Founded before American independence in 1768, Charlotte, North Carolina, was named for King George’s wife. That’s how it became known as the Queen City. Despite its rich history, today Charlotte is well known for its modern metropolitan feel. It’s a city prized for its energy, diversity and character.
As one of the fastest-growing destinations in the U.S., Charlotte has plenty to do and see for group travelers. The broad range of attractions and destinations ensures that everyone from lovers of the arts to the most avid sports fans will be delighted with the Queen City.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
At the NASCAR Hall of Fame, groups can learn about the history of one of America’s most exciting sports. The facility, which opened in 2010, aims to honor the sport and its icons with its collection of artifacts and interactive exhibits. Since Charlotte is somewhat of a hub for NASCAR and racing culture, the Hall of Fame is just the first stop on some of the city’s racing-themed tours.
“We can’t talk about Charlotte without talking about the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” said Chacara Harvin, travel trade marketing manager at the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
Groups can take a guided tour of the Hall of Fame for an inside look at NASCAR and then stop by its Pit Stop Café for some lunch. When they’re finished touring the Hall of Fame, groups wanting to see even more of the local racing scene can also check out the Charlotte Motor Speedway just outside the city or stop at one of the many NASCAR shops in the Charlotte area.
Billy Graham Library
The Queen City is the hometown of Billy Graham, the late evangelist and prominent public figure whose influential message inspired millions around the world. The Billy Graham Library, built on the grounds of Graham’s childhood home, opened to the public in 2007. Today it serves not only as a tribute but also as a continuation of his crusade and a way to experience his message even after his death.
Groups can take a tour of the property and see the barn-shaped library building reminiscent of Graham’s upbringing on a dairy farm. In the library, multimedia presentations and artifacts showcase Graham’s life and mission. Graham’s beautifully restored childhood home is open for visitors to tour as well. Groups can choose from a selection of cafe food and ice cream at the Dairy Barn, on the property. They can also elect to take the Hometown Tour, which showcases parts of Charlotte that are relevant to Graham’s life.
“You’re also getting a glimpse of Charlotte, as well as a deeper understanding of Billy Graham and his impact in the Charlotte area, as well as the world,” said Harvin.
Funny Bus Comedy City Tour
For groups looking for a side of entertainment with their sightseeing, the Funny Bus Comedy City Tour is an excellent choice. Visitors can take a guided tour around the city on the Funny Bus, which serves as a mobile comedy club and provides a great blend of information about the city and humor. Each tour is led by a comedian that performs stand-up, improv and more while highlighting Charlotte’s history, important landmarks and key attractions in the area.
The Funny Bus offers both a PG-13- and an R-rated version of the tour. Groups large and small can be accommodated on the bus, and guests may bring their own beer or wine to sip while they enjoy the show. The tour lasts about 90 minutes, with a break halfway through for refreshments.
Levine Center for the Arts
Charlotte is brimming with arts experiences and museums for visitors, making it a wonderful place for lovers of art and culture to explore. The Levine Center for the Arts is a hub for the arts in uptown Charlotte and is home to several art museums and performing-arts venues. With the Levine Center for the Arts Pass, visitors are given access to three of the city’s most famous museums for two days: the Mint Museum, which features two locations in Charlotte; the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture; and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.
Groups can peruse all three of these museums in uptown Charlotte at their own pace. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art features artwork from many prominent movements during the 20th century, including some of Pablo Picasso’s work. Inside the uptown location of the Mint Museum, visitors can view a more recent collection of modern art and dine in the newly opened, luxurious restaurant Mariposa. At the Harvey B. Gantt Center, named for Charlotte’s first African American mayor, groups can view artwork surrounding Black culture and heritage in the Charlotte area, as well as the building’s unique architectural features.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Travelers looking for outdoor recreation will find it at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. It’s home to the largest man-made whitewater river in the world, as well as 1,300 acres of trails and outdoor space for visitors to explore. Since its opening in 2006, the center has been providing a variety of unusual outdoor activities for all who visit. It also serves as a venue for festivals, movies and concerts.
Groups can grab a day pass to participate in one of the center’s many activities, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, canopy tours and zip lining. Visitors looking to get their steps in and connect with nature can do so on the center’s 30 miles of scenic hiking trails. One of the center’s more unusual attractions is the solo deep-water rock-climbing complex, where visitors can climb without a harness over a deep-water pool.
“That’s the first of its kind in the world,” Harvin said of the complex.
Visitors can round out their day of fun at the center with a treat from one of the on-site vendors or food trucks and a trip to the outfitters store.