I realize that the many transplanted Yankees may think the winters are mild here in Charlotte, but soon enough your blood will thin out and those sub-60 degree temperatures will seem frigid! Thus, Charlotteans hibernate inside breweries during the colder months or snuggle up for some serious binge watching until the Southern sunshine returns. Once it does, we come out in full force to participate in one of many outdoor activities available to Charlotte area residents.
Below are some local favorites with a few insider tips that you won’t find in the guidebooks!
Carve up some rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Yes, there’s whitewater rafting within the Charlotte city limits. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is a man made whitewater circuit on the banks of the Catawba River. Don’t write off the facility because of the term “man made,” though. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is where the U.S. Olympic Team holds both tryouts and training. Thus, the facility was built to introduce beginners to the adrenaline-fueled sport and offer plenty of opportunity for experts to polish off their whitewater rafting skills.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center operates as an outdoor adventure amusement park selling both day and season passes. Other activities include flatwater sports on the Catawba River, rock climbing, zip-lining, ropes courses, and mountain biking.
Insider tip – The center does get quite crowded on the weekends. If you want to guarantee the maximum number of circuits on the rapids, be sure to call ahead and reserve as many laps as you think you can handle.
Hit that Booty!
The Booty Loop, that is! The 2.8-mile bike loop through the picturesque Myers Park neighborhood (think lots of stately mansions and shaded lanes) is the perfect spot to dust off your bicycle and work out the winter kinks. The bike lane is popular with both beginners and veteran bikers alike because riders aren’t required to cross any major intersections. It’s safe and allows for some great endurance training.
Perhaps you can even work yourself up to the 24-Hours of Booty endurance charity race that takes place every July in the Queen City.
Go lay in a watering hole.
Water lovers rejoice! Charlotte is flanked by two watering holes – Lake Wylie and Lake Norman – that allow for plenty of water-related fun from stand-up-paddle boarding (SUP) to fishing, kayaking, and sailing.
Or, if you prefer to relax on the water instead of working up a sweat, you can do that as well. Several operations rent speedboats and pontoons. Pack a cooler full of beer, gather a group of friends, and tie up to a sandbar for an afternoon you’re likely not to remember.
Insider tip – Lake Wylie is the quieter of the two lakes. If you’re a novice to boating or don’t want too many waves as you attempt a downward dog on a SUP, then I suggest you leave Lake Norman for the partygoers.
Explore the Rail Trail.
If you live in an apartment in Charlotte, chances are you can see the Rail Trail from your window. One of Charlotte’s newest green spaces follows a paved trail that runs along the Blue Line light rail system from the 7th Street Station in Uptown to the New Bern Station in South End. Evenings and weekends find the Rail Trail packed with bikers, joggers, and roller-bladers (yes, some people still do that).
The Rail Trail is so much more than just a park, though. It unites communities up and down the South End corridor by providing easy access to art installations, pocket parks, benches, restaurants, bars, breweries, shops, and galleries. It’s a great spot to spend a leisurely date night outside or to stage a brewery crawl.
Climb a mountain.
Mountain hiking and whitewater rafting all within reach of a modern, cosmopolitan city? If you don’t live in Charlotte already, you probably just started searching for an apartment. Twenty-minutes outside of Charlotte is Crowders Mountain State Park, offering two peaks to play on: Crowders and Pinnacle Mountain. The mountains offer another plethora of outdoor activities with options ranging from hiking to camping, to mountain climbing (a permit is required for the later).
Insider tip – Weekends at Crowders Mountain State Park can get quite busy. However, most visitors hike to the top of Crowders Mountain. Opt for less crowded Pinnacle Mountain instead.
The above-mentioned activities are just the tipping point for all that Charlotte has to offer. With a little searching, you’re guaranteed to find your activity of choice!
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