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Outdoors

Top Rated Attractions in Charlotte

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US National Whitewater Center

Even after having done whitewater rafting, kayaking, flat-water paddling, hiking, climbing, or biking at Charlotte's National Whitewater Center, the place is sure to keep you wanting more. An initiative that contributes to the preservation of the Catawba River and its natural surroundings, the activities organized by the center require a certain level of fitness, but are memorable nevertheless.

Freedom Park

This 98-acre (40 hectare) public park is a slice of nature at its best, right in the middle of the city. Complete with four baseball diamonds, two batting cages, a dozen tennis courts, four soccer fields, a basketball court, a pair of volleyball courts, a pair of playgrounds, a seven-acre (two hectare) lake, an amphitheater, a number of sheltered picnic areas, and miles of trails and paths, Freedom Park has something for everyone. There's even a concession stand for joggers in need of water or sun bathers in need of ice cream. Many of the picnic shelters are reservable, as are the Freedom Park Bandshell and the Mahlon Adams Pavilion, a banquet hall that seats 70 people.

UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens

These botanical gardens are run by the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus and are comprised of three separate sites- the Van Landingham Glen, the Susie Harwood Garden, and the McMillan Greenhouse. There is a wide variety of plants among the gardens, including rhododendrons, native Carolina flora, orchids, desert succulents, and carnivorous pitcher plant hybrids. There are also many walking paths and interesting landscape architecture displays to please the eye. The park is open daily and features an ever-changing collection that varies depending on the time of year, so be sure to check the website for updates.

Charlotte Nature Museum

This museum is tailor made to teach kids about the natural world. They'll see live animals, such as baby chicks, owls, and snakes. Take a stroll through the Butterfly Pavilion or the Paw Paw Nature Trail to learn more about local wildlife. Kids can run and play at Fort Wild or Our Big Backyard, or listen and learn during one of several workshops and events organized here.

Independence Park

In addition to being the oldest park in Charlotte, this 24-acre parcel in the heart of Charlotte's Elizabeth neighborhood serves your every recreational need. For athletes, Independence Park has a batting cage, two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a volleyball court, and three hiking trails. Families make good use of the sheltered picnic area and the playground. If romance is in the air, stroll by the reflecting pool or through the rose garden. A number of shelters, including the rose garden's gazebo, are available for private events. See website for reservation information.

Lake Norman

Lake Norman is the largest man-made lake in the Carolinas. It's also one of the best places for outdoor fun and water sports. There are a number of activities to partake in both on land and in water in the Lake Norman area, including miniature golf, fishing and water skiing. And if you prefer a more relaxing day, you can relax on the banks of the river with a picnic.

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