Jul 7, 2023 - Things to Do

40 best indoor activities when it’s miserable outside in Charlotte

Rally indoor courts.

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Whether it’s too hot, cold or rainy, this is the guide for you.

Here’s a list of 40 things to do inside in Charlotte to escape the elements, listed in no particular order.

Editor’s note: This guide was last updated in July 2023.

Grab your pickleball paddles

Check out Charlotte’s new indoor/outdoor pickleball bar, restaurant and cafe, Rally, located in LoSo.

  • Court reservations can be made five days in advance for up to eight people for a 90-minute session. Equipment, such as paddles and pickleballs, are included in your reservation, as is access to a players’ lounge.

Go deeper: Pickleball restaurant and bar with 8 courts opens in LoSo

Rally's indoor courts.
Rally’s indoor courts. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Go to the Museum of Illusions

The Museum of Illusions in Uptown includes more than 60 interactive exhibits that play different visual tricks on your mind. You’ll find holograms, optical illusions and plenty of Insta-friendly exhibits. Carve out 45-90 minutes to walk through the exhibit.

Go deeper: 5 takeaways from my visit to Charlotte’s Museum of Illusions

Museum of illusions
Laura laid down on the floor to get this epic pic. Photo: Clayton Sealy/Axios

Grab a scoop of ice cream, or two

There’s nothing like a scoop of ice cream on a hot day. Here are 25 options to choose from.

Coffee toffee in a sprinkle covered waffle cone at The Local Scoop's Parktowne Village location. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Coffee toffee in a sprinkle-covered waffle cone at The Local Scoop in Parktowne Village. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Play indoor putt-putt

Head to one of Charlotte’s indoor putt-putt spots like The Puttery in South End or Stroke in Plaza Midwood for a round of golf and cocktails.

  • The Puttery offers two courses, each with a signature drink menu.
  • Stroke is a little more intimate with one putt-putt course and a mid-century modern lounge.

Go deeper: 7 takeaways from my first time at Puttery, Charlotte’s cool new mini-golf bar

Stroke Putt, 1318 Pecan Ave Suite 101
Stroke in Plaza. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Test your swing even further

If mini-golf’s not your thing but you still want to practice your swing, you might want to head to one of two TopGolf locations in Charlotte.

Details: The TopGolf University City is located at 9110 Drivers Way.

Go deeper: Where to take your parents when they visit Charlotte

Topgolf University City
Photo: Axios archives

Play old-school and some new-school games

Super Abari, a nearly 5,000-square-foot game bar and arcade, has 35 pinball machines, 60 arcade games and a massive Nintendo Game Boy, plus a bar and a “living room” lounge area.

  • Of note: You must be at least 21 years old to visit, except on Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5pm when all ages are welcome.

Go deeper: Highly anticipated bar-cade opens in Belmont

Super Abari Belmont
Photo: Axios archives

Go duckpin bowling

Duckpin bowling has proven to be all the rage in recent years. Pins Mechanical Co. and Slingshot in South End, and Pinhouse in Plaza Midwood are all great spots for a game with friends.

Pins Mechanical Co. South End
Photo: Axios archives

Pet some cats and drink some coffee

Calling all cat lovers! You can hang out with adoptable cats at Mac Tabby Cat Cafe in NoDa for 30 or 60-minute time slots.

  • They also have a small cafe area (totally separate from the cat room for sanitation regulations) where you can grab baked goods, coffee or kombucha. 
Cats asleep at Mac Tabby Cat Cafe.
Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Test your detective skills at an escape room

You don’t need to leave Charlotte to find a daring adventure. Here are a few nearby escape rooms to check out:

Timed Out Escape Room Ballantyne
Photo: Axios archives

Sing your heart out

Invite your friends and rent one of Seoul Food Meat Co.‘s private karaoke rooms. Of course, if your goal is to not remember ever hitting the stage at all, Jeff’s Bucket Shop’s basement karaoke operation on Montford is the place for you.

Seoul Food Meat Co.
Each karaoke booth at Seoul Food Meat Co. in Optimist Park is themed in a different color. They fit around 25 people comfortably. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Hit the race track

Victory Lanes Karting has an indoor go-kart track (each race is eight minutes long), axe throwing, an arcade, a virtual reality space and bowling.

Details: Victory Lanes is located at 2330 Tipton Drive.

It’s open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Fridays 11am-midnight, Saturdays 10am-midnight and Sundays 10am-7pm.

