Some of us prefer a beach chair and service from a cabana boy. The rest of us just want to hurtle through space while screaming at the top of our lungs — or at least climb tall things. Here’s where to do it without driving forever.
1. U.S. National Whitewater Center
This Charlotte facility is true to its name, but you’ll also find ziplines, hiking and biking trails, and rock walls; one of which you’ll climb to the top and then plummet into a swimming pool below. Get crazy or have a seat on the lawn and watch other people risk it all. Visit the website.
2. Paraclete XP Indoor Skydiving
Spend a few minutes watching the pros fly in all sorts of formations at this Raeford facility, then get in yourself and flail around miserably. Instruction is fun, though, especially when your instructor flies you to the top of the chamber and you immediately start drooling out of happy fright. Open to ages as young as 3. See packages.
3. Fantasy Lake Scuba Diving
It’s not surprising that this is the No. 1 thing to do in a place called Rolesville, but it is surprising that you can dive in a 50-acre quarry littered with busses, planes, boats and other junk to explore. Oh, and it’s open 365 days a year, so we know where we’re celebrating Christmas. Get low.
4. NASCAR Ride Along
Ride shotgun at top speeds or get behind the wheel yourself at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. If you’re a super fan, you can pay $5,000 to make Richard Petty pretend to be your friend. Start your engines.
5. Zipquest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure
You probably didn’t know there was a waterfall in Fayetteville. You probably also didn’t know it was home to one of USA Today’s 10 Great Ziplines. Surprise! Here, you’ll also find a “swing shot” that sends you flying across a five-story-high void. Step it up a notch with NightQuest, when you can tackle the challenges after dark. Buckle up, buttercup.
6. Airtime Balloon Company
Husband and wife team Marc and Ursula Klinger have been a “balloon team” for 26 years, taking customers on flights in the Statesville area, north of Charlotte. It’s pricey, at about $250 per person for a flight that lasts about an hour, but how many of your friends have gone on a non-tethered balloon ride? That’s what we thought.