Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Uptown Charlotte, NC

  • Published 2022/03/30

Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina’s central business district, offers a sense of the Old South juxtaposed with cutting-edge culture.

Upon zooming in on the city’s landmark Charlotte skyline and zooming all the way into the heart of the metropolis, you will find the fourth ward divided into four sections.

Every morning, business executives and CEOs can be seen side by side with city creatives, coders, and entrepreneurs.

By night, both locals and visitors take to the many posh cocktail bars and rooftops, creating an atmosphere of such great liveliness and noise, one similar to that of the city streets below.

Center City is home to the Spectrum Center, Bank of America Stadium, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Truist Field, and other popular athletic and event locations.

More than 50 bars and restaurants can be found in Center City, and there are many different places to visit like theaters, hotels, and museums.

You’ll find several exciting things to do in Uptown Charlotte, NC.

Here are some fun spots to try out next time you need some fun in Uptown Charlotte:

Watch Live Sports in Uptown Charlotte’s World-Class Stadiums

Aerial view of Spectrum Center stadium

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When in Uptown Charlotte, don’t leave without checking out Spectrum Center to watch a Hornets game, the Bank of America Stadium to watch a Panthers game, or Truist Field to watch a Knights game.

The Spectrum Center can hold up to 19,077 attendees but can also be expanded to accommodate 20,200 attendees during National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) games.

This multi-purpose arena primarily hosts basketball games for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

Entrance of Spectrum Center stadium

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The 33-acre football stadium in Uptown Charlotte, known as Bank of America Stadium, can seat up to 74,867 sports fans.

This lovely stadium has been home to the Charlotte FC of Major League Soccer and Carolina Panthers of the National Football League.

Aerial view of Bank of America Stadium

Grindstone Media Group /

Truist Field is well known for being a great place to watch a Triple-A Minor League Baseball game in Charlotte.

It’s Uptown’s third sports venue, following the Spectrum Center and the Bank of America Stadium.

The Charlotte Knights have come out victorious at the stadium time and time again, playing in front of thousands of fans who enjoy having a team to be proud of!

Entrance of Bank of America Stadium

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Immerse in the Sciences at Discovery Place Science

Exterior of Discovery Place Science

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Discovery Place is a non-profit and special 501c(3) education organization devoted to promoting awareness for the exploration of science and the natural world through spectacular exhibits and educational seminars.

For over 70 years now, Discovery Place has been offering interactive educational experiences and creative adventures in North Carolina.

Name sign of Discovery Place Science

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The organization’s facility has grown to include not just one museum but four locations—all of which offer many hands-on exhibits for families, students, and educators alike.

The Discovery Place Education Studio provides teachers in the region opportunities to learn and engage with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.

Start Off with a Caffeinated Boost at Coco and the Director

Start your day off right with a delicious breakfast at Coco and The Director, where you’ll be able to enjoy great coffee and freshly made pastries.

With a friendly atmosphere and good vibes, along with their daily rotating sandwich selections, you’ll also feel at home here.

With arguably the best coffee in Uptown Charlotte, NC, Coco and the Director consistently extract delicious flavor from their beans and fully unlock the potential of these organic beans by the time they reach your mug.

Whenever you also need to brainstorm, this is your stop for a caffeinated boost and the Internet.

If you stop by Coco and the Director, you can try one of their many healthy and flavorful food options, such as breakfast sandwiches and muffins, iced mocha, and loose-leaf lemon ginger tea.

Glimpse into New South’s Past at the Levine Museum of the New South

People outside Levine Museum of the New South

James Willamor, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Established in uptown Charlotte at the heart of the cultural district, Levine Museum of the New South has tours, lectures, and interactive exhibits.

The Levine Museum of the New South features exhibits related to the Piedmont region of North Carolina, particularly examining how life was different after the American Civil War.

Among its offerings are permanent and temporary exhibits on a wide range of Southern-related subjects.

Back exterior of Levine Museum of the New South

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Formerly the Museum of the New South, it was renamed the Levine Museum of the New South in 2001 after the museum’s longtime patron, Leon Levine, the founder of Family Dollar Stores.

One of the permanent exhibits you’ll find here is called “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers: Charlotte and the Carolina Piedmont in the New South,” and there are also items that teach about regional history.

Exhibits here also include a cotton mill and mill house, a one-room tenant farmer’s house, an early Belk department store, a civil-rights era lunch counter, and an African-American hospital.

Exhibits will also change to feature local culture, art, and history.

Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers exhibit in Levine Museum of the New South

Tetra09, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catch a Performance at the Carolina Theatre

Exterior of Carolina Theatre before renovation

Fortibus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Constructed in 1927, the historic Carolina Theatre in Uptown Charlotte is 36,000 square feet in size.

This once silent movie palace and vaudeville theatre was a place where legends like Bob Hope, Katherine Hepburn, and Elvis Presley once performed.

Programming at this civic convening space and performing arts center include symposiums, lectures, annual meetings, town hall gatherings, and panel discussions.

Additionally, the Carolina Theatre doubles as a place to view arts, films, and entertainment.

