15 Alcohol-Free Activities in Charlotte
Whether you’re sober, sober curious or just taking some time off from drinking, there’s plenty to do in Charlotte that doesn’t involve alcohol.
by Molly Ruggere Jan 05, 2023
Ever since the inception of “Dry January” in 2012 by Alcohol Change UK, and the introduction of the term “sober curious” to our global lexicon by author Ruby Warrington in her book, “Sober Curious,” the alcohol-free and alcohol-reduced lifestyles are continuing to become more prevalent, especially among younger generations.
Charlotte’s local social scene has joined the nationwide alcohol-free movement movement in full force and 2023 is primed to be the biggest growth our city has seen yet for inventive, nonalcoholic options. So, not only can you enjoy a spirit-free cocktail or non-alcoholic beer at many local establishments in Charlotte, but there are also so many activities to enjoy in the city that’s “got a lot.” Here are 15 recommendations for alcohol-free fun for all ages and interests.
1. Experience Happy Hour alcohol-free
Just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an adult beverage. Charlotte’s restaurants and bars are continuously adding delicious and inventive alcohol-free drinks to their menus. If you’re a Kombucha fan, there are many Charlotte-based brands, such as SumBucha, Lenny Boy or UpDog Kombucha, with unique flavor choices served in breweries and restaurants around town. More of a cocktail connoisseur? Check out the high-end spirit-free craft cocktails at Supperland, Church and Union, Elsewhere, Dilworth Tasting Room, Stroke, The Vintage, Haberdish and more.
2. Learn a new skill
Whether you’re looking to master the art of floral arranging, bake the perfect pretzel from scratch or start your own podcast, SkillPop offers a variety of virtual and in-person classes at an affordable price to help you pick up a new talent or explore an interest. You can also learn to make your own beauty products at Lip N Pour, create your own custom candle at Paddywax Candle Bar, up your culinary game with a lesson from Chef Alyssa at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen or create your own terrarium at Plant House.
3. Check out a Counterculture Event
Counterculture Club, a global alcohol-free social club and events company based in Charlotte offers “hangouts without hangovers” – sober social experiences for anyone looking to socialize or meet new people without drinking. In 2023, the Club is hosting Charlotte’s first alcohol-free beverage festival in partnership with The Champagne Problems Podcast, Camp North End, Athletic Brewing Company and a roster of local, national and international nonalcoholic beverage brands. Other Counterculture Club local events include weekly outdoor yoga classes at Camp North End, nonalcoholic happy hours around Charlotte and more to be announced. To view upcoming events, visit the Club’s website, countercultureclub.org.
4. Treat yourself to a fine dining and alcohol-free drink pairing experience
Foodies who love a multi-course meal with drink pairings can still partake in this fine dining experience by visiting one of Charlotte’s high-end restaurants such as Chef Sam Hart’s Counter-, which offers themed, reservation-only 10-course menus with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drink pairing options. For housemade nonalocholic wine and tapas, visit new wine bar Biblio, recently opened by the same team behind Counter-. Chef Sam Diminich, the owner of the farm-to-table catering company Your Farms, Your Table, is also expanding the nonalcoholic beverage scene with the opening of his first restaurant, Restaurant Constance, later this year.
5. Host your own nonalcoholic brewery crawl
Charlotte is a mecca for craft beer lovers, with over 60 breweries in the region and a variety of local craft beer shops such as Salud Beer Shop and The Hobbyist, a nearby artisan coffee shop offering hand-crafted coffee and tea beverages alongside a wide selection of craft nonalcoholic beer and other nonalcoholic specialty drinks. 2023 will see Charlotte celebrate the release of its first local nonalcoholic beer with the launch of Resident Culture Brewing’s NARC IPA, available on draught at both the South End and Plaza Midwood locations. Several other breweries serve their own N/A beverages as well including Blue Blaze Brewing Co.’s Zero Day Seltzer, NoDa Brewing Company’s refreshing hopped seltzer, Hop₂O and Fonta Flora Brewery’s flavored nonalcoholic seltzers. Additionally, you can find a variety of canned nonalcoholic options at breweries including Hi-Wire Brewing, Free Range Brewing and more.
