Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Mecklenburg County, NC

  • Published 2023/05/28

Mecklenburg County is situated in the southwestern part of North Carolina.

Named after Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz of the United Kingdom, it was formed in 1762 from parts of Anson County.

Its county seat, Charlotte, was likewise named after the queen in commemoration of her wedding to King George III.

Its boundaries weren’t finalized until 1842 when its southeastern portion, together with Anson County’s western part, were combined to form Union County.

The county served a significant role during World War I, with Camp Green being built just outside Charlotte and housing more than 40,000 US Army soldiers.

The 1940s saw a rapid increase in its population, continuing through the mid-20th century until it hit the 1 million mark and became the state’s 2nd most populous county.

Here are the best things to do in Mecklenburg County:

Take On the 14 Roller Coasters of Carowinds

Entrance to the Carowinds

Xx Creations, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Carowinds Boulevard, Charlotte is the Carowinds amusement park.

Established in 1973, the 405-acre theme park sits right on the North Carolina-South Carolina border, with parts of it located in Fort Mill.

Conceptualized in 1969, Carowinds was originally planned to be a large resort with a theme park, hotels, a shopping mall, a golf course, and an NFL stadium.

Its name is the combination of the words Carolina (in honor of the two Carolinas) and winds referring to the winds that blow across them.

Roller coaster at Carowinds

Martin Lewison from The Hague, Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Carowinds features 47 attractions, 14 of which are roller coasters.

One of its most popular rides is the Carolina Cyclone, which features 4 inversions, two corkscrews, and 2 loops.

Its centerpiece, though, is the 83-foot wooden roller coaster, Hurler.

Also within the Carowinds is the 27-acre Carolina Harbor Water Park.

Bird's eye view of the Carowinds

Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pick Strawberries and Pet Farm Animals at Hunter Farm

Located on N. Main Street, High Point is Hunter Farm.

The family-owned and operated farm has been with the same family since its establishment in 1868.

While it may no longer be a full-scale farm, the estate has become a small-scale agritourism business that offers seasonal activities and hands-on experiences for people who want to live the farm life.

During the spring season, Hunter Farm offers strawberry picking to visitors as well as its famous wagon rides to the barn to visit the animals.

A garden shop with locally grown flowers and vegetables is also open.

Eat Authentic Mediterranean Food at Kabab-Je Rotisserie & Grille

Located on Matthews Township Parkway, Matthews is Kabab-Je Rotisserie & Grille.

The restaurant serves authentic Mediterranean food inspired by the Lebanese cultural region, which is known to incorporate healthy ingredients such as mixed vegetables, nuts, grains, olive oil, and lean meats.

Kabab-Je Rotisserie & Grille is popular for its flavorful yet healthy meals that use only the freshest ingredients.

Some of the best-sellers include the Fried Cauliflower which is served with house-made Tahini sauce, the Lentil Soup, and the slow oven-roasted lamb shank topped with a special cilantro sauce.

The kababs and the shawarmas are also must-tries, especially the charcoal-grilled Salmon Kabab and the Beef Shawarma.

Pay Tribute to NASCAR Legends at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Exterior view of the NASCAR Hall of Fame

ZikG /

Located on E Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Charlotte is the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Opened in 2010, the 390,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to NASCAR legends, top crew chiefs, owners, broadcasters, and all the men and women that have significantly contributed to the association’s success.

The building houses the NASCAR Digital Media and the licensing divisions of the association and its video game licensee.

View of the NASCAR Hall of Fame

fitzcrittle /

Charlotte was chosen as the building’s location because of its rich history of stock car racing as well as being home to numerous NASCAR greats.

On the ground floor of the four-story NASCAR Hall of Fame building is the High Octane Theatre, which screens videos about the association’s history.

The actual Hall of Honor is located on the third floor, where a 360-degree wall enshrines the honorees.

Display of a vintage car at NASCAR Hall of Fame

Roman Korotkov /

Attend the North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival at the Historic Rural Hill

Located on Neck Road, Huntersville is the Historic Rural Hill.

The 256-acre Colonial-era farm was the homestead of Major John and Violet Wilson Davidson, becoming one of the largest cotton plantations in the county.

