US National Whitewater Center
Located in Charlotte, the US National Whitewater Center is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream playground. In addition to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, the outdoor recreation mega-complex offers hiking and biking trails, a rock climbing wall, ropes course, ziplining, and more. It’s also a popular spot for outdoor festivals.
Water enthusiasts can go whitewater rafting, adventure rafting, rodeo rafting, family rafting, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Climbers can choose between wall climbing, bouldering, and deep water soloing. Ziplining, high jumping, and a ropes course are also options. There are also around 40 miles (64 kilometers) of trails for walking, hiking, and biking. Ice skating is also in the winter. The center also hosts a number of outdoor festivals throughout the year, particularly over the summer.
Things to Know Before You Go
- You can pay for individual activities or an all day pass covering all activities; the canopy tour requires a separate charge.
- Bring towels and a change of clothing if planning on participating in water activities. Closed-toe shoes are recommended (and required for many activities).
- Rafting reservations are required for all rafting trips; book early as they can fill up.
- Paid lockers, storage bins, and locker rooms are available.
- There are several options on-site for food and beverage, including a beer garden.
- Dogs are allowed on the grounds, hiking trails,on kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards, and at the outdoor restaurant.
How to Get There
The center is located around 13 miles (21 kilometers) northwest of Uptown Charlotte. Take I-85 to exit 29 or I-485 to exit 12. Paid parking is available on-site.
When to Get There
The center can be visited year round, though some activities are seasonal. Water activities are available from March through October, which is also the peak season. Ice skating is available from late November through February. The center is also popular after work and on weekends.
Lake Norman Located around 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of the US National Whitewater Center, Lake Norman is also a popular outdoor recreation destination. Boating 520 miles (837 kilometers) of shoreline, it’s the largest man-made lake in the state. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, such as boating, fishing, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, waterskiing, swimming, biking, and hiking.
- Bank of America Stadium
- Levine Center for the Arts
- Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
- Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture
- The Green
- Old Settlers’ Cemetery
- Fourth Ward
- Discovery Place Nature (Charlotte Nature Museum)
- Carolinas Aviation Museum
- Discovery Place Science
- Freedom Park
- Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary
- Historic Rosedale Plantation
- Mint Museum of Art
- McDowell Nature Center and Preserve