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Hidden Gems to Visit in Charlotte North Carolina!

Updated: Jun 23

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Charlotte North Carolina
Charlotte North Carolina

A city that is fit for a queen and named for her. Charlotte, North Carolina, often known as the Queen City, has much more to offer than meets the eye. While it’s famous for being a banking hub and home to NASCAR, Charlotte is also brimming with hidden gems that will captivate the heart of any travel enthusiast, local explorer, or hidden gem seeker. This guide will uncover the city's less-known treasures, along with some popular ones too. From free activities and scenic parks to must-try food spots and unique paid experiences.

Whether you're a visitor or a resident looking to rediscover your city, this blog post will take you on an exciting journey through the hidden gems of the Charlotte area. Let's get started!

Hidden Gems in Charlotte, free Activities That Won't Break the Bank

Explore the Beauty of Freedom Park

Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Freedom Park is a beloved local spot that offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. This 98-acre park features a picturesque lake, walking trails, and playgrounds. Whether you're in the mood for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic, Freedom Park provides the perfect setting. The park also hosts several free live performances and events throughout the year, making it a vibrant hub of community activity. Plus, there is free parking. Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a great place to visit for a walk that connects to Freedom Park.

Admire the Art at Mint Museum Randolph

Did you know you can enjoy world-class art for free? The Mint Museum Randolph, located in a historic building, offers free admission every Wednesday evening. Wander through its diverse collection of American, European, and contemporary art. This is a perfect way for art lovers to spend an evening soaking in culture without spending a dime.

Hilton Sister Grave

Hilton Sisters Grave
Hilton Sisters Grave

I know this is a weird one, but I am always up for seeing something different, and cemeteries are some of my favorite places. Located in Forest Lawn West Cemetery on Freedom Drive, Conjoined Twins Violet and Daisy Hilton are buried after dying at the age of 60 from the flu. Born in Britain, and they were sold by their mother to a lady that worked in a pub, who started to earn money by showing them off. They crossed the pond and started performing with the circus. Violet could play the saxophone and Daisy played the Violin. They could even tap dance. In the early 1960s their tour manager abandoned them in Charlotte. Knowing they didn't have any money they went to work at a grocery store. They share a grave with friend Troy Thompson, his name marks the tombstone, but there is a marker located on the side with the Hilton sister's name. The simplest way to find it is to look for the funeral home on a small hill in the cemetery. You can go inside, and they will help you, or you can drive straight and pass the first section of plots, then take the first right after passing an island with 2 trees on the left. Continue and follow the road until it curves, and in the middle of the curve the grave is 6 rows back, 2nd from the right.

A true hidden gem, these rocks were used by the Native Americans as a lookout area. Located in South Charlotte near Interstate 485. Take Rea Rd exit and go right, then take a right on Ballantyne Commons Parkway, then a right on Meadow Run Lane, then a Right on Elmstone Dr. If you are in a residential area, you are in the right place. This is a nice area to walk and look around. A sign in the parking area will point you in the right direction. Archeological evidence proved it was used by the Native Americans for many generations, up to 7,000 years. It is odd being that it is so close to the interstate.

Produce Clock 

East of downtown Charlotte on Pegram St. This is an outdoor clock with a second hand that makes 1 rotation a year, going over the fruits and vegetables that are seasonal at that time of year. It's just a cute little roadside attraction, but neat to see since it is free.

Clock near little Sugar Creek
Clock near Little Sugar Creek

Discover the Hidden Gem of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway

The Little Sugar Creek Greenway is an urban oasis that winds through the heart of Charlotte. This greenway is perfect for a bike ride, jog, or a simple walk. Along the way, you'll pass by beautiful gardens, serene water features, and various public art installations. It's a peaceful retreat right within the city and an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts.

Musical Parking Building

For a unique experience, near North College Street, on the South side of East 7th Street. Strange indeed but interesting to see and play. There are 36, 30-foot panels on the sides of the parking building that you can touch. When you touch them, they play music. Also, once an hour they play music for you.

A beautiful place to take a walk or have a picnic, the free admission garden is near Noda Arts District and even allows dogs if they are on a leash. Double check their website to make sure they are open to the public the day you would like to come, as they do close down to host weddings at the garden.

Paid Experiences Worth Every Penny

Take Flight at the Carolinas Aviation Museum now known as the Sullenberger Aviation Museum

For those willing to spend a few dollars, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum offers an exhilarating experience. Explore a vast collection of aircraft and aviation artifacts, including the famous "Miracle on the Hudson" plane. Interactive exhibits and flight simulators make this a must-visit for aviation enthusiasts of all ages.