Today, the estate has old schoolhouses, a historic cabin, and a cultural center that hosts numerous town events.

One of those events is the annual North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival held for two days in the month of May.

The festival brings together local breweries and a lineup of up-and-coming musical acts for a party set on a historic farm.

The two-day festivities include vendors from all over the county as well as food stalls serving local favorites.

Explore the Urban Rainforest at Discovery Place Science

Exterior view of the Discovery Place Science

Bryan Pollard /

Located on N Tryon Street, Charlotte is Discovery Place Science.

The museum aims to promote science and technology to learners of all ages through interactive displays and hands-on activities.

Opened in 1981, Discovery Place Science traces its roots to a small museum organized by schoolteacher Laura Owens in 1946, and the rest, as they say, is history.

With the museum’s expansion, it now has multiple learning labs and workshops where visitors can have a unique hands-on experience in design and creation.

These labs are equipped with the latest technology, like 3D printers, laser cutters, and more.

One of the museum’s most popular attractions is the two-story urban rainforest, World Alive, where visitors can listen to the sound of exotic birds, trek a canopy rope, and observe a tropical habitat in the middle of the city.

Learn About the History of Medicine in Rural America at the Mint Hill Country Doctor’s Museum

Located on Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Mint Hill, inside the Carl J McEwen Historic Village is the Mint Hill Country Doctor’s Museum.

The restored doctor’s office features equipment and other artifacts that show the state of medicine in rural Mecklenburg County from 1880 to 1930.

Mint Hill Country Doctor’s Museum once served as the office of renowned country doctors, Dr. John McCamie DeArmon and Dr. Ayer Whitley.

In 1985, the office was put up for sale and was up for demolition until local citizens banded together to restore this important piece of history.

Today, the museum displays medical equipment and furnishings, instruments, hand-blown medicine bottles, and an herb garden.

Try Whitewater Rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Crowd having their best time at U.S. National Whitewater Center

the US National Whitewater Center, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte is the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

The 1,300-acre outdoor recreation facility boasts world-class whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, rappelling, and rock climbing facilities that adrenaline junkies will surely enjoy.

Established in 2006, USNWC aims to promote an active and outdoor lifestyle by providing state-of-the-art equipment as well as conducting offsite programs.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center sits along the Catawba River, known for its long series of class II+ and III- rapids.

The Center offers an all-day access pass, which includes more than 30 outdoor recreation experiences like whitewater rafting, rock climbing, zip lines, jumps, and even yoga classes.

There’s also the single activity pass, which gives you access to 7 amenities, including ice skating and the center’s Deep Water Solo.

Do Winetasting at Davidson Wine Co.

Located on Depot Street, Davidson is Davidson Wine Co.

The urban winery is the first of its kind in Davidson, boasting a wide selection of wines made from grapes sourced from vineyards from all over the world.

Established by lawyer-turned-winemaker Lindsey Williams, the Davidson Wine Co. aims to bring affordable, high-quality, and locally-made wines to town.

They make over 30 kinds of wines, including classics Cabernets, Chardonnays, and Merlots as well as Pinot Grigio, California Viognier, and Green Apple Riesling.

The winery also offers handcrafted cocktails served on select days.

Davidson Wine Co. has a bistro menu with small plates that go well with a glass of wine.

Crowd favorite includes oysters served with house mignonette and spicy cocktail sauce and shrimp and crab flatbread.

Go Fishing at Lake Norman

Sunset at Lake Norman

Mark Borja /

Located on West Catawba Avenue, Suite 102, Cornelius is Lake Norman.

The lake is considered the largest man-made body of freshwater in the state, having been built between 1959 and 1964.

Lake Norman was created by the electric power company Duke Power alongside a dam meant to supply power to the whole region.

Construction of the dam flooded more than 33,000 acres of land and created 750 miles of shoreline.

Pier at Lake Norman

Gladys Bensimon HBR Prod /

Over the next decades, Lake Norman has become an important ecological spot in the state with its rich biodiversity.

