Arts and Leisure
From world-class cultural facilities, theaters, and art galleries to hiking trails, parks, and an Olympic training facility, arts and leisure opportunities abound in the Queen City. While there is plenty to do all year long, the scene kicks into high gear in the spring and summer when the city plays host to a multitude of festivals, musical performances, and cultural events.
The Charlotte arts scene has gotten a much-needed boost with the opening of several new cultural facilities. The former Afro American Cultural Center has a new location, expanded exhibit space, and a new name—Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture—and the brand-new Wells Fargo Cultural Campus has brought together museums and performance space, including the Knight Theater, into one state-of-the-art venue.
NoDa, the arts district, also continues to thrive with galleries, live music, and arts events that draw crowds almost every night of the week. Most evenings, galleries in NoDa and South End are closing just as the supper crowd descends on the neighborhoods. But twice a month, these same galleries throw open their doors and invite art lovers inside as part of Gallery Crawl.
Gallery crawls are held on the first and third Fridays of the month in NoDa and the first Friday of the month in South End. The works that line the walls are just part of the appeal. Often, galleries serve wine and small bites to encourage lingering conversation (and, of course, sales).
The scene is festive outside of the galleries, too. Restaurant patios are bursting at the seams, a few artists set up easels on the street and paint for the crowd, and live music spills out of the neighborhood clubs. Even the firemen are part of the atmosphere, sitting outside their historic firehouse and chatting with passersby.
Gallery crawls are much more popular in NoDa, where all of the galleries are located within a few blocks of each other and going from one to the next requires little more than crossing the street. In South End the galleries are spread out, which means walking between them isn’t an option.
Though Charlotte is known as a nucleus of the banking industry, there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep the bankers away from their desks. The city has one of the largest greenway systems in the Southeast, thousands of acres of parkland, and miles of rivers and lakes for paddling, swimming, and boating fun. Armchair athletes will find plenty to do in the Queen City, too.
Professional sports teams like the Carolina Panthers (NFL) and the Charlotte Bobcats (NBA) always draw crowds. Fans can also check out semi-pro soccer, hockey, and arena football teams for fast-paced action.
- Best Festival: Bark in the Park
- Best Wide-Open Space: Freedom Park
- Best Place to Strike Out: StrikeCity
- Best Community Theater: Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte
- Best Place to Get Lost: Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve
- Best Garden: Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary
- Best Place to Get Wet: U.S. National Whitewater Center
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition