Looking for Museums in Charlotte NC?
Charlotte, North Carolina, is the largest city in the Carolinas and the 15th largest in the United States. This modern-day metropolis has art, cultural diversity, and history right around every corner, as well as within its many museums.
Charlotte has a long-standing history that starts in the 1500s but really kicks off when the city was founded in 1768. It wasn’t until 1936 that the city’s first museum was opened (The Mint Museum Randolph), and many more soon followed.
If you are here in Charlotte on a vacation or simply visiting the area, there are so many museums and historical areas worth visiting that would tie any trip together. Charlotte has everything from kids’ museums to history and art museums.
Museums in Charlotte NC
Charlotte holds some of North Carolina’s top-rated museums with topics that spread from science to race cars to history, art, music, and more.
In the article below, we’ve compiled a list of all the museums in Charlotte you don’t want to miss. Museums are a great indoor activity for those cold or rainy days!
1. Discovery Place Science
Address: 301 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
Discovery Place Science is a beloved museum and exploration center that opened in Charlotte in 1981. This exciting place holds something for everyone, including hands-on experiences for adults and children. The museum also has popular live shows that share thrilling science experiments, animal and reptile shows, and more.
Last but not least, guests can’t leave Discovery Place Science without checking out the IMAX theater, a fully immersive 79’ diameter screen using laser technology that brings larger-than-life movies right to you. Catch movies on topics like the solar system, planetarium, Antarctica, and more.
2. NASCAR Hall of Fame
Address: 400 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28202
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is one of the most popular museums in the Piedmont region. This huge center commemorates stock-car racers from the past and present, as well as displays historical stock cars, interactive exhibits, and a theater.
Guests can take guided tours of the facility, enjoy iRacing simulators, and hear never-before-told stories from NASCAR drivers themselves. Most visitors spend an average of two to three hours exploring the museum.
On average, visitors spend two to three hours exploring the museum, but for racing enthusiasts, time can easily slip away as they explore. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is not just a museum; it’s an immersive journey through the heart and soul of stock car racing, making it a must-visit destination for anyone with a passion for speed, competition, and the legends of the sport.
3. The Mint Museum Uptown
Address: 500 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
The Mint Museum Uptown can be found in the very heart of Charlotte. This famous museum is a five-story 145,000 square-foot center that has a wide variety of exhibitions, including American contemporary art, European art, architecture, a 240-seat auditorium, art studios, and more.
The Mint Museum also holds special events like free art kit days, museum tours, yoga, and meet the artist events. Free admission to the Mint Museum is every Wednesday from 5-9 p.m.
4. The Mint Museum Randolph
Address: 2730 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28207
The Mint Museum is an elegant art museum that holds an important stance in Charlotte’s history. The Randolph location opened in 1936 as North Carolina’s very first art museum.
The museum has intimate art galleries with ancient American art, ceramics, pottery, European and African art, and more. There is also a large library with over 18,000 volumes, including screenplays, poetry, and lectures.
5. Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Address: 420 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
The Bechtler Museum is a stunning 36,5000 square-foot building designed by Mario Botta, a famous Swiss architect.
The four-story building holds space for the mid-20th century and modern-day art from around the world. Exhibits include Japanese art, paintings of all kinds, sculptures, pottery, and more.
What sets the Bechtler Museum apart is its dedication to bridging cultures and eras through art. Visitors embark on a journey that transports them through decades of human creativity, offering a profound glimpse into the evolution of artistic expression.
6. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
Address: 300 E 7th St, Charlotte, NC 28202
ImaginOn is an immersive, unique youth center that has been ranked the number one children’s library in the country. The library has multiple reading spaces, including a teen center and one for kids under 11. There are also two primer theaters, multi-use classrooms, a multimedia production center, and an interactive area for everyone to enjoy.
7. Discovery Place Nature
Address: 1658 Sterling Rd, Charlotte, NC 28209
Discovery Place Nature is a kids-oriented education center with interactive exhibits and learning experiences. The center features a large outdoor exhibition set up for imaginative play, an easy-going nature trail, a butterfly pavilion, an insect alley, and more.
Live shows and demonstrations like animal shows, puppet shows, and star shows also take place at Discovery Place Nature that everyone of all ages can enjoy. Tickets are just $8 for everyone and free for kids two and under.
8. Museum Of Illusions Charlotte
Address: 601 S Tryon St Suite. 138, Charlotte, NC
The Museum of Illusions offers visitors a mind-bending and interactive journey through a world of perspective-altering rooms, astonishing installations, and mind-boggling images. It’s an ideal destination for anyone seeking engaging and mind-refreshing fun.
