15 Things Charlotte is Known and Famous For

Charlotte is known for being the largest city in North Carolina. Although it is not the state capital, Charlotte’s population is nearly double in size. Famous for its sports, museums, and outdoor life, there’s always plenty to do. Charlotte is also the pimento cheese capital of the world.

Charlotte

So whether you’re checking out a Carolina Panthers game or spending the day kayaking at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, the city is undoubtedly a destination worth visiting.

Here are the many things that Charlotte is known for.

Sports in Charlotte

1. Charlotte Hornets

Basketball game

Charlotte is known for its NBA team, the Charlotte Hornets. Home games for the Hornets are played at the Spectrum Center in Uptown Charlotte. The team has been owned by basketball Hall-of-Famer Michael Jordan since 2010.

The Charlotte Hornets have a fascinating history. They were originally established in 1988 but were transferred to New Orleans in 2002. Then, a new team was created to represent Charlotte, the Charlotte Bobcats. They played between 2004-2013. But, in 2013, the New Orleans Hornets rebranded, bringing the Hornets name back home to Charlotte for the 2014 season.

The capacity at a Hornets game is 19,077, although it can be extended to seat roughly an extra 1,000. Some home games sell out, but many do give the opportunity to obtain a ticket last minute. So, if you ever find yourself in Uptown on game day, stop on by the Spectrum Center to get in on the action!

2. Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers players running onto the field. Editorial credit: Grindstone Media Group / Shutterstock.com

Charlotte is home to the Carolina Panthers, the Carolinas professional NFL team. They are supported as being the NFL team for both North and South Carolina.

If you want to catch a home game, it can be experienced at Bank of America Stadium, located in Uptown Charlotte. At full capacity, the stadium can seat a whopping 74,867 people. Be sure to get your tickets in advance, though. All home games have sold out since 2002!

The Panthers played their first game in 1995. They are one of four newest teams to join the NFL as an expansion team. Since then, they’ve made it to the Super Bowl twice but did not win either attempt at the title.

3. Charlotte Motor Speedway

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/may-28-2017-concord-nc-usa-651212332 Image Name: coca-cola-600 Caption: NASCAR drivers following pacer car before the Coca-Cola 600 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway
NASCAR drivers following a pacer car before the Coca-Cola 600 on the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Editorial credit: Grindstone Media Group / Shutterstock.co

Located 13 miles outside of Charlotte is the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Speedway is known for being Charlotte’s racing destination. In fact, it is also famous for being ‘America’s Home for Racing.’

NASCAR uses the 1.5-mile oval track for the Coca-Cola 600 and Bank of America Roval 400.

The Speedway offers several experiences that put you behind the wheel of an actual NASCAR race car or Indy car. How cool is that? If you don’t want to drive but still want the feel, you can always ride along with an expert.

Fun facts:

  • Several movies, including Days of Thunder, have been filmed at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
  • Depending on the event, the Speedway capacity is 94,000 – 171,000.
  • The Charlotte Motor Speedway is the only sports facility in the United States with condominiums that offer year-round living. The 50+ condos are high above the track, giving a great view from turn one. If you time your stay just right, you may be able to rent one of them out for a couple of nights.

Charlotte’s well-known attractions

4. NASCAR Hall of Fame

NASCAR Hall of Fame
Outside the entrance to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Editorial credit: ZikG / Shutterstock.com

Charlotte is famous for being home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The interactive museum honors NASCAR history through hands-on exhibits, artifacts, and a Hall of Honor.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame opened on 11 May 2010. Their goal is to honor drivers, team members, and owners of the sport’s past, present, and future.

Every year, three new members are inducted into the Hall of Fame out of 15 chosen hopefuls. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame means that one has excelled in the sport, and made significant strides and contributions.

Should you want to take a piece of memorabilia home with you, there is also a 5,800 square foot gear shop. Here, you can purchase jackets, hats, t-shirts, and more! If you’re not in the Charlotte area but still want some NASCAR merchandise, you can visit the online store and have your goodies shipped to your front door.

5. U.S. National Whitewater Center

Climbing wall at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
Climbing wall at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. The U.S. National Whitewater Center offers a variety of activities, from ziplining to kayaking. Editorial credit: Malachi Jacobs / Shutterstock.com

Charlotte is known for being the home of the U.S. National Whitewater Center. If you love the outdoors and adventure, you don’t want to skip a trip here.

Where else can you rock climb, whitewater raft, tipline, and hike all in one place? The 1300 acres of protected land even has a restaurant where you can refuel halfway through your day!

A full-access pass will get you into all the activities you want to try for the day. Another option is to purchase single activity passes if only a couple of things appeal to you. While there is a small parking fee, hiking the 50 miles of trails and relaxing can be done at no additional charge. If you’re into mountain biking, you can also bike the trails at no added cost.

