Charlotte Day 2: Duck Donuts + US National Whitewater Center

If you’re getting caught up, we spent a couple of days enjoying Charlotte after a lacrosse tournament last weekend.  You can find all of the details on Day 1 here!

Day 1:

  • Stayed at Westin Uptown Charlotte
  • Lunch at Amelie’s
  • Visited NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • Played at The Green
  • Dinner at RuRu’s Tacos + Tequilla

Day 2:

  • Breakfast at Duck Donuts
  • Visited US National Whitewater Center
  • Dinner at Sonic (I know… we were STARVING!)

Thanks to wonderful blackout curtains at the Westin, we were able to sleep in after four pretty much non-stop days at the tournament and touring the city!  Our first order of business for the day was brunch at Duck Donuts.


This place was SO good and we all enjoyed the experience.  The vanilla cake donuts are served hot with your choice of glaze, topping and drizzle for completely customized made to order donuts!!!  The boys got a little wild with theirs but claimed to love them all :-)  My faves were the chocolate glaze with chocolate sprinkles and raspberry drizzle and maple glaze with bacon.  Mmmmm….


After brunch we headed to the U.S. National Whitewater Center.  This gorgeous 1100 acre facility is home to all sorts of outdoor adventures for all ages (8 and up in my opinion) and skill levels.



You an easily spend a whole jam-packed, exhaustingly fun day here with whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses, obstacle courses, a canopy tour, and mountain biking, walking and jogging on a 25+ mile trail system.



The whitewater activities were closed for our visit due to the recent death of the teenager from a brain eating amoeba found in the waters.  We almost didn’t go at all because of this, but were SO glad that we did.  There was plenty to do on land – so much so that we spent more than seven hours at the USNWC.

We all enjoyed a family friendly competition on the obstacle course…

We spent hours up in the trees on the ropes courses.  We did three different courses – one with a “choose your own adventure” type of skill level at each platform.

We really challenged ourselves by climbing to the top of Hawk Tower, twelve stories up, for the double down zip lines!  The view from the top was CRAZY!

We took multiple turns on the rock climbing walls.  Again, a family competition to get to the top kept us pressing onward and upward :-)

We had a spectacular and very adventurous day at the USNWC.  We would definitely go back!!

If you go:

  • Plan to spend the whole day.  It’s expensive to buy a day pass and there is a TON of stuff to do!
  • In my opinion, 8 would be the youngest I’d consider taking.  We had to fudge a few months on Whit’s age, but he was fine.  Since he’s the younger one and VERY big for his age, he is always up for anything and size was not a problem.
  • Weight is another consideration – 45 lbs is the minimum requirement for the smaller things and 70 lbs for the bigger ones.  Whit is 75 (gulp) so he could do everything.
  • The signs say no outside food or drink but we saw loads of people with water bottles and wished SO much that we had brought them too.  It’s hot and you will be thirsty.  The water fountains and restaurants are not going to be near your activity so fill them up and carry them with you.  We ended up buying waters and refilling them many times throughout the day.  You cannot bring in a cooler.
  • GoPros are not allowed in any form except for a low helmet mount (not sure what that means).  We kept ours in Honey’s cargo pocket.  You cannot bring it out on any of the activities.  All of our pics were taken from the ground.  That being said, you will definitely want some sort of camera – the things you will do are SO cool!
  • I’ll be honest and say that the helmets kind of bugged me out a bit.  They said “we wash these.” But… I’m not sure when or how often.  LOL.  At each activity you gear up and get a new helmet from a bin… the same bin the people prior to you dump theirs in.  I would definitely wear a baseball hat under the helmet and turn it around backwards.  And I don’t ever wear hats :-)
  • There are restaurants, an outfitter store, water fountains and clean bathrooms.
  • I would purchase your tickets and lather up with sunscreen then lock everything except what you can zip into cargo pockets up in the car.  There’s not really a place to make a home base.  You can come and go from your car as you please.
  • If John had a friend his age with him I would feel completely comfortable letting them roam!  The employees are kind of friendly, but mostly focused on safety everywhere at all times.  We saw a few families where the parents relaxed at the Biergarten while the preteens and teens roamed all about for the day.  You don’t have to pay to get in unless you are doing the activities.
  • Parking is $5 – cash or card.
  • We went on a Monday and the place was nearly empty.  I feel like the whitewater piece being closed probably played a factor in that.
  • There is live music on Saturday nights (and one other night that I can’t recall).  That would be an awesome way to end a day with older kids or adults!!
  • The activities are challenging.  For example, we did the ropes at Wilderness at the Smokies and they were MUCH easier.
  • Wear sunglass, sunscreen, closed toe shoes, and shorts/clothing that has a zipper.  You cannot do any of the activities without closed toe shoes.
  • Dogs are allowed, but there’s no way I’d bring Elsa :-)
  • If you want to do the rafting you can purchase a reserved time slot online in advance for $5 per person.  I had originally done this but they were happy to refund me when it was closed.

If you have any questions I am happy to try and answer!  Overall, I would absolutely recommend the USNWC for an adventure loving family!!

We had a lovely time in Charlotte and are so glad that we extended our visit after the tournament to be able to explore and enjoy.


U.S. National Whitewater Center
Dixie Travels  |  Charlotte NC

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6 thoughts on “Charlotte Day 2: Duck Donuts + US National Whitewater Center

  1. You do such an fabulous job of sharing tips and information of your adventures. It is very considerate and helpful.
    Your boys are the only kids that may find college boring! :-)
    Have a wonderful holiday weekend! God bless America and the whole wide world.

  2. The USNWC is a major training center for Olympic athletes for those types of water activities. I can’t wait until the water part is reopened. In the mean time, there are wonderful whitewater rafting excursions and rivers in the mountains. I’m so glad y’all had a wonderful time!

  3. The USNWC dyes their river green and has all day music for St. Patrick’s Day – if you’re in the area then, it’s a blast!

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