6. See a live show on your next date night
For a fancy night out at the theater, you can catch a performance at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, enjoy a ballet performance from Charlotte Ballet or delight your ears with the sounds of Opera Carolina. You can also catch everything from legendary comedians, Grammy-winning artists and touring Broadway shows at the Bojangles Entertainment Complex. If you’re looking for local acts to add to your playlist, stop by NoDa’s Neighborhood Theatre for local and national acts or The Evening Muse for Open Mic Night, one of the city’s favorite venues to see local and touring up-and-coming artists.
7. Hit the trails
Charlotte offers 52 miles of developed greenways along with a variety of outdoor spaces for you to enjoy the great outdoors including connectivity to the Carolina Thread Trail. The Charlotte Trail Guide features six curated outdoor experiences in the Queen City encompassing over 22 miles of trails, dining with outdoor amenities, local businesses and attractions. The guide not only gives you insider recommendations from Charlotte locals, it also provides a deeper dive into the communities you’ll be passing through. For miles of trails, primed for hiking and biking, head to the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
8. Shop 'til you drop
Whether you’re into digging for vintage finds or prefer high-end luxury shops, Charlotte has a wealth of shopping options. Vintage seekers can find treasures at stores like Sleepy Poet Antique Mall, The Rat’s Nest and Value Village. For luxury shopping, SouthPark Mall offers over 175 specialty retailers including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Coach. For a mix of local and national retail brands along with a variety of restaurants ranging from upscale to fast casual, visit Atherton Mill in South End. Once a streetcar station and textile mill, the shopping center is conveniently located next to the light rail.
9. Perfect your golf swing
Charlotte offers a variety of public courses for you to brush up on your golf swing including Topgolf which boasts 102 bays over three floors along with an expansive rooftop terrace and more. For the full 18-hole golfing experience at an affordable price, visit Sunset Hills public golf course. Sunset Hills features two distinct courses – the 9-hole learning course, perfect for beginners or those looking for a quick game, and the “old course,” a regulation 18-hole course that’s fun for every skill level.
10. Celebrate the history of NASCAR
Whether you’re a lifelong fan or a NASCAR novice, there’s always something new to learn about the history of racing. For an interactive educational experience paired with rich stories and original artifacts, visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame. After taking a stroll along Glory Road and checking out the new exhibit, on display for a limited time, celebrating the car that’s won over 800 races: Chevrolet. Next, head upstairs to explore the Hall’s new Martinsville Speedway 75th Anniversary exhibit featuring historical photos, the Ridgeway Grandfather Clock trophy and more. To do some racing of your own, head to Victory Lane Indoor Karting, a 1/3-mile indoor road course, reported to be the fastest in the Carolinas and one of the fastest in the nation.
11. Cheer on your favorite Charlotte sports team
There’s no better place for sports fans than Charlotte, home to seven professional sports teams. See Charlotte’s newest addition, major league soccer team Charlotte FC, play at Bank of America Stadium, where you can also cheer on the Panthers during football season. The city is also home to minor league baseball team, the Charlotte Knights, minor league hockey team, the Charlotte Checkers, and of course, Buzz City’s professional basketball team, the Charlotte Hornets.
12. Museum Hop
Spend your day Uptown exploring some of Charlotte’s top museums, all within walking distance from each other including the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Mint Museum Uptown. For an interactive, family-friendly museum experience the kids will love, check out the newly-opened Museum of Illusions or tried-and-true Discovery Place Science, a multi-sensory kid-friendly museum offering daily activities in addition to exhibits including IMAX features, live shows, labs and more.
13. Pamper yourself
Take the money you’ll save on drinks to treat yourself to a spa treatment or even a full day at one of Charlotte’s many spas including Spa & Wellness Center at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, The Spa at Ballantyne, Spa Botanica at Embassy Suites Charlotte-Concord Golf Resort & Spa or new modern massage spa Mood House.
14. Channel your competitive side
Enjoy food, games and more at some of Charlotte’s entertainment venues including the new Super Abari Game Bar, which reopened in 2022 and offers 20 pinball machines and more than 30 arcade games. Challenge your friends to a friendly round of mini golf at Stroke in Plaza Midwood, an urban golf course and bar with an extensive spirit-free cocktail menu, or play old-school games at various Charlotte venues such as Pinhouse, Pins Mechanical Co. or Queen Park Social.