Its waters are the perfect breeding ground for sportfishing and commercial fishing, with most species artificially introduced.

The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, black bullhead, crappie, striped bass, and more.

Boats docked at Lake Norman

Serge Skiba /

Sample Authentic Italian Deli at Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market

Located on Torrence Chapel Road, Cornelius is Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market.

The old-fashioned market offers authentic Italian products, from deli meats, cheeses, wines, different kinds of pasta, and more.

Established in 1999 by Brooklyn natives Maria and Tony Ferrucci, the Italian specialty food store was built to provide high-quality food products with a neighborhood store feel.

The gourmet deli section features a wide array of cured meat imported from Italy, including Sicilian salami and prosciutto di Parma as well as aged cheeses like Reggiano Parmagiano and Pecorino Romano.

At the butcher shop, you can get fresh, high-grade meats as well as homemade Italian sausages that go well as toppings on pizza or tossed in with some pasta.

Ferrucci’s Old Tyme Italian Market also has a sandwich menu that includes favorites Caprese, Muffaletta, and the Classic.

Learn About An Ex-President’s Life at The President James K. Polk Historic Site

Wooden cabin at President James K. Polk Historic Site

Jill Lang /

Located on Lancaster Highway, Pineville is the President James K. Polk Historic Site.

It’s the birthplace of President James K. Polk owned by his father, Samuel.

The 21-acre estate features reconstructed log cabins that showcase life in North Carolina in the early 19th century.

The President James K. Polk Historic Site also has a museum where photos, artifacts, and personal effects are on display to give visitors a peek into Polk’s childhood, through his political career, until the Mexican-American War.

The guided tour includes viewing of a short film that details Polk’s rise to power, a walk through a small nature trail, and a visit to the cemetery where the former president’s grandmother and other relatives were buried.

Explore the Trails of the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve

Located on Sample Road, Huntersville is the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.

The 1,342-acre protected land forms a green peninsula that includes Mountain Island Lake, the source of drinking water for over 700,000 residents of the county.

The preserved houses a unique mix of natural habitats, including upland and bottomland hardwood forests, prairie, streams, and vast open fields.

The Latta Plantation Nature Preserve is home to several federally endangered species, like Michaux’s Sumac and Schweinitz’s sunflower.

It’s also an important bird area, serving as a migrating hub for wintering birds such as waterfowls and different species of songbirds.

The Preserve has 16 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, where visitors can spot over 130 different species of plants and animals that include red foxes, bald eagles, and minks.

Watch A Flight Show at the Carolina Raptor Center

Owl at Carolina Raptor Center

Phyllis Peterson /

Located on Sample Road, Huntersville is the Carolina Raptor Center.

The facility aims to protect raptors by providing shelter and rehabilitation to rescued birds.

Founded in 1975, the Center started when it admitted a broad-winged hawk brought by ornithologist Richard Brown.

Bird at Carolina Raptor Center

Gary Rolband /

The non-profit organization supports its rehabilitation efforts by conducting camps and educational tours that teach about the importance of raptors to the ecosystem.

The Raptor Trail, an outdoor trail featuring live raptors, is one of the most popular attractions at the Carolina Raptor Center.

Hawk at Carolina Raptor Center

Phyllis Peterson /

Sample Draft Beers at Crafty Beer Guys Taproom & Bottle Shop

Located on S Old Statesville Road, Huntersville is Crafty Beer Guys Taproom & Bottle Shop.

The beer store and taproom boasts a rotating selection of draft beer that includes seasonal and hard-to-find brews.

The taproom is housed in an early 20th-century building in Downtown Huntersville.

Crafty Beer Guys Taproom & Bottle Shop offers a well-curated menu of drafts from local breweries, as well as a wide array of wines served by the glass.

The shop also has food trucks and live music on-site to enjoy with your ice-cold beer.

Final Thoughts

Mecklenburg County is the perfect destination for adrenaline junkies looking for an exciting adventure.

With its many nature preserves offering different outdoor recreation opportunities and local restaurants and food shops waiting to be discovered, this region should be on your list of places to visit.

So, pack your bags now and try the best things to do in Mecklenburg County.

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