Within its thriving urban environment, Charlotte makes the most of its outdoor landscape with well-planned green spaces and plenty of access to the water of the Catawba River. Freedom Park is a jewel of the city, encompassing 98 acres, including a seven-acre lake and paved walking trail. Whether you wish to stroll through natural areas, spend time on the water, or bike through urban neighborhoods, this four-day itinerary allows you to immerse yourself in the Queen City as it delights you with how you can encounter nature in multiple ways.
Get ready for adrenaline-focused active adventures and relaxing organic outdoor exploration alike, with strategically planned activities, such as brewery and culinary stops, in between. Plus, you can opt for eco-friendly accommodations that prioritize earth-friendly practices for a stay that’s good in more ways than one.
ItineraryPLAN YOUR TRIP
Days 1 and 2Enjoy Charlotte on Foot
Visit Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden where an annual highlight is in February when the bluebirds nest, followed by the eggs hatching in early spring. While on site, take a birding walk or participate in a paint and sip night, and peek into the Garden Nook shop.
Next, stroll through the miles of trails on Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Covering it all in one day would be a challenge, so stop at various points of interest along the way at your leisure. Freedom Park has a reflective lake and plenty of open space to enjoy a picnic lunch. Also off the Greenway is the Discovery Place Nature museum, which offers multiple exhibitions and seasonal live shows.
Get up close and personal with animals at the Carolina Raptor Center in the Latta Nature Preserve. Walk the .75-mile trail as you observe various bird species. Catch one of many educational seminars led by staff members or participate in an organized photo session to capture images of raptors on the move.
Finally, end your day with a casual al fresco meal and Charlotte-made beer at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. From Hefeweizen and IPA to local favorite, the Copper Altbier, the selection shines with both core and seasonal rotations of brews.
Day 3Experience Charlotte by Water
Traverse the flat trails or watch folks as they kayak the waterway or zipline above. The Center’s more than 50 miles of trails are accessible for running, hiking, and mountain biking. Or book a whitewater rafting session, go rock climbing, or test your skills on the ropes course for a thrilling adventure. Also, check the events calendar for the various festivals, film series, and river jam sessions.
If you travel with friends or family, plan experiences together or let everyone choose activities based on their own interests. Come together in the evening to walk the half-mile illuminated Lights trail and enjoy a meal together at River’s Edge at the center. Wrap up an epic day with drinks at Rosie’s Wine Garden.
Day 4Explore Charlotte by Bike
When you’re hungry, Protagonist Beer in the Lower South End is a sprawling destination complete with three bars and a heated outdoor patio where you can enjoy the house-made pizza. After your meal, play lawn games as you sip one of their fantastic beers like Samwise Oatmeal Stout or Mercury Hazy IPA. Then head to Latta Park and take a nature walk, shoot hoops, or give the kids free reign on the playground.
Once Charlotte’s largest textile mill, Optimist Hall is a historic place to eat and drink at nearly two dozen establishments including The Dumpling Lady or Felix Handmade Empanadas, where the Pulled Chorizo style is a consistent favorite. If you wander close to the University City area on a warm day, take a 30-minute self-propelled ride on the water with Dave’s Paddle Boats. Don’t miss the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, open daily from dawn until dusk. Check their calendar for classes or simply snap photos of everything in bloom.