Embrace your inner American ninja warrior

Ninja Nation Huntersville is an 11,500-square-foot arena with several obstacle courses complete with bars, boxes and platforms that are frequently re-arranged to keep guests on their toes. You can race against friends on two-lane courses or on the warped wall.

Go deeper: Indoor obstacle course arena called Ninja Nation now open in Huntersville

Ninja Nation Huntersville
Photo: Axios archives

Go shopping at SouthPark Mall

It’s the largest mall in the Carolinas with a footprint of more than 1,750,000 square feet with brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Plus ZARA will open a store there by 2025.

Go deeper: SouthPark’s personal shopper will help transform your wardrobe, no matter your budget, age or lifestyle

Neiman Marcus SouthPark
Neiman Marcus at SouthPark mall. Photo: Axios archives

Unleash your inner lumberjack

Try axe throwing to escape the heat.

Pro Tip: If you’re struggling, use both hands and throw from over your head. 

Here are a few axe-throwing spots in the area:

Bad Axe Throwing
Photo: Axios archives

Take an adult arts & crafts class

Check out Wine + Design on East Boulevard for a guided painting experience.

Wine + Design painting. Photo: Axios archives

Rock climb to new heights

Head to Inner Peaks, an indoor climbing center with locations in Matthews and South End. It’s a perfect date activity since it requires two people and serves as a way of building trust.

Bonus: Members can bring a first-time climber for free any day of the week.

Go deeper: What to know on your first trip to Inner Peaks, the indoor climbing wall in South End

Photo: Axios archives

Laugh until it hurts

Catch a wide range of comedians at The Comedy Zone — from national to local names. If you’re open to some light roasting, try to close to the stage.

Comedy Zone
Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Become a scientist for a day

Head to Discovery Place Science, a hands-on Uptown museum. And catch an IMAX® movie there too.

Discovery Place Science
Photo: Axios archives

Hunt for antique treasures

Check out Sleepy Poet, or one of these five other second-hand furniture stores in the area to get some unique decore for your home.

Go deeper: Beloved antiques destination Sleepy Poet opens new location, investing $5M

Photo: Axios archives

Jump and fly through the air

Big Air Trampoline Park has it all — A ninja-warrior course, trampoline basketball, interactive dodgeball courts, a massive foam pit and one-on-one jousting.

Play all day at a local social house

Queen Park Social and Piedmont Social House are adult playgrounds without the hokeyness of a place like Dave & Buster’s. You’ll find lots of indoor entertainment like bowling, pool, darts, ping-pong, plus board and arcade games. They’ve also got full-service kitchens and bars.

Bonus: A new private social club called Intown Golf Club recently opened in SouthPark. There’s currently a waitlist to join the club, but they release a handful of memberships each month. 

Go deeper: Private social club Intown Golf Club opens in SouthPark

InTown golf club
There are eight bays with golf simulators featuring 250 courses from around the world. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Get lost in a book at your local library branch

Reserve a book online in advance or just explore the racks at your local library.

Go deeper: Demolition of the old main library building Uptown begins soon

Cool off on the ice

Head to Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail and figure skate during their public-skate periods.

  • Admission is $15 Monday-Sunday or $20 for a day pass.
  • Skate rentals are $3 plus tax per person.

Channel your inner Robin Hood

Stop by Barefoot Archery and test your archery skills at this 20-yard, eight-lane USA Archery-approved range. 

Expand your child’s imagination and creativity

ImaginOn, a 102,000-square-foot facility located in Uptown is visited by over 300,000 each year. It includes two theaters, a library for kids age 11 and under, a library for teens, a multimedia production studio, multi-use classrooms and an interactive exhibit area.

Go deeper: 20+ family-friendly activities to check out this summer in Charlotte and beyond

Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Go nuts inside a massive 20-acre amusement park

The 84,000-square-foot indoor portion of Frankie’s Fun Park in Huntersville has 24 bowling lanes, a restaurant, bar, laser tag, a three-story playground, a ride that drops 30 feet, LED-illuminated bumper cars and a massive arcade.

Of note: Entry to the park is free. You pay for the activity you choose.

Go deeper: Frankie’s Fun Park, where Disney World-like attractions meet Las Vegas vibe

Photo: Axios archives

Watch games and eat wings at a sports bar

Here’s our guide to the 29 best sports bars in Charlotte. Hungry for wings? We’ve got you covered with Charlotte’s best wing spots.

