Carolina Raptor Center
Situated about 14 miles northwest of Charlotte in Huntersville, North Carolina, the Carolina Raptor Center operates largely as a rehabilitation center for injured, sick and orphaned raptors. The facility also serves as an education and conservation center where visitors can see these fascinating creatures up close. The center hosts more than 35 different species of raptors, which you can see and learn about on the nearly mile-long outdoor nature trail that is set up similar to a zoo.
Past travelers said a visit to the center makes for a great daytrip, especially if you're traveling with kids.
The Carolina Raptor Center is open year-round; hours vary by season. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students and free for children ages 3 and younger. Live Bird Presentations, Meet the Keeper and Vulture Feedings are included in the price of admission. For more information about special events and seasonal hours, visit the website.
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#1 U.S. National Whitewater Center
Take your pick between more than 30 different land and water activities at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a 1,300-acre facility northwest of downtown Charlotte along the Catawba River. At the world's largest man-made whitewater river, you'll have your choice of a variety of activities, including kayaking (both flatwater and whitewater), stand-up paddle boarding, and, of course, whitewater rafting. If you'd prefer to stay dry, the center can accommmodate you there, too: land activities include mountain biking, rock climbing and zip-lining, with plenty of running trails and obstacle courses for those with a competitive edge.
Past travelers said the center is a great place to take your family for the day – though visitors admit tickets can get pricey.
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