While Charlotte's skies are usually blue, when it rains, it pours. But don't let it stop you from exploring the largest city in North Carolina: Grab your umbrella and check out these top attractions guaranteed to keep you dry.
Take kids 8 and under to Discovery Place Kids while all ages will enjoy discovering the world's animals, oddities and world of physical phenomena—among other things—at Discovery Place Science & IMAX Dome Theatre.
The Concord Mills Mall is where to find the Sea Life Aquarium which has children's play areas in addition to all things aquatic.
It's a double treat for racing fans with Hendrick Motorsports—less than a mile from the Charlotte Motor Speedway—allowing visitors to watch race shops during normal hours of operation in addition to displaying years of history in its museum. The NASCAR Hall of Fame honors all thing NASCAR through interactive exhibits, artifacts and a theater.
See the city in a whole new light with the Funny Bus Comedy City Tour. The 90-minute tour is adults-only and you can bring your own beer and wine.
The Levine Center for the Arts encapsulates almost two city blocks on the southern edge of Uptown Charlotte, highlighted by the Bechtler Museum of Art, the Henry B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and the Mint Museum Uptown. Also located there is the Knight Theater.
History is an important part of the city. The Levine Museum of the New South provides an interactive look with a focus on Charlotte from 1865 to the present.
The Charlotte Museum of History explores the Charlotte/Mecklenburg region through exhibits and its centerpiece, the Hezekiah Alexander House.
While some exhibits are outside, there is more than enough to find inside about science and the natural world at The Schiele Museum of Natural History.
Learn the history of gold mining and more at Wells Fargo History Museum through interactive exhibits including a re-created underground mine tunnel and stagecoach.
Head back to the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, home of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, to see exhibits dedicated to commercial, military and civil aviation.
Explore the origins of one of America's most famous pastors at The Billy Graham Library, in a barn-shaped edifice, through exhibits, interactive kiosks and multimedia presentations.
There is more to ImaginOn:The Joe & Joan Martin Center than just a large inventory of books. The library has dedicated areas for children under 5 and teenagers in addition to theaters, classrooms, a multimedia production studio and interactive exhibits. More than 300,000 pay a visit annually.
Head to Plaza Midwood's Bistro La Bon for gourmet cuisine in a small-bistro setting. Sample small plates like the spicy shrimp and chorizo and the grilled lamb chops, or go for a signature dish like the pan-seared Scottish salmon. A plus is the restaurant's daily drink specials.
Heirloom offers a different experience each night with a daily-changing six-course tasting menu that features the best from local North Carolina farms and growers. Savor items like the Bermuda fish chowder and the Mills Family Farm rib-eye. Beers on-tap and in cans are locally produced as well.
Plan ahead for a trip to McNinch House Restaurant, housed in a Victorian-era Queen Anne-style home—you'll need a reservation. Open and serving multi-course meals since 1989, the classically prepared gourmet cuisine is presented on three daily menus: the Grand Menu of seven courses, the Premier Menu of five courses and the Chef's Tasting Menu set at the chef's discretion. Get the best in surf-and-turf with selections including jumbo lump crab cake, pan-seared duck and filet mignon.
Climate-controlled SouthPark Mall is a good place to get out of the rain to spend an afternoon with over 150 upscale stores and a wide selection of dining options.
For classic merchandise, lose yourself in the 55,000-square-foot Sleepy Poets Antique Mall, voted "Best Antiques in Charlotte NC" every year since 2011 by Charlotte Magazine. Find clothing, furniture and much more.
For women, Capitol offers the finest high-end fashion and accessories from top classic designers while sister store Poole Shop—upstairs from Capitol—has items from contemporary and emerging designers. In historic Dilworth, Sloan Boutique is the upscale one-stop-shop for clothes, shoes and jewelry.
Duck into Phillips Place for a men's shopping outing at Taylor Richards & Conger. Purveyors of hand-selected clothing for over 30 years, TRC has top fashion from the U.S. and Europe in addition to shoes and accessories. Bruce Julian dresses men for casual events to weddings, selling his fashionable, high-quality clothes at department store prices.
The beer scene is happening in Charlotte with brewers plying their craft. Head to these neighborhoods for a wide range of choices or take the Charlotte Brews Cruise which goes behind the scenes of three of the breweries with 12 to 15 (4 ounce) beer samples along the way. Public tours are Saturday at 1:30 pm and cost $49.
North Davidson (NoDa)
The NoDa Brewing Company on Tryon Street is home to Hop, Drop 'n Roll (IPA), the 2014 World Beer Cup gold medal winner, in addition to a number of other year-round and seasonal beers. The tap room is the place to relax and enjoy the selections and take cans or growlers to go. It is open Tuesday through Sunday—starting at 4 pm on weekdays, noon on weekends—with one brewery tour a day Thursday through Sunday. Other breweries in NoDa to spend time at include Birdsong Brewing Co., Free Range Brewing and Heist Brewery.
On the south end of Tryon Street is Wooden Robot Brewery. Head inside to the wood-clad interior to investigate one—or some—of their nine beers on tap. Order food in the tap room and the craft beer-infused cuisine will be prepared and delivered to you from Twisted Eats, the brewery's food truck parked outside. Open Tuesday through Sunday. Other breweries making the South End a hotspot are Lenny Boy Brewing, Sycamore Brewing, The Unknown Brewing Company, Thirsty Nomad Brewing Co. and Triple C Brewing.
Lower South End (LoSo)
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is the granddaddy of the Charlotte brewing scene having been the first to open in 2009. German-inspired, the brewery uses just malt, hops, yeast and water in the brewing process. Taste the results while seated in the brauhaus sipping on a Southside Weiss or Mecklenburger. It is open seven days a week with award-winning brewery tours on Saturday and Sunday. Joining Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in the area is Sugar Creek Brewing Company.
Legion Brewing uses local Carolina and American ingredients to produce beers that taste like they have been imported from all over the world. Have fun with friends listening to live music or playing team trivia seven days a week. Tours available on Saturday and Sunday.