15 Best Things to Do in Huntersville, NC

Huntersville, NC
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Sitting on the southern edge of beautiful Lake Norman is the charming community of Huntersville, North Carolina.

This laid-back and historic destination is a large suburban town that’s part of the Charlotte metropolitan area and home to more than 58,000 residents.

Despite its size and population, Huntersville has maintained a small-town ambiance ideal for those who want a quick escape from busy urban lives.

The community offers a wide range of natural attractions, manmade destinations, as well as historic sites for any age and preference.

So bring your whole family or group of friends because there’s something for everyone in this town.

Here are the 15 best things to do in Huntersville, NC:

See Jousting Knights at Carolina Renaissance Festival

Jousting Knights at Carolina Renaissance Festival
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For eight weekends, Hunterville’s townsfolk gather to create one of the largest Renaissance fairs in the US: the Carolina Renaissance Festival.

The activity is held every October to November in a 325-acre autumn woodland area—the perfect setting for a magical celebration.

Set in the fictional village called “Fairhaven,” the event is a gathering of local artisans, performers, and visitors from all over.

View of Carolina Renaissance Festival
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You’d find more than 140 vendors selling artisanal furniture, fine leather goods, handmade jewelry, artworks, and other premium products.

In addition, there are 16 outdoor stages showcasing a wide variety of performances like comedy acts, magic shows, and dances.

The most famous are the Jousting Knights on Horseback, The Ancient Art of Falconry, and the “Sea Fairies” Mermaid exhibit.

So make sure you visit the town during fall if you plan to catch all the wonders of this festival.

View of Carolina Renaissance Festival
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See a Glimpse of the Past at Historic Latta Plantation

In the past, much of the land in Huntersville and the surrounding region was used as plantations.

And much like the rest of the South, these lands were tilled by slaves under the supervision of their masters.

This history, with all its grim and good aspects, is showcased and preserved here at Historic Latta Plantation.

This attraction is a solemn facility listed under the National Register of Historic Places, having been around since the 1800s.

It’s composed of a Federal-style home and surrounding agricultural land, which has now been preserved to hold an array of activities.

From battle reenactments to summer camps, the plantation is the venue for various educational events that are related to the site and Hunterville’s history.

By touring the house and joining the events, you’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of life before the Civil War in the region.

Let Your Child Learn at Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville

For those bringing children to their trip, make sure to stop by Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville.

This children’s museum is an interactive destination where the young ones can learn about various topics.

It has themed areas, engaging exhibits, and even live events that allow visitors to immerse themselves in science, the environment, and different industries.

Whether they want to be chefs, explorers, or firefighters, your kids can try any role they want to be within the museum.

The most well-loved activities here are live shows, ranging from puppet plays to science experiments.

Your children will learn about complex topics in an entertaining format during these performances.

Check out their website to see upcoming shows so you can plan ahead!

See Majestic Creatures at Carolina Raptor Center

Owl at Carolina Raptor Center
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The Carolina Raptor Center is another family-friendly destination focused on the rehabilitation and care of the country’s raptors.

It all started when Dr. Dick Brown brought an injured Broad-winged Hawk under his care and treated it until it could fly again.

Since then, the center has grown into a large facility that accepts more than 35,000 visitors every year.

Owl at Carolina Raptor Center
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It has many attractions where curious children and adults can see raptor birds up close.

These include the Raptor Trail, Edna S. Moretti Environmental Education Center, and the Jim Arthur Raptor Medical Center, which accepts almost a thousand birds every year for treatment.

One of the most prominent activities here is the falcon shows, where the audience can watch as a trained falconer plays with these majestic birds of prey.

Owl at Carolina Raptor Center
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Cruise the Waters of Mountain Island Lake

Mountain Island Lake is an artificial body of water sitting next to Carolina Raptor Center and the Historic Latta Plantation.

It’s an economically vital resource that provides electricity and water to the residents of Charlotte and the surrounding region.

But it’s also a favorite, less-crowded local attraction that offers a tranquil ambiance and beautiful lakeside views.

