If the hot summer day doldrums have got the kids down, recharge their batteries with high-octane activities. Rev up their engines at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, or ride the waves on a rafting adventure at the world’s biggest man-made whitewater river. Cool down with a day of swimming in Charlotte’s largest lake, and end those toasty days with cool, silky ice cream. Charlotte’s best spots to spend a hot summer day promise this and so much more.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28202
Price: $19.95 per adult/$12.95 per children 5 to 12/$15 parking daily max
This 150,000-square-foot facility is jam packed with four floors of everything NASCAR. A short movie depicting the history of NASCAR begins the visit, then more than 50 interactive attractions, 1,000 artifacts and memorabilia of the sport’s early days, and a Kobalt Kids Zone featuring a life-size engine puzzle entertain the entire family. Live out NASCAR dreams in a racing simulator. Other family favorites include the Victory Lane photo, Call A Race to hear your voice on the radio, waving the green flag on the flag stand and the Pit Crew Challenge where family members compete against one another.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
Charlotte, NC 28214
Click here for passes and prices
Ziplining, trail biking, rock climbing and whitewater rafting all in one location guarantee a full day of exhilarating activities. Olympic hopefuls train at the facilities, boasting the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Located on the banks of the Catawba River, it’s akin to a Disney World for the sports person. Land activities include canyon zip, rock climbing, mountain biking, ridge course and the trail system. The Family Rafting adventure is popular with younger kids. For drops, waves and tight technical turns, try the Rodeo Rafting. The facility provides locker rooms, showers and a changing room. Pets must be on a leash.
Lake Norman State Park
159 Inland Sea Lane
Troutman, NC 28166
Price: $4 for adults/$3 for children
The largest man-made lake in the Carolinas lies about 20 minutes from downtown Charlotte. Lake Norman abounds with sport facilities, professional fishing tournaments, beautiful greens for golf aficionados and shopping opportunities galore. For those without boats, public swimming is restricted to the Lake Norman State Park. The swim area is roped off, and the sandy beach stretches roughly 125 feet. Take advantage of a large parking area, a bath house with warm showers, restrooms, a concession stand, changing stalls and lockers. Pets are not permitted in the swim area, beach buildings or adjacent grassy hillsides.
1261 Oak Ridge Farm Highway
Mooresville, NC 28115
Click here for picking and prices
The beautiful family owned farm is located a stones throw north of Charlotte. It is operated by a husband-wife team and their two children. The fifth generation farm has operated since 1902, hosting family field trips and swimming parties for groups of 25 or more. Near the cool, blue waters of the quarry, enjoy a sugar sand beach volleyball court. The family will cater a meal of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, condiments, sweet tea, soda and fresh watermelon slices for $18 per person. Reserve the quarry without the meal for $10 per person.
Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream
2107 South Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203
Round off any summer day with a creamy, smooth vanilla and chocolate swirl ice cream cone. One of Charlotte’s original landmarks, the old-style soda shop only takes cash. The family owned business serves burgers, hotdogs and a wide assortment of milkshakes. Grab a signature chocolate and peanut butter shake and sit outside at the patio table and chairs for a $6 lunch.
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Catherine Lash engagingly connects with people. She has learned that interested listening and thoughtful questioning are the means through which collaboration creates a story. She grew up traveling the world and learning military life in an Air Force family of seven. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three kids. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.