45 of the Hottest Things to Do This Summer
The first official day of summer may be June 21, but the heat will rise in the Queen City long before then. Whether you want to embrace those Carolina blue skies with time outside or escape the heat, we have you covered with a comprehensive list to help you make memories this summer.
by Jamie Killian May 08, 2023
Camp North End
Discover Camp North End, where the mix of activity is what makes it amazing.
1. Get outdoors at Camp North End this summer. Explore 14 food and drink spots, 11 shops and art collectives, 50+ murals and weekly events throughout the site. Starting off with the Mad Miles Run Club Tuesdays at YVY at 6:30 p.m., North End Farmers Market Wednesdays from 4-8 p.m., free outdoor movies Thursdays at 8 p.m. and live music Fridays showcasing local and touring musicians 6-9 p.m. Saturday mornings are perfect for the whole family with art workshops, kids’ music time, cultural festivals and more across all 76 acres. Check out the full events calendar here.
2. NoDa Brewing has you covered all summer long with a lineup of regular events. Work up a sweat every Wednesday at their Run Club which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the North End taproom or Sundays at noon at the OG location. One-, 3- and 5-mile routes makes this a great activity for all. If running isn’t your thing, the brewery has trivia every Thursday – the second and fourth Thursdays are General Knowledge Trivia and first and third are Music Trivia. Just in it for the beer? New releases drop on Mondays.
3. The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte will put on their production of The Lion and The Little Red Bird June 1-10. Come early to explore Charlotte’s expansive children’s library, Imaginon. After the show, head to The Market at 7th Street for a liege waffle at Sweet Crunch. If music is your kiddo’s thing, Kidz Bops Live comes to PNC Music Pavilion July 2.
4. Bloom Fest at Dallas Lavender Lane celebrates the lavender harvest with fresh flowers, live music and vendors on June 4. After you check out the festival, grab a bite at Sammy’s Pub, a staple for locals with a cozy, neighborhood vibe.
5. The unofficial start to summer kicks off Memorial Day weekend with the Coca-Cola 600. If you can’t make the big race, Charlotte Motor Speedway will bring the action with eight weeks of Legends Racing during the Cookout Summer Shootout, running June 12-August 1.
6. Explore the culinary offerings from around the city at Taste of Charlotte which takes place June 9-11 in Uptown. Taste food from local restaurants and enjoy beer and wine from local crafters, with live music and family-friendly activities.
7. The Charlotte Ballet, in its 50th anniversary season, will present the fourth season of their Choreographic Lab. This unique show allows artists to show off their choreographing prowess in various styles of dance. The show runs June 9-17.
8. Uptown will be safer than ever June 16-18 when HeroesCon, an annual celebration of comic book superheroes, will take over the Charlotte Convention Center for a weekend of cosplay, exhibits and artist appreciation.
9. Celebrate Juneteenth with events throughout the city. On June 17, Belmont will host a celebration with a live DJ, music, kids activities and more. Cabarrus County will also host an event on June 17 with performances, vendors and a kid zone. The largest celebration will take place at the 6th annual Durag Festival on June 24 at Camp North End with a concert, skate party, art show and more.
10. Charlotte Symphony’s annual Summer Pops Celebrates America concert on July 2 jump starts the patriotic season. Independence Day kicks off early with the Stars and Stripes on Main parade in Mooresville at 10 a.m on July 4. Celebrate at night with fireworks in Uptown via the WBTV Skyshow or at the U.S. National Whitewater Center for their annual celebration. For a quieter day, participate in North Carolina’s Free Fishing Day on July 4, which enables visitors to fish without a license for one day only.
11. Let your hair down at a wig-snatchingly entertaining drag performance. Local queens like Buff Faye, Vanna Vanity and Onya Nerves host and perform brunches and shows throughout the week, so there are frequent opportunities to lipsynch for your life and tip the dolls some dollars. Check out Artisan's Palate, All American Pub and Dilworth Neighborhood Grille for frequent performances.
12. Larry the Cable Guy will be at the Belk Theater on June 18 and George Lopez will come to Ovens Auditorium on July 22, both of which will be sure to leave you stitches. If you need more laughs, The Comedy Zone Charlotte, located within AvidXchange Music Factory, will welcome a variety of comics all summer long. The Music Factory is the perfect spot to make it a date night with Bocao Sushi before the show and a drink at Small Bar after – all within walking distance to The Comedy Zone.
