Top Things to Do in the Charlotte Area

It might be three hours to the higher mountaintops and three hours to the coast, but Charlotte's got a lot that seems to keep everyone pleased right here. Keeping attractions and other things to do fresh seems to be a chief part of the Queen City's success—take, for example, Discovery Place, the science museum that recently, for the fifth consecutive year, was ranked the most visited museum and historic attraction in the Charlotte area with more 700,000 visitors for 2014.

“We are honored to welcome so many guests each year, and we are inspired to make each visit an extraordinary experience,” said Catherine Wilson Horne, president and CEO of Discovery Place Inc. “Whether you are a young child learning to ask questions at Discovery Place KIDS, or you are sipping on science and cocktails during Discovery Place’s adult party Science on the Rocks, all of our museums offer programs, exhibits and films that are designed to continue connecting our community with the wonder of science at any age.”

Also keeping it fresh is Carowinds, which unveiled a $50-million makeover that not only sports a new look but new thrills, including adding the world's largest giga coaster to its lineup. The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC), meanwhile, has expanded by 140 acres to 700 acres overall and is adding four more zip lines, a 40-foot rappelling wall, a 120-floor launch tower, 11 miles of trails and the Pump House Biergarten to its grounds. Charlotte Motor Speedway now offers "glamping" for its fans—glamorous, infield camping tents that are perched near its giant video board, also described as a 16,000-square-foot HDTV. ("It's bigger than Jerry's TV in Dallas," speedway owner Bruton Smith quipped, teasing Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones when the Guinness World Record-breaking video board was added to the speedway in 2011.)

From the rushing rapids at the Whitewater Center to the captivating programs at Discovery Place to the one-year-old BB&T Ballpark, which set a minor-league attendance record in its first year, here's a list of some of the top, and oft-freshened, attractions and things to do in the Charlotte area: