Switch Up Your Night Out With Charlotte's Lesser-Known Nightlife

We understand that you can only take a Saturday night at the EpiCentre so many times. We also get that, while the upstairs of Connolly’s may never get old, sometimes a new setting is needed to refresh your outlook on Charlotte. Think outside the box and enjoy some of the city’s lesser-known nightlife -- we won’t mind if you tell a friend or three.  

Embrace the unexpected at Improv Charlotte

NoDa/South End
Everything you’ll see at these shows is unrehearsed, unscripted, and steered by audience suggestions. (Plus, proceeds benefit local charities.) Find the Improv Charlotte team eliciting laughs at UpStage on the first Friday of every month, or on the third Saturday of every month at Charlotte Art League in South End.

Jump around at Sky Zone

Take a break from the dance floor and bring your sweet moves to the mats instead. This trampoline park is open until 9pm on weekdays and 11pm on the weekends, making it a great place to let off some steam.

Attend a Blumenthal Performing Arts show

Blumenthal is the best source for Charlotte’s performing arts, with six different theaters located in the Uptown area. From Broadway shows to musical acts, the organization’s calendar is stocked year-round with performances to keep you feeling artsy and inspired. Be sure to check out its open mic night, or performances by Pat McGee, Charlotte Ballet, and Bob Dylan.

The Evening Muse
The Evening Muse | Flickr/Stephanie M

Tune into the local music scene  

The Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre are the venues to get behind if you’re out to discover the latest local band. Before the show, hit up The Company Store and relax on a porch swing with a drink in hand, or mosey through one of the numerous art galleries to further explore all this eclectic area has to offer. Try to catch the NoDa Gallery Crawl on the first and third Friday of each month, before the show.

Make a night of the EpiCentre without having to dress to impress

While we may be trying to avoid the Uptown throngs, there’s still a way to feel among the city scene without having to endure the club lines for a good cocktail. Stop in to Studio Movie Grill, where you can bask in drinks and food being delivered straight to your seat. (There’s also a chic bar you can chill at before or after your showing.) Then, head next door to Strike City for a party atmosphere of music, bowling, and beer. A span of 75 TVs, as well as arcade and patio games, only add to the already existing realm of recreation.

Have a laugh at The Comedy Zone

AvidXchange Music Factory
Switch up your pre-game plan by heading over to the Music Factory for some stand-up comedy. After the show, make your way over to neighboring VBGB, a beer hall and garden complete with outdoor games and more than 30 beers. You know you’ll want a refreshing finale to your evening out.

Play all your old favorites at Abari

This new bar has changed the game for, well, game bars. Reunite with console classics like Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, or choose from more than 30 arcade games and a variety of old-school pinball machines – all while sipping on a great selection of cocktails and craft beer. It’s the entertainment oasis for adults who want to act like kids.   

Romare Bearden Park
Romare Bearden Park | Flickr/James Willamor

Lounge out at Party in the Park

This live music series happens every Wednesday evening, May through September, in Romare Bearden Park. Swingin’ Medallions, a beach/frat-rock music group, and Peace & Love, a band that brings you all the best funk classics, are set to round out this season’s performances. Bring a picnic and blanket along, and sprawl out for a free night of leisure before the colder weather comes.

Hunt down some friends at Laser Quest

Because what’s more amusing on a boring Friday night than trying to nail down your competition in a pitch-black hide-and-seek scenario? Charlotte’s Laser Quest is open until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, so you can grab a group of your rambunctious friends and get in on the battle. Go back to your middle school roots with the original laser tag, or check out the new KeyQuest Escape Room. You can always hit up a bar after to brag all about your laser domination over drinks -- loser buys.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art | flickr/jason white

Take advantage of the art offerings at Museum of Modern Art

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art hosts evening activities for the art lover whose daytime schedule doesn’t allow for events. The venue opens its gallery floors free of charge on the third Friday of every month for Bechtler By Night, and live jazz can be enjoyed on the first Friday of every month.  

Paint the town with a pal

Various locations
Charlotte is home to a variety of BYOB paint nights, so you can get cozy with your creative side and a glass of wine simultaneously. Wine & Design and Paint Craze both offer up these nights of unwinding, and let’s face it -- your artwork is that much better with a buzz.

Get out on the water

It’s easy to overlook the moonlight possibilities when it comes to Charlotte lakes, but there are two great options available for your sunset-viewing pleasure. Snag a spot on one of Queens Landing's unique dinner cruises around Lake Norman -- The Lady of the Lake, a 93ft yacht with a four-course meal, or the Queen Catawba, a Mississippi riverboat offering a chef-served buffet.

Hop on a Haunted Segway Tour

Charlotte NC Tours hosts daily Segway tours so you can catch the ghost stories of the city’s historic sections like Fourth Ward, Settlers' Cemetery, The Square, and more. If you prefer walking to the sites rather than rolling there, there’s an evening tour for that, as well.

Cruise the streets on the Trolley Pub

Various locations
Ever seen one of these pedal pushers drive alongside you in NoDa or Uptown and want to get in on the experience? This mobile pub crawl is one of the best ways to change up your drinking pace here in the Queen City. Enjoy drinks on the move with up to 14 of your closest friends while you sightsee Charlotte, and you can even stop by a few of your favorite bars along the way to get a little break -- leg day has never been so fun.

Let your dog in on the action

Various locations
Throw back some beers while your dog gets its energy out at one of Charlotte’s dog bars. Scout out a buddy with a pup and head on over to Lucky Dog Bark and Brew or The Dog Bar. These great late-night choices offer indoor/outdoor playtime for your furry friends and plenty of pints for you. It’s a win-win.

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Courtney Matinata is a freelance writer who needed a little reminder about all this awesome city has to offer.