14. Party in the Park at the Mint Museum Randolph location on June 25. In honor of Great Outdoors Month, the museum will have live music, food trucks and a cash bar. Patrons can grab an outdoor sketching kit to capture their surroundings as they enjoy the scenery.
17. Check out some of music’s biggest names with these summer concerts. Shania Twain stops by the Queen City on June 28 to perform at PNC Music Pavilion. Luke Combs comes to town on July 15 and Beyoncé will bring her Renaissance World Tour to Bank of America Stadium on August 9.
18. Support local with a variety of pop-up markets this summer. Celebrate Funday Sunday with Front Porch Sundays in South End. Shop from over 70 local vendors offering everything from dog toys to handmade jewelry to fresh spices, grab food from surrounding restaurants and food trucks, and listen to live music all along the Rail Trail at Atherton Mill. Wait until the sun sets and beat the heat at Nebel's Alley Night Market where you can enjoy a sophisticated evening of open-air shopping, tasting, and entertainment from 32+ local vendors.
19. For 24 hours starting at 7 p.m. on July 28, Charlotte’s famous “Booty Loop” in Myers Park will be alive with bikers raising money for cancer research as they conduct a 24-hour relay. Along the loop, you will find food (including a midnight pizza party), vendors, music and the chance to cheer on these generous athletes.
20. I scream, you scream, we all scream, “It’s National Ice Cream Month!” Spend July checking out some of Charlotte’s best ice scream spots. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream now has four locations where you can sample their unique flavors like Brambleberry Crisp and Sorbet Frose. For an innovative experience, head to Day and Night Exotic Cereal Bar where you can get your favorite cereal blended into a decadent milkshake.
21. The annual Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade will paint the town August 19-20. Don your rainbow gear and head out for a weekend of celebrating all things LBGTQ+, including a drag pageant, live music and vendors.
22. Spend the day exploring at the U.S. National Whitewater Center where you can raft, paddleboard, kayak, zipline and enjoy a day outdoors. Settle on the lawn in the evening for River Jam, which features live music, craft beer and food each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
23. Beat the summer heat with an evening at the theater. This summer Blumenthal Performing Arts will welcome an impressive lineup of shows including 1776, Six, Ain't Too Proud, To Kill A Mockingbird and Book of Mormon. Before the show, head to Angeline's for an elegant Italian dinner and enjoy a summer stroll to the theater just a few blocks away.
24. Charlotte is hosting the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, July 2. This flagship competition and showcase exhibits the very best of men's national team football in the region. The two matches will consist of United States vs Nicaragua beginning at 7 p.m. and Honduras taking on Haiti at 9 p.m.
25. Head to Gilde Brewery on Saturdays for the weekly Stein Holding Competition. Weekly winners get to keep their stein, as well as a $75 gift card. Winners for the season get tickets to Oktoberfest in Germany.
26. Take advantage of what’s in season. Get fresh produce and gorgeous blooms at one of Charlotte’s local farmers markets. If you want it straight from the source, there are a variety of “you-pick” farms that would make a great summer day trip.
27. Just because school is out doesn’t mean the learning stops. Make it fun at one of the Queen City’s interactive museums. The newest addition, the Museum of Illusions, will have you exploring optical illusions and perspective-changing installations. At the NASCAR Hall of Fame, you can check out 360 degree views of a race car cockpit, compete for time in the Pit Crew Challenge or take the announcer’s seat to imagine how to call a race turn-by-turn.
28. Get some sun and enjoy the wake at one of the public beaches at nearby lakes. Lake Norman offers two public beaches for a day of swimming – Ramsey Creek and Lake Norman State Park. If you're looking to get on the water, check out Stutts Marina Watersports for kayak and paddleboard rentals. Travel south to Lake Wylie’s new Ebenezer Park which offers lake access for swimming in addition to public boat ramps, playgrounds and fishing.
29. Slow summer mornings call for coffee with friends. Meet up at The Hobbyist in Villa Heights and grab a patio seat while you enjoy your cup of joe. Queen City Grounds is the perfect spot in Uptown for an iced latte before a day spent on the green at Romare Bearden Park. Rainy day? Go to Not Just Coffee Jay Street in Wesley Heights. The coffee is award-winning and there’s plenty of space to find a cozy spot to sip and socialize.
