US National Whitewater Center
To get your pulse racing, head 20 minutes west of Uptown to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers 24 activities along the world’s largest manmade whitewater river, a series of forest trails and the adjacent Catawba River. Opened in 2006, the Center is an official Olympic training site for whitewater canoe-and-kayak slalom racing.
Here you can go whitewater rafting or kayaking just as though you’re on real rapids, or take a more leisurely canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard journey along the Catawba. Clamber up a manmade rock-climbing wall or go zip-lining over the whitewater pools.
For an additional charge of $89 per person (adults & kids), you can take a 3- to 4-hour guided Canopy Tour, which traverses a series of rope bridges, tree platforms and zip-lines suspended high above a canyon gorge, wetlands, and the forest canopy.
In case solid, non-watery ground is more your scene, you can explore the 14-mile network of forest trails here, which are designed for a combination of walking, running and mountain biking. And for those who would like to make an entire day (and early evening) of a visit to the Center, there’s an on-site café and pub with a big deck.