30 coolest things to do in Charlotte this summer

30 coolest things to do in Charlotte this summer
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This story is proudly presented by Bojangles. Summer means one thing in CLT – time to order a bigger tea. You can get any size Bojangles Legendary Iced Tea for just $1, for a limited time at participating locations.

Summer has arrived, along with the heat. Here are the 30 coolest things to do this season in Charlotte.


(1) Take the family to a Summer Pops Concert — pack a picnic for Symphony Park

What: The Charlotte Symphony is putting on six shows this summer for the annual Summer Pops series. Themes range from Queen to Star Wars to Hip-Hop, and shows are at Belk Theater and Symphony Park. The full schedule is here.

Cost: Free to $20 for general admission. Premium seating is available for some shows at a higher cost.

(2) Go to at least one River Jam Concert at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

What: The USNWC puts on outdoor concerts from 7-10 p.m. every Thursday-Saturday all summer long. The bring in tons of artists from all different genres, including roots rock, americana, bluegrass, folk and funk. They’ve got food and craft beer, and they have yoga sessions at 6:30 p.m. if you want to go through your flow beforehand.

Cost: Free + $6 parking


(3) Cheer on our Triple-A Charlotte Knights baseball team at BB&T Ballpark

Thirsty Thursday deal: $5 craft beers, $3 domestic beers and $1 sodas. Here’s a full list of promos, including $1 hot dog nights, nine celebrity nights and four bobblehead nights.

knights mac and cheese dog

(4) Experience the Taste of Charlotte

What: It’s a three-day food and drink festival with hundreds of samples, live music, kids’ activities, cooking demos, entertainment and more.

When: June 7-9

Where: Uptown, Tryon Street

Cost: Admission is free, but you purchase coins that are used to buy food and drink samples. It’s $20 for 15 coins and $7 for 10 coins. A wristband for kids’ activities costs $20.

(5) Climb an outdoor rock wall with nothing but a pool to catch you at U.S. National Whitewater Center

Details: The USNWC’s deep water solo is a series of climbing walls (ranging 25-40 feet tall) that hang over a 20-foot deep pool. Climbers tackle the wall without a harness and nothing but water below.

Price: $59 adult day pass gets you access to all available land and water activities.

Agenda guide: I climbed Deep Water Solo at the Whitewater Center. Here’s what you need to know and how I did


(6) Hang out on the beach on Lake Norman

Where to go

  • Lake Norman State Park features a 125-yard sand beach equipped with a concession stand, bathhouse, restrooms and lockers. $4-$5/per person. Main park is free to access.
  • Ramsey Creek Beach is a 43-acre lakeside park with a half-acre sandy beach. It’s open late May through Labor Day with lifeguard service 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. $5-$10/per car.

Pro tip: If you’re heading to Ramsey Creek Beach, there’s a free beach shuttle available weekends and holidays at 17126 Northcross Drive with service every 15 minutes.

Agenda guide: The ultimate guide to beaches, water activities and lakeside restaurants on Lake Norman and Lake Wylie

(7) Go whitewater rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

The experience: Raft down the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, featuring class II-IV rapids. You can opt for the Family Rafting for a little more of a tame experience or the Adventure Rafting for more of a thrilling ride. Upgrade to the Rodeo Rafting if you really want to kick things up a notch (for ages 16 and up only).

Price: $59 adult day pass gets you access to all available land and water activities. Upgrade to the $199 annual pass for access all land and water activities for 365 days.

Pro tip: After your wild ride, grab a beer at the Pump House Biergarten to watch the other rafters head down the channel.

(8) Master your best power pony for the Ariana Grande: Sweetener World Tour

Why it should be on your list: This concert begs you to try your best party pony, rally your best girls, and sing your heart out to “7 rings,”  “Thank U, Next” and whatever else Ariana graces you with.