Elevate Your Adventures at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Get your adrenaline pumping at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. This outdoor recreation facility offers a wide range of activities, including whitewater rafting, zip-lining, rock climbing, and mountain biking. With day passes available, and many outdoor activities, you can indulge in multiple adventures in one visit. It's an exciting way to connect with nature and challenge yourself.

Immerse in History at the Billy Graham Library

Step into the life and legacy of one of the most influential figures in modern history at the Billy Graham Library. This immersive experience includes multimedia presentations, personal memorabilia, and reconstructed settings from Billy Graham's life. For a modest entry fee, you'll gain a deeper understanding of his work and impact on the world.

Other places to visit include:

Catawba Two Kings casino
Catawba Two Kings Casino
  • Catawba 2 Kings Casino- about an hour drive from Charlotte, in Kings Mountain NC. You know I love to gamble. Here is a YouTube video of one of my casino videos from Catawba 2 Kings. Here is a video of my favorite machine at Catawba 2 Kings Casino. Mayan Kings

  • Carowinds (ride the roller coasters) On the SC border, the park is on the line of Fort Mill SC and Charlotte, NC

  • Nascar Hall of Fame Located in uptown, racing enthusiasts love this place. I went and thought it was neat, lots to learn and look at. 

  • Charlotte Motor Speedway Since we are talking about racing, take in a Nascar Race here. Actually, located north of Charlotte in Concord, they also have a drag racing section so you can watch more than Nascar here.

  • Bank of America Stadium Sports enthusiasts know this is the home to the Charlotte Panthers, so if you are here at the right time of year, go to a football game.

skyline from Truist Field a few years ago at a festival
skyline from Truist Field a few years ago at a festival
  • Truist Field- Located in uptown Charlotte, watch a baseball game. GO Charlotte Knights!!!! (My picture below is old, before Truist it was BB&T field, and this was at a beer festival, with live music at the ballpark). As you can tell you get breathtaking views of the Charlotte skyline.

  • The Fillmore, or Uptown Amphitheatre. (Go to a concert). This is one of the best places to see a show. Music lovers adore this place because there are several venues and a few bars and restaurants. There are so many music venues in Charlotte that I have written a blog just on that. To read it click here.

  • Olde Mecklenburg Brewery-Old Yancey Rd. German Brewing at its best and has won several awards. Captain Jack and Copper are my favorites. This place is great to sit outside on their property and people watch. Lots of tables, music, and dog friendly. During the Christmas Season there is a Christmas market located here on the weekends. There are several other breweries on the same street that you can check out too. check out Brewer's at 4001 Yancey,

  • District 57 is one of my favorite game rooms in Charlotte. This is not your typical game room. Check out THE GRID! There are 30 rooms with several challenges to compete in. Some are physical, some are mental, but great for a group of 4. If you have ever wanted to play games like you would see on the TV shows like "Big Brother '' or "Survivor" this is the closest you will get to it. These rooms are timed, and if you are anything like my group, we didn't even get through half of them, but it was so much fun.

Scenic Spots That Will Take Your Breath Away

Relish the Serenity at Romare Bearden Park

From the botanical gardens
From the botanical gardens

One of the city's hidden gems, Romare Bearden Park, named after the famous Charlotte-born artist, is a downtown oasis that offers stunning views of the city skyline. The park features beautifully landscaped gardens, interactive fountains, and art installations. It's a perfect place to relax, enjoy a book, or watch the sunset over the city. This is a great park in the middle of all the city life.

Escape to the Natural Beauty of McDowell Nature Preserve

If you're a nature lover, McDowell Nature Preserve is a hidden gem you won't want to miss. Located on the shores of Lake Wylie, just south of the city of Charlotte. This preserve offers hiking trails, fishing spots, and picnic areas. The tranquil environment and diverse wildlife make it an ideal escape for outdoor enthusiasts.

Find Tranquility at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Just a short drive from Charlotte, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a botanical paradise. Wander through lush gardens filled with a wide variety of plants, flowers, and ornamental grasses. The garden also features a stunning conservatory and a beautiful fountain display. It's a perfect spot for a peaceful retreat or a romantic stroll. This is one of my personal favorites, taking a stroll and enjoying beauty.

Best Food Spots That Cater to Every Palate

Savor the Flavors at Optimist Hall

Optimist Hall is a food lover's dream come true. This converted historic textile mill houses brick walls into a diverse array of food stalls, offering great options. Everything from gourmet burgers to authentic tacos. With its trendy industrial vibe and communal seating areas, it's an ideal spot to sample a variety of cuisines in one visit.