The land feature from which it’s named is a small mountain rising like an island, adding to the majestic scenery.

For those who want to try water-related activities on the lake, you can visit the numerous boat launches surrounding it.

There are outfitters in Huntersville that offer kayak and canoe rentals as well, allowing you to cruise the gentle currents towards the isolated sections of the lake.

For wilder adventures, you can book a waterskiing trip and have a thrilling afternoon riding boat wakes.

Go Horseback Riding at Latta Nature Preserve

Latta Nature Preserve is a 1,460-acre outdoor attraction sitting next to Mountain Island Lake.

As Mecklenburg County’s largest nature preserve, the destination is home to many of the region’s endemic flora and fauna, making it an important ecological hotspot.

One of the favorite activities here is checking out the many scenic trails crisscrossing forests, spanning over 16 miles, which can be explored on foot or horseback.

You’d have plenty of opportunities to spot the many birds, insects, and mammals that call this preserve home.

If you want to learn more about these species, don’t forget to visit the interpretive center for informative discussions and educational programs.

And if you want to head into the water of Mountain Island Lake, there are boat launches on the western edge of the preserve.

You’re also welcome to try shore fishing or have picnics along the scenic and isolated banks.

Learn New Concepts at EnergyExplorium at McGuire Nuclear Station

For a truly unique experience, visit the EnergyExplorium at McGuire Nuclear Station during your trip to Huntersville.

There are few other places in the country where the whole family can learn about nuclear energy with engaging exhibits and awesome displays.

EnergyExplorium is one of these rare attractions, kept at a distance from McGuire Nuclear Station for every visitor’s safety.

Not only will you learn about nuclear energy, but you will also get to know other energy sources, such as the hydroelectric dam on the Catawba River.

In fact, EnergyExplorium sits on the southernmost end of Lake Norman, right where the Catawba River is dammed.

So aside from trips in the halls of the educational facility, you can also enjoy the scenic lakeside views of the area.

There are even nature trails and a butterfly garden that you’re welcome to visit after your tour of EnergyExplorium.

Join the Fun at Frankie’s of Charlotte

Front View of Frankie’s of Charlotte
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Frankies is a well-loved amusement park company in the state, and one of their bigger facilities is located in Charlotte.

It’s the perfect family destination for those who want to try a wide range of exhilarating and memorable activities.

By combining arcade, racing, and mini-golf elements, the park offers a comprehensive set of attractions—the only thing missing is a water park.

But the rest is more than enough for a whole day’s worth of fun.

Test your driving skills by joining a race on their two tracks or brave the G-forces by riding their Pirate Ship, Tea Cups, and Swings.

For those who want to try team sports, there’s a Laser Tag arena and virtual reality games that require good synergy and communication.

The arcade is great for kids and adults who want to play classic games and revamped versions that will challenge your eye and hand coordination skills—there are hundreds to choose from!

To refuel after an intense round, visit the cafe or lounge for a quick and satisfying bite.

Go Fishing at Lake Norman

Many of Huntersville’s attractions border Lake Norman, so it makes sense that you should explore all the wonders of the destination since you’re already so close.

It’s actually the largest artificial body of water in North Carolina, formed in 1959 after the Catawba River was dammed.

Now, it spans more than 32,500 acres in total surface area, surrounded by cities and towns that rely on its waters for irrigation and energy.

Due to its expansive area, the lake has become the home to a wide range of plants and animals native to the Piedmont region.

You can book a charter from Huntersville to try catching some of the aquatic species lurking in the depths, such as catfish and various types of bass.

If you’re not up for fishing, then simply stay on the beaches along the banks for sunbathing, strolling, and sightseeing.

You can also try spotting the birds of prey and waterfowl hunting or frolicking on the shallower spots of the lake.

Have a Fun Family Day at Blythe Landing Park

Blythe Landing Park is a panoramic 26-acre attraction sitting right next to Lake Norman.

Instead of vast green grass, the grounds of this destination are mostly covered by tall trees, offering lots of secluded and shady spots for picnics.