A cool fact about the U.S. National Whitewater Center is it’s the site where the United States Olympic canoe and kayak trials were held.

6. Carowinds

Nighthawk Carowinds
Nighthawk, a rollercoaster at Carowinds in Charlotte. Nighthawk is a steel coaster with a top height of 115 feet and reaches 51 miles per hour. Editorial credit: Andrii Vodolazhskyi / Shutterstock.com

Amongst thrill-seekers, Charlotte is well-known for its amusement park, Carowinds. Although the park has a Charlotte address, part of it actually rests in South Carolina as well. It’s one of the only amusement parks where you can ride a coaster in two states at the same time!

Carowinds has 14 roller coasters, two of which make the Top 10 list of tallest coasters globally. Fury 325 is the tallest and the fastest ride in the park, sending riders rushing down a 325-foot first hill. And what’s a tall and fast roller coaster without having your arms up in the air the entire time?

The park also has a fair share of kid-friendly rides for those not quite tall enough to ride the big coasters. No matter what your age or adventure-seeking level, there’s something for everyone.

Attached to the park is a waterpark, Carolina Harbor, that has 13 water attractions. Admission to Carowinds also gets you into the waterpark. Be sure to wear a bathing suit under your clothes to quickly jump from one park to the other and get the best of both worlds!

7. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

A fountain located within Daniel Stowe Botanica Garden
A fountain located within Daniel Stowe Botanica Garden. The garden houses trails, a waterfront, fountains, and flowered areas.

Located just 14 miles outside of Charlotte’s city center is Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. The garden is 380 acres of lakefront land with beautiful rolling grasslands and wooded areas. Within the gardens are fountains, trails, an Orchid Conservatory, and flowered areas to enjoy as you stroll on through.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens have been recognized in several media outlets. HGTV recognized them as one of ‘20 Great Gardens’ in America, and USA Today named them one of the top places to visit as the seasons change to autumn.

If you’re into lessons, the garden offers gardening and landscaping classes as well as classes on pottery and herbs. School-aged children can grow their knowledge in topics including conservation, horticulture, and gardening.

8. CLT Airport Overlook

Plane taking off
A passenger jet taking off from the runway of an airport. Charlotte Airport Overlook offers a chance for an up-close view of planes taking off and landing.

If you’ve ever wanted to sit and watch jets take off and land, the Charlotte Airport is a great place to do it. An observation area is located just 250 feet from the nearest runway, giving you an up-close view that is wide open.

The observation deck has plenty of parking nearby and has a large grassy area to sit while viewing. Many people will bring a picnic and enjoy lunch while watching the planes for hours. Don’t forget to take some photos to show your friends just how near you were to the action!

With the aircraft being so close, it can get quite noisy. If you’re sensitive to sound, be sure to bring earplugs. Otherwise, sit back and have fun. Going to the observation park is free of charge!

Performing arts in Charlotte

9. Charlotte Ballet

Scene from Waltz of the Flowers from Nutcracker ballet
Performance of The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker is just one of the performances that you can see at the Charlotte Ballet.

Charlotte is known for the Charlotte Ballet. The Ballet is home to 28 professional dancers.

From October through May, they perform in six series productions in a 200-seat theatre. These range from the Nutcracker to more modern performances. You can see a lineup of the upcoming schedule on their website, Charlotte Ballet

The Charlotte Ballet offers a dance school for children and adults called the Charlotte Ballet Academy. All classes are taught by professional dancers and encourage creativity and individuality in the art of dance.

Famous museums in Charlotte

10. Hendrick Motorsports Museum

The #89 car of Donald Chisholm from the Maritime Pro Stock Tour
A racing stock car on display is just one of the things you’ll view when visiting the Hendrick Motorsports Museum. Editorial credit: Matthew Jacques / Shutterstock.com

If you love racing, Charlotte is definitely the place to be. Besides the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, you can also find the Hendrick Motorsports Museum.

The Hendrick Motorsports Museum is likely to be on any stock car racing fan’s wish list. The museum features trophy displays, a stock car display, and a shop to purchase merchandise.

Inside the team shop, you can experience a behind-the-scenes look as teams prepare cars for racing. How many people can say that?

11. Discovery Place

Outside of Discovery Place Science in Uptown Charlotte.
Outside of Discovery Place Science in Uptown Charlotte. Discovery Place Science is an interactive museum with hands-on exhibits. Editorial credit: Bryan Pollard / Shutterstock.com

Discovery Place is a series of educational museums in and around Charlotte. The museums focus on different areas such as science and nature. All museums are kid-friendly, so if you have little ones, you can’t go wrong no matter which one you choose!

