25 coolest things to do this winter in Charlotte

25 coolest things to do this winter in Charlotte
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Winter weather is coming, allegedly. Here are 25 must-do activities to put on your Q1 2020 bucket list.


(1) Book a date night during Queens Feast

Quick overview: Queen’s Feast, Charlotte’s restaurant week, starts Friday, January 17 and runs through Sunday, January 26. A total of 142 restaurants are offering prix fixe dinners for just $30 or $35 per person (not including tax and tip). Make sure to book reservations as these restaurants get slammed.

Where to go: We have a whole guide on our top 11 picks, including Zeppelin, Sea Level, Oak Steakhouse, and newcomer Indaco. Personally, I’m making a reservation at the stunning La Belle Helene.

Date: January 17-26

(2) Go indoor sky diving at iFLY

How it works: From check-in to check-out the iFLY experience lasts about 1.5 hours. You’ll sign a flight waiver, watch others from the Flight Deck, undergo training from a certified bodyflight instructor, and gear up with a flight suit and helmet. Then, your instructor will lead you into the Flight Chamber where it’s time to fly. The flight is one minute.

Pricing: For first-time flyers, it starts at $70 for two flights. iFLY offers seven different packages depending on how many flights you want, and they also offer discounts for groups and returning flyers.


Flight Chamber at iFLY in Concord

(3) Go to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Parade

What: Honor one of the most important people in American history, Martin Luther King Jr., and watch bands, drill teams, and more march through Uptown.

Details: January 18. Free. The parade is from 10 a.m. to noon in Uptown. Find a spot near the corner of Trade and Tryon streets for the best view.

(4) Watch the North Carolina State Pinball Championship

What: The top 24 pinballers from across the state will be competing to win the North Carolina Championship. The winner will represent the state at nationals in March in Denver, Colorado.

Details: January 18. Free. The championship from from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Abari.

Video games: Rather play retro video games? Abari, Charlotte’s original arcade/bar hybrid in Optimist Park, features classic arcade games and pinball machines along with your favorite childhood game consoles. Or try Palmer St. Arcade Bar, which opened last year in South End’s Gold District and has a stacked lineup of 40 arcade games on the floor.

(5) Go ski and snowboard at one of seven slopes nearby

Where: There are seven ski spots within three hours of Charlotte, including Appalachian Ski Mountain in Blowing Rock; Beech Mountain Resort; Sugar Mountain; Winterplace Ski Resort in West Virginia; Wolf Ridge Ski Resort in Mars Hill; Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley; and Sapphire Valley.

Blowing Rock: If you want to turn your skiing session into a weekend getaway, stay in Blowing Rock. You can get to Appalachian Ski Mountain and Beech Mountain Resort easily from the downtown area, which is packed with charm and things to do. See the Agenda Blowing Rock guide here.

(6) Go ice skating and see lights at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Skating: The ice skating rink includes 17,000 square feet of ice on the Upper Pond of the whitewater river. It’s designed with three areas — free skate, winter sports, and a 600-foot ice trail.

The skating area also has an on-ice Airstream trailer serving craft beer, hot chocolate, and coffee. Skate rentals are included, but you need to bring your own socks.

Lights: This isn’t your typical holiday light show. The half-mile walking trail features otherworldly immersive light installations by Charlotte artist Meredith Connelly.

The walking trail is through the forest, and the light installations are inspired by nature — giant crystals, cocoons. and mushrooms.

Cost: Ice skating can be accessed through an Annual Pass (kids 9 and under $189, $219 adults ages 10+), Day Pass ($59), or Single Activity Pass ($20). The light trail is free and open to the public. Parking is $6.  

Dates: The Whitewater Center is open daily. And the lights and ice rink will be up through February 16.

(7) Take your Hinge date to Pins Mechanical and 16-Bit Bar+Arcade

Layout: The sprawling 23,000-square-foot dual-branded facility features two indoor bars with 36 taps each, a rooftop bar with 24 taps and skyline views, four fire pits, and a stacked lineup of patio games, retro arcades, and duckpin bowling.

Activity pricing: Duckpin bowling is $6 per person per game (no bowling shoes required), ping pong and bocce are $6 per half hour or $10 per hour, pinball and foosball are 50 cents per game, and everything else is free.

Free play: All arcades are set to free play. If you drop quarters in out of habit, they’re donated to a selected charity as part of the company’s “Quarters for a Cause” program. Rogue quarters are currently benefiting Extra Life.

