Why You Should Plan An Outdoor Getaway Weekend On Lake Norman

These places and activities around Lake Norman are perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. There’s an adventure waiting for everyone in the family.

By Jessalyn Adams
Explore Ambassador

Outdoor adventures are a staple to the culture in Charlotte, N.C., so it makes sense that there is an abundance of places to visit and activities to try. The area is historical, a hot spot for tourists and a cozy place to call home. You really can find just about anything that everyone in the family will enjoy. 

Our list of must-see places starts at Lake Norman. It’s no coincidence that this is where the B.A.S.S. team chooses to host fishing tournaments throughout the year. The lake is about 40 minutes away from Charlotte with places to fish, hike, bike, swim, kayak and paddle, boat and try out bouldering and rock climbing. 

Lake Norman Zen Sculpture, Lake Norman State Park (Photo: Bart Mauceri, A Journey in Images)

Pick a campsite at Lake Norman State Park for the weekend and enjoy the outdoor views and direct access to the largest man-made lake in the state. Swimming season ends after Labor Day, but the changing leaves and scenery make for gorgeous hikes and the fishing season never ends. 

Outside of the state park, there is horseback riding, historical sites and, if you are looking for something unique, the Charlotte Cycle Boat Tour

Charlotte Cycleboats (Photo: Visit Lake Norman)

The cycleboat tour is more geared toward adults, but you can learn more about it here. 

One of my favorite activities after living in Columbus, Ga. a little while is whitewater rafting. There are various levels of difficulty, making this an amazing experience for families, and Charlotte just so happens to be the home of the U.S. National Whitewater Center

This nonprofit organization shares 1,300 acres of protected land with the public making the outdoors accessible for everyone. Book a whitewater rafting adventure (highly recommended) or spend the day ziplining, rock climbing, biking, on a ropes course or just casually watching others while you enjoy some food outdoors. 

The Whitewater Center is perfect for a day trip because you can book your visit, plan ahead and rent all the equipment you need. 

Open Swim (Photo: Carrigan Farms)

If you’re like me, you’ll like to find a few places that are more “obscure” or just slightly less traveled than other big-name attractions. That’s where the Quarry at Carrigan Farms comes in. 

Open Swim (Photo: Carrigan Farms)

The swimming season in the 25-foot-deep quarry waters is over, but there are still some incredible views here. Apart from the waterfall and beach area, during the fall, there is apple picking, a pumpkin patch, gorgeous sunflower fields, and a “haunted” trail during the month of October. 

Pumpkin Picking (Photo: Carrigan Farms)

Carrigan Farms stays pretty busy during the year hosting weddings and events, so it’s best to call ahead and book your trip.

Lastly, if we could rank cities based on dog-friendliness, Charlotte would be near the top of the list. Just about everything we listed above welcomes your furry friends along, but if you are looking for an even longer list of places to take those pupperonis, BringFido is a great resource to check out. 

So if you are sold and planning your next weekend getaway, I suggest checking out the Lake Norman website. The organization lists places to book fishing charters, rent equipment, overnight arrangements (camping included) and some more insider takes on where to go and what to do. 

But I highly suggest starting your trip by attending a Bassmaster tournament and exploring from there. 

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