This unique museum chain stands out as a one-of-a-kind experience where reality is continually challenged, and creativity knows no bounds. Most visitors typically spend anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours exploring the museum, immersing themselves in its captivating illusions and optical wonders.
Children aged four and under can enjoy the experience without the need for tickets, making it a family-friendly destination for all to enjoy.
9. The Charlotte Museum of History
Address: 3500 Shamrock Dr, Charlotte, NC 28215
The Charlotte Museum of History, situated on a picturesque eight-acre historical site, boasts an array of engaging exhibits that illuminate the rich history of Charlotte and the Piedmont region. With a mix of six rotating and permanent exhibits, visitors can embark on a captivating journey through time.
On the museum’s grounds, history comes to life with the presence of the 1774 Alexander Rock House and its accompanying homesite. Guided tours allow visitors to explore these remarkable historical artifacts, gaining a deeper understanding of the past.
Furthermore, visitors can take self-guided tours of the historic grounds, allowing them to immerse themselves in the ambiance of the Rock House, Mecklenburg County’s oldest home, as well as its surroundings. It’s an opportunity to step back in time and connect with the fascinating history that has shaped Charlotte and the Piedmont region.
10. The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
Address: 551 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
The Harvey B. Gantt Center is an art and history museum that celebrates the contributions of African-American art and culture while also serving as a community center for art, music, dance, performances, education, and community outreach. There are many fascinating rotating and permanent art exhibits and live events that happen throughout the year.
11. Levine Museum of the New South
Address: 401 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
The Levine Museum of the New South predominantly focuses on social, racial, and economical inequality not just in the South but in various cities and places both around the country and abroad.
You’ll also learn about some of Charlotte’s history and historical figures who made contributions to the community. The museum covers a range of Southern-related topics presented through photographs, articles, speeches, films, and more to inspire a better future. Admission to the Levine Museum of the New South is free.
12. The Light Factory
Address: 700 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
The Light Factory is a community-building photography center that uses film and photography to build a more creative and explorative community. The museum has multiple rotating exhibits and galleries, a dark room, a print lab, and a lighting studio open to the public.
13. Sullenberger Aviation Museum
Address: 4672 1st Flight Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208
The Aviation Museum was opened in 1992 to highlight and share the history of aviation. The museum is home to many model airplanes, including an exhibit on the award-winning “Miracle on the Hudson” passenger jet that landed safely on the Hudson River.
Guests can have an up-close look at model planes, commercial planes, helicopters, and military aircraft that have flown over decades.
The Sullenberger Aviation Museum is currently under renovation and will be closed until mid-summer 2024. They are working on pairing with the Carolinas Aviation Museum and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport to include more STEM education and more exhibits.
14. Billy Graham Library
Address: 4330 Westmont Dr, Charlotte, NC 28217
Billy Graham was an internationally known religious leader who became popular in the 1940s. He was among the most influential Christian leaders in the 20th century, and he was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. The Billy Graham Library, a now historical site, is the site of Billy Graham’s house, library, and land.
The land shares the story of Billy Graham and how he went from being a humble farmer to an ambassador to share God’s love. There are 20 acres to explore that include art, farm animals, a prayer garden, the library, a cafe/bookstore, and more.
Museums near Charlotte NC
Many of the communities surrounding Charlotte also have some fascinating museums you don’t want to miss. Here are some you should put on your go-to list.
🏛️ Discovery Place Kids – Huntersville
Address: 105 Gilead Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078
Discovery Place Kids is a fun-filled museum that gets kids excited about learning and exploring. Discovery Place Kids is built on the idea of “I CAN,” so kids feel like they are included, playing safely with others and using their full imaginations.
The museum focuses on children ages 0-12, including a large interactive baby/toddler play area. Other exhibits include a play veterinarian exhibit, a play fire truck, a grocery store, a mock stock car racing center, a stage, arts & crafts, building centers, and lots more.
🏛️ Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium
Address: 1500 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054
The Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC, is a nature and history museum dedicated to inspiring visitors to engage more with the outdoors. The museum has vivid natural history exhibits and interactive outdoor and indoor exhibits for all to enjoy.
Some of these exhibits include the Catawba Indian Village, fossils, a Stone Age heritage site, a nature trail, a memorial wildlife garden, a farm with live farm animals, and the planetarium.
The Schiele Museum Planetarium is the second-largest planetarium in North Carolina. The massive science theater is unlike any other and is considered a “must-see” attraction when you’re in the area. The digital 360-degree screen fully immerses visitors in the night sky and the great universe.
Free planetarium shows fall on the second Tuesday of each month from 4-8 p.m. There are limited tickets, so be sure to get yours ahead of time.
🏛️ Latta Place Historic Site
Address: 5225 Sample Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078
The house serves as an exhibit to display what life was like for those who worked and lived on these grounds. Throughout the year, the property hosts a number of living history reenactments, summer camps, and school trips.
