Laura Hill, marketing and communications manager for the Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau, said one of the most popular attractions for religious group travelers is the Billy Graham Library.
“It explores the life and faith of Billy Graham,” Hill said. “It’s a multimedia experience and has beautiful grounds, including his boyhood home.”
There are some beautiful frescoes and churches Uptown and in Center City, and the Historic Fourth Ward area has some historic churches as well, such as St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Hill said.
Billy Graham’s Enduring Message
Filled with the history of Christian evangelist William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr., the Billy Graham Library is considered a “Crusade” rather than a museum or memorial – a ministry that communicates the significance of Jesus Christ to its visitors. Built on the same location as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in South Charlotte, off of Billy Graham Parkway, the Library takes visitors through multimedia exhibits, videos and archives of Billy Graham; this “Journey of Faith” encompasses the themes “The Man,” “The Ministry,” “The Message” and “The Mission.” The Library itself is designed after a dairy barn, suggestive of Billy Graham’s childhood.
A short walk from the Library is the restored Graham Family Home, where Billy Graham grew up. After touring the house, pick up some keepsakes to remember the visit at Ruth’s Attic Bookstore (named after Ruth Bell Graham – Billy’s late wife). Choose from a selection of Bibles, works on evangelism, Christian classics and music. The last stop before leaving the Library is at Graham Brothers Dairy Bar for ice cream, barbecue or deli sandwiches.
Attractions in the Queen City
In the heart of the city sits a charming garden called Our Children Memorial Walkway. As of 1999, what used to be Frazier Park is now a memorial park for those who have lost a child – “a positive place of healing.” Walk around the brick walkways and enjoy the garden’s cherry trees, sculptures and playground areas.
Come see the European, contemporary and American art at the newly opened Mint Museum Uptown, which combines both the Mint Museum of Art and Mint Museum of Craft & Design into one building. Daily group tours are offered as well as lectures and art classes.
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture, founded in 1974 and named after an esteemed community leader and businessman, has traveling exhibits as well as permanent exhibits by African-American artists.
Henry Hampton has been raising exotic animals for more than 35 years and, after a lot of planning and hard work, created what is now known as the Lazy 5 Ranch, located in Mooresville. Visitors will be captivated by more than 750
animals, including cattle, horses, giraffes, rhinos, camels and llamas. Visitors can reserve horse-drawn carriage rides to get the best views of the animals.
Come learn about the history of auto racing at the recently opened NASCAR Hall of Fame in Center City Charlotte. This attraction has something for everyone among its endless amounts of appealing exhibits and artifacts commemorating the history and legacy of NASCAR. Within the 150,000-square-foot complex are simulator rides, a high octane theater that seats more than 270 guests and various special events held throughout the year.
Distinctive Sightseeing Tours in Charlotte
Carolina History & Haunts takes groups on a 75-minute walking tour of Uptown Charlotte. Designed to see local history and ghostly sites, the tour is navigated by candlelight and led by tour guides dressed in 19th century apparel. If there is a group of six or more, call for special pricing and private tours.
For an authentic tour of Uptown Charlotte, Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours takes visitors on horse-drawn carriages. Tours are offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and private tours are available anytime upon request. Customized events are offered for groups of any size.
Charlotte Trolley & Powerhouse Museum offers guests a relaxing ride on vintage trolleys to see landmarks and neighborhoods constructed around the trolley system. After the tour, groups can visit the museum’s trolley exhibits. Tours are offered Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Rides are available throughout the week for groups of 15 or more by reservations made at least two weeks in advance.
Through Charlotte NC Tours & Rentals groups will find a tour to meet their needs. Choose from bicycle, Segway, walking and van tours.
Festivals & Special Events in Charlotte
Winning two “Best of the Best” awards from Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte Chamber Music offers free concerts from October until May at First Presbyterian Church in Uptown Charlotte. Concerts are held at 12:10 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. – the evening concert includes wine and cheese for guests in the Carillon Lobby.
Just 15 minutes from Uptown Charlotte at Lake Norman is the Carolina Renaissance Festival, held every weekend from October through November. The annual festival is a 22-acre village with 10 stages for theater entertainment, a circus, jousting and arts and crafts. Join the 16th century European-style festival along with the hundreds of costumed characters strolling around the village, which includes castles, pubs and cottages.
From mid-November until the beginning of January, Carolina Christmas at Charlotte
Motor Speedway is one of the largest holiday light shows in the country. This special holiday event held daily from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., consists of a 2.5-mile, drive- through Christmas lights park. With 500 different displays set up around the track, a Bethlehem-themed town, food and music, ice skating, carriage rides and photos with Santa, groups are sure to get into the holiday spirit.
Every Sunday in June until the beginning of July, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra gives an outdoor concert at Symphony Park (next to Southpark Mall), called Summer Pops at Symphony Park. Guests usually begin to arrive at 6:30 to set up a spot on the grass and are welcome to bring food and drinks.
Although Charlotte continues to expand as a major metropolitan area, it still has its Southern charm and small-town feel. With all kinds of tours and sites to see as well as friendly neighborhoods to visit, it’s been on ongoing laugh that people only need to visit the city once – because they end up moving there after the first encounter.
Written by: Nancy Wolens