Photo: Maxwell Millington/Axios

Explore a museum

Check out Charlotte’s history and more at one of our museums or art galleries. Here are a few:

Go deeper: New Mint Museum exhibit highlights Charlotte’s Black artists and collectors

Charlotte museum unveils new name for famed Captain Sully

The Wall of Eyes in "The Vault" at the Mint Museum Uptown.
“The Vault” at the Mint Museum Uptown is on view through Sept. 17, 2023. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Shoot your shot at an indoor shooting range

Blackstone Shooting Sports includes a 27-lane indoor shooting range. It’s open daily.

Stuff yourself at brunch

Charlotte doesn’t mess around when it comes to brunch. From classics like 300 East to breweries like Suffolk Punch to fancy spots like La Belle Helene, here are the 30 best brunch spots in our city, right now.

Breakfast pizza at 300 East. Photo: Ted Williams/Axios

Grab a pint at a brewery

Charlotte loves local breweries. Here’s a complete list and map of Charlotte’s 40+ local breweries, plus the most popular beer at each.

  • Pro tip: Most of them are dog friendly.

Go deeper: See inside Sycamore Brewing’s new two-story South End location

Sycamore sign on the second-floor biergarten.
Sycamore sign on the second-floor biergarten. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Pour your own candles

You can make your own candles in SouthEnd at Paddywax Candle Bar. The experience is simple — choose a vessel, select a fragrance and then measure, mix and pour to create your own candle.

Go deeper: $45 pour-your-own candle workshop The Candle Bar now open in new South End space

candle-bar- things to do inside
Photo: Axios archives

Let the games begin

Play a classic like Monopoly or try a new game at Luck Factory Games at Gibson Mill Market. It’s the state’s largest board game café with a library of more than 1,000 games.

Go deeper: Board game cafe opens in Gibson Mill Market

Luck Factory Games Concord Gibson Mill
Luck Factory Games in Concord’s Gibson Mill. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Learn a new go-to dish at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen

Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen classes cover everything from basic knife skills to specific cuisines like Mediterranean or French.

Get creative work done at a coffee shop

Take a break from working at home or the office, if the latter is an option for you. Explore Charlotte’s best coffee shops and enjoy a change of scenery. Here’s our guide on the best coffee shops in Charlotte to work remotely.

not just coffee jay street charlotte
Photo: Axios archives

Eat, sip and shop inside one of Charlotte’s food halls

  • Optimist Hall has more than 20 tenants, including Undercurrent Coffee and Papi Queso.
  • Urban District Market is a new food hall that’ll be home to 12 new restaurants and Charlotte’s newest brewery and soju distillery called LaBARatory.
  • The Market at 7th Street is a non-profit food hall in Uptown. The tourist magnet is great for locals too with 10 vendors, including Not Just Coffee, Viva Raw and CLT Find.
  • The Gibson Mill Market in Concord is a bit of a drive but you can easily spend your day there. After you’re done eating, head next door to The Depot at Gibson Mill, the largest antique mall in the southeast.
Urban District Market
LaBARatory, located inside the Urban District Market, is a science lab-themed bar that serves drinks from its on-site Soju distillery along with other local craft beer and cocktails. Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Reflect on your faith at The Billy Graham Library

This 40,000-square-foot library will allow you a look into the life of Billy Graham, “America’s Pastor.” Admission is free.

Grab a cocktail or mocktail

There’s nothing like a cozy cocktail to make the outside world melt away, but there are plenty of alcohol-free options in Charlotte too.

Go deeper: Villa Heights cocktail bar Humbug now open

Rye'd or Chai cocktail with rye whiskey, chai infused cold brew coffee, whole egg and grated nutmeg. Photo courtesy of Humbug
Rye’d or Chai cocktail with rye whiskey, chai-infused cold brew coffee, whole egg and grated nutmeg. Photo: Courtesy of Humbug

Head to the theater to watch a show

Whether it’s “Charlotte Squawks” or “SIX,” they certainly crank the air conditioning in the theater, and the shows entertaining too.

Go deeper: Actress returns home with tour of Broadway musical “SIX”

Belk Theater in Uptown. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios
Belk Theater in Uptown. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Pamper yourself

Treat yourself at a massage. Charlotte has plenty of options, including Okra in Plaza Midwood and Mood House in Dilworth.

Mood House massage room
Photo: Axios archives

Go deeper: See renderings: Popular massage studio Mood House will open a second location in Oakhurst


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