When: 8 p.m. on June 10

Where: Spectrum Center

Cost: $200-$2,000+

(9) Spend the day walking, eating and drinking along the Rail Trail

Where to drink: Sip craft beer at Sycamore, Triple C or Suffolk Punch. For wine, pop into Vin Master. If you need an iced coffee, stop by Not Just Coffee.

Where to eat: Price’s Chicken Coop is a go-to stop for no-frills fried chicken. Head to Hawker’s Asian Street Fare for small plates. If you’re craving tacos, grab a spot at Sabor Latin Street Grill. Rosemont is ideal if you’re looking to eat and drink (hello alcoholic Capri Suns). Jeni’s Ice Cream is close by for when you need dessert.

Bonus stop: Around the corner from Jeni’s Ice Cream, snap a pic in front of Evelyn Henson’s Confetti Hearts Wall.


(10) Jam to the best throwbacks at the Goo Goo Dolls + Train concert

Why you should go: Who doesn’t love a Goo Goo Dolls throwback? The Goo Goo Dolls and Train combo is excellent, and it’ll be a great show.

When: 7 p.m. on July 12

Where: PNC Music Pavilion

Cost: $22-$125+

(11) Become a better smarter professional with theSkimm Night Out

What: You’ll get to hear some real talk from Skimm founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, a signed copy of their new book and access to a pre-show networking session. You’re going to walk out a smarter better person (listen to their podcast Skimm’d from The Couch if you want to get hype for the event). Plus, Brooklyn Decker is moderating.

When: 7 p.m. & 8 p.m. on June 14

Where: McGlohon Theater

Cost: $45+

(12) Attend the Stonewall 50th Anniversary Rally & Celebration

What: The afternoon rally is in honor of the Stonewall Riots and Uprising (which happened in New York 50 years ago) and the party will go into the night.

Background: The Charlotte Pride, Inc. Board of Directors passes a resolution annually that demands anti-LGBTQ policies be repealed and calls for more protections to be put in place for the LGTBQ community.

When: 2-4 p.m. & 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on June 15

Where: Romare Bearden Park (rally) & Bar Argon (party)

(13) Swim in a rock quarry at Carrigan Farms

About the quarry: It’s a natural spring-fed body of water that was discovered in the 1960s when mining for granite stone. Now you can swim in it. 

Address: 1213 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville

Swimming details: It’s $15/per person to swim at The Quarry (cash only). The next Open Swim will be on Memorial Day, May 27. You must pass a swim test to participate without a life jacket.

(14) Get your steps in or cheer on the walkers/riders with 24 Hours of Booty

What: Every hundreds of walkers and more than 1,000 bikers commit to walking and cycling for 24 hours (or as much as they’d like in that 24-hour period) around the famous Booty Loop in Myers Park. Levine Cancer Institute, Levine Children’s Hospital, The LIVESTRONG Foundation and Queens University of Charlotte are the main beneficiaries of the event, but 10-20 other cancer-related nonprofits will receive support too. If you don’t plan to walk/bike, you can cheer on the participants from the sidelines or hang out in the food/expo area.

When: 7 p.m. on July 26 through 7 p.m June 27

(15) Take a dip in one of Charlotte’s swimming pools

YMCA pools: They’ve got more than 15 pools and waterparks across our city.

Neighborhood pools: Get details on eight neighborhood swim clubs you can join, including pricing, amenities and waitlist times.

Apartment pools: Get ready to party because Charlotte’s apartment pool scene is huge. Here are the 10 best apartment pools.


Pool at Quail Hollow Club

(16) Climb the summit of Crowder’s Mountain for an insta-worthy pic

Trails: Take Crowder’s Trail for a more moderate climb. Go with Rocktop Trail for a more strenuous hike and views along the way. If you want a shorter climb to the summit, hit up Backside Trail. It’s steep but it’ll get you to the top quicker.

Keep in mind: Trails are accessible from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during March and April and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from May to September. The trails are always less crowded early.

