using #charlottesgotalot.     

Lake Norman - Photo courtesy of Aloha Paddle Sports

1. Rent a boat, Jet Ski, kayak or stand-up paddle-board and spend a day on Lake Norman or Lake Wylie. You’ll find all the gear you need at rental companies, like My Aloha Paddle and Surf, Aquaventure Watercraft Rentals and Boat Club, and Pier 88 Yacht Club. Or go all out and throw a party on the water with Yachta Yachta Yachta Charters.

2. Experience a different kind of football in the Queen City at a professional or international soccer match. The USL Charlotte Independence have several home games at Ramblewood Soccer Complex this summer, and International Champions Cup brings Liverpool FC v Borussia Dortmund to Bank of America Stadium July 22.

3. Get a taste of the city at the three-day Taste of Charlotte food festival in Uptown. After sampling fare from Charlotte-area restaurants, enjoy live music and entertainment, street performances, family-friendly activities and shopping.

Charlotte Symphony - Photo by Charlotte's got a lot

4. Pack a picnic basket, blanket and your favorite beverages and enjoy a Charlotte Symphony Summer Pops concert at Symphony Park at SouthPark Mall.

5. Escape from the heat and immerse yourself in a movie on the largest screen in the Carolinas at The Charlotte Observer IMAX® Dome Theatre at Discovery Place

6. Take a sightseeing tour or dinner cruise on Lake Norman aboard the Catawba Queen Mississippi riverboat or Lady of the Lake luxury yacht offered by Queen’s Landing Sightseeing & Dinner Cruises

7. Sign up the kids for a unique summer camp, like Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen Kids Culinary Camp, FC Barcelona Soccer Camp or Survival Camp at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. For the adults, sign up for an adult version of summer camp, like Charlotte Ballet Academy’s Adult Open Division classes or a sports league via SportsLink.

Summer Shootout Series - Photo courtesy of Charlotte Motor Speedway

8. Head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the weekly Summer Shootout Series. Fun is in store for the whole family with legends car races, bandolero races, school bus races and more.

9. Hit the links. Sign up for a lesson at Dana Rader Golf School, improve your game with a few rounds at the double-decker driving range at Leatherman Golf Learning Center, and then tee off at one of the 40 public and semi-private golf courses in the region, like the Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation

10. Experience Charlotte by horse. Clip clop through Uptown on a tour with Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours or take a Saturday Sunset Tour by horseback at the Latta Plantation Equestrian Center in Huntersville. Giddy up!

Charlotte B-cycle - Photo by Jim McGuire

11. Rent a Charlotte B-cycle and bike the 4.5-mile Rail Trail along the LYNX Blue Line from Uptown to South End.

12. Grab some water and friends (furry friends are welcome, too) and hike to the top of Crowders Mountain for a view of the Charlotte skyline on a clear day.

13. Spend a Saturday afternoon exploring historic aircraft at Carolinas Aviation Museum. For an added bonus, watch planes take off and land at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Overlook

Charlotte Skyline - Photo by Charlotte's got a lot

14. Celebrate the Fourth of July at one of the best fireworks shows in Charlotte. Head to the WBT Skyshow in Uptown, the Fourth of July Celebration at the U.S. National Whitewater Center or the Celebrate America Fireworks Show at Carowinds.

15. Discover the secret gardens of the city. Plan an afternoon walk through McGill Rose Garden in NoDa or the gardens at The Duke Mansion and Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary in Myers Park.

16. Take a photography class and capture the beauty of the Queen City in the summer. The Light Factory and The Photo Classroom offer everything from beginner to intermediate classes.

17. Spend a day exploring Charlotte-area wineries. Head north to the Vineyards of Swan Creek, which include six vineyards only 5 miles apart. Or for an experience like no other, rent a tree-house at Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe.

NoDa Art - Photo courtesy of Matthdr

18. Embark on a Friday evening art gallery crawl in South End or NoDa. Admire work by local artists while enjoying live music and refreshments at many of the neighborhoods’ galleries and shops. 

19. Bring a blanket and enjoy an outdoor concert on the lawn at PNC Music Pavilion or Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre

20. Rent a paddleboat from Dave’s Paddle Boats at The Shoppes at University Place. The boats fit up to four people, so bring your family or friends.

21. Take a kayak, canoe or tubing trip down the Catawba River with Catawba River Expeditions. Who knew you could do this so close to Charlotte?

22. For the kids and the kids at heart, run through the water at one of the city’s “spraygrounds.” Visit Cordelia Park in NoDa, Latta Park on Park Avenue, Veterans Park on Central Avenue or the Fish Fountains on The Green in Uptown for an afternoon of refreshing fun.

Panthers Fan Fest - Photo by Charlotte's got a lot

23. Attend the free Carolina Panthers’ Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium to kick off the football season and celebrate our beloved team. Don’t forget to take a selfie with Sir Purr!

