The New Year inspires a renewed spirit to accomplish goals. While you’ve probably settled on a fitness routine or entrepreneurial venture as your main focus, you should also consider factoring in adventure. Whether you attend a festival, take a hike or learn something new, the Queen City offers countless experiences for both the native and the newcomer.
Here are some suggestions to jump-start your year:
1.) Combine a romantic dinner with adventure at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Beginning in January, take your pick from three unique dining experiences being offered by the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
- Throughout the winter, enjoy four courses at the River’s Edge Craft Dinner. Plates uniquely off-menu are crafted to the taste profile of four different beer samples from local breweries including NoDa Brewing, Heist Brewery and Resident Culture, among more. Craft dinners will take place on Friday evenings in January, February and March from 6:15 – 9 p.m. for $60/person.
- Soar into a chef-crafted meal during Zipline and Dine, where you’ll be greeted with a three-course meal after flying along the WWC’s longest zipline, spanning 1,625 feet. You’ll have to traverse a series of ropes, bridges and platforms, but the culinary delights will make the adventure worth trying. Zipline and Dine runs $75/person from October – November.
- If you prefer water sports, Paddle to Table will offer the opportunity to flatwater kayak or stand-up paddleboard at sunset, followed by a short hike. Waiting at the end will be a chef-curated meal at the Ridge Pavilion, complete with craft beer and wine options. Dates TBA.
2.) Try a new fitness experience.
A traditional gym gets the job done, but switching up your workout may bring renewed energy to a fitness routine that’s become a chore. Charlotte’s boutique studios offer a range of activities to keep in shape, from aerial silks to rock climbing to cycling. Not sure which to try? Consider joining SweatNET, a local fitness venture aimed at introducing locals to new workouts.
If you prefer to supplement exercise with a reward, the brewery fitness scene may be a good place to start. Work for Your Beer provides a curated list of all available activities and associated information. Check out a full list of upcoming brewery fitness classes here.
Seeking a budget-friendly option? Consider joining a free STAX bootcamp on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. led by trainers Randy Moss and Emily Breeze.
3.) Plan a weekend road trip.
Charlotte’s proximity to nearby destinations provides the opportunity to take a quick weekend getaway. Dine at the river’s edge in downtown Greenville, sip craft beer in Asheville, enjoy world-class shrimp and grits in Charleston or take a scenic hike near Gatlinburg. No matter the destination, you’re only a 2-4 hour drive from home.
[Related: Nearby weekend getaways for every travel personality: Part I: The History Buff, the Romantic and the Beachgoer; Part II: The Tourist, the Culture-Seeker and The Sports Fan; Part III: The Adventurer and The Lake Lover]
4.) Give back to a local cause.
Explore your passions outside of work and align them with a local cause. SHARE Charlotte offers a list of over 400 local nonprofits, including their mission and ways to get involved.
Love animals? Check out the Humane Society of Charlotte. Passionate about education? Promising Pages may suit you. Want to ensure every child enjoys a memorable birthday, no matter their living situation? Consider Bright Blessings.
The SHARE Charlotte website will help you find a cause aligned with your interests to donate your time and talent.
5.) Take a class to learn or create something new.
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- Ever wish to take up self-defense? Learn the art of meditation? Familiarize yourself with blogging basics? Local startup SkillPop offers a range of instructor-led classes around Charlotte to build a community of inspired individuals connected through similar interests. Classes start at $25. Check out upcoming opportunities here.
- Learn the art of glass blowing at Hot Glass Alley on the third weekend of every month. Perfect for a date or friends’ night out, gaffers will lead guests through the process of creating a unique piece of art, from ornaments to paper weights. Experiences run $60+.
- Discovery Place Science provides instruction to create a wine rack, 3D-printed beer steins and wooden docking stations at Make and Mingle, an adults-only craft workshop. Each class includes light hors d’oeuvres, free parking and a complimentary beer/wine ticket. Pricing varies.
- If you’d prefer more adventurous education, take an archery lesson at Barefoot Archery. The 20-yard, 8-lane indoor range offers space to practice a new skill or refine a hobby. Lessons start at $25, including expert instruction and rental equipment.
6.) Shop local for Charlotte-centric finds.
Show your Charlotte pride this year with locally-produced clothing and jewelry. A few must-haves:
- The softest sweatshirt from Glory Days Apparel. $50.
- An iconic CLT hat from Girl Tribe Co. $32.
- An inspiring hand-stamped bangle from CLT Boutique. $20.
- A Charlotte crown tee from 704 Shop. $32.
- A Charlotte crop tank from CLT Find. $25.
7.) Enjoy the fresh air.
Charlotte’s moderate weather inspires many an afternoon spent outdoors. Walk the greenways or circle the U.S. National Whitewater Center trails for a light workout or head to a nearby mountain for a hike. Crowders Mountain sits only 40 minutes from Center City and the close proximity of the Blue Ridge Mountains welcomes a weekend trip.
Or, explore the city’s history outdoors. Charlotte Segway Tours offers guided rides through the historic neighborhoods, markets and museums. If you want to experience a piece of the city’s past, consider visiting the Reed Gold Mine about 30 minutes away.
8.) Get sporty.
Want to watch? Cheer on Charlotte’s professional sports teams all year round. Throughout the fall and winter, the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets both play Uptown, while the Charlotte Checkers play at Bojangles Coliseum just a short drive outside of the city. Watch the Charlotte Knights compete near Romare Bearden Park in the spring, complete with Friday night fireworks.
Want to participate? Try your hand at driving a NASCAR race car by yourself for a five-minute timed racing session during the “Practice Experience.” $399.99. If you enjoy the speed but would rather watch from the passenger seat, you may enjoy the “NASCAR Ride Along,” where you’ll ride shotgun for three laps with a professional racing instructor. $99.99.
9.) Celebrate local history and culture.
Whether you’ve just moved to the city or are a seasoned Charlottean, the museums are a must-see. Observe stunning art at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art or the Mint Museum. Discover the history of the South since the Civil War in the Levine Museum of the New South and celebrate African American culture at the Harvey B. Gantt Center.
Once you’ve visited the museums, consider taking a tour. The Funny Bus combines humor and history for a scenic mobile tour around the city, and the Ghost Tours offer little-known stories about the Queen City’s past.
10.) Mark your calendar for local festivals.
Local culture comes alive during Charlotte’s yearly festivals. A few favorites include:
- Festival in the Park: Music, art and local vendors come together in Freedom Park for a three-day weekend festival during the fall. Sept. 20-22.
- Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade: Celebrate LGBTQ pride during the festival and parade throughout Uptown Charlotte at the end of summer. Aug. 17-18.
- Kings Drive Art Walk: Find unique pieces for your house or pick a present during this weekend art festival. May 4-5.
- Carolina Renaissance Festival: View knight battles and sample 16th-century fare at this iconic Charlotte event. Oct. 5 – Nov. 24.
- Yiasou Greek Festival: Traditional Greek food, music, and culture come to life during the festival, which began in Charlotte in 1978. Dates TBD.