Summer may not officially start until June 21, but with temperatures hitting the 90s as of late, it sure feels like it’s here, which means it’s time to make your summer bucket list.
Here are 25 places to start.
(1) Battle rapids on the world’s largest man-made whitewater river at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
The 1,300-acre adventure complex features whitewater rafting, flatwater activities, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses and a 30-mile trail system. It’s free to enter the grounds ($6 to park) but if you’re game to participate in the thrills, a $59 day pass gets you access to all activities.
Pro tip: Catch free live music 7-10 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through September at River Jam. Bring a lawn chair or blanket.
(2) Experience the Charlotte Symphony in a more casual outdoor setting.
June 17, 24 and July 1 | Symphony Park in SouthPark | 8:15 p.m. | $15 | Tickets
Summer Pops, the Symphony’s family-friendly outdoor concert series, features fan favorites like Music of John Williams: Star Wars and More (6/17), Best of Broadway (6/24) and Celebrate America! with Fireworks (7/1). All start at 8:15 p.m. at Symphony Park at SouthPark Mall.
Pro tip: If it’s date night, buy seats in the Premium Seating Club to get VIP parking, reserved seating and a picnic from Reid’s.
(3) Cool off with a beer or two at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s biergarten or Sycamore’s patio.
You’ll find OMB’s inviting biergarten packed with friends and families. Grab a mug of Captain Jack, take a seat at a shaded picnic table and enjoy the live music.
Sycamore’s patio is a warm-weather staple, and with easy access from the Rail Trail and a steady stream of live music, parties (we’re talking things like boozy brunches, Bacon Fest and Lobster Roll & Beer Fest) and more, it’s no wonder why.
Pro tip: Clear the calendar for Sycamore’s Summer Fun Fest 2018, the brewery’s biggest annual party, to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend in style. Expect live music, food trucks and plenty of beer and cider stations.
(4) Devote an entire day to Carowinds and Carolina Harbor.
Yes, it has Planet Snoopy and plenty of shows geared toward the younger crowd, but the theme park, which straddles the North and South Carolina border, is home to the world’s fastest and tallest giga coaster, which means it’s perfect for thrill seekers as well.
If it’s too hot to wait in line for rollercoasters all day (likely), cool off at Carolina Harbor, the park’s 30-acre waterpark featuring 6 pools and 30+ waterslides (included in the price of admission).
Pro tip: Head out after 4 p.m. for discount tickets and less crowds.
(5) Relax at a luxury hotel pool.
No country club membership? No problem. Certain Charlotte hotels, like The Ballantyne and The Ritz-Carlton, offer pool access with spa services or day passes.
All spa treatments at The Ritz-Carlton include access to the Aqua Lounge pool and other space facilities, or you can buy a pass without a treatment for $45/day.
Likewise, spa guests at The Ballantyne enjoy access to the pool, whirlpool, sauna and steam room.
Pro tip: Looking for more of a pool party scene? Head to Craft City Social Club at the Sheraton to take a dip in the city’s only public poolside bar and play games like billiards, giant Jenga and more at your disposal. There’s no entry fee, but cabana rentals are available.
(6) Eat your way through Uptown at Taste of Charlotte.
June 8-10 | South Tryon Street to Stonewall Street | Free | Details
The 3-day festival takes over 6 full city blocks with samples from 100+ of the best restaurants in town, cooking demos, street performances, vendors, live music and more.
Admission and most activities are free, but food and drink is purchased with coins, which you can buy with cash or credit at any of the coin booths (15 coins for $20, 7 coins for $10)
Pro tip: The lineup includes 204 North, Cantina 1511, Essex, Holler and Dash and more, so you’ll want to come up with a game plan before you get there. See the full menu and prices here.
(7) Sip sunset cocktails on a rooftop with a view.
Stop by Merchant & Trade, Fahrenheit or City Lights for a more upscale environment, or hit Whiskey Warehouse or Unknown Brewing for something a little more laid back.
[Agenda related story: 20 rooftop bars in Charlotte for your next outdoor drinking excursion]
Pro tip: If you’re a young professional, add Alive After Five to your calendar for live music, an impressive craft beer lineup and more each Thursday night (5-10 p.m. through September).
(8) Beat the heat in the city’s spraygrounds.
Need free summer entertainment for your kids? Check out our guide to Charlotte’s 8 free public spraygrounds. The refreshing oases are found everywhere from Uptown to Birkdale.
(9) Enjoy the outdoors at the Anne Springs Close Greenway.
104 Adventure Road, Fort Mill | 7 a.m.-sunset | $0-$5 | Details
The 2,100-acre nature preserve is located just 15 minutes from Charlotte and offers hiking, biking, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing and more. Explore 40+ miles of trails, let the dog off the leash in the 12-acre dog park and more.
(10) Go with the flow at an outdoor yoga class.
(11) Catch free movies on the patio at Craft Tasting Room.
Fridays at sundown, Craft projects movies onto the wall next to the shop. Bring your own blankets and chairs and settle in for the show. You can grab beer, wine and snacks inside. Follow along on Instagram to see what’s playing this week.
(12) Plunge into a highly Instagrammable swimming hole at The Quarry.