Drinks: The drink menu features a playful lineup of boozy Slush Puppies, candy-laced cocktails, large-format punch bowls, and novelty souvenir glassware. All specialty cocktails are $10, punches are $35 (serves 4-6 people), and drinks in souvenir glasses are $14-$16.

Agenda full guide: Pins Mechanical Company and 16-Bit Bar+Arcade open in South End

Duckpin bowling at Pins Mechanical

(8) Explore a museum

Here are the big ones:

(9) See music legend Celine Dion live

What: No matter which songs make her setlist, every single one will be amazing. Don’t miss out on seeing one of the greatest artists of our lifetime perform.

Details: January 21. $85+. The show starts at 7:30 p.m at the Spectrum Center.

(10) Learn something new at a SkillPop class

At-home blowout: Do not underestimate how useful this skill is. When you look good, you feel good. And it feels extra good when you don’t have to go to a salon every time you want to feel pretty. January 27. $30. Bring a round brush and your hairdryer. Book it.

Boozy cupcakes: Dry January doers and Whole30ers, look away. This class combines the best of both worlds — booze and dessert. January 28. $40 (includes materials plus a half-dozen to take home). Book it.

Craft the perfect cheeseboard: It’s time to grow up and learn basics of hosting, folks. And no party is complete without a cheeseboard. February 3. $45 (includes a mini board to take home). Book it.

(11) Watch a Checkers hockey game

Promotions: Wednesdays are $1 beer night. And the first 1,500 fans get a free Checkers beanie on January 24. 

Upcoming games: They have 5-7 home games a month. Next the Checkers play the Toronto Marlies on January 18-19 and Scranton Penguins on January 24-25.

(12) Attend the Women United March 2020

What: For the last three years Charlotte Women’s March and National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Queen City Metropolitan Chapter have worked together to advocate for women’s rights. Join them to share your voice and march for equality.

Details: January 25. Free. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Starts at First Ward Park.

(13) Drink all your favorite local beer at the Queen City Brewers Festival

Beer: More than 50 breweries from the Charlotte area are bringing their best beer, cider, coffee, Kombucha, and food to one place, so you can imbibe for hours. Some breweries include D9, Ass Clown, Sycamore, Brewers at 4001 Yancey, King Canary Brewing, NoDa, OMB, and Suffolk Punch. You can see the full lineup here.

Details: February 1. $50 gets your a 3.5-hour tasting during one of two sessions: noon to 3:30 p.m. or 5-8:30 p.m.

(14) Play archery tag and virtual reality at Coliseum V, a unique “action bar”

Action field: On the 4,000-square-foot “action field” with green astroturf, you can play laser tag and archery tag, a combat-style game that combines dodgeball and archery. No, I’m not joking. Groups will be divided into two teams (up to a total of 24 players). For archery tag, each player will be given a helmet and archery bow that shoots arrows with soft dodgeball-like tips. You’ll eventually be able to book online and field time will run $12.95 for a half hour.

Virtual reality booths: There are 22, 10-by-10 virtual reality booths. Coliseum V isn’t messing around and has invested about $250,000 in the virtual reality system, provided by Ctrl V. Guests have 100 games to choose from, and they can all play in the same game. You’ll eventually be able to book online, and it’ll run $25/hr.

archery coliseum v charlotte

(15)  Scale a wall at Inner Peaks

Date night: This indoor climbing center is a perfect date activity since it requires two people and building trust starts with supporting your partner’s bodyweight as they scale a wall, right?

Details: The day-pass rate ($28) includes a day pass, shoe rental, and harness rental.


(16) Cheer on the Hornets

Details: Upcoming home games include Orlando Magic on January 20 (tickets $10-$346); New York Knicks on January 28 (tickets $15-$350+); Orlando Magic on February 3 (tickets $10-$342); and Dallas Mavericks on February 8 (tickets $18-$379+).

(17) Spend the day inside Optimist Hall

What: Make your rounds and order something from a handful (or each) of the 22,000-square-foot food hall’s 13 open spots. Seven more stalls are set to open in the coming months.

Bao and Broth: Ramen and bun shop from Larry Schreiber, the chef behind Good Food on Montford’s wildly popular steamed buns. It joins the lineup of powerhouse Charlotte restaurants under the Moffett Restaurant Group umbrella, including Good Food, Stagioni, and Barrington’s.

Spindle Bar: Casual tap with a Southern front porch party vibe from the team behind anchor bar Billy Sunday. They have draft cocktails, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages, plus a renovated Italian Piaggio truck that serves as a cocktail and beer kiosk outside on the patio.

