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.