What to Do on a Layover in Charlotte, North Carolina

There are commercial flights from the UK, but social distancing is not straightforward when youre in the cabin
There are commercial flights from the UK, but social distancing is not straightforward when you're in the cabin | © George Pachantouris / Getty Images
Shawndra Russell

Charlotte has a surprisingly charming airport that seems smaller than its “top 10 busiest” status would indicate. It’s also one of the few American airports to have a public viewing area of the runway—with the beautiful Charlotte skyline in the back—so be sure to grab a spot on one of the benches for a bit during your downtime. Need to fill more time? View the suggestions below that will keep you occupied no matter your layover’s duration.

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If you have three hours…

Smokey’s BBQ

For shorter layovers, be sure to spend some time kicking back in Charlotte’s iconic rocking chairs, which give this international airport a twist of Southern hospitality. CLT also offers plenty of places to eat or drink away the time between flights. Start at either Carolina Beer Company to sample local brews or Beaudevin if wine is your preference. Then, choose between a dinner of Carolina barbecue at Brookwood Farms BBQ with pit-smoked meats or at NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Whisky River, which tops a burger with slow-roasted, barbecued pork.

If you have three hours…

Vegan barbecue jack-fruit, coleslaw, oven baked spicy sweet potatoes and BBQ baked beans.

For shorter layovers, be sure to spend some time kicking back in Charlotte’s iconic rocking chairs, which give this international airport a twist of Southern hospitality. CLT also offers plenty of places to eat or drink away the time between flights. Start at either Carolina Beer Company to sample local brews or Beaudevin if wine is your preference. Then, choose between a dinner of Carolina barbecue at Brookwood Farms BBQ with pit-smoked meats or at NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Whisky River, which tops a burger with slow-roasted, barbecued pork.

Carolina Beer Company, 5501 Josh Birmingham Pkwy, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 359 4013

If you have five hours…

With a couple of more hours, keep it simple and add a walk to the Carolinas Aviation Museum, which celebrates the history of aviation all the way back to the Wright Brothers, who are believed to have taken the first flight on the shores of North Carolina. A replica of The Wright Flyer, the plane they used to make history, is on display here, along with several, full-size commercial, civil, and military planes and helicopters.

Carolinas Aviation Museum, 4672 1st Flight Dr, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 997 3770

If you have seven hours…

Charlotte’s number one “thing to do” attraction is the Billy Graham Library, which just happens to be only five minutes from the airport and celebrates one of the Queen City’s most famous natives. Free tours guide guests through rooms dedicated to different periods in the religious icon’s life through artifacts and film (also great for history buffs). Organizers recommend reserving at least 1.5 hours to explore the grounds. Combine this stop with time at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to understand another important piece of Charlotte’s history; it’s only eight miles from the airport.

Billy Graham Library, 4330 Westmont Dr, Charlotte, NC, USA, +1 704 401 3200

If you have 12 hours…

Tour time! With a full day available in Charlotte, why not go on a food tour to experience Charlotte’s culinary scene in a short amount of time? Then, you can add a specialty tour, like a brewery, history, or Segway tour to soak up Charlotte’s flavors and history. Or enjoy Charlotte’s robust sports scene and catch a race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, an NFL game at the Carolina Panthers stadium, or a Charlotte Hornets basketball game depending on the season.

Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC, USA, +1 704 455 3200

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