A Guide to Charlotte’s Outdoor Fun for All Experience Levels
You don't have to be an extreme person to love all that Charlotte has to offer.
by Sallie Funderburk
You don’t have to be an extreme person to love all that Charlotte has to offer. If you’re seeking a new adventure, take advantage of the city’s variety of outdoor activities—from outdoor yoga classes to stand-up paddle boarding. No matter what level of outdoorsy-ness you relate to most, here’s how to get active under the sun.
Maybe your idea of the outdoors is exploring the newest local brewery along Charlotte’s Rail Trail, taking your dog for a long walk on one of Charlotte’s many lush greenways or enjoying a free concert at River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Charlotte has plenty of easygoing activities to take part in.
Take to your closest greenway. There’s tons in, around and throughout Charlotte. Lace up your tennis shoes or grab a B-cycle bike and head to Little Sugar Creek Greenway (which runs from Cordelia Park to Huntingtowne Farms Park), Anne Springs Close Greenway (which has 40-plus miles of trails) or Toby Creek Greenway (which extends from Mallard Creek Greenway to University City Blvd.). Make sure to grab your Fitbit or look at your phone health app. You’ll be blown away with the amount of steps you’ll get in outside.
Be One with Nature
If you’re looking to switch up your usual yoga practice, how does free outdoor yoga under the trees sound? The Whitewater Center offers more than 280 yoga practices throughout the year including a Slow Flow practice—a slower paced Vinyasa flow for beginner to intermediate yogis. Destressing outside after a long day at work never sounded so good.
Sweat. Sip. Repeat.
Charlotte’s breweries and cideries don’t only offer great local pours but many of them also offer weekly events that get you outdoors and active. From fun runs at breweries (try: Cabarrus Brewing Company or Wooden Robot Brewery) to barre classes on the lawn (try: Sycamore Brewing), these group activities are a perfect way to explore new neighborhoods and discover Charlotte’s love for libations.
If you’re looking to break a sweat, listen up. Whether you’re a gym member or love to move around, spice up your day-to-day workout routine with one of these activities:
Amp up your casual bike ride around the neighborhood to a more rugged, fast-paced ride around trails that twist and turn. Yes, we’re talking about mountain biking. Moderate trails include Seven Oaks Preserve Trail in Belmont and Itusi Trail in Lake Norman.
And if you’re looking for more of a social spin, check out the city’s bike club events in neighborhoods like Plaza Midwood. There’s tons of fellow bikers who meet throughout the year for relaxed rides around Charlotte.
SUP Charlotte. No, we’re not saying “what’s up” to Charlotte. We’re actually referring to stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). The popular sport combines surfing and paddling into one activity, and it’s something all ages can try. Test your balance out on the Catawba River, Lake Wylie or Lake Norman. It may look easy but this all-body workout will have your muscles aching the next day.
Don’t Look Down
If you’ve been to the Whitewater Center lately, there’s no way to miss the outdoor climbing wall: the Deep Water Solo climbing complex. The activity has climbing routes ranging from 25 to 45 feet tall arching over a 20 foot deep pool. While it may look intimidating, it features climbs for a variety of difficulty levels.
You’re the type that eats, breathes and craves the outdoor lifestyle. From climbing crags at Crowders Mountain to competing in triathlons in the Charlotte area, you’re always looking for your next challenge.
Run the Distance
If running a casual 5 miles or more every week is in your wheelhouse, consider running a half marathon, marathon or ultra-marathon in Charlotte. There are a large number of running coaches and training programs for runners at all levels—whether you’re looking to complete a specific distance or improve your overall time and performance. The Novant Health Charlotte Marathon training program starts in June while the Charlotte Running Company x Perfect Pace training starts in July.
While water sports are usually off limits to most landlocked metropolitan cities, they aren’t to the Queen City. Home to the world’s largest manmade recirculating whitewater river, the Whitewater Center offers whitewater channels eight months out of the year. Kayaking experience is required for the Class III whitewater rapids; all kayakers should be able to perform a reliable combat roll. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure.
The Ride of Your Life
Calling all adrenaline junkies! Bicycle motocross (BMX) has taken over Charlotte. As one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., a typical race around a BMX track lasts less than a minute. Oh, and did we mention you’re competing against other riders while riding around steep backsides and deep turns? And that’s not even the half of it. If this piques your interest, try the Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track, the first Olympic-caliber BMX training facility which held the UCI BMX World Championships, or the Hornet’s Nest BMX on Beatties Ford Road.
This post is brought to you in partnership with the U.S. National Whitewater Center.