The Quarry at Carrigan Farms is an easy 30-mile drive from Charlotte, but feels a world away, with a grassy field and tree-lined rock cliffs you can jump off of into 25-foot deep water below.
Pro tip: Life jackets are provided, but if you’d rather not use one, you’ll have to pass a swimming test, so come prepared. Learn about the test here.
(13) Hike Crowders Mountain.
The State Park has 11 trails for all levels of hikers, including Lake Trail (1 mile, easy), Ridgeline Trail (6 miles, moderate) and Rocktop Trail (hard).
Pro tip: Been there, done that? There are 22 hiking trails within an hour and a half of Uptown – get out there and explore.
(14) Head to the lake.
With Lake Norman to the north and Lake Wylie to the south, Charlotte is ideally situated for a quick lake getaway — whether you’re hitting the beach, renting a boat or just looking for waterside dining.
Pro tip: Check out the Agenda guide to everything on both lakes here.
(15) Cool off with a prosecco pop.
Basic? Charlotte? Never.
The drink, which is exactly what it sounds like — a glass of prosecco with a King of Pops popsicle in it — is the perfect cool-down on a sweltering summer day.
Pro tip: You can find them at City Lights for a perfect Instagram shot and Sycamore Brewing.
(16) Cheer on cyclists (or join in on the ride) during 24 Hours of Booty.
July 27-28 | Booty Loop (Myers Park) | $30+ | Details
The tradition is going on its 17th year and will see over 1,200 cyclists and 200 walkers take over the 3-mile route for 24 hours in order to raise funds for the Levine Cancer Institute, Levine Children’s Hospital, Queen’s University and The LIVESTRONG Foundation.
Pro tip: You don’t have to ride or walk to get involved. Spectators can cheer from the sidelines, buy a ticket to join participants for a meal, hang out at the expo center and volunteer. See how here.
(17) Kick off the official start of summer at the Whitewater Center’s Memorial Day Celebration.
May 25-27 | U.S. National Whitewater Center | Free ($6 to park) | Details
The weekend’s jam-packed schedule includes 5- and 8-mile trail races, yoga (SUP and otherwise), live music and fireworks. Admission is free, but some activities require purchase.
Pro tip: Spring for Terrace Access, which will give you perks like a better view of activities, a chef’s menu, cash bar and indoor and outdoor seating.
(18) Pretend you’re on vacation with waterside cocktails at Hello Sailor’s tiki bar.
Joe and Katy Kindred’s gorgeous midcentury-inspired waterfront restaurant recently opened its dockside tiki bar for the season.
[Related Agenda story: 9 takeaways from my first visit to Hello, Sailor]
(19) Stock up on seasonal fresh fruit and veggies at area farmers markets.
The city has plenty of places to spend your Saturday morning shopping for local produce, from the classic Kings Drive Farmers Market to the newer Cotswold Farmers Market.
Pro tip: Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this complete guide, which includes tips on dog-friendly markets, accepted forms of payment, hours and more.
(20) Spend a Saturday afternoon patio hopping.
Everybody loves spending the day on a patio with a drink in their hand (especially Team Agenda). Not sure where you want to sit? This breakdown of the 10 best patios in Charlotte has you covered, including Selwyn Pub, Dilworth Tasting Room, RuRu’s Tacos & Tequila, Suffolk Punch and Angry Ale’s.
Pro tip: Do it strategically. Our handy guide to a few of the best patio-hopping routes will help you out.
(21) Throw it back with a drive-in movie.
Every Friday and Saturday during summer months | Badin Road Drive-In | Gates open 6:30 p.m. | $5-$7 | Details
About an hour down Highway 740, the only thing that doesn’t feel old school about Badin Road Drive-In is the movie lineup, which includes new movies like Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, I Feel Pretty and Truth or Dare. Movies are projected onto massive screens in an open field with sound transmitted through your car or rentable standalone radio.
Pro tip: The entire place is cash-only, but there are ATMs on site. Yes, you can bring the dog.
(22) Get out of town with a weekend escape.
(23) Watch a 7:04 p.m. Charlotte Knights game while you eat your way through the menu.
May through August | 7:04 p.m. | $8+ | Tickets
The park’s menu features over-the-top items like Philly Cheesesteak Nachos and a 1/2-pound burger topped with pimiento cheese. And have you seen the hot dog topped with mac and cheese?
Pro tip: Keep an eye on the team’s promotional calendar, which this season includes fan-favorite Bark in the Park, Thirsty Thursday ($3 domestics, $5 crafts and $1 small sodas), Friday Night Fireworks and That 70’s Knight.
(24) Celebrate the 4th of July at SkyShow.
The event features a street party, live music and entertainment culminating in the Southeast’s largest fireworks display after dark. Stay tuned for 2018 details.
(25) Enjoy a free outdoor concert.
In the warmer months, there’s no shortage of free music series in locations all over the city, from Romare Bearden Park to the space between SouthBound and Mac’s Speed Shop.
Agenda favorites: Front Porch Friday at Catawba Brewing (Fridays, 7 p.m.), Live on the Green in First Ward Park (June through September, 7 p.m.) and Summer Jazz Series (6/16, 7/14, 8/11, 6 p.m.) in Freedom Park.
Pro tip: There are 15 more to see; plan accordingly with this Agenda guide.