Discovery Place Science is located in Uptown Charlotte. Its exhibits are hands-on to offer an interactive experience. At this museum, you can see live demonstrations, walk through a two-story rainforest, see live animal exhibits and enjoy an aquarium.

No matter when you plan your trip, you can enjoy one of the rotating exhibits. These are special exhibits that are only available for a limited time.   

Discovery Place Nature is located in Charlotte. Once called the Charlotte Nature Museum, it offers live animal displays and interactive exhibits. In addition, there is a butterfly garden, insects, and a variety of North Carolina’s native species.

The Nature Museum also offers day camps and birthday parties, giving kids a chance to play and learn. Don’t forget to take a walk through the surrounding forested nature trails during your visit!

Discovery Place Kids has two locations. The closest one is about 13 miles outside of Charlotte in Huntersville. The other is in Rockingham, which is just over an hour from Charlotte.

The Kids Museums have live shows along with interactive and themed exhibits. Learning through play is what they are all about. Creativity and curiosity are encouraged, giving your little ones a place to do just that.

If your kid has a birthday coming up, consider booking a party. You can even take advantage of the offered day camps.

12. The Mint Museums

Mint Museum

Charlotte has two Mint Museums that are known for their fine arts.

The Mint Museum Randolph is located in what was once the original branch of the United States Mint. It opened as North Carolina’s first fine arts museum in 1936.

When visiting the Randolph location, you can view collections of art ranging from paintings to ceramics. There’s also a reference library and a theater where you can see performances and lectures. While some exhibits are permanent, others are special and can only be seen for a short time.

The Mint Museum Uptown is a 145,000 square foot museum that spans over 5 floors. It is located in Uptown Charlotte and is part of a cultural campus known as the Levine Center for the Arts. The Uptown location is home to the globally recognized Craft + Design collection. It shows collections of contemporary art as well as American and European art.

When planning your visit to the museum, keep in mind that admission gets you into both locations. The only catch is that your ticket has to be used during two consecutive days.

Famous food from Charlotte

13. Pimento Cheese

A pimento cheese sandwich with chips.
A pimento cheese sandwich with chips. Pimento Cheese is a popular food item in Charlotte, often served on sandwiches, as a dip, or on top of fries.

Charlotte is known for being the leader in pimento cheese consumption in North Carolina. It is also the pimento cheese capital of the world.

Pimento cheese, also called the “caviar of the south,” is found on almost any restaurant menu in some form. From sandwiches to fries, the concoction is loved by many. In fact, the spread is so popular that local company, Ruth’s Salads, produces 45,000 pounds each week! Crazy, right?  

So, what is pimento cheese? It is a blend of either cream cheese and/or mayonnaise mixed with shredded cheddar and diced pimento peppers. You can add in some cayenne, garlic powder, or other seasonings, too, if you wish.

My personal favorite way that I’ve had it served? The Frito Bandito at Pinky’s Westside Grill. This delicious but totally unhealthy appetizer is Fritos with house-made pimento cheese. While I always add chili and bacon, there is a vegan option available.

14. Cheerwine

Glass bottles of North Carolina Cheerwine. 
Bottles of Cheerwine soda on a grocery store shelf. Cheerwine is a popular southern United States beverage that was started near Charlotte. Editorial credit: NTL Photography / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve never heard of Cheerwine, there’s a reason for that. It’s popular amongst the Carolinas but you’ll have difficulty finding the soda outside of the southeastern United States.

Cheerwine was first created in 1917, about 40 miles northeast of Charlotte in a city called Salisbury. The cherry-flavored soda was instantly popular in North Carolina.

In 2017, when the 100 year anniversary hit, the Carolina-famous beverage got its own festival in celebration of the milestone. It was such a success that Salisbury now hosts a yearly Cheerwine festival. Over 60,000 people attend each year. At the event, you can find foods, beverages, and crafts inspired by the beloved beverage.

Well-known people from Charlotte

15. Charles Moss Duke Jr.

Rocket launching into space.
Rocket launching into space. Charles Moss Duke Jr. was part of Apollo 16 and the 10th person to walk on the moon.

Charles Moss Duke Jr. is an American astronaut that was born in Charlotte in 1935. He is known for being the tenth person to walk on the moon and the youngest. He accomplished the Apollo 16 feat at the age of 36 years old.

Additionally, he was also known for being a test pilot and an officer for the U.S. Air Force.

Duke Jr. currently lives in New Braunfels, Texas. He serves as Chairman on the Board of Directors of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Conclusion

Is there anything else that Charlotte is famous for? Add on to this list in the comment box below!

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