Agenda guide: Top 6 places to hike near Charlotte, plus a guide to their best trails

(17) Spend July Fourth at the Whitewater Center

What to expect: USNWC’s Fourth of July Celebration is a two-day event with stand-up paddle boarding, live music, yoga, food and drinks. Each night ends with a huge firework show over the rapids.

When: All day July 3-4

Pro tip: Carpool or take a Lyft, even if you don’t plan to drink, the parking lot will be packed.


Photo via the U.S. National Whitewater Center Facebook page

(18) Jam out at the Dave Matthews Band concert

Details: This group needs no introduction, but expect a set list packed with all the DMB classics you always turn the volume up for when they come on the radio or on a Spotify playlist like “Ants Marching,” “Satellite,” and “Crash into Me.”

When: 8 p.m. on July 19

Where: PNC Music Pavilion

Cost: $45.50-$115

(19) Grab a rooftop drink and take in Queen City views

For a swanky vibe: Hit up Merchant & Trade on the 19th floor of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel. Along with craft cocktails, they serve fancied up food like lobster corndogs.

For a club-y, outdoor lounge feel: Wander up to City Lights Rooftop and toast to spring with a Sparkle & Pop aka a $14 glass of bubbly with a local King of Pops popsicle in it.

For a casual, sports bar vibe: Head to Graham St. Pub & Patio. It’s more low key and still offers great city views.

Agenda guide: 18 rooftop bars in Charlotte for your next outdoor drinking excursion


M&T Ol’ Fashion ($12, left) and Beet It! ($13, right)

(20) Get your adrenaline pumping on a mountain bike trail ride

Trails listed by difficulty

  • Moderate: 7 Oaks Preserve Trail, 6500 South New Hope Road, Belmont
  • Intermediate: Itusi Trail, 759 State Park Road, Troutman
  • Hard: Back Yard Trail, 5539 Farmbrook Drive

Pro tip: Check out the Tarheel Trailblazers website ahead of time for trail conditions. Plus, check out review and see how you can get involved.

Agenda guide: 5 mountain biking spots in and around Charlotte that enthusiasts swear by

(21) Go on a group date to Hello, Sailor and sit on the patio overlooking Lake Norman

What to eat: Share the hushpuppies ($3.99), oysters (market price), Florida blue crab claws ($13.49), Carolina shrimp calabash plate ($15.99) and lobster roll served on milk bread ($29.99).

What to drink: A Cherry Lemon Sundrop Negroni Slushie ($8) or a Subterranean Spritz — vodka, smoked pineapple, falernum, agave, key lime and lime La Croix ($10)

Kind of a big deal: Hello, Sailor and Kindred owner, Joe Kindred was recently named a 2019 James Beard Award Semi-Finalist for “Best Chef: Southeast”


(22) Fore! Tee it up at Charlotte’s best golf courses

Best public golf courses: Verdict Ridge Golf & Country Club, Carolina Lakes Golf Club, The Golf Club at Ballantyne, Mooresville Golf Club and Eagle Chase Golf Club (full public golf course rankings).

Best country clubs: Our city’s country clubs have an indisputable upper tier, based on price, prestige and exclusivity – Charlotte Country Club, Myers Park Country Club, Quail Hollow and Carmel Country Club.

(23) Shoot sporting clays at The Fork

Location: The Fork Farm and Stables, 3200 Fork Road, Norwood

The courses: Set on 1,600 acres at the Pee Dee and Rocky Rivers, The Fork has two 14 station wooded and field courses, one seven-station small gauge course, a covered five-stand and a four-person, eight-trap, 65-foot tower/flurry.

Cost: Gun rentals are $35 for the day and targets start at $12.

(24) Get a Country Megaticket, or snag lawn seats for all of the concerts

What: The Country Megaticket gets you seats for all of the best summer outdoor concerts, and though Megatickets are no longer on sale, you can still get individual tickets to each of the concerts. This summer’s lineup includes Chris Young, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts, Florida Georgia Line, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean.

