Things to Do

45 Things to Do to Keep You Warm This Winter

Although many events and activities will look a little different this year, these drive-ins, drive-thrus, distanced gatherings and digital experiences will keep you and your crew cozy enough to get through the winter.

Camp North End

This article is brought to you by Camp North End.

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.

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Photo courtesy of Camp North End

1. Bundle up near the fire or under one of their heaters when you spend the day exploring Camp North End. Check out our guide to this winter-friendly outdoor artistic hub so you can take advantage of all this neighborhood has to offer.

2. Tap into the holidays at Carowinds’ Taste of the Season: An Outdoor Holiday Experience. The beloved amusement park reopened for the first time this year, and you won’t want to miss it. The outdoor event will have tasty treats, festive activities, live shows, and the chance to hop on some of the amusement park’s popular rides. Check the website before going – reservations are required. When: Dec. 26, 2020 at 10 a.m.

3. Undeck the Hall at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Fans can select a gift off one of the many trees decorated with NASCAR-themed items like autographed souvenirs, die-cast cars, apparel, gear and more. When: Dec. 26, 2020 at 10 a.m.

4. Take a cruise through Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 11th edition of Charlotte’s drive-thru light show features more than 4 million lights over a 3.75-mile course. Bonus: Get the full effect by tuning into 101.3 FM to fill your car with Christmas music as you take in illuminated holiday displays. When: Runs through Jan. 2021.

5. Pose for a free, contactless photo with Santa at BLACKLION. Holiday displays (and heaters) will be set up by the storefront as Santa makes his list and checks it twice… and smiles for the camera with that twinkle in his eye. When: Runs through Dec. 19, 2020 (hours vary).


6. Drive through the festive light display or check out the animal park at Zootastic Park Christmas Wonderland of Lights. When: Runs through Jan. 1, 2021.

7. Get a taste of a traditional European-style Christmas at the fifth annual Charlotte Christmas Village at Truist Field in Uptown Charlotte. When: Runs through Dec. 23, 2020.

8. Spark your holiday cheer at the third annual Festival of Trees at Stowe Park and Historic Downtown Belmont. When: Runs through Jan. 1, 2021.

9. Take a trip to “Christmas Town USA” and experience the McAdenville Christmas tradition that has been drawing visitors for more than 60 years. (Several changes have been made to this year’s event so visitors can celebrate safely. Be sure to check the website for details before attending.) When: Runs through Dec. 26, 2020.

10. Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through the virtual 2021 Atrium Health Charlotte-Mecklenburg Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday Celebration. In light of COVID-19, the 2021 celebration will feature highlights from past parades on WSOC-TV along with programming that showcases how members of the community are reflecting on and honoring Dr. King’s legacy. When: Jan. 18, 2021.

NASCAR Hall of Fame Pit Crew Challenge - Photography by Cody Hughes

11. Strip down for a cause and participate in the virtual Cupid's Undie Run. This "brief" fun run raises money to find a cure for neurofibromatosis, a genetic tumor disorder that affects 1 in every 3,000 births. After you finish your #MileThatMatters, join the Cupid's Party, a national virtual event that includes live entertainment, games, and drink tutorials. When: Feb. 13, 2021.

12. Although the Class of 2021 Induction Ceremony has been postponed to early 2022, you can still celebrate the history and heritage of NASCAR by making a pit stop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Family members of all ages can explore more than 50 interactive exhibits and relive the race moments that turned NASCAR pioneers into legends. (Bonus: Now through Jan. 1, 2021, kids can go for free.)

13. Take a drive to Davidson and pay a visit to Your Mom’s Bazaar. The hyper-local market is the newest venture from Courtney Buckley, owner of Your Mom’s Donuts. You’ll find produce, cheeses, and meats, plus baking staples and products from local businesses. Freshly baked bread is available daily, and those delicious doughnuts are available Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

14. Cheer on your favorite local basketball and hockey teams through the winter months. Both the Charlotte Checkers and the Charlotte Hornets play through April 2021 and have fun giveaways and themed events throughout the season. Check out their schedules for special promotional games.

15. Work your way through the ultimate dining bucket list, our collection of 101 must-try Charlotte restaurants. Our comprehensive list will inspire you to try a new restaurant, a new cuisine or even discover a new neighborhood.

Queen Park Social - Photography by Cody Hughes

16. Charlotte’s legendary Queen’s Feast (Charlotte Restaurant Week) has been postponed for now, but you can still create your own Queen City sampling. Try “the best crab cake in Charlotte” at LuLu’s Maryland Syle Chicken & Seafood. Serve up some fresh ravioli and gourmet sauce from Pasta & Provisions. Or host your own exclusive wine and cheese tasting with a little help from FEAST Food Tours.

17. Treat yourself to a spa day at The Spa at Ballantyne or The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Charlotte. Both offer luxurious relaxation areas and treatment packages that will have your dry, winter skin saying “namaste.”

18. Strike up some fun with a frame or two of bowling in the Queen City. 10 Park Lanes, Queen Park Social, Piedmont Social House, Pins Mechanical, and Bowlero (formerly Strike City) are just a few spots where you can grab a drink and try to avoid gutter balls.

19. Give your “work from home” routine a jolt by grabbing a cold brew and a cronut (the divine result of combining a croissant and a doughnut) at Coco and the Director. The stadium seating and oversized throw pillows promise to make that spreadsheet seem a little less daunting. Bonus: Grown-up beverages and cozy loft tables also make this a great date night spot.

