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In the Southeast, springtime brings that sweet spot of balmy weather conditions—cloudless skies and temps hovering around 70 degrees. With the summer heat still months away, it’s a great time for an outdoor adventure close to home. This year, try your hand at one of those "I’ve been meaning to try..." sports like disc golf or orienteering. Or, round up your buddies to hit the lake. Maybe join a brewery workout. Whatever suits your mood, you’ll find it with these under-the-radar opportunities to get outside this spring in Charlotte.
Charlotte has a reputation as a disc golf mecca. So much so, in fact, that the Queen City is hosting the Professional Disc Golf Association Amateur World Championships this summer. Find out what the buzz is all about on Charlotte’s toughest course, Renaissance Gold. Warm up on Renaissance Park’s white and red courses, then take the Gold challenge—hills, ravines, tight lines, heavy forest, and the longest fairways in the city.
As the weather warms up, yogis gather almost every day of the week under the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s South Ridge pavilion for instructor-led yoga classes. Slow Flow, Fun Flow, and Power Flow, as well as all-level sessions, are held every day except Wednesday, with specialty formats like SUP yoga and acro yoga scheduled during festival weekends.
It never hurts to back your GPS with solid compass skills. Triangulate to your heart’s content on Crowders Mountain State Park’s orienteering course. Start at the Sparrow Springs Turnback Trail armed with compass and downloadable instructions. There’s very little chance of getting lost in this popular section of the park, and beginner to experienced courses are color-coded to guide you along the 14-point route. Though you’re never far from civilization, it’s still backcountry, so be prepared to bushwack off-trail and negotiate hills, gullies, creeks, and thick vegetation.
Make a few dozen new friends at an evening brewery run. On Tuesdays, 1-, 3-, and 5-mile routes start and end at Wooden Robot in South End. NoDa Brewing Company’s Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoon runs cover the same distances through the artsy and eclectic North Davidson neighborhood. Both are no-drop runs for any level of runner, and just about everyone hangs out in the taproom for a pint after the workout.
Zipline through the Piedmont forest as the sun sets over the Catawba River on the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s guided twilight canopy tour. Starting at dusk, you’ll zip, rappel, and tackle challenging high ropes obstacles to finish out the course under a starry sky. Fourteen platforms, three sky bridges, and seven ziplines take three to four hours to navigate. After the tour, debrief over dinner at the River’s Edge Grill, where you can choose from a wide variety of North Carolina craft beers and relax on the sublime outdoor patio with a view of the whitewater.
Grab one of Charlotte’s bikeshare cycles available on just about every street corner in uptown to join the Arts & Sciences Council’s public art tour. From the towering panther statues standing guard at Bank of America stadium to the nature-inspired sculptures of Gateway Village, there are more than 30 stops along the way. Finish the tour with a craft cocktail on the terrace at Halcyon, where you can look down on Bechtler Plaza and one of Charlotte’s most iconic sculptures, the 17-foot-tall Firebird.
There’s a workout to be had almost any day of the week at Unknown Brewing in Charlotte’s Gold District. Get your burpee on at Thursday’s Brewery Boot Camp, or join Unknown’s no-drop cycling group on Saturday afternoon to ride 10-, 25-, or 35-mile loops between the downtown taproom and Charlotte-Douglas Airport to the west. On the first Friday of each month, you can join USA female boxing team member and NY Golden Glove Champ Jamie Venturo for Box & Brew.
SUP by moonlight with My Aloha Paddle & Surf. Full moon paddles launch from their Cornelius shop for a beginner-friendly trip along the coves of Lake Norman’s southeastern shore. Boards are equipped with LED lighting for a unique nocturnal perspective of the lake’s aquatic inhabitants. If you have your own kayak or paddleboard, you can launch on Mountain Island Lake for a dusk-to-dark paddle out of the Neck Road Access in Cowan’s Ford Wildlife Refuge. The shoreline is almost entirely undeveloped, meaning less ambient light and more opportunity for stargazing.
With just under 10 miles of fast singletrack, Anne Springs Close Greenway is ideal training ground for beginners and intermediate mountain bikers looking to fine-tune their skills. The 2,100-acre nature preserve, just over the South Carolina state line in Rock Hill, used to be recreation space for mill workers when textiles ruled the South. Now, there’s a nominal fee to ride the flowy loops that start at the recreation complex. Check the greenway’s Facebook page for small-group mountain bike instruction courses and group rides.
Ever seen those pub trolleys breezing through downtown on a Friday night? Take that concept of a cycling bar crawl, take it on the water, and you have the cycleboat. Round up 10 to 15 of your closest cycling (and drinking) buddies to tour the coves of Lake Norman’s southeast shore under the guidance of your captain and designated driver. Schedule a trip at sunset, just as most of the boat traffic heads back to shore and the lake is yours to enjoy.
Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated in partnership with OrthoCarolina.