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The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) is where to head when you’re looking for a unique outdoor experience in our home state, with over 30 things to do and see inspired by the area’s natural wonders and offerings. Less than 30 minutes from the city, you’ll be greeted at USNWC by 50 miles of trail, access to Catawba River and Long Creek, dining options, educational activities and water sports. The extensive list of things to do is exactly what makes it so appealing, and these are some of the best ways to relax, learn and play when you visit.


Make a Splash

Gear up and get ready for a wild ride on the world’s largest manmade whitewater river. From family and adventure to big water and rodeo rafting or kayaking, there’s a difficulty level suited to everyone. Don’t worry — no matter which you choose, you’ll have a professional guide to turn to.

Take a Ride with a View

Interested in reaching new heights upon your visit to Charlotte’s Whitewater Center? Look no further than their on-site ziplines. Whether you’re interested in a longer ride, or their most expansive view, there are several options to choose from.

Rock Climb with a Twist

If rock-climbing is a passion of yours, this is definitely an activity that you’ll want to try. Although, this isn’t your average rock-climbing wall. Deep Water Solo is a form of rock-climbing that involves falling into a deep pool of water instead of traditional climbing protection. Featuring five walls that range from 20 to 45 feet high, this is the world’s first deep water solo climbing complex.

Channel Your Inner Yogi

With over 280 practices available from May through to September, there’s no better place to visit than the Whitewater Center if you’re a yoga enthusiast. Take on new challenges and break out of your comfort zones by taking a class balancing on paddle boards on the Catawba River. If you’re looking for a less intermediate experience, check out Slow Flow.

Paddle Along the Shore

If you’re a water-lover like we are, there’s no better way to discover the waterways than by partaking in the Whitewater Center’s flatwater kayaking experiences. Bring your furry friend along for the ride and create your own adventure on the Catawba River.

Live on the Edge (Literally)

If you have a thirst for adventure or if you’re known to be daring, these ropes courses will appeal to you. Winding through the forest and over the rapids, there’s a thrill-seeking experience for everyone filled with cargo nets, obstacles, suspended platforms and bridges.

Brave New Heights

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to fly? Well, now you can find out with the Whitewater Center’s jumping activities. Leap from up to 100 ft. high to participate in this free-falling experience that is truly like no other.

Skate to Your Heart’s Content

Looking for something to do once it reaches the colder seasons? Bring the whole family out for a night of ice skating and hot cocoa. Each year, the Whitewater Center’s Upper Pond transforms into 17,000 sq.ft. of ice with a trail and expansive skate area for all to enjoy.

Events and Live Music

Memorial Day Trail Race

Registration Fee: 5 mile $32-$42; 8 mile $37-$42
When: Thursday, May 26th – Saturday, May 29th, 2021
What: Race through the Whitewater Center’s trail system
Where: Race starts at the Ridge Pavilion

Catawba River Races

Registration Fee: Kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard, $35-$42; Open Water Swim, $35-$42
When: Saturday, June 12th, 2021
What: Competitive or recreational races to put your skills to the test
Where: Catawba River

Brew Dash

Registration Fee: 6K Trail Race, $40-$45; 12K Trail Race, $45-$50
When: Thursday, June 17th, 2021; Friday, June 18th, 2021
What: 6K or 12K course with craft beer to enjoy post-race
Where: The Whitewater Center Forest and the Ridge Pavilion

Fourth of July Celebration

Registration Fee: Free
When: Saturday July 3rd, 2021; Sunday, July 4th, 2021
What: Holiday celebration with live music, yoga practices and a firework display
Where: The Whitewater Center

Food and Beverage Options

River’s Edge

If dinner with a view intrigues you, River’s Edge is the restaurant for you. Overlooking the Center’s whitewater river, this dining destination offers a variety of food, beer and wine choices.

The Market

If your kids are beaming with excitement that they can’t sit still, The Market is a great option for you. Offering several quick grab and go options, you’ll be able to energize your bodies without missing a minute of on-site adventure.

Pump House BierGarten

Calling all craft beer drinkers — the Pump House BierGarten has more than sixty options for you. Kick back, relax and overlook the paddlers on the Competition Channel while you indulge in your meal.

The Trail Center

Keeping hydrated is uber important when you’re immersing yourself in outdoor activity all day. Stop by The Trail Center for a quick drink and refuel.

Paddle to Table

From May to October, enjoy a unique dining experience in the outdoors. Kayak or paddle to the Ridge Pavilion — whichever you prefer — for a chef-curated dinner that will have your taste buds tingling.

Read Our Local Living Guide

Interested in learning more about what there is to see and do around Charlotte? Get the West End Towns community guide below for more great content online.

For more information about Charlotte, North Carolina, click here.

Photos: All images are courtesy of The Whitewater Center.


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