Papi Queso: Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from one of Charlotte’s most beloved food trucks created by Brian Stockholm and Shelley Odom. New menu additions include a burger melt grilled cheese and mozzarella sticks.

El Thrifty: The 6,931-square-foot restaurant features an 85-seat restaurant, a gaming room with 50 lounge seats, and a 30-seat patio with custom lounge areas for game-watching. Games include duckpin bowling lanes, basketball shooter, shuffleboard, and air hockey. Look for more games to be added over time. DJs and live music will also be added to the mix in the coming months (I expect this place to have more of a nightlife vibe than restaurant vibe).

Velvet Taco: Funky fast-casual restaurant chain based out of Dallas with a globally inspired taco menu.

Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco’s Nashville Hot Chicken (WTF), Brisket & Eggs, Chicken & Waffle

(18) Become a chef at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen

Comfort Food: Learn how to make a comforting meal at home, so you can stop spending your whole paycheck on Postmates. January 23 and 29. $75. Book it.

Super Bowl Spread: Even if your team didn’t make it this year, we can all appreciate the excuse to overeat appetizers and judge commercials. January 31. $75. Book it.

Galentine’s Day: Celebrate your best gals with a GNO. February 7. $70. Book it.

Valentine’s Day: Looking for a more intimate way to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Avoid the crowded restaurants but still eat delicious food with this cooking class. February 14. $160 (per couple). Book it.

chef alyssa's kitchen tables

(19) Sip unlimited samples of wine at Winey Grapes Charlotte

What: Your ticket gets you unlimited samples of wine, and there are more than 100 options. VIP tickets get you some food and exclusive wine samples.

Details: February 1. General admission is $30 until January 19 — it goes up $5 a week until the event, $45 at the door. VIP starts at $45 and is $60 at the door.

(20) Adopt a puppy from the 4th Annual Puppy Bowl at Lucky Dog

What: The annual event benefits Pits and Giggles Rescue (1o percent of the bar sales will go to the rescue). And there will tons of adoptable pups on site. Expect drink specials, food trucks, and vendors as well.

Details: February 2. 1-4 p.m.

(21) Eat wings and watch the Super Bowl at a go-to sports bar

Drinks: Grab your seat for the Super Bowl on February 2. We rounded up the 13 best sports bars and top picks include Selwyn (specifically by a fire pit on the patio), Duckworth’s, Dilworth Neighborhood Grille, Angry Ale’s, Ed’s, and Brazwells.

Wings: The top seven wing spots in Charlotte include d.d. Peckers, Lebowski’s Neighborhood Grill, Moosehead Grill, Bisonte Pizza Co., The Crunkleton, Seoul Food Meat Company, and Wing King Café.


Wings on the rooftop patio at Moosehead

(22) Make your own candle or plant

Candle Bar: The $40 Candle Bar experience is simple — choose a vessel; select a fragrance; and then measure, mix, and pour to create your own candle. It lasts one hour. The $40 reservation includes your seat and everything you need to create your candle. Book a spot online.

PlantBar: Part retail, part workshop space, this new, trendy shop opens in February next to Taco Mama.

PlantBar will be covering everything from build-your-own terrarium to yoga classes to wreath making. Most classes are $35 a person and include all the materials.

Workshops will be held 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday to Saturday, plus the occasional Sunday event. They’ll have walk-in workshops during store hours and can host private events.

seat at candle bar charlotte

Seat at Candle Bar in South End near Superica

(23) Hunt for antique treasures at Sleepy Poet

What: They’ve got 60,000 square feet of space filled with antiques and vintage decor. Plus, there’s free popcorn.

(24) Embrace your inner American ninja warrior at Kinetic Heights

What: The 22,000-square-foot facility features an obstacle course with high and low ropes courses, tandem zip lines, a giant swing, a bouldering wall, and more.

(25) Go nuts inside Frankie’s, a massive 20-acre amusement park

What: The 84,000-square-foot indoor portion of Frankie’s has 24 bowling lanes, a restaurant, bar, laser tag, three-story playground, ride that drops 30 feet, LED-illuminated bumper cars, and a massive arcade (you can redeem arcade points for physical prizes). Honestly, it felt like walking into a casino in Las Vegas — lights are flashing, people are screaming in celebration. It’s sensory overload.

How it works: You load up a “Fun Card” with money and then use the card as currency throughout the facility.


Looking for more things to do? Here’s the full Charlotte Agenda calendar with more than 50 cool, upcoming events in Charlotte.

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