With popular museums, fun restaurants, and a vibrant city center, Charlotte is a little slice of the South with a whole lot going on for a family vacation. The best part? You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a rip-roaring good time. Stretch your dollar further on your next vacay with some stops at these budget-friendly Charlotte attractions.
Feed the Fam
Hey, a family’s gotta eat, right? Belly up at one of these Charlotte restaurants for food the whole family is sure to love.
If you’re hankering for some comfort food, head to Midnight Diner. Open 24/7 — no surprise there — this retro spot is a Charlotte favorite. You can expect a line, but at least it moves quickly. Try the chicken and waffles or the famous shrimp and grits for a taste of the Deep South.
Peruvian food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you’re headed to Charlotte, but after you visit Viva Chicken, you just might change your way of thinking. When you show up here, you have to try something new, like the Inca Wrap for lunch or the Alfajores for dessert.
Vacationing in the South calls for plenty of down-home comfort food. Find some of the best at Terrace Cafe. Head to one of the two Charlotte locations for an award-winning breakfast, or try the blue crab hushpuppies and fried chicken off the dinner menu.
Fun for All
Charlotte is chock-full of attractions that the whole family will love. Get a good night’s sleep because you’ll need all the energy you can get if you want to see how many of these spots you can cross of your list.
Get face-to-face with a T-Rex, see a fiery show, or create something new — all at Discovery Place. This STEM-focused museum is hands-on and appropriate for all ages. Join the email list to save 10 percent off admission.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens
If you’re ready for a break from being busy — and who isn’t? — head to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. Located on 380 acres, the gardens offer sparkling fountains, nature trails, and a conservatory with beautiful plants, making it a good place to relax and enjoy the view.
Got any history buffs in your crew? Don’t miss a trip to the Latta Plantation. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former working plantation is a place to see history come alive with a reenactment of early settler life. Take a guided tour of the grounds, and then plan on taking a hike on the surrounding Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. Children five and under get in free.
Carolinas Aviation Museum
The Carolinas Aviation Museum gives you an interesting look at a collection of civil, commercial, and military aircraft. Enjoy interactive exhibits, learn aviation history, and see a variety of helicopters and planes, including the famed “Miracle on the Hudson” plane.
Carolina Raptor Center
So, you thought a raptor was a dino? Once upon a time, that was true. These days, the Carolina Raptor Center is the place to see eagles, vultures, hawks, falcons, and owls — otherwise known as birds of prey. Located within the Latta Nature Preserve, the center puts on a flight show with live raptors. When you’re done, hit the Raptor Trail and learn a few new things at each exhibit along the way.
If you want a little escape without leaving uptown, head to The Green. This fun city park has a literary theme, so don’t be surprised to find a variety of clever sculptures, game board paths, and signs featuring author names — all contained in one awesome creative space. Visit to catch a play, enjoy the landscape, or let the kids splash in the fish-themed fountain.
Charlotte is an ideal spot to make some lasting family memories with a southern stamp of approval. For more family fun, check out this guide to Charlotte’s must-see museums.