Romare Bearden Park

Biggest City in North Carolina & 20+ Great Things to do

What is the Biggest City in North Carolina?

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North Carolina, a southeastern gem in the United States, has witnessed rapid growth, making it an exciting state with a blend of diverse locales. While it ranks 28th in land size, covering 53,819 square miles, it ranks as the 9th largest state by population, with over 10 million residents.

From serene mountain hideaways in the west to charming coastal towns in the east and lively cities in the central Piedmont, North Carolina has it all. Among these, you’ll find Charlotte – the state’s largest city, both in size and population. With about 885,000 residents spread across 312 square miles, Charlotte stands out as a bustling metropolitan hub.

In Charlotte, the pulse of the city is palpable. Its size ensures a never-ending stream of activities, from savory dining experiences and bustling outdoor adventures to cultural festivities and more. Whether you’re a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, or a culture seeker, Charlotte’s dynamic atmosphere offers something for every visitor. This city not only reflects the rapid growth of North Carolina but also embodies the diverse experiences that make the state unique.

Things to Do in the Biggest City in North Carolina

Today, we are going to explore all the great things to see and do in Charlotte. The article below highlights some of Charlotte’s best activities, most popular restaurants, and more.

1. Explore Uptown 

Uptown Charlotte is Charlotte’s central business district. This bustling city center is filled with popular restaurants, hip bars, museums, and more.

Uptown buildings

2. Enjoy the Museums 

Charlotte, a cultural and artistic hub, is home to many wonderful museums, including some of the most renowned in all of North Carolina. You can’t take a trip to Charlotte without checking out some of these museums. 

✅ Discovery Place Science – A science and technology museum with interactive exhibits for people of all ages. 

✅ Levine Museum of the New South – A museum to teach the fundamentals of post-Civil War Southern history and the importance of social justice. 

At The Levine Museum of the New South

✅ Mint Museum Randolph – The first Mint Museum location that opened in 1936 as Charlotte’s first art museum. The museum is set in an intimate park setting where guests can explore American ceramics, sculptures, pottery, and more.

✅ Mint Museum Uptown – The Mint Museum Uptown holds a renowned collection of international art and design, plus five stories of stunning art displays. They also have live performances and dances.

Inside Mint Museum

✅ Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture – An art museum celebrating African Americans’ contribution to the American artistic world. This community center hub holds classes for dance, theater, art, and educational programs. 

✅ Museums of Illusions – A fascinating, mind-bending illusion center with interactive exhibits, perspective-changing rooms, funky photographs, and so much more.

Museum of Illusions

✅ Discovery Place Nature – A great hands-on learning center, perfect for young kids getting excited about nature. There are interactive exhibits, a butterfly pavilion, nature trails, creature caves, and more. 

✅ Bechtler Museum of Modern Art – A very unique art museum with four floors dedicated to 20th-century modern art and architecture. 

Statue outside of the Bechtler Art Museum - Best Tours of Charlotte NC

✅ The Charlotte Museum of History – A large area with seven museum exhibits dedicated to sharing Charlotte’s history, dating back to 1774. 

✅ Sullenberger Aviation Museum – Located on the Charlotte Douglas Airport grounds, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum has an extensive collection of civilian, military, and commercial aircraft, relics, and memorabilia. This museum is currently closed due to major renovations and is set to open in the summer of 2024. 

3. US National Whitewater Center

Address: 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28214

Don’t walk; run to the US National Whitewater Center for all kinds of thrilling outdoor adventure experiences! The Whitewater Center is the country’s premier outdoor center that features over 1,300 acres of land to experience activities such as rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, ropes courses, seasonal ice skating, mountain biking, zipline, and so much more.

Whitewater Center Climbing Wall

4. Carowinds

Address: 300 Carowinds Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28273

Nothing screams family fun like a trip to Carowinds, Charlotte’s very own 400-acre amusement park. The park is home to 60 first-class roller coasters and rides, including Fury 325, the Intimidator, and the Carolina Cyclone, just to name a few. Carowinds also has a waterpark, kids rides, restaurants, shops, and more to make this an experience of a lifetime. 

Entrance to Carowinds

5. Charlotte Segway Tours 

As we know, Charlotte is quite large! And seeing the whole city is almost impossible on foot. Charlotte Segway Tours are a great way to explore many city areas and learn more about Charlotte. There are various tours, such as historical tours, museum tours, or personal tours, that can be adjusted to suit your needs. You can book your tour online.

