Named one of America's Greenest Cities, Charlotte, NC, has Amazing Fall Colors!Top 10 Outdoor Things to Do in Charlotte on a Fall Weekend Getaway
Charlotte, North Carolina, is in the top 50 of America’s greenest cities according to research by Wallet Hub. With tree-lined streets and park canopies ranging from American Chestnut and Pecan, to Red Oak and Sycamore, it’s a safe bet that Charlotte’s also a spectacular stop when it dons its colorful fall foliage. And the great thing is that there are many things to do in Charlotte!
Below, you can find my top 10 attractions, which will make it easy to enjoy the city’s brightest colors on weekend getaways no matter what time of year you visit Charlotte, NC. They’re listed in no particular order. So, pick your favorite!
Cycle or Walk Through Beautiful Uptown this Fall in Charlotte
Uptown Charlotte really is uptown not downtown. Why? The answer is easy — according to Charlotte historian, Tom Hanchett, it’s because the city started at the highest point and grew down from there since its incorporation in 1768. Now, when you’re out exploring Uptown Charlotte, you’ll find the city splits into four neighborhoods (Wards) by the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets.
This intersection was one of my favorites when I was exploring Charlotte. Officially known as Independence Square, each corner has a statue representing an aspect of the city’s history. They include industry, commerce, transportation and the future.
But while one of my favorite things to do in Charlotte was to walk around, exploring, many people prefer bicycles. And since Charlotte has a B-Cycle program, where you can rent a bicycle, ride it, then drop it off at any station, it’s easy to do! For more details, see: https://charlotte.bcycle.com/
Go Whitewater Rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
I loved my rafting adventure in Charlotte! And even if you’ve never thought of yourself as someone into extreme sports, there’s a level on the man-made Charlotte rafting course that you’ll be able to manage. While I was there, I watched a raft of eight-year-old girls on a birthday party making their way through the rapids (the Class I and II of course). Still not sure? Read more about the experience in my post.
Of course, there’s ample opportunity to get wild and wet at the U.S. National Whitewater Center too on weekend getaways. Depending on the part of the course you’re on, the rapids go up to Class IV. Plus there are lots of other activities, from ziplines and sky bridges, to rappel stations and canyon crossing, for even the most adventuresome to challenge themselves.
Luckily for visitors taking weekend getaways looking for things to do in Charlotte, the U.S. National Whitewater Center offers rafting adventures until Halloween. Check costs and reservations at: http://usnwc.org/
Soak Up the Sun and Colored Leaves in One of Charlotte’s Parks
I took the photo above of the Romare Bearden Park on one of many walks I took while staying at the extremely comfortable, Springhill Suites Charlotte Uptown Marriot hotel.
This park sculpture, titled Spiral Odyssey, was done by African-American artist, Richard Hunt. Hunt, and the park’s namesake, Bearden, share the distinction of being the first two African-American artists to have solo exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Bearden, born in 1911, was a prolific artist. His works were exhibited during his lifetime throughout the United States and Europe.
And the sculpture? It stands nearly 30 feet high, weighs around 8,000 pounds, and is made of welded stainless steel. You’ll find the park next to the BB&T Ballpark when you’re exploring Charlotte.
In addition to Romare Bearden Park, Charlotte has a number of parks with many things to do including The Green and First Ward Park. Check out the list and addresses at: http://www.charlottesgotalot.com/parks-playgrounds
Take a Segway Tour: Adventure Things to do in Charlotte
Segways, a type of personal transporters, have been around for 15+ years. They use gyroscopes and tilt sensors to give riders a unique riding experience. In fact, I can guarantee riding a segway’s not like any bicycle or motorbike or snowmobile I’ve ever been on! But if you’ve got riding a segway on your bucket list, I can highly recommend trying it out this fall in Charlotte.
My segway guide, Rod, from Charlotte NC Tours, had the patience of a saint with helping me out on my morning tour. And a tour with Rod is a lot more than a new high-tech experience in driving. It’s also an experience in exploring Charlotte’s history, happenings and culture, with stops at popular markets, important landmarks, and historical places.
In addition to Segway tours, Charlotte NC Tours also offer guided biking, walking, and van tours for weekend getaways. Check them out at: http://charlottenctours.com/
Watch a NASCAR Race or Take a Lap at Charlotte Motor Speedway
I’m always in for the speed, so visiting the Charlotte Motor Speedway was a must-do on my visit to Charlotte. Technically speaking though, the speedway is in Concord, but from my experience the two cities roll into one another. My Uber car drivers sure had no problem zipping between them for pretty low fares either!