24. Order inventive fare, mingle with neighbors and enjoy music at South End’s famous Food Truck Friday outdoor gatherings, which convene at Sycamore Brewing

25. Lounge on the new 1/2-acre sandy beach at Lake Norman. Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve is the site of Mecklenburg County’s first public swimming beach at a county-run park since the 1970s. 

26. Groove under the stars to the tunes of a talented lineup of musical acts at the center’s River Jam concert series at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. 

27. Watch the fireworks light up above BB&T Ballpark after you cheer on the Charlotte Knights at a Friday home game. Enjoy a breathtaking city skyline view, and chow down on roasted peanuts, a giant hot dog or a mini helmet full of ice cream.

Carowinds

28. Careen down the tracks of Carowinds’ newest and oldest roller coasters. Then use your park ticket to make a splash at the action-packed Carolina Harbor waterpark—an expansion and transformation of the former Boomerang Bay. 

29. Beat the heat at Ray’s Splash Planet, an indoor water-park loaded with fun features, like a double figure-eight water-slide, water squirters, a lazy river and tumble buckets.

30. Answer the call of the wild with a daytrip 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, Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville or Bird Brain Ostrich Ranch in Sherrills Ford.

31. Prepare to have your senses swept away by Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s natural beauty. The famed mecca of flora and fauna features 380 acres of themed gardens, a dozen sparkling fountains, a spectacular Visitor Pavilion and a striking Orchid Conservatory.

32. Grab a cozy blanket, prepare a yummy lunch and pack up the family for a sunny picnic at Freedom Park or Park Road Park. Grab a loaf of bread and treat the mesmerizing resident ducks to a bite, too.

EpiCentre: Alive After Five - Photo by Charlotte's got a lot

33. Trade your briefcase for a cold craft brew at Alive After Five on Thursday nights at the EpiCentre. Join the post-work crowds for a perfect kickoff to the weekend. 

34. 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. Then pick up fresh garden veggies from the farm. 

35. Pack your pole and a bucket of bait for an afternoon spent at one of Charlotte’s many public fishing holes. Catch bluegill or largemouth bass at McAlpine Creek Park or catfish at Hornets Nest Park. For a professional fishing charter, book through Fish On! in nearby Denver.

36. Perfect your downward-facing dog over craft drafts at Charlotte’s largest outdoor yoga experience, Yoga on Tap, at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery on Tuesday evenings. 

Sugar Creek Brewing - Photo by Kyo H Nam

37. Sip your way through LoSo (Lower South End), where breweries and distilleries sit just feet apart. Start out with a Belgian brew at Sugar Creek Brewing Co. and then head over to The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Savor a German beer in OMB’s Biergarten and then hop across the street for creative spirits at The Broken Spoke and Great Wagon Road Distilling Company, which are adjoined. 

38. Treat your taste buds like royalty during Queens Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week. Held annually in July (and January), the event features countless upscale establishments offering their best appetizers, entrees and desserts for easy-on-the pocketbook prices. 

39. Cool down and savor the creamy goodness of freshly churned ice cream packed in a cone and coated in sweet toppings. Local favorites, like Elizabeth Creamery, Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream and La Michoacana, should become weekly—if not daily—stops. 

The Peculiar Rabbit - Photo by Charlotte's got a lot

40. Soak up the sun and relish stunning skyline views at Charlotte’s best rooftop restaurants. For killer bites, crafty beverages and unbeatable sightlines, grab a table at Fahrenheit in Uptown or The Peculiar Rabbit in Plaza Midwood. Honorable mentions: The Gin Mill in South End, Rooftop 210 in Uptown and the new Merchant and Trade in Uptown.

41. Feel the wind in your hair as you glide through scenic Center City and neighboring historic districts on one of Charlotte NC Tours’ seven different Segway Tours. Unique options include restaurant-tasting tours and haunted ghost tours. 

42. For knee-slapping fun with a Queen City spin, get a front row seat to see Charlotte Squawks in full comedic force. Picture “Saturday Night Live” meets Broadway. Add in local and national pop-culture, and you’ve got a performance for the books.

Charlotte Pride Festival

43. Show your pride as you join the city in celebrating its LGBTQ community. Celebrate diversity and unity at Charlotte Black Gay Pride’s annual summer event and at the Charlotte Pride Festival & Parade, each of which draws a diverse lineup of drag, dance, comedy and musical acts in Uptown.

44. Count the evening stars and Hollywood stars at one of Charlotte’s outdoor summer movie offerings. Round up the kids and catch your favorite family flick at the Movies Under the Stars series at both Symphony Park and Charlotte Premium Outlets.

45. 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.

For more happening in Charlotte this summer, check out our Events Calendar.