Those seeking a creative, stimulating trip full of inspiration will enjoy the eclectic vibe and urban experience of Charlotte, North Carolina. This three-day itinerary starts with a full day exploring the city by way of its charming light rail, an easy way to navigate thanks to 26 stops, each with different neighborhoods to explore. The last day delves into culture via downtown museums, many with temporary exhibitions celebrating art and sport. Sandwiched in between is a full day of adventure to allow time to be active and explore the Queen City differently—on the water. Choose your own adventure as you kayak on or zipline over the waterway. Whether you’re traveling with a friend or group, your partner, or the whole family, this multifaceted vacation has something for everyone.
ItineraryPLAN YOUR TRIP
Day 1Ride the Rail to Explore Charlotte
Board the LYNX Blue Line to NoDa (short for North Davidson) and grab coffee and food at Smelly Cat or Amelie’s French Bakery. Stroll the street and peruse the colorful wares at Pura Vida Worldly Art, and if you’re in town on the weekend, shop the outdoor artisan and vintage vendors that take residence on the sidewalks. Before leaving NoDa, sample a microbrew at The Chamber by Wooden Robot, conveniently next to the LYNX station.
Next, head to Brooklyn Village Station to immerse yourself in the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. The current Visions: A Study of Form exhibit runs through May 21, 2023, and celebrates African American artists’ abstract and natural works. Other notable events include live jazz performances, a cinema series, and rooftop yoga, all found on their calendar.
Another worthy stop is East/West Boulevard Station, where you’ll find the historic Atherton Mill. Browse boutiques like The Golden Carrot and Society Social, take a cocktail class at The Cocktailery, and end with pre-dinner appetizers at Trolley Barn Fermentory. A relaxing end to a busy first day is dinner and drinks at Supperland, housed in a restored church. Savor their Seafood Tower, try the Wagyu Pot Roast, or opt for the reservation-only Speakeasy to end your day with light bites and cocktail pairings.
Day 2Find Outdoor Adventure in the City
For even more of an adrenaline rush, jump from a 100-foot ramp with the safety of a belay system or zipline high above the rapids. More laidback options include regularly scheduled yoga classes and a nighttime walk under an illuminated installation that tells the Whitewater story.
Whether you plan activities with your group or divide and conquer based on interest, everyone can come together for Adventure Dining at the end of the day. Experiences include the River’s Edge Craft Dinner, which consists of a four-course meal with custom beer pairings from local breweries.
Day 3Check Out Charlotte’s Downtown Museums
While downtown, open your mind at Discovery Place Science as you explore exhibitions and watch a live science demonstration on stage. Another highlight is the IMAX theatre, with current movies focusing on volcanoes, rainforests, and the stars. Between museums, wander through The Green, where kids of all ages can enjoy book-themed attractions in an urban park setting.
Make your last destination the Mint Museum to observe beautiful European, contemporary, and American art collections housed in a geometric, five-story building. The new exhibit Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds closes on May 21, 2023, and Charlotte is its only East Coast stop. You’ll see 40 landscape-centric works by the famed artist, and if you’re there on a Wednesday, plan to head to the Drop-in Art Program to make your own work of art. After viewing the art, dine at the museum’s restaurant, Mariposa. Pro tip: If timing aligns, make a reservation for their Friday Culture and Cuisine Date Night.