But back to Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is the home track for the vast majority of NASCAR race teams. In fact, if you’d like to add some in-door attractions to your outdoor weekend getaways in Charlotte, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is a must-do.
Built nearly 60 years ago, in 1959, this NASCAR track had a rocky start until it found financial stability. Today, it consists of a variety of tracks and hosts many prestigious races throughout the year, including: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series. See http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/ for the list of events.
My biggest thrill when I visited was taking pace car laps on the track tour. See: http://www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/fans/tracktours/
Discover Things to do in Charlotte with a South End Food Tour
Food is always a big part of things to do on weekend getaways. And for me, visiting local dining places and sampling local specialties helps me paint an historical and cultural picture for my readers.
However, in Charlotte, everyone can get an insider’s view of the food community with FEAST Food Tours. I met my guide at the SpringHill Suites Charlotte Uptown. From there, we boarded the LYNX Blue Line light rail to the South End neighborhood to start with Fidelli Kitchen. Talking to the restauranteurs and chefs made for a fascinating — and tasty — way to spend three hours!
Wondering about the breadcones in the food photo above? Well, they were delicious. The bread, similar in texture to a thick pizza or biscuit crust, makes a tasty cone. While I selected the meatball cone (delicious!), others in the group I was with enjoyed the Chicken Alfredo as well.
Another neat thing at Fidelli Kitchen is its 99 bottles of wine on the wall. Yes. Really. Rows and rows of 99 wine bottles line the wall and you can purchase samples dispensary style. How cool is that?
Fly High on the World’s Tallest & Fastest Giga Coaster
What can you say about Amusement Parks except that they’re full of thrills? Charlotte’s amusement park, Carowinds, opened 40+ years ago on the border of North and South Carolina. With everything from mazes, a scare zone, and live shows, you might think the rides take a back seat. But not so.
In fact, Carowinds’ giga coaster, named Fury 325, is the world’s tallest and fastest steel coaster. In slightly more than three minutes, riders travel 1.25 miles to a peak height of 325 feet after a dramatic 81 foot drop. And the speed? The open air trains hit up to 95 mph on the high-speed S-curve, more than 10 mph faster than NASCAR pace cars!
Check out the full list of Carowinds’ rides and activities at: https://www.carowinds.com/
Watch the Charlotte Knights Play at BB&T Ballpark
The all-American favorite sport, baseball, thrives as one of the most popular things to do in Charlotte. Indeed, professional baseball has been a big part of the city’s sports culture since 1892, beginning with its first team, the Charlotte Hornets.
In 2014, the Charlotte Knights moved into the newly constructed BB&T Ballpark. The team, which had played out of Fort Mill, South Carolina, for more than 20 years, is the Triple-A-Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.
The team’s move into Uptown Charlotte from their previous stadium, some 30 miles south of the city via Interstate 77, made fans happy. And me? I loved seeing Charlotte’s beautiful Uptown skyline above the field — to say nothing of enjoying all of the facilities with the two-level club and many eating and drinking options.
For tickets, see: http://www.milb.com/
Enjoy Fall Flowers in One of Charlotte’s Gardens
In addition to vibrant fall foliage, there are also many different flowers and shrubs to enjoy each fall in Charlotte. Click here for a list and Google map from Yelp to help you find your way around the gardens in Charlotte.
The photo above was taken at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, which has a year-round facility you can visit to enjoy everything from gardens to a conservatory and fountains. Located on 380 acres on the banks of Lake Wylie, it’s a great place to find things to do in Charlotte no matter the season.
Visit Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens online at: https://www.dsbg.org/
Find Some Bargains at Charlotte Premium Outlets Mall on Weekend Getaways
I find it’s always fun to check out the shopping when I visit larger centers — especially if they have outlet malls, something not available in Western Canada. And fall is a great time to start that Christmas shopping or add a few new pieces to your winter wardrobe.
Some of Charlotte’s best shopping is at the Charlotte Premium Outlets Mall. It offers 100 notable upscale outlet stores all in a great new facility that covers nearly 400,000 square feet! That’s a lot of shopping. I know it took me an afternoon to check out the latest brands and sales this fall in Charlotte.
Click here for featured stores, hours, and directions to Charlotte’s Outlet Mall.
Weekend Getaways: Map of These Activities in Charlotte
Updated September, 2018.
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About the Photo
The photo above in Charlotte, NC, is of the Captain Jack Herald, The Spirit of Mecklenburg, statue, dedicated in 2010 and created by Chas Fagan. Source: Stock photo.