Charlotte Segway Tours

6. Romare Bearden Park

Address: 300 S Church St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Romare Bearden Park is a beautiful city park located in Uptown Charlotte. The 5.4-acre park has green spaces, benches, picnic areas, statues, and fountains, making it great for a quaint park date or an excellent place to bring the kids for lunch while you are in the city.

Romare Bearden Park

7. Freedom Park 

Address: 1908 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203

Freedom Park is a more extensive city park that can be easily reached from downtown Charlotte. The park is around 98 acres and offers a great escape from the busy city life. Within the park, visitors will find a seven-acre lake used for kayaking, fishing, and canoeing, sports fields, tennis courts, picnic shelters, walking paths, bridges, and more.

Lake at Freedom Park

8. NASCAR Hall of Fame 

Address: 400 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28202

Charlotte has a deep connection to stock car racing and is considered by many to be the home of sport. The NASCAR Hall of Fame honors the history of NASCAR and some of its best drivers from the past and present and displays cars, trophies, memorabilia, and more. Visitors of the NASCAR Hall of Fame can enjoy interactive exhibits, a theater, and the Pit Stop Cafe.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

9. The Green 

Address: 425 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202

If you are looking for a good rest spot or place to sit down and enjoy a snack, The Green is the perfect place to go. The Green is a half-acre pocket park conveniently located by The Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Many restaurants and cafes are nearby, making it the perfect place to sit and enjoy the sun and a snack.

Charlotte Signs in The Green

10. Billy Graham Library 

Address: 4330 Westmont Dr, Charlotte, NC 28217

Are you looking to explore something a little different in Charlotte? Take a step outside the museums and regular shops to visit the Billy Graham Library, a large library and grounds owned by humble religious leader Billy Graham.

When you visit, you can take a journey of Billy Graham’s dynamic life story, including a look at his very own childhood home. You can also see his burial grounds, the library itself, the library cafe, and more.

11. Wing Haven 

Address: 248 Ridgewood Ave, Charlotte, NC 28209

Locals call this bird sanctuary a little slice of paradise that you should definitely visit while you are exploring Charlotte. Wing Haven is a large brick-enclosed area that has three main garden areas filled with native flora and fauna and lots of incredible wildlife. Visitors will find a garden house, a kid’s garden, and more. There is always something blooming year-round at Wing Haven.

12. CLT Airport Overlook 

Address: 7300 Airport Overlook Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208

For years, the CLT Airport Overlook has been an attractive sight for aviation enthusiasts to visit, watching large planes take off and land. Scheduled food trucks visit almost daily, and bringing the family for a fun and unique lunch is highly encouraged. 

By spring/early summer 2024, a brand new CLT Airport Overlook will be complete with picnic shelters, restrooms, and a parking lot. The previous overlook remains open until then. 

Restaurants in Charlotte NC

There are so many fantastic restaurants to enjoy we cannot list them all.  Here are some great places to eat while you are in the biggest city in North Carolina.

✅ Sea Level NC
Address: 129 E 5th St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Sea Level NC is a beautiful seafood restaurant with a fun, warm atmosphere located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. The restaurant only serves non-threatened species, including oysters, Maine lobster, and NC shrimp and grits. They also have a fabulous happy hour and a fantastic menu of Southern-inspired sides.

Outside Sea Level Restaurant

✅ Fin & Fino
Address: 135 Levine Avenue of the Arts #100, Charlotte, NC 28202

Do you love oysters? Head to Fin & Fino for the best oysters in Charlotte. They have 12 varieties of oysters served in any way, plus a menu of other delicious seafood dishes, sides, and more.

✅ Angeline’s
Address: 303 S Church St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Angeline’s is in Uptown Charlotte and presents a modern, contemporary take on fine-dining Italian style. Reservations are recommended.

Outside Angeline's Restaurant Entrance with outdoor seating in the background.

✅ Midwood Smokehouse
Address: 1401 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205

Midwood Smokehouse has a few locations spread out across Charlotte, and all are great places to get some mouthwatering barbecue. 

✅ Futo Buta
Address: 222 E Bland St, Charlotte, NC 28203

A unique Japanese ramen house with locally sourced ingredients. They consider themselves a “rock and roll” ramen shop, so you should expect an upbeat environment.

