When some plan a stay in historic Charlotte, North Carolina, for the family, they imagine leisurely strolls around its downtown and historic sites. They look forward to taking in all of its Southern charm, from architecture, museums and heritage houses to restaurants (barbeque in particular) and shopping. Others who know the area for its ties to NASCAR and its rustic natural parks will be revved up by all of the adrenaline-inducing adventures it has to offer.
A family with mixed interests, thankfully, can do a little of everything. This makes for a truly balanced trip where everybody will get an opportunity to amp their adrenaline levels, enjoy the classic Southern town and surrounding Cabarrus County at a slower pace and, ultimately, end up trying something new.
A weekend itinerary could fall along these lines:
Adrenaline A.M. : Go rock climbing or challenge yourself to the high ropes course at Capstone Climbing & Adventure. They have adventure programs for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, so they can custom design a program just for you and your family.
Zen P.M.: Connect with nature and paddle the Rocky River on a kayak or canoe at the Pharr Family Preserve Trail and observe more than 48 species of trees. The family can also take a leisurely ride in a paddle boat on the 10-acre lake in Frank Liske Park.
Adrenaline A.M.: Everybody can get in touch with their inner speed demon in a real NASCAR race car on legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway via its Richard Petty Driving Experience, hitting speeds at upwards of 160 mph. The track also offers a Junior Ride Along for the younger racecar enthusiasts in the family. Travelers can also fly at speeds of up to 330 mph while driving a dragster at zMAX Dragway.
Zen P.M.: While kids enjoy the hotel amenities, parents can enter a state of tranquility by booking a massage or facial at Spa Botanica at the Embassy Suites by Hilton or relax with a yoga class at one of the region’s laid-back breweries. Alternatively, sign up for a Mommy & Me pedicure at Scooops spa, an ice-cream-themed kid spa at Great Wolf Lodge.
Adrenaline A.M: Zoom around professionally-designed indoor go-kart tracks in all-electric karts that allow you to take tight turns and accelerate with ease at K1 Speed. Note: kids must be at least four feet tall to race.
Zen P.M.: Feast Food Tours offers a generous helping of Southern hospitality at its most hip and flavorful. It offers treks through such hot neighborhoods as Uptown, NoDa, Plaza Midwood, Dilworth and South End. Participants will go behind the scenes to check out the best chefs, restaurateurs, farmers and artisans behind Charlotte’s culinary scene.
Adrenaline A.M: Hit the track for power shopping at Concord Mills. This indoor mall, designed like a racetrack, has more than 200 stores, a food court, movie theater and Sea-Life Aquarium. Non-shoppers can blow off some steam outside at The Speedpark, which includes four go-kart tracks, mini-golf and bungee jumping. Kids as young as 3 years old can drive go-karts here.
Zen P.M.: Unplug on the Carolina Thread Trail, actually a regional network of greenways, trails and blueways spanning 15 counties and two states, and connecting 2.3 million people.
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