20. If you like your coffee with a side of altruism, fill up your cup at Julia’s Cafe and Books. The shop is named for Julia Maulden, one of Charlotte’s pioneering public servants who was instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. Through the purchase of coffees, pastries and gently used books, customers can contribute to the Charlotte housing crisis. Bonus: The coffee is sourced by local favorite Magnolia Coffee Company and served up by volunteer baristas.

Photo courtesy of Skiptown CLT

21. Take flight at iFly, the indoor skydiving experience where your dreams of flying can take flight. From children to seniors, Charlotte’s first indoor wind tunnel is a blast for the whole family.

22. Hang out with your canine companion at Skiptown. Weekly specials like Muddy Monday and Wine Down Wednesday, plus football “GameDays” on the weekends, give you and your pup plenty of reasons to celebrate.

23. While adoption events for the Greater Charlotte SPCA and Humane Society of Charlotte have been suspended, you can still lend a paw. Volunteer to help with the organizations or offer to foster a pet in need. If you’re ready to adopt, you can find your new best friend and apply to give them a fur-ever home.

24. Play detective at one of Charlotte’s many escape rooms. With a variety of themes, difficulty levels and group size options, each mission will keep you guessing until the last piece of the puzzle falls into place. Try Timed Out Escape in Ballantyne, District 57 near Wesley Heights, or Exit Strategy with multiple Charlotte-area locations.

25. Climb, swing or scale your way through obstacle courses and rock walls at Kinetic Heights or Inner Peaks. Whether you want to channel your inner “American Ninja Warrior” or take your rock climbing to new heights, these indoor adventures offer a fun challenge for both adults and kids.


26. Get your shop on. Discover the latest trends at SouthPark Mall. Snag a deal at Charlotte Premium Outlets. Explore one of the quaint boutiques in Ballantyne Village. Or stop by WelcomeCLT and CLT Find for the perfect Charlotte swag.

27. Brunch with friends at Amélie’s French Bakery & Café and then meander your way through Park Road Shopping Center.

28. Nail the bullseye with an axe at BATL Charlotte (Axe Club of America). This stress-burning activity takes darts and bowling to the next level. Bonus: The LoSo location is just a few steps away from Brewers at 4001 Yancey, so you can take the party across the street.

29. Get crafty with paint and sip classes or DIY workshops. Painting With a Twist and Wine & Design are two to check out if you want to wield a paintbrush while sipping on some prosecco.

30. Tackle DIY projects like creating wooden welcome signs and chunky crocheted blankets at Anders Ruff Workshop. You can even pick up DIY to-go kits and get crafty from your own home.


31. Work on your golf game at Topgolf. When it's too cold to hit the links, cozy up in one of Topgolf's heated, climate-controlled bays. You can practice your swing while sipping on cocktails and snacking on shareable plates.

32. Unearth hidden treasures at antique and consignment shops. Wander the aisles of Sleepy Poet Antique Mall to discover clusters of extensive collections or find the perfect piece of vintage furniture at Classic Attic.

33. You don’t have to go far to escape the daily grind. Pack your overnight bag for a staycation at one of Charlotte’s decadent hotels. Escape reality the moment you walk into the Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte or Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in Uptown Charlotte. Both offer breathtaking views of the city.

34. Get lost in a classic novel, have a playdate at story time or meet new friends in a book club. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has multiple locations around Charlotte and surrounding areas and offers more than free Wi-Fi and study nooks.

35. Get in touch with your inner Robinhood at Barefoot Archery. Practice or learn to shoot in one of the eight, 20-yard USA Archery-approved lanes. Bonus: Classes and camps are also available if you really want to sharpen your archery skills.

Jenis Splendid Ice Cream South End - Photography by Kyo Nam

36. Unlock the wonder of creativity at ImaginOn, a 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.

37. Play like a kid at Frankie’s Fun Park. Between go-kart tracks, miniature golf courses, laser tag, amusement rides and arcade games, you can easily spend the day at this play-cation paradise.

38. Get your dose of culture at one of Charlotte’s award-winning museums. Here’s a sampling of a few places to explore:

39. Spend an afternoon in the South End neighborhood. Create your own custom creation at Paddywax Candle Bar. (You can BYOB, but beer and wine are also available for purchase.) Then grab a drink or a snack at one of the neighborhood hot spots. Try the Tommy’s Margarita at Supericaor devour a scoop of Gooey Butter Cake at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.

40. Pair your passion for plants and prosecco at PlantBar. Peruse the plant wall or build your own terrarium as you sip from a selection of beer, wine, and mimosas.


41. Shake up your workout routine. Try Work For Your Beer, an online directory that brings together thousands of people for free and cheap yoga classes, run clubs and other fitness events at beer-related venues throughout the city. Or try one of Fit Atelier’s signature classes like “The Beat,” a dance cardio class taught by top instructors.

42. 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. Classes are designed to accommodate cooks at every skill level. (Virtual classes are also available.)

43. Sip, snack and shop at 7th Street Public Market. A variety of vendors, from fried dumplings at Momo Station Asian Fusion to açaí bowls at Rico’s Acai, make this marketplace an easy one-stop shop.

44. Learn a new skill from literally anywhere. Sign up for virtual, expert-led sessions thanks to Skillpop Anywhere and master handlettering, bread baking, social media marketing and more.

45. Take a dive under the sea at Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium. See all the fantastic creatures that dwell beneath the waves.