✅ Copper Modern Indian Cuisine
Address: 311 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203

Copper Modern Indian Cuisine is a vibrant restaurant with rich Indian flavors and traditional Indian dishes. Reservations are recommended.

Goan Prawn Curry

✅ Haberdish
Address: 3106 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205

A hip craft cocktail bar that also serves a fabulous menu of classic Southern favorites.

✅ La Belle Helene
Address: 300 S Tryon St, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28202

La Belle Helene is the definition of class and beauty. This gorgeous restaurant has high ceilings, chandeliers, and tile flooring to set the perfect classy ambiance for traditional French cuisine and craft cocktails. Reservations are recommended. It’s a fantastic place for brunch as well.

Beautiful quiche with greens on the plate

✅ Good Food on Montford
Address: 1701 Montford Dr, Charlotte, NC 28209

Good Food on Montford is a creative spot with a fun jumble of trendy dishes and great flavors. They have an incredible drink list and great outdoor seating.

✅ Noble Smoke
Address: 2216 Freedom Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208

An industrial-style barbecue restaurant with mouthwatering hickory smoked meats and Southern-style sides. 

✅ Peppervine
Address: 4620 Piedmont Row Dr, Suite 170B, Charlotte, NC 28210

Peppervine is an artistic, independent eatery that serves deliciously unique meals made with all locally sourced ingredients. They also have an extensive craft cocktail and wine list. Reservations are recommended on weekends.

​​Where To Stay in Charlotte NC

📍Homewood Suites By Hilton Charlotte Uptown First Ward – The Homewood Suites by Hilton in Charlotte is a classy yet inexpensive place to stay during your visit, and located in Uptown Charlotte. The clean, modern-style rooms have everything you might need to be comfortable during your stay, and the friendly hotel staff is always there to help. Guests of the Homewood Suites can also enjoy a gym, a bar/lounge, family rooms, and continental breakfasts. Pets are welcome with a small fee. 

📍AC by Marriott Charlotte – The AC by Marriott is a stunning hotel that puts you amongst all the high rises in Uptown Charlotte. Without breaking the bank, you can stay in gorgeous rooms with top-of-the-line furnishings and be just minutes away from favored Charlotte attractions and restaurants. Amenities at the AC by Marriott include access to the restaurant and bar, weekend brunch, access to the library and rooftop terrace, gym and fitness center, and more. Pets are welcome with a fee. 

📍The Westin Charlotte – The Westin is a classic hotel in Charlotte with a great location. The 700-room hotel has enough space for everyone and is always accommodating to each and every guest. As a guest, you can enjoy the clean and comfortable hotel rooms, buffet breakfast, snack bar/deli, restaurant and bar, and gym. Pets are welcome with a small fee.

📍The Ivey’s Hotel – The Ivey’s is a luxury hotel located in Charlotte’s city center. This stunning hotel will make you feel like royalty as you can stay in elegant rooms with premium bedding, marble bathrooms, chandeliers, and minibars; it’s just perfect for a romantic weekend or a solo getaway. Enjoy your stay with cooked-to-order breakfasts, visits to the restaurant and bar, and access to the snack bar/deli, gym, and terrace. Pets are welcome with a fee.

Biggest City in North Carolina: FAQs

📌 What is the biggest city in North Carolina by population?
Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina by population, with over 875,000 residents. Charlotte is also the 15th largest city in the United States.

📌 What are the three major cities in North Carolina?
The three largest cities in NC are Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro.

📌 Is Charlotte a bigger city than Raleigh?
Charlotte is a much bigger city than Raleigh, with almost double the number of residents.

📌 Which city is bigger, Winston-Salem or Greensboro?
Greensboro is slightly larger in land area and population than Winston-Salem.

📌 Which city is bigger, Raleigh or Greensboro?
Raleigh is only slightly larger than Greensboro in size. Raleigh also has a larger population.

📌 What is the longest highway in NC?
Highway 24 is the longest state highway in NC. The highway, known as “NC 24,” is 279.4 miles long and goes from Charlotte to Morehead City on North Carolina’s coast. 

Final Thoughts

Being North Carolina’s biggest city comes with big perks. Charlotte is a fantastic place to explore, with so much going on and so many activities that will keep you and your family busy for days. Book a trip to Charlotte to keep life adventurous! 

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