The nonprofit Foundation for the Carolinas owns this beautiful historic movie theater that serves as a visual extension to the conference space in the Foundation’s headquarters.

Breath in the Art at Portal Charlotte

Portal Charlotte is more than just a museum of art!

This part of Uptown Charlotte is where you can explore creativity, learn about its most acclaimed artists, and feel a surreal atmosphere.

Portal Charlotte has a wide variety of artists and art lovers in the community.

Among them is HNin Nie, a visual artist living in Charlotte, NC, known for her artistic versatility and experimentation—capturing delicate moments with paintings, manipulating viewers with interactive art, and sharing opinions on social issues via filmmaking.

Other masters working with paintings include the amazing exhibitions by Victoria Schweizer, Jill Seale, and Ann and Sydney Duarte.

Appreciate Mid-20th-Century Modern Art at Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Exterior of Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

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In 2010, a major part of Charlotte’s art scene was given a huge boost when it was announced that this modern art museum would open.

However, that alone doesn’t do it justice – what elevates this museum from others is its namesake, Andreas Bechtler.

Born in Switzerland, but with a great love for Charlotte and all it has to offer, this honorary member of the city didn’t just make a big splash by bringing a delightful variety of artwork into his hometown – he created an entire oasis called the Bechtler Museum!

The Firebird sculpture in front of Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

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What started as an exhaustive personal collection of major figures from many different places in 20th-century art has evolved into a renowned local attraction, which is enjoyed not only by residents but people far and wide.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is a fabulous space designed by renowned architect Mario Botta.

With 36,500 feet to call its own and situated in the beautiful area of Uptown Charlotte, the modern art museum has a wonderful addition to the city’s architecture.

This contemporary art museum not only focuses on exhibiting works of art but also provides a relaxing atmosphere for those who visit.

Exterior of Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Eric Glenn /

Experience North Carolina’s vibrant Arts Culture at the Mint Museum Uptown

Exterior of Mint Museum Uptown

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Mint Museum Uptown is located in an exceptional new building by award-winning Boston architects, Machado and Silvetti Associates.

This 5-story, 145,000-square-foot facility houses outstanding collections, including Craft + Design, American Art, Contemporary Art, and European Art.

With its art exhibitions and engaging educational programming, Mint Museum Uptown provides visitors with unparalleled cultural experiences both inside and outside of the museum.

Closer details of Mint Museum Uptown

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You’ll find the Mint Museum Uptown in the center of Charlotte’s buzzing City Center, and it’s part of an area cocooned with art, making it a holistic museum experience for all art connoisseurs.

The Mint Museum Uptown also offers a wide array of amenities that are both comforting and educational for visitors.

They include The Lewis Family Gallery, the 240-seat Duke Auditorium, art studios, a restaurant, and a museum store as well.

Art piece in front of Mint Museum Uptown

Jon Bilous /

Take a Step Back in Time and Explore Some of NASCAR’s Rich History and Heritage

Exterior of NASCAR Hall of Fame

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Nestled in Uptown Charlotte, the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened on May 11, 2010, to take its visitors through the history and heritage of NASCAR and more.

The museum also features artifacts used by actual racers, hands-on exhibits, and a 278-seat modern theater auditorium where visitors can relive some of the greatest moments in motorsport history.

A race car displayed inside NASCAR Hall of Fame /

Here, you’ll also find the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, Hall of Honor, NASCAR Productions-operated broadcast studio, NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop, and an attached parking garage on Brevard Street.

A championship trophy in NASCAR Hall of Fame /

Within the premises of this 5-acre site, you’ll also find an addition to the Charlotte Convention Center and a 19-story privately developed office tower.

Furthermore, there’s also a 40,000-square-foot ballroom area here.

Steering wheel of a race car in NASCAR Hall of Fame /

Visit Harvey B. Gantt Center

Exterior of Harvey B. Gantt Center

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The Harvey B. Gantt Center was once called the Afro-American Cultural Center.

Since its creation, the Gantt Center has focused on strengthening and elevating the cultural aspects of the African and African-Americans communities.

They also serve as a community epicenter for dance, arts, visual art, theater, community, and film.

Exterior of Harvey B. Gantt Center

Mark Clifton, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 46,500-square-foot Gantt Center sits in the historic Charlotte community that was the central hub of the once-thriving, bustling black neighborhood, back when the area was known as Brooklyn.

Inspired by designs from the Myers Street School, the Gantt Center is at the site of the old Brooklyn neighborhood.

The facade of the building uses design elements that imitate patterns on quilts and textiles used in the Underground Railroad and West Africa.

African and African-American history and culture were central in this design, so they are apparent not only in the building’s decor but also in its architecture.

See a Live Performance at John S. and James L. Knight Theater

Exterior of Knight Theater

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At 430 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, you’ll find incredible shows at the James L. Knight Theater.

This 1,191-seat facility features an orchestra, a grand tier, and a mezzanine.

Different types of dance and music shows are shown here.

Far exterior view of Knight Theater

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It’s located near the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and its lobby shares a space with the Museum.

Knight Theater offers the highest quality of acoustics, acclaimed concerts, excellent vocal performances, comfortable seating, better spacing in rows, and a flexible multidirectional theater layout.

Indulge in a Serene Escape at Thomas Polk Park

Night lights on Thomas Polk Park's fountain

Jon Bilous /

Thomas Polk Park is a 1/3 acre open-space at the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets in the center of Charlotte.

This small pocket park has a storied history as an important trading spot for Native Americans, an important location in North Carolina, and an important event in U.S. history.

It was landscape architect Angela Danadjieva who designed Thomas Polk Park.

A family taking pictures in front of Thomas Polk Park's fountain

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This popular civic space includes a large-scale water feature that cuts an oasis into the dense urban cityscape.

When designing Thomas Polk Park, Danadjieva drew inspiration from both her previous projects and also made use of what was specific to her designs.

Here, you’ll find a huge central waterfall standing 30 feet tall that flows into a gorgeous reflecting pool famously inspired by some of Danadjieva’s earlier sculptural fountain installations.

The Thomas Polk Park fountain

Jon Bilous /

Watch More Art and Theatrical Shows

Exterior of Blumenthal Performing Arts Center

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Charlotte Center City is the go-to for art-related things, as it is home to the most galleries, museums, and theaters in the region.

Beyond what’s already been said, these are other theatres worth visiting in Uptown Charlotte, NC.

For the art aficionado, the Stage Door Theater may be of interest, and it is found at the corner of 5th and College, within the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Uptown Charlotte.

Charlotte’s Jazz Arts Initiative, best known for its monthly show The Jazz Room at The Stage Door Theater, is known for giving highly acclaimed and sold-out performances.

Entrance and name sign of Spirit Square

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Located on the public plaza at the corner of 7th and College Streets in Uptown Charlotte, Spirit Square is the venue for free concerts, movie screenings, and various outdoor dining experiences during the warmer months.

Spirit Square also boasts spectacular wind sculptures honoring past award-winning business leaders.

McGlohon Theater is Uptown’s only historic theater, and it seats up to 730 people.

Exterior of McGlohon Theater

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It has come to be known as a showplace for concerts with orchestra and balcony levels.

The McGlohon Theater is named after Loonis McGlohon, Charlotte’s late legendary jazz pianist.

The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte on 7th Street is widely praised nationally for the variety and creativity of its productions.

It provides over 250,000 performances throughout the year with imaginative plays that are technically extraordinary.

Exterior of Children's Theatre of Charlotte

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Snap a Selfie with Uptown Charlotte’s Public Art Pieces

The art piece called "Zygos"

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The Uptown Charlotte district is also home to a lot of public art, which shapes the identity of this Central North Carolina area.

Located in front of the Trademark Building on Trade Street, for example, is a very cool “Zygos” piece by Sally Rodgers, which is Greek for joining together in balance and teamwork.

The Flying Shuttles is a large-scale sculpture just outside the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte and has more than a hint of whimsy.

Stack of books scuplture at Uptown Charlotte

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It’s 50 feet high, composed of colorful columns standing on their own as a unique artwork that connects with cotton yarn as it twists about to form this whimsical creation.

The piece serves to emphasize the area’s textile manufacturing heritage and North Carolina’s ceramics tradition.

Sculptures On The Square of Charlotte is a unique urban art installation dedicated to the city’s past, present, and future.

The Firebird sculpture

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A suite of four large bronze sculptures in the heart of the city’s most prominent neighborhood pays tribute to the forces that have contributed most to Charlotte’s growth, prosperity, and success.

Books Monument is a moving sight to see: large bronze sculptures of book spines stacked together, piled in the entranceway of a small gallery-type park.

The titles include classic works like Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote, as well as recent publications like Wuthering Heights.

The art piece called "Il Grande Disco"

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The incredible, award-winning sculpture dubbed Il Grande Disco has been a Charlotte institution ever since it was crafted by the prominent Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro.

It’s a whimsical design with a kaleidoscopic pattern and is located in Uptown Charlotte’s bustling arts district, making it an easy photo opportunity for anyone who visits.

Other cool sculptures you should check out when you are out in Uptown Charlotte include The Writer’s Desk, Touch My Building, Wind Sculpture, and Firebird.

The Writer’s Desk art piece along Uptown Charlotte

James Kirkikis /

Check Out a Phenomenal Show at Belk Theater

North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center’s largest room, the Belk Theater can seat 2,100 patrons in a theater-style configuration.

Equipped with state-of-the-art sound and equipment, this theater hosts events such as grand opera or rock performances.

The theater uses a contemporary European horseshoe design, made with the intent to offer an intimate experience and high-quality acoustics.

The seats closest to the stage are less than 135 feet away.

At the center of the theatre’s design is a fiber-optic network consisting of 2,400 individual points of light that, when switched on, fill the theatre’s space with a sparkling show of multiple colors.

Final Thoughts

Uptown Charlotte is host to an abundance of great attractions.

From shopping at the many fashionable boutiques and art galleries to dining at some of the best restaurants in town and mingling with Charlotte’s sociable citizens, there’s always something happening here!

Make sure not to ignore these seriously awesome places while on your trip, so you don’t miss out on what locals are known for doing here in Uptown: throwing some of the best parties and festivals in town!

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