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Outdoor Adventure

It's a sad state of affairs when Concord Mills — a friggin' mall! — ranks as the number one tourist attraction in North Carolina. Summer is officially here, people, so it's time to drop that remote control, pry your nether regions from the couch and head outdoors — no, not to the nearest shopping center, but to the more adventurous spots outlined below.

9am: Atkins be damned: The first thing you need to do is load up on some energy-providing carbohydrates, because today and for the rest of the weekend you're going to need it. Grab a little fruit and a few bottles of water from your fridge to stay hydrated. On the way, stop for a bagel and some coffee at Bruegger's Bagel Bakery.

10am: Let's start things off with an easy round of disc golf. It's like regular golf, except instead of balls and a club, you toss flying discs into metal baskets. Disc golf can be played with a regular Frisbee, but it's recommended you use the special discs, which are typically smaller and a little heavier for improved accuracy. They can be purchased at most sporting good stores for about $10. There are six disc golf courses in Charlotte, including one at Reedy Creek Park, which is particularly picturesque and peaceful.

12noon: Time for lunch. I know it's tempting, but try to avoid the fast-food cheeseburgers or tacos. A good alternative is to bring along a homemade turkey or chicken sandwich. If you must go to a fast-food joint, Wendy's has a pretty decent fruit plate.

1pm: Now that you're feeling energized from a healthy lunch, it's time to tackle something a little more strenuous: mountain biking. Charlotte has several parks equipped with mountain bike trails, some of which can challenge even the most experienced trail grinder. Two examples are the trails at Jetton Park on Lake Norman or Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius. If you're looking for a more leisurely, family-friendly bike ride, Charlotte's greenway system is the way to go. Check out McMullen Creek Greenway, featuring four miles of trails as well as a picnic area. Or there's McAlpine Creek Greenway, which was the first public greenway trail ever acquired and built in the western piedmont of North Carolina; it features 8.9 miles of greenway, cross country and nature trails.

3:30pm: Your butt and legs may be a little sore and stiff from the bike ride, so take a short breather, reach into your backpack, and chow down on a granola bar or banana to help keep you going (remember to drink plenty of water!). You still have one more outdoor adventure left for today.

4:00pm: Now that your feet are firmly back on the ground, it's time to pick them back up again and put them on a skateboard or in a pair of inline skates. Methodist Home Skatepark is Charlotte's only publicly owned skatepark. It features a 6-foot vertical half-pipe, 6-foot bank ramps, a pyramid ramp and other street course challenges. Extremes offers a 10,000 sq. ft. indoor skate park especially designed for skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX bikers. Finally, Grayson Skatepark is now under construction and should be complete this summer. The park will feature a flow/street course complete with banks, transitions, corners, rails and ledges. A multi-bowl ranging from 5-1/2 to 10-1/2 ft. deep will cater more toward the older, bowl/vert crowd. If ramps and half-pipes are a bit too extreme and you'd prefer something more level and safe, go skating around the lake at Freedom Park. Just watch out for the goose poop.

5:30pm: Congratulations. You've made it through the first day. Grab a cold beverage of your choice, have a good dinner and sleep well. Tomorrow you're going to get shot, wet and high.

6am: Rise and shine! The sun is almost up and it's time to get going! Just kidding. Go back to sleep; we'll see you in a few hours.

10am: OK, hopefully you've gotten your eight hours of sack time and had a good breakfast, because first thing up this morning is a little armed combat. Paintball is so popular now that has its own national magazine (Splat), sophisticated equipment (including $1,500 paintball guns) and national competitions with corporate sponsors and big prize money. Paintball Central in the Tower Plaza Shopping Center is a retail store that sells all manner of required gear. And right off I-77 in Rock Hill will be the brand new Paintball Central Park; scheduled to open in June, it will showcase six different fields for participants to get pelted and painted. Another alternative is CJ's Paintball, which boasts two area locations.

12noon: You've worked up an appetite dodging paintballs, so grab a bite to eat — hope you brought a picnic to save some time. And let's hope you're not afraid of heights.

1pm: You don't have to drive all the way to the mountains to go rock climbing. Inner Peaks on Monroe Road is a climate-controlled, full-service indoor rock climbing gym that offers climbing instruction for both beginning and advanced climbers. Rock climbing requires intense mental focus, and it helps improve balance, flexibility and strength. Once you're ready to scale an actual mountain, head to Crowder's Mountain, which has more than 150 climbing routes and is only about 30 minutes south of Charlotte.

3pm: You've pedaled, climbed, been shot at and perhaps even gotten a bump or two. With the weekend drawing to a close, it's time to head to the lake and cut loose on a Jet Ski. There are several places around Lake Norman where you can rent these "water motorcycles" (usually for about $65 to $75 an hour), many of which can accommodate three passengers and reach speeds of up to 45 mph. But if you're looking for something a little more leisurely to cap off the weekend, there are the paddle boats at the Colonel William Francis Beatty Park. Ten paddle boats are available to explore the 16-acre lake on weekends and weekdays between June 13 and July 22. Hours are 10am-6pm. The boats seat up to four people and are available to rent at $2 for 30 minutes.

Just The Facts:

BRUEGGER'S BAGEL BAKERY - various locations.
REEDY CREEK PARK - 2900 Rocky River Rd.
WENDY'S - various locations.
JETTON PARK ON LAKE NORMAN - 19000 Jetton Road, Cornelius
RAMSEY CREEK PARK - 8441 Nantz Road, Cornelius.
MCMULLEN CREEK GREENWAY - located off Pineville-Matthews Road across from the McMullen Creek Marketplace
ALL MECKLENBURG COUNTY PARKS - For more info, go to and click on "things to do." From there, you can click on "biking" or "greenways."
METHODIST HOME SKATEPARK - 3200 Shamrock Dr., 704-568-3363.
EXTREMES - 10930 Granite St., 704-583-1444,
GRAYSON PARK - 750 Beal St., 704-643-3405.
FREEDOM PARK - 1900 East Blvd., 704-336-2884.
PAINTBALL CENTRAL - Tower Plaza Shopping Center, 8700 Pineville-Matthews Rd., Suite 600, 704-752-9774. Paintball Central is scheduled to open their new park in June. It will be located off I-77 at exit 77 in Rock Hill. For reservations, call 1-866-421-PLAY.
CJ'S PAINTBALL - 1600-F Matthews-Mint Hill Rd., 704-814-7393; 18505-A05 Statesville Road, Cornelius, 704-987-5053.
INNER PEAKS - 9535 Monroe Rd, Suite 170, 704-844-6677,
CROWDER'S MOUNTAIN STATE PARK - 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain, 704-853-5375,
CS RENTALS OF LAKE NORMAN, INC. - 1459 River Hwy. (Queens Landing), Mooresville, 704-662-9551.
KINGS POINT MARINA - 17939 Kings Point Dr., Cornelius, 704-892-4112,
AAA-O SALTSHAKER MARINE - Saltshaker Marine, 398 Stonemarker Rd., Mooresville, 704-491-4127,
COLONEL WILLIAM FRANCIS BEATTY PARK - 4330 Weddington Rd. Visit for park directions, maps and a virtual tour.

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