Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, is a thriving tourist destination. Despite its modern constructions and business centers, Charlotte carefully preserves its green space. The city’s well-maintained network of greenways makes it a haven for bikers and nature lovers.
There are many ways one can explore Charlotte, such as biking, hiking, nature walks, and the Charlotte Trolley Trail. Check out some of the off-the-beaten ways to experience Charlotte’s charm.
Camping at McDowell Nature Preserve
Image via Flickr by Pickersgill Reef
McDowell Nature Center provides access to the McDowell Nature Preserve, an 1108-acre land area preserving natural communities and indigenous flora and fauna. The preserve is home to several camping areas and waterfront picnic areas. Set up a camp and escape into nature. Go fishing or kayaking at Lake Wylie. The hiking trail through the forest and Piedmont prairie restoration areas offer scenic views as you walk past the gurgling streams, placid lakes and groves of rare plants. McDowell Nature Preserve offers full-service camping, ranging from motorhomes to tents, that you can book online.
Outdoor Activities With Kids at Paw Paw Nature Trail
Image via Flickr by That Geek DouG
Close to Uptown — that’s what Charlotte calls its downtown — Paw Paw Nature Trail is one of the hidden gems of Charlotte where you can enjoy nature in a completely different way. Discovery Place Nature offers a range of nature activities at Paw Paw Nature Trail, as you take a trek through a 100-year-old forest land.
Walk among the butterflies at the Butterfly Pavilion. Catch the whiff of forest air and let loose your imagination in building structures with logs and rocks and other natural objects. As you step into the woods, you might see the barred owls watching over you, perched high on the branches. The woodpeckers’ tapping sound intensifies the quiet of the forest. Marvel at the beauty of seasonal wildflowers covering the forest floor. Look down for box turtles under bushes so that you don’t accidentally step on them.
Biking at Freedom Park, McAlpine Creek Park, Other Nature Trails
Image via Flickr by Grant Baldwin Photography
Only 3 miles from Uptown, Freedom Park offers refreshing greenery in the heart of the city. The park’s tree-lined pathways circling a large pond can be best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent anytime from a Charlotte B-Cycle near the park. The park comes alive with joggers, dog-walkers, kids, and families in the morning and evening, presenting the perfect picture of Charlotte’s love for outdoor recreation and fitness.
McAlpine Creek Park, the oldest greenway in Piedmont, is a bird watchers’ delight. It is connected to Campbell Creek Greenway at Margaret Wallace Road at the northern end. Apart from a range of outdoor recreational amenities, here you may also get to see a variety of wild animals, including otters, beavers, minks, and about 188 species of birds.
Meeting Birds of Prey at Carolina Raptor Center
Image via Flickr by John W10
About a half-hour drive from Uptown Charlotte, the Carolina Raptor Center lets you meet, learn about and get close to a variety of raptors as you walk down the outdoor trail within the conservation area. The nature preserve is actually a shelter for sick, wounded, and orphaned raptors. The center hosts a variety of educational activity programs to increase awareness among students. A guided tour of the raptor rehab can help you become a more responsible and active supporter of nature and wildlife conservation.
Closer Looks at Charlotte Show History, Progress
As a major financial hub in North Carolina, Charlotte has transformed with time. Yet there remain bits of its glorious past in the forms of trolleys (formerly streetcars), Queen Anne style homes, and Colonial Revival architecture in the neighborhoods of Dilworth and Myers Park.
Image via Flickr by UGArdener
Charlotte runs various urban agricultural projects to improve the city’s landscape and develop local food system. Nonprofit organizations are working to convert empty plots into community gardens or productive urban area. The goal is to spread environmental awareness and increase sustainable food production. If you want to try Charlotte’s home-grown food and wine, catch the train (Lynx Light Rail) from Uptown to 7th Street Station for the 7th Street Public Market. It’s a bustling place with local farmers, vendors, vegetable and flower shops, bars, and eateries.
Charlotte is best visited during summer or fall. Whether on a business trip or a vacation, book your stay at any of the hotels near Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. They ensure an easy walk to downtown attractions and entertainment hubs. The city has all sorts of attractions, from art and history museums to motorsports and adventure, to keep you busy on a vacation. Families can enjoy the amusement parks, while outdoor lovers can seek adventure in whitewater rafting, canoeing, or rock climbing at the U.S. National Whitewater Center