🏛️ Reed Gold Mine
Address: 9621 Reed Mine Rd, Midland, NC 28107
Right in Midland, North Carolina, just 19 miles from Charlotte, is the Reed Gold Mine, the site of the first documented gold find in the United States.
Visitors can explore the area, check out the visitors center, pan for gold in the creek, and take tours of the underground tunnels. Admission to visit the grounds is free.
There is a very small fee to take the guided tunnel tours and another small fee to pan for gold. Panning for gold is only allowed from April 1st through October 31st, weather permitting.
🏛️ President James K. Polk State Historic Site
Address: 12031 Lancaster Hwy, Pineville, NC 28134
This historic home marks the birthplace of the 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk. The site includes a log house, a kitchen, and a barn that have been recreated on the family’s land. There is also a cemetery where much of the Polk family is buried.
Tours are available to see the grounds and learn more about the history. There are also many living historical demonstrations, cooking classes, guided field trips, and more. Admission is free to visit, with a small fee to join a tour.
🏛️ North Carolina Music Hall of Fame
Address: 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd, Kannapolis, NC 28081
The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis, NC, is a fascinating non-profit museum with a mission to share and commemorate musicians and composers in North Carolina’s history.
Visitors are welcome to experience the legends that created beautiful music that influenced music as we hear it today. Admission is free, though donations are very appreciated.
🏛️ Hendrick Motorsports Museum
Address: 4425-4471 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd, Concord, NC 28027
The Hendrick Motorsports Museum is right around the corner from Charlotte, in Concord, NC. The museum, open since 1984, is the official museum and facility of Hendrick Motorsports, a 14-time championship winner in NASCAR’s premier division.
The museum has a fantastic display of Hendrick Motorsports’ history through old stock cars, photographs, and video. There is also a sizable gift shop with souvenirs, clothing, posters, and more. Visitors typically spend around one to two hours exploring the museum. Admission is free.
🏛️ Catawba Science Center
Address: 243 3rd Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28601
The Catawba Science Center in Hickory, NC, is a fun and educational science museum and learning place with hands-on activities and exhibits. The center features a large salt and freshwater aquarium, a state-of-the-art digital planetarium, a nano laboratory, an arts and crafts center, outdoor play areas, and more. The Catawba Science Center is open Wednesdays-Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Where To Stay in Charlotte, NC
📍The Ivey’s Hotel– The Ivey’s Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel that is less than 100 meters from the Mint Museum. Rooms at this gorgeous motel are complete with marble floors, Italian linens, mini-bars, and more. Guests have full access to the upstairs cocktail lounge and a delicious continental breakfast in the library lounge.
📍JW Marriot – If you are looking for a nicer stay for the family, the JW Marriot is the perfect option. This beautiful hotel is located in downtown Charlotte and within walking distance of The Mint Museum, Harvey Gantt Center, Discovery Place, and the Levine Museum of the New South. Guests have full access to the outdoor swimming pool, the sun terrace, a full bar and restaurant, and the spa and wellness center.
📍Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown – Embassy Suites is a modern museum less than one mile from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This hotel is a great stop for families, business trips, or solo trips to the city. Amenities at Embassy Suites include guests’ access to the indoor swimming pool, access to the fitness center, top-of-the-line continental breakfast, family rooms, and access to the full bar and restaurant.
Museums in Charlotte, NC: FAQs
📌 Is the Mint Museum in Charlotte free?
The Mint Museum in Charlotte has free admissions every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Otherwise, tickets are $15 for adults and $6 for kids.
📌 Does Charlotte have a planetarium?
There are multiple planetariums near Charlotte. Planetariums can be found nearby at the Catawba Science Center and the Schiele Museum.
📌Are there free museums in Charlotte?
The Levine Museum of the New South has free admission always. The Mint Museum, The Bechtler Museum, and the Gantt Center are all free on Wednesday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m.
📌What is the oldest skyscraper in Charlotte, NC?
The oldest skyscraper in Charlotte is the Independence Building, or the Independence Tower, which was built in 1909.
In conclusion, Charlotte, North Carolina, isn’t just a thriving metropolis; it’s a treasure trove of cultural gems waiting to be explored.
From the heart-pounding history at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to the rich artistic heritage of the Mint Museum Uptown and the mind-bending illusions at the Museum of Illusions, this city offers a diverse range of experiences for locals and visitors alike.
Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, an art aficionado, or someone seeking a bit of magic in your day, museums in Charlotte NC have got you covered.
So, next time you find yourself in the Queen City, make sure to step into these captivating worlds of knowledge, entertainment, and wonder. They’re more than just museums; they’re gateways to discovery and delight.
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