Things to do

Top 10 art pieces to experience on the Charlotte Rail Trail, ranked

Magic Carpet Murals on the Charlotte Rail Trail. Photo by Jillian Mueller
Magic Carpet Murals on the Charlotte Rail Trail. Photo by Jillian Mueller

Over the past few years, many pieces of fun and interactive public art have popped up along the Charlotte Rail Trail, a 3.5-mile urban path that stretches through South End to Uptown. Here are the top 10 public art pieces to check out along your next urban hike.

(10) Edna’s Porch

Location: Intersection of E. Carson St. and the Rail Trail. Three bright yellow bench swings transform this small strip of space next to the Rail Trail into a cozy porch that offers pedestrians a perfect view of the skyline.  Grab a cup of coffee and sit on a swing for prime people watching.

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Have you seen the weekend forecast? It calls for flocking to your nearest porch swing! #EdnasPorch

A post shared by Charlotte Rail Trail (@railtrailclt) on Aug 25, 2017 at 6:57am PDT

(9) Light Rail Symphony

Location:  Outside Hyde Brewing (2911 Griffith St. B) near the New Bern Station You’ll often find children jamming on the cheery cluster of permanent fun-size instruments that compose the Light Rail Symphony on Saturday afternoon trips to Hyde Brewing. These instruments, provided by nonprofit Kaboom, are just loud enough to disturb those trying to enjoy a peaceful stroll. The accompanying Soundwave Art mural was created by CPCC students and creates a colorful splash on the pavement alongside the instruments.

Photo by Jillian Mueller

(8) Exclamation Point

Location: 109 E. Tremont Dr. This photogenic favorite by artist David Furman punctuates the trail between Atherton Mill and Sycamore Brewing. You’ll often see people striking a pose alongside the cheerful red sculpture along the trail.

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❗️LIVIN’ OUT LOUD❗️ …hoping it inspires you to be a little weirder, laugh a little harder and dance like everyone is watching but you don’t give AF. #youdoyou

A post shared by J A I M I S ✨ H U F F (@jaimisyoga) on Aug 11, 2018 at 9:32am PDT

(7) Pre-Historic South End Brontosaurus

Location: Next to Park Condos, past E. Park Avenue. This playful prehistoric creature, created by local artist Amy Hart, was commissioned by the South End Neighborhood Association in 2016. If you look closely, you’ll see objects such as bicycle pedals incorporated into the piece.

(6) Substation & Tower Illumination

Location: On the Rail Trail between E. Park Avenue and Bland Street After dark, the Duke Energy substation near Futo Buta turns into a spectacular LED light show. The Tower illumination was engineered by the same team that designed the lighting for the Empire State Building and the Bay Bridge. According to the Charlotte Rail Trail site, the light show consists of 12 LED floodlights that create about 16,000 colors.

(5) The Sting

Location: 2400 South Office Building Parking Deck Once you pass the Junction 1504 Apartments, you’ll stumble upon this eye-catching 160-foot comic strip mural adorning a parking garage. This mural was created by two employees of MPV properties, a tenant of the parking garage, and cleverly incorporates many key elements of Charlotte culture such as NASCAR and the Hornets.  

Photo by Jillian Mueller

(4) Magic Carpet Murals

Location: These murals are located in three locations: Uptown at the intersection of MLK Blvd at S College Street, next to the office building at 2151 Hawkins St., and next to Griffin Street near the New Bern Station. The Magic Carpet murals were painted in 2016 and designed with input from Charlotteans of all ages gathered through a series of community workshops.  These vibrant images add a touch of whimsy along the trail. Try to find all three during your walk.

(3) Camden Wall Mosaic Frieze

The wall along Camden road alongside the Rail Trail is embedded with 33 whimsical mosaic pieces made by artist Tom Thorne. Each of these mosaics, made of a combination of old ceramic dishware donated by Charlotteans and handmade objects by the artist and his students, tells a different story as an homage to historical elements of Charlotte culture or prominent individuals with in the city. Pull up this guide on your phone as you stroll along the Camden wall to discover the meaning behind each mosaic.

(2) Fowler Porch & Hexpong

Location: Between the Charlotte Trolley Museum and Bland Station Right across from FutaButa and Bland Street station, you will find a giant yellow seesaw in front of a series of sculptural screens and handrails. This collaboration between Ben Parrish of Steel Design Studios and David Furman is fun for kids and adults alike.  Also, in the pathway between the Charlotte Trolley Museum and Fowler Porch, you can play a round of Hex Pong with the paddles and balls provided and check out a few other pieces of public art scattered around the walkway.

(1) Before I Die…Chalkboard

Location: 115 E. East Kingston Avenue This interactive piece of art consists of a chalkboard with the fill-in-the-blank prompt: “Before I die, I want to…” The holds a series of blank lines for passersby to write responses with provided chalk. This piece serves as a way for the community to have a conversation about hopes, dreams, and sometimes, jokes. Be sure to stop by and read the thought provoking and witty responses from Charlotteans of all ages and to make your own mark on the chalkboard.  

Photo by Jillian Mueller