And since it sits next to the body of water, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for water-related activities.

There are even a few boat launches on the park and nearby shores.

Within the forest grounds, there are plenty of picnic benches, barbeque spots, and nature trails that wind around the trees and into the lakeside front.

For those who want to try sporty activities that do not involve water, there’s a sand volleyball court perfect for a playful match under the sun.

Visit the concession stand on one section of the park if you need to refuel from intense games or simply need more food for your picnic.

Watch Rare Birds at Cowans Ford Wildlife Refuge

Cowans Ford Wildlife Refuge is a protected area sitting on the eastern banks of the Catawba River near Rural Hill.

It’s underdeveloped, with no discernable trails or modern amenities for tourists.

And it’s been kept that way to protect the riparian habitat from human encroachment and preserve the pristine landscape.

That’s because this 668-acre peninsula is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, particularly avian species.

In fact, the refuge is designated as a North Carolina Important Bird Area.

So if you’re an avid birdwatcher, then a visit to this place will definitely be the highlight of your Huntersville adventure.

Most people are not allowed to head into the wilder areas, limited only to the viewing platform at the end of the road.

So bring your binoculars or high-power cameras to capture images of neotropical migrants, birds of prey, waterfowl, and other species as they hunt, forage, and breed.

It’s an all-seasons destination, so you can visit anytime if you plan on seeing particular species of visiting birds.

Immerse in History at Rural Hill

Sheeps at Rural Hill
Scot Campbell, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spanning 265 acres of rolling hills and forests, Rural Hill is a gorgeous attraction that combines natural beauty and manmade wonders.

This facility is a mix of a nature preserve, historic site, events space, and cultural center that’s open for kids and adults.

Aside from being once a plantation, Rural Hill is the home of Scottish settlers who came to Huntersville in the 1700s.

So there are more than 250 years of Scottish heritage celebrated during the Rural Highland Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games—held right at the facility’s grounds.

It’s a unique cultural activity that you definitely shouldn’t miss!

Aside from these events, the facility is open for educational tours, summer camps, and even weddings.

Check out their calendar to see the list of upcoming activities that you’re welcome to join in!

Trek the Scenic Torrence Creek Greenway

Torrence Creek is a small body of water snaking through Huntersville, and Torrence Creek Greenway is a beautiful path running parallel to it.

With a total length of 2.4 miles, this network of trails brings you to several scenic spots along the creek.

These include wooded areas, boardwalks, wildflower patches, and bridges traversing the creek itself.

Whether you’re going for a walk, jog, or a ride on a bike, this greenway is a great little escape from modernity right at the heart of Huntersville.

Play Sports at North Mecklenburg Park

Compared to Blythe Landing Park, North Mecklenburg Park is much more expansive, with a total land area of 100 acres.

It’s a great outdoor destination for the whole family, with plenty of recreational facilities like picnic grounds, walking trails, and well-equipped playgrounds for the kids.

But most people come here for the sports amenities, including tennis and basketball courts, baseball and softball diamonds, and a soccer field.

In fact, the attraction has won an Outstanding Park Award from the National Softball Association, so you’re guaranteed exceptional facilities for the country’s favorite pastime.

The forests also have a mountain biking trail ideal for both amateurs and professionals.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Vibrant City of Charlotte

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Since the bustling city is less than 20 minutes away from Huntersville, Charlotte is a great destination if you have some time to spare.

This metropolis is home to many attractions that celebrate human achievements, such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Mint Museum.

Sean Pavone

For those who want exhilarating rides, the city has plenty of amusement parks like the Carowinds and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

A day may not be enough to check out all these attractions, so make sure your itinerary is well-planned for maximum fun and minimum hassle.'

Final Thoughts

From the wildlife preserves to manmade lakes, from the scenic greenways to forested community parks, Huntersville is a haven for nature lovers.

There’s also plenty of historical sights and educational facilities to satisfy inquisitive minds.

So when planning your trip to this charming town, reference this list for the top spots you shouldn’t miss!