Publications like Where to Retire magazine and Forbes have listed Charlotte a great place to retire. If you need help persuading your elders to make the move, here are five (plus one) places to explore that are exclusive to the Queen City.
Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Designed to reflect Billy Graham’s journey from a humble farm boy to an international ambassador as America’s Pastor, the barn-shaped building of the 20-acre Billy Graham Library is miles away from where Billy Graham actually grew up in Charlotte. Learn about the far-reaching impact of this noted evangelist, who has 55+ years of ministry reaching millions through radio and television broadcasts, films, literature, training and events. Have lunch at the Graham Brothers Dairy Bar or tour through The Journey of Faith exhibit that depicts the inspiring journey of Billy Graham’s life.
Birds and Butterflies
Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday to Tuesday
Cost: $10 Adults and children (10+), Free for members
Just a few generations ago two extraordinary women named Elizabeth (Elizabeth Clarkson and Elizabeth Lawrence) lived and gardened just down the street from one another. Now, you can venture down to Myers Park for your own natural oasis in these two public gardens: Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary is rich in Southern horticulture and a habitat for birds and wildlife, while the Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden is the site of a world-renowned garden writer’s living laboratory. Together, these historic properties welcome visitors of all ages and host more than 40 special events each year.
Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $12 adults, $10 seniors (60+), $8 students, $9 veterans, Free for members
In a fascinating display of past meets present, Carolina’s Aviation Museum takes residence near the city’s modern-day hub for flight, Charlotte Douglas International Airport. The expansive aircraft hangar houses commercial and civil aircraft relics whose places in the annals of aircraft history are chronicled on informational placards. It’s also home to retired military jets, including a D-558-1 Skystreak—one of only two in existence. The museum’s pièce de résistance is the “Miracle on the Hudson” exhibit, which features the actual A320 Airbus that Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger heroically landed on the Hudson River following engine failure in 2009. This impressive museum pays beautiful tribute to North Carolina’s first-in-flight legacy.
Daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. with evening events from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Cost: $12.95 Adults, $11.95 Seniors (60+), $6.95 Children, Free for Members
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is the Carolinas’ Garden for all seasons. It provides a great backdrop for friends and family to reconnect with nature and create lifelong memories. Located within 380 acres on the banks of Lake Wylie, visitors can adventure through the spectacular gardens, sparkling fountains, a conservatory with tropical plants and orchids, a picnic pavilion, a garden store and nature trails.
Arts and Culture
Show times and costs vary.
Sit back and enjoy a show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. In addition to hosting big-name resident companies Opera Carolina, Charlotte Symphony and Charlotte Ballet, the arts center also hosts Broadway musicals, dance troupes, film screenings and more. Blumenthal include six stages in Uptown Charlotte with both ticketed and free shows listed on their events calendar. Spend a cozy evening at the Stage Door Theater for monthly jazz sessions, or bring your own picnic to the outdoor concert series Sounds on the Square each summer.
Plus One with the Grandkids
Daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (April to October) and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (November to March)
Race Week from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (week of May and October races at Charlotte Motor Speedway)
Cost: $25 adults, $22 seniors (65+), $18 military, $12-18 children (3-12), Free for members
Bring the kids and grandkids to experience the thrill of racing from start to finish. This museum features relics from famed drivers—cars, fire suits, trophies, helmets and more—as well as interactive exhibits. Walk through a hauler, practice a pit stop or test your skill in a racing simulator. Wander through Glory Road, which chronicles NASCAR’s beginnings to present day. Then, pay your respects in the Hall of Honor, the exhibit dedicated to NASCAR’s legends and Hall of Fame inductees. If you’ve got a day to devote to explore, check out the Racing Insiders Tour, an all-access, in-depth tour that includes lunch and a behind-the-scene tour through the Charlotte racing community.