U.S. National Whitewater Center#1 in Best Things To Do in Charlotte
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.
If you'd like to try your hand at whitewater, flatwater and land activities at the center, buy a Day Pass. Anyone 10 and older pays $59; admission for children 9 years old or younger costs $49. You can also purchase single-activity passes (such as mountain biking or whitewater rafting), which cost between $25 and $89, depending on the activity. Along with admission fees, you should also budget for the cost of food. The center does not allow outside food anywhere on the premises, meaning you'll need to refuel at one of the eateries available on site. Find the U.S. National Whitewater Center about 12 miles northwest of downtown Charlotte. Parking is $6 per day. The main gate and trails are open daily – weather permitting – from dawn until dusk. Certain activities have different operating hours; check the center's website for the most up-to-date information on opening and closing times and news about special events, like concerts and competition trials.
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#2 Discovery Place
Discovery Place is Charlotte's science museum. Past visitors say this kid-friendly playtopia is a great place to spend a day with the family. Here you'll find interactive, hands-on exhibits that cover a variety of scientific concepts like physics and earth science. You can design and conduct lab experiments, build mock structures and study different ecosystems with the museum's rainforest exhibit and aquarium. Discovery Place also boasts the largest IMAX screen in the Carolinas, featuring an ever-changing program of educational films.
Careful not to forget the needs of its youngest visitors, the museum also offers exhibits for wee ones, like the KidScience section. This early childhood area features soft building blocks, a water table and a sound wall, plus a section designed just for toddlers. It's this exhibit variety that has recent travelers offering so much praise for the museum and learning center.
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