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U.S. National Whitewater Center picture in Charlotte
Jeremy Thompson / Flickr

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  • Recreation, Sports, Swimming/Pools Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.4
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  • Value
    4.0
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

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Take your pick between 24 different land and water activities at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a 500 acre facility northwest of downtown Charlotte. 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 say 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 an AllSport Pass. Anyone 10 and older pays $54; admission for children 9 years old or younger costs $44. You also have the option to buy a CoolSport package that includes flatwater and land activities (for $44 and $39 for adults and kids, respectively) or the QuickSport package, which allows you purchase one experience at a time ($20 for a land activity; $25 for a flatwater 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 three eateries available on site, the River's Edge Bar & Grill, The Market or the Pump House Biergarten, which features 20 craft beers. Find the U.S. National Whitewater Center about 12 miles northwest of downtown Charlotte. Parking is $5 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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#1 U.S. National Whitewater Center Take your pick between 24 different land and water activities at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a 500 acre facility northwest of downtown Charlotte. At the world's largest ... Read more » Jeremy Thompson / Flickr

#2 Mint Museum Uptown One of the many museums representing Charlotte's exploding art scene, the Mint Museum Uptown is home to a wide variety of American and European art. This is the second ... Read more » Courtesy Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority

#3 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 ... Read more » oscarwilliams.com / Discovery Place

#4 7th Street Public Market For a taste of Charlotte's home-grown produce, head to 7th Street Public Market, located about half a mile west of the city center. At this indoor marketplace, you'll ... Read more » Patrick Schneider / Courtesy 7th Street Public Market

#5 Levine Museum of the New South The term "New South" relates to the people, places and a period of time — from 1865 to today. The Levine Museum of the New South is one of the most ... Read more » Courtesy Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority

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#8 Carolina Raptor Center Situated about 14 miles northwest of Charlotte in Huntersville, the Carolina Raptor Center operates largely as a rehabilitation center for injured, sick and orphaned raptors. The facility also serves as ... Read more » Gary C. Tognoni / Shutterstock

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U.S. National Whitewater Center picture in Charlotte
Mint Museum Uptown picture in Charlotte
Discovery Place picture in Charlotte
7th Street Public Market picture in Charlotte
Levine Museum of the New South picture in Charlotte
Charlotte Motor Speedway picture in Charlotte
Freedom Park picture in Charlotte
Peregrine Falcon picture in Charlotte
NASCAR Hall of Fame picture in Charlotte
Intimidator picture in Charlotte
U.S. National Whitewater Center picture in Charlotte
Mint Museum Uptown picture in Charlotte
Discovery Place picture in Charlotte
7th Street Public Market picture in Charlotte
Levine Museum of the New South picture in Charlotte
Charlotte Motor Speedway picture in Charlotte
Freedom Park picture in Charlotte
Peregrine Falcon picture in Charlotte
NASCAR Hall of Fame picture in Charlotte
Intimidator picture in Charlotte

Whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing ... the U.S. National Whitewater Center has no shortage of heart-pumping activities. Jeremy Thompson / Flickr

Among the pieces you'll find in the Mint Museum Uptown is this Dale Chihuly chandelier, located in the lobby of the museum. It weighs a whopping 2,200 pounds. Courtesy Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority

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On weekend mornings, 7th Street Public Market buzzes with families enjoying the local vendors that set up shop here. Patrick Schneider / Courtesy 7th Street Public Market

The Levine Museum of the New South focuses on post-Civil War history, from 1865 to the present. Courtesy Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority

Race cars zip around the oval track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the annual Coca-Cola 600 event.
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Freedom Park is an idyllic spot for an afternoon stroll almost any time of the year. Catch some photo-worthy colors every autumn. Ann Rivall / USN&WR

About 25 different species of raptors call the Carolina Raptor Center home.
Gary C. Tognoni / Shutterstock

See authentic artifacts and educational films depicting the story of NASCAR's six-decade history in the Heritage Speedway section of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
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This Carowinds roller coaster, the Intimidator, is named after NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. daveynin / Flickr

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