Charlotte, North Carolina is home to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the world’s seventh-busiest airport. That means there is a good chance you will have a layover in Charlotte at some point in your travels, perfect for an extended layover. We have put together our five favorite things to do in Charlotte during a layover.
Charlotte is also a perfect road trip destination when driving through the south or you are looking for a big city near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Charlotte is known for its NASCAR influence, diverse museums and green spaces dotting the city. Downtown Charlotte hosts many of its main attractions all within walking distance. Outside of the downtown area is the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
What to do in Downtown Charlotte Walking Map:
The best things to do in Charlotte in a long layover:
First Stop: NASCAR Hall of Fame
From the airport a 15-20 minute rideshare will cost around $15 to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. You can also take the inbound 5-Airport bus for $2.20 each way, but the ride will take closer to 30-35 minutes.
Any visitor to Charlotte must visit the 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame, the most popular attraction in the city. Your visit begins with a short video highlighting the history and spirit of the sport before heading up Glory Road for an up close view of the evolution of the racing cars and race tracks. Next up is the Hall of Honor to see the greatest names in NASCAR who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The second half of the NASCAR Hall of Fame focuses on an interactive look at race week preparations along with the chance for you to get behind the wheel in a racing simulator. If you have extra time, the top floor has extensive memorabilia from the last hundred years of racing.
How long does it take? People are welcome to spend as much time as they want. It can take from 1 to 3 hours, depending on how in depth you want your NASCAR experience. If you want to read every display and get hands on with each activity, it can take the entire day. For the purpose of this guide we will say the average is 3 hours.
Second Stop: The Green
The abundance of art and culture spills into the streets of Charlotte and its many green areas. The Green is a great spot to sit back and relax or enjoy one of the restaurants and bars flanking the park. The theme of the park is literature with popular words, stories and books built into the design and sculptures. Our favorite are the signs pointing to cities that make up the name of famous authors.
Third Stop: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
The downtown Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is dedicated entirely to mid-20th-century modern art. There are many significant artists in the collection representing a range of media representing similar themes. Even if you do not have time to see the whole museum, take a photo with the massive Firebird mosaic sculpture glistening in the sun.
Fourth Stop: Mint Museum
The Mint Museum actually has two locations in Charlotte, one in Downtown Charlotte and south in Randolph in a building that once housed the Charlotte Mint. The Randolph location is the first art museum in the entire state of North Carolina opened in 1936. The Mint Museum Uptown location houses both collections from the Mint Museum of Craft + Design along with some Contemporary Art, American Art and European Art collections, with a little bit of everything for its visitors to explore.
Good to Know Before You Go: Admission to Mint Museum Randolph and Mint Museum Uptown are both free on Wednesday evenings, from 5PM to 9PM.
How long does it take? People spend between 1 to 4 hours at the Mint Museum.
Fifth Stop: Romare Bearden Park
Take a stroll through Romare Bearden Park and enjoy its many waterfalls, fountains, sculptures and the foot operated Dance Chimes. The park holds events and concerts throughout the year, especially during the warmer months. Romare Bearden Park is the best spot in the city to see the skyline of Charlotte.
How long does it take? It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Depending on the timing of your layover in Charlotte, this can be a great spot to watch the sunset before heading back to the airport.
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