Why you should go: Nothing says summertime in North Carolina like sweating it out at an outdoor country concert. Even if you don’t love country music, I think we can all get behind the summer country concert experience.

Where: PNC Music Pavilion

Individual tickets: $30-$200+ (average)

Pro tip: The lawn’s where it’s at.

(25) Cool down with a cone (or scoop) of delicious ice cream

For a gourmet cone: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – The Ohio-based gourmet ice cream brand with a cult following often has a line down the block. 1920 Camden Road (don’t forget they’re opening in NoDa soon at 416 E 36th St., Suite 400).

Something sweet and simple: Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream – The throwback soda shop with budget-friendly burgers and dogs has been serving Charlotte since 1967. Go with the chocolate/vanilla twist soft serve cone.

Fancy popsicles/gelato bars: Popbar – For a portable on-the-go gelato option go with Popbar. You can get it dipped in chocolate and toppings like nuts, coconut flakes, sprinkles and waffle cone chunks. 3123 N. Davidson St.

Loaded milkshakes: Ninety’s – This family-run shop in University is known for its over-the-top ice cream creations, like giant macaron ice cream sandwiches, elaborate cereal milkshakes and Yum-ee Buns (sweet bread stuffed with ice cream). 9009 J M Keynes Drive, Suite 4.

Related: The Agenda Guide to Charlotte Ice Cream


Brambleberry ice cream from Jeni’s

(26) Unwind by the water with a cocktail in hand

When you want to feel like you’re at the beach: Port City Club – Order the Berry Mojito with muddled berries and fresh mint and chill in the sandy beach area with lounge furniture, fire pits and palm trees.

When you want to feel like you’re on a tropical vacation: Hello, Sailor – They have a great tiki bar with water views, and the drinks taste like summer in a glass. I’d go with the Yacht Club if you want something spicy and tequila based or anything frozen.

When you’re on Lake Wylie: Papa Doc’s — The restaurant is divided into five zones — main dining room, mezzanine dining room, The Anchor lounge, a tiki bar and the waterfront deck.

Agenda related guide: 5 best places for waterside cocktails within 30 miles of Uptown


(27) Hit up Confluence at the Whitewater Center for a unique music experience

Details: The stages will be packed with local musicians, you can get behind-the-scenes info on the Charlotte music industry through panels, and you can check out a bunch of music-related vendors. This festival is for people who want to learn more about local music, get some exposure or love music in general. The event is free, and the full schedule is here.

When: All day August 3-4

(28) Get ready for football season with Fan Fest

What: To kickoff football season, the Panthers put on a huge festival with performances from the  TopCats, Sir Purr, PurrCussion and the Black & Blue Crew. Plus, you get to watch the Panthers practice on their home field at Bank of America Stadium.

When: Early August (exact dates TBA)


(29) Take a swim or a dip in Lake Norman through the YMCA

Options: Of course you can become a member of the YMCA to use their facilities, but if you can also take advantage of their pools and Lake Norman access through guest passes. Passes are $20 a day or $50 for a week — if you know someone who has a Y membership, you can tag along with them for free.

Cool locations: The Harris YMCA and the Morrison Family YMCA have the best outdoor pools, and the Lake Norman YMCA has lake access with picnic tables, inflatables, canoes and other lake activities.

(30) Try out Paddle to Table for a dinner fitness combo

Why go: This would be such a cool date or experience to take out-of-town guests on. You’ll have a guided paddle down the Catawba River by kayak or stand-up paddle board, take a short hike back, and get a chef-curated meal — and there’s craft beer and wine for purchase.

When: Twice a month from June to September

Price: $55

This story is proudly presented by Bojangles, our go-to destination for refreshing Legendary Iced Tea all summer long. The editorial selection and content is not endorsed or influenced by this sponsor.

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