Outdoors & Adventure

Safe Outdoor Activities to Discover in the Queen City

Charlotte’s parks, greenways and urban trails offer wide open natural spaces to enjoy the fresh air and the company of a friend – from a distance.

Little Sugar Creek - Photography by Cody Hughes

The term “social distancing” has become a new normal for the Charlotte community and the nation. In light of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, the CDC recommends us to avoid gatherings of more than ten individuals, and that any social interactions should take place at a minimum of six feet apart.

But you can only watch so much Netflix, and after awhile even the couch isn’t comfortable. So how can you maintain your mental, physical and emotional health? Get outside.

Charlotte’s parks, greenways and urban trails offer wide open natural spaces to enjoy the fresh air and the company of a friend – from a distance.

Go to the Greenway

The Queen City is home to more than 50 miles of greenways, so there’s no shortage of space to get outside. Break off the monotony of self-quarantine and hike, bike or stroll along the trail closest to you.


Briar Creek Greenway

Near Veterans Neighborhood Park and Merry Oaks Park, this half-mile trail links Merry Oaks and Plaza Midwood. The pedestrian bridge is the perfect spot to catch nature in action – watch the turtles burrow in the creek while fish swim downstream. You may even see a Great Blue Heron.

Irwin Creek and Stewart Creek Greenways

These two trails comprise a 2.06-mile path near Uptown. You’ll be able to view public art near Ray’s Splash Planet, an old railroad near Summit Ave. and wildlife like mallard ducks and the Great Blue Heron.


Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Part of an ongoing restoration project, this greenway will eventually feature over 19 miles of trails and land connectors. For now, you can enjoy a tranquil walk, run or cycle near the Midtown area in Charlotte.

Lower McAlpine Creek, McMullen Creek, and Four Mile Creek Greenways

For an extended outdoor adventure, this horseshoe-shaped network of trails runs 5.8 miles through South Charlotte. You’ll wander through asphalt, gravel and boardwalk trails – perfect for a variety of outdoor activities like walking, running and biking.

Mallard Creek and Clark’s Creek Greenways

Spending the entire day outdoors? Stretching more than 7.40 miles, this greenway is the longest in Charlotte and is part of the Cross-Charlotte Trail, which will eventually connect the NC/SC state line. Perfect for students and families in the University area, these gravel trails weave through nearby neighborhoods and University Research Park.

Picnic in the Park

With over 21,000 acres of green space and more than 200 parks, you can practice social distancing and still avoid crowds. Pack a picnic. Go for a run around a lake. Spend quality time with your dog. While most of the parks have plenty of acreage, plan on visiting in off-hours, like the very early morning, mid-morning when most people are working from home, or the late evening just before dark to catch the sunset.

Freedom Park - Photography by Cody Hughes

Freedom Park

For a tranquil afternoon, walk along a trail paved around Freedom Park’s 7-acre lake. Ample green space makes the area a delightful choice for a picnic, with plenty of Dilworth favorites for takeout nearby.

If you want to continue your outdoor adventure, this loop connects to Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

Independence Park

Even in a time of chaos, this park offers a Zen escape. Soak in the sunshine and observe natural foliage in the on-site Demonstration Garden. Other relaxing spots include a stone shelter, reflection pond and a rose garden.

James Boyce Park

Located near SouthPark, this 73-acre park offers multi-purpose trails and picnic shelters


Ramsey Creek Park

Known for its beachy feel, this Lake Norman waterfront park stretches for almost 44 acres. You’ll find a dog park, beach, fishing pier, loading docks and 1.5 miles of nature trails.

Reedy Creek Park

For a true natural paradise, head to this 146-acre park. Stroll through a community garden. Play at the dog park. Stroll near lakeside meadow. Or post up at the fishing pier.

Romare Bearden Park - Photography by Kyo H Nam

Romare Bearden Park

This urban oasis lives in the middle of Uptown Charlotte near notable museums and the BB&T Ballpark. Settle near the fountain by day to relax with a book or watch it illuminate after dark.

William R. Davie Park

Spend the afternoon with your pup – this is the largest dog park in Charlotte and features a full 5-acre fenced-in space for dogs to play. There’s also shelters, ponds and walking trails for humans.

Rail Trail in South End - Photography by Cody Hughes

Run on the Rail Trail

Stretching 3.5 miles along the LYNX Blue Line in South End, the Rail Trail is a central destination for Charlotteans seeking an outdoor space with the benefits of an urban location.

Gyms are closed, but you can still get in a good workout by walking or running along the trail. You can even make your outdoor adventure an art walk: look for the colorful, geometric Magic Carpet murals near New Bern Station. Since the Rail Trail is narrow, it’s best to visit in the early morning or late evening to avoid large crowds.