When it comes to summer travel, I love to visit a city and submerge myself in the culture. I especially love to do what the locals do, go where they go, and eat where they eat. I want to have the full-on local experience. So, when it comes to outdoor activities in Charlotte, NC, where do the locals go for affordable fun? The US National Whitewater Center! Here’s the scoop on why you need to make time for USNWC on your next visit to the Queen City.
US National Whitewater Center: An Overview
My recent visit to USNWC landed me right in the heart of its 11th season. Here’s the rub: I have this thing with water being dumped in my face so, before I even visited, I thought I’d have to sit on the sidelines and watch the fun. While, I did watch my group whitewater raft, there was plenty for me to do, happily.
The US National Whitewater Center offers guests a man-made whitewater rafting channel, complete with class III and IV rapids. You’re able to make several passes around the channel and the guides are more than capable of keeping guests safe. There is a chance (just like traditional whitewater rafting) that you may fall out of the raft, but the tutorial before you begin tells you exactly what to do should it happen. Honestly, I feel rafting this way is much safer than hitting a river as it’s a controlled environment.
In addition to rafting, the center has rock climbing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. There’s also aerial adventure courses, zip lining, and mountain biking at the 1,300 acre space. If you’re not the outdoor adventure type, you can still have a ball at one of its nine outdoor festivals throughout the year.
One of a Kind Deepwater Solo Climbing
I had to mention this separately because, right now in the US, it’s extremely rare. US National Whitewater Center offers a Deepwater Solo Climbing course. Think of it as a rock climbing wall meets Ninja Warrior. Basically, it’s a harness-less trek up a rock wall. If you slip, you’re landing in a deep pool.
US National Whitewater Center Dining
If you visit with kids, you’ll probably end up eating the simple and easy route with burgers and fries, but don’t think that’s all the center has to offer. River’s Edge, both and indoor and outdoor restaurant, offers creative dishes and appetizers. I had to order the Chicken and Waffles (I was in The South, after all!) and was very pleased.
If you want to sit inside when the temps are soaring, it’s a really good way to cool off. There’s plenty of other dining choices, too, including paninis, hummus, pimento cheese, and even Ramen bowls.
In A Nutshell
The US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte is one of those must-visit spots. I know what you’re thinking, though: it’s going to cost an arm and a leg to visit. Happily, it’s quite the opposite. Day passes begin at $49 for kids and include an entire day’s worth of activities including whitewater rafting. If you live close enough, you can purchase a season pass starting at $169. If you choose not to partake in any activities, it’s free admission to sit and watch. I actually visited during this year’s solar eclipse hoopla and there were plenty of folks that brought chairs and blankets to check out the sun.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to give you the scoop on the US National Whitewater Center. All opinions are my own!