Explore Charlotte

Top Things to Do Outdoors in the Charlotte Area

With a location along the Carolina Piedmont that's home base to such attractions as Charlotte Motor Speedway and the U.S. National Whitewater Center, as well as its proximity to lakes Norman and Wylie, the Charlotte area offers plenty of opportunity for outdoors adventure.

Dedicated to the active, outdoor lifestyle, the U.S. National Whitewater Center in itself offers a plethora of activities on its 1,300-acre site that sits along the Catawba River. Along with free weekly yoga, live music, outdoor films, festivals and fireworks throughout the year, guests can enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses, a canopy tour and mountain biking on a 40-plus mile trail system. But outdoor adventure can be found in a variety of other spots, including Carowinds amusement park where there are 17 thrill rides to test the nerves; its newest is the Fury 325, which is the world's tallest giga coaster with heights reaching 325 feet.

Want to be more one with nature? Try fishing, boating or skiing at Lake Norman, take a hike at Crowders Mountain or enjoy the gardens, fountains, conservatory and nature walks at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden along Lake Wylie, which HGTV has named one of the country's "20 greatest gardens."


This 400-acre theme park includes thrill rides like Fury 325, the world's-tallest giga coaster, the stand-up Vortex and the NASCAR-themed Intimidator. Straddling the North Carolina/South Carolina state line, the park offers 60 rides, shows and attractions for the entire family.

Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour

Ride nine ziplines through the trees on a network of cables and skybridges. Not only will you climb towers to access the zip lines, but you’ll also enjoy hiking along nature trails to get to the different posts. The scenic tour offers great views of the forest, wildlife and the Catawba River. “Night zips” are also available.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Explore the botanical wonders in this complex founded by Belmont textile magnate Daniel Stowe. Located along the banks of Lake Wylie, the gardens spread across 110 acres of rolling landscape. Guests are awed by the large visitors pavilion with its stained-glass dome, fountains, canals and nine themed gardens.

Lake Norman

Named for a rather large body of water 20 miles from the center of Charlotte, the Lake Norman region boasts three towns (Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville) and a whole lot of entertaining pursuits.