Delight in Southern Comfort at Mert's Heart and Soul

For an authentic taste of Southern soul food cuisine, head to Mert's Heart and Soul. This beloved eatery is a great spot, known for its mouth watering fried chicken, cornbread, and collard greens. The warm and welcoming atmosphere makes it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. DId you know that Mert’s was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives TV show on Food Network.

Indulge in International Delights at Lang Van

Lang Van is a hidden gem in Charlotte's culinary scene, offering some of the best Vietnamese food in the city. The extensive menu features a wide range of dishes, from Pho to Banh Mi (which are a good idea when visiting). The friendly staff and cozy ambiance make dining here a delightful experience.

Some of my other favorites include:

  • Mac's Speed Shop- BBQ/ American. With 3 locations, South Blvd, Near S. Tryon St, and Matthews, as long as you are on the south side of the city you are close to a location. My favorite items. Burnt Ends, Deluxe Devils (deviled eggs), and Hickory smoked pulled pork plate. Prices range from cheap to mid-range depending on what you get. One of the local favorites.

  • Duckworths-American. With 4 locations in Charlotte (South Park, Providence Rd, Johnston Rd, and Uptown), and 1 just outside Charlotte in the Huntersville area. My favorites are the Loaded Nachos, Fish and Chip, Flatbreads and Burgers. Prices range from Cheap to mid-range depending on what you get. Here is the link to a YouTube video of this place.

  • Sabor Latin Street Grill-Latin American. 8 locations all over Charlotte, so you will be close to one anywhere in the Queen city. Johnston Rd, Hawthorn Ln, Sharon Rd, Camden Rd, North College, South Tryon, JW Clay, North Davidson St. My favorites are the Arepas, Carne Asada Fries, Elote Loco, Empanadas, and of course any Taco. Prices are cheap, so you can eat more. lol Here is the link to my YouTube Video for Sabor

  • The Good Wurst Co.- Deli. Located on Central Ave, near Uptown in the Midwood Plaza area. My favorites are the Belgian Frites, Rueban and Pork Schnitzel and this is a cheap place to get great food.

  • Brazilian Eats and Treats,- Authentic Brazilian food. Locally owned and they have special's every day. One of my favorite hidden gems. Follow them on Facebook to find out the daily specials. Totally mind-blowingly amazing!!!!!!! Located on Johnson Road in south Charlotte. Here is the link to a YouTube video I made of this place.

  • Jasmines Chinese Buffet, Westinghouse Blvd. This is where I will probably catch some flack, but this is still my favorite Chinese buffet in Charlotte. Prices are right for lunch, and dinner may be more expensive, but sometimes they have crab legs on the buffet at night which will make the price even more. Sushi, Hibachi, and some of the best Crab Rangoon and potstickers I have ever eaten. Here is a link to the YouTube video I made about this place.

  • Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. This is a specialty Ice cream shop, and the prices are a tad more than basic Baskin Robbins but are so worth it. Located on Park Rd, Noda, Rea Rd, and Camden Rd. They also have locations in several US cities and have even started selling in grocery stores. My favorites are Boston Creme Pie, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries and Brandied Banana Brule. Side note, take a look at the local grocery store. (Publix and Harris Teeter for sure). Jeni's now has some of their flavors in the grocery stores. Here is the link to my YouTube video of my visit to Jeni's.

Amelie's Bakery-Desserts. Located at Carmel Commons on Pineville-Matthews Rd, Noda, Park Rd, and just outside of Charlotte in Rock Hill, South Carolina. If you have a sweet tooth this is the place to come. Prices are great, and they make sandwiches, salads, coffee, and tea. Some of the best things to purchase here are the Iced Chai Latte, Birthday Macaroon, mini pecan tart, and vanilla eclair. But honestly, I have never had a bad dessert here. Here is the link to a YouTube video I made of this place. Publix, as I mentioned just a second ago, it is a grocery store, but has the best deli. I highly recommend a Chicken Tender sub. You may think I am crazy for mentioning this, but they are the bomb!!!!!! Get them in several different ways too. My preference is regular with sub sauce or buffalo chicken tenders sub.


Charlotte, North Carolina, the heart of the south, is a vibrant city full of surprises, and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. From its serene parks and vibrant cultural spots to its diverse culinary delights, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you're exploring the city for the first time or rediscovering it as a local, these hidden gems will add a touch of magic to your adventures.

Ready to uncover more hidden gems and make the most of your time in Charlotte? Explore our blog for more travel tips and insider guides. And don't forget to share your favorite finds with us! Happy exploring!

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N Whitt
N Whitt
08 abr 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

As someone who lives in the Charlotte area, I appreciate this blog for the variety of places you reviewed and how well you described each location...made me want to revisit some of the places you mentioned. I enjoy all your blogs, especially your travel tips!

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