Carowinds is one of North Carolina's favorite local amusement parks. You'll have your pick of family and thrill rides, including Fury 325 (and also the world's tallest and fastest giga coaster). If you need to cool off, Carowinds also boasts its own water park, Carolina Harbor. The park includes a 27,000 square-foot wave pool, a 3-acre kids pool and a lazy river, among other attractions. Plus, entrance to Carolina Harbor is included with your Carowinds admission.
Past visitors highly recommend a stop at Carowinds if you're traveling with your family. Though travelers commend Carowinds for its ability to appeal to a wide range of age groups, visitors aren't as pleased with the number of extra expenses the park charges. In addition to general admission, be prepared to fork over $16 for parking and $14 to $30 for a single meal or all-day dining package (Carowinds does not allow outside food or beverages.)
Located right off of I-77, Carowinds is about a 13-mile drive south of Charlotte. The park's season is from early April through October; opening and closing times for the theme park vary by day and by season. Check the Carowinds Calendar online for the most up-to-date information. Single-day park admission for adults costs $69; admission for juniors costs $47. If you buy tickets online, you'll pay $57 per adult ticket and $45 per junior ticket. You can save even more by opting for a "Twilight Admission" ticket (valid starting at 4 p.m.), which costs $33 online and $38 at the gate.
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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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