30. Move your body and enjoy the weather with yoga. Lenny Boy Brewing offers classes at 7 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays. Class admission gets you an hour of yoga plus a kombucha after class.
31. Feeling nostalgic? Kids or no kids, nothing says summer like go-karts and mini golf. Trackhouse Motorplex, North Carolina’s only outdoor rental karting track, kicks it up a notch with a .7-mile, 11-turn track . In University City, Paradise Valley Golf Course has a miniature golf course, The Lost Duffer, which features a replica of a 19th century mining camp, complete with an abandoned mine shaft. The course is partially indoor, making it a perfect spot for summertime play.
32. Exercise your creativity this summer with DIY experiences throughout the city. Hot Glass Alley in North Charlotte offers glass blowing classes. If you’re looking to admire their craftsmanship, you can pop in on one of their open demos. Cultivate your summer scent at one of Paddywax Candle Bar’s candle pouring workshops, or book a session with Splatter Charlotte to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece by throwing paint during a lively session which includes guidance from an instructor, a cultivated playlist and photos of your experience.
33. A perennial summer favorite, Carowinds will usher in its 50th season this summer. Cool off at Carolina Harbour Waterpark and watch little ones run around Camp Snoopy. The all-new immersive experience, Aeronautica Landing, will celebrate North Carolina’s aviation history with rides and attractions. Book a night at Carowind’s Camp Wilderness Resort to make the most of your visit.
34. Take a tour of Charlotte’s brewery scene with a Brew Badge. Choose from a one- or three-day pass and get access to exclusive deals at nine breweries, including NoDa Brewing, Blue Blaze Brewing, Red Clay Ciderworks and Suffolk Punch.
35. Everybody say love! Gag-worthy drag tours are coming to the Queen City all summer. Start your engines and race over to Ovens Auditorium on June 21 for Werq the World, the world's largest drag production starring superstar queens from RuPaul's Drag Race. Two-time RuPaul’s Drag Race winner and Broadway breakout star Jinkx Monsoon will be at the Knight Theater on July 19 for a night of acting, singing and comedy. Then on August 6, alien drag queen Juno Birch will crash land at the Booth Playhouse to perform her theatrical one woman show, The Juno Show!
36. Dine al fresco under Carolina skies at one of Charlotte’s awesome patio spots. Goodyear House in NoDa has an amazing brunch menu and a cozy, secluded patio. Canopy Cocktails and Garden in South End has tons of seating and great cocktails, making it a prime spot for day drinking. Tohang for an afternoon, go to El Thrifty at Optimist Hall where they have lots of shade and great food.
38. Spend a family day at the newly opened Urban District Market. Grab food at any of the stalls and a soju cocktail at Labaratory. Kids will love the play area with toys, games and a TV showing their favorite shows. When the kids need to burn off some energy, head directly next door to Seoul Food Meat Co. This Korean-American restaurant has a full menu and bar for parents, and a playground and splashpad for kids. Complete with a fenced dog park, even the furry members of the family can join.
39. Test your wits and earn some prizes at local trivia nights. On Tuesday nights you can sip liquor slushies while answering questions at Angry Ale’s. VBGB has trivia on Thursday nights, as well as a great patio for summer nights. Ed’s Tavern, which has an impressive offering of bourbons, hosts general trivia on Thursdays.
40. Check out our guide of free and cheap things to do in Charlotte for more budget-friendly ideas.
41. Cool off at one of Charlotte’s many splash pads and public pools. Clarks Creek Community Park has a splash pad across from the Clarks Creek Nature Preserve, making it a great place to spend an entire day.
42. Hit the links at one of Charlotte’s must-play golf courses or reserve a bay at Topgolf for a fun twist on the classic game. Charlotte’s two Topgolf locations offer half-price game play on Tuesdays.
44. Swim in the refreshing, natural quarry pool at Carrigan Farms and enjoy fresh snacks like sweet corn, watermelon and cucumber cups from their farm-to-table snack bar.
45. Clink glasses and enjoy a summer sunset on a rooftop bar like Aura or Merchant & Trade. Novelty House Rooftop Bar has a floral theme which makes the perfect backdrop for a summer cocktail and, as an added bonus, Havana Smoke and Reserve is just one floor down so you can enjoy a stogie on their patio for a change of scenery.