There’s not really an “off season” in the Lake Norman area, but spring and summer are the undisputed high times for family activities. Indoors or out, options for exercise, entertainment, interactions with nature, store browsing or some basic relaxation are almost endless. In no particular order, here’s just a few of the places all around the lake ideally suited for a few hours, or perhaps a full day or more, of family or group adventures:
130 Motorplex Drive, Mooresville
Cost: $25 and up
An 11-turn, 7-mile outdoor track patterned after the Kartdromo Parma in Italy – the learning lab for many professional racers – is the venue for Kart racing at the GoPro Motorplex. Open everyday, the facility, the host site for many competitive Karting events and a popular training facility for Karting enthusiasts, serves those 16 and older eager to test their abilities at speeds up to 55 mph. Rates start at $25 for a 10-minute experience.
Learn more: gopromotorplex.com, 704-696-2926
Victory Lanes (photo)
125 Morlake Drive, Mooresville
Cost: $4.50 per game and up
Forty championship-level bowling lanes are the signature feature, but – as the official name declares – there’s much more to see and do for all ages at the Victory Lanes Entertainment and Events Center. Billiards, darts, shuffleboard and an arcade are also attractions at the facility with the logo “family fun is our business.” Bowling rates, with group and family packages available, start at $4.50 per game. A full-service restaurant, banquet facilities and meeting rooms are among the service options and the in-house Wobbly Butt Tap Room & Eatery will be opening soon.
Learn more: victorylanes.com, 704-664-2695
Lake Norman State Park
759 State Park Road, Troutman
Cost: some activities require fees
Open everyday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, with overnight camping options and a 24-hour boat ramp, Lake Norman State Park offers a complete list of outdoor attractions across more than 1,900 acres. A public beach the size of a professional soccer field, more than 30 miles of bike trails, hiking trails, canoe, kayak and pedalboat rentals, picnic spots and more are Park attractions. There is a fee for swimmers ($6 a day, $4 for those under 12) when lifeguards are on duty.
Learn more: ncparks.gov/lake norman; 704-528-6350 (camping: 877-722-6762)
The Mooresville Park and Recreation Department has 15 public parks spread throughout the community offering a wide assortment of amenities and activities. Features included at individual parks include picnic shelters and tables, ball fields, playgrounds, walking trails, disc golf, bike trails, dog-oriented amenities, fitness stations, a splash pad, tennis and basketball courts, athletic fields and more.
Learn more: mooresvillenc.gov/parksandrecreation
1459 River Hwy., Mooresville
Two lake-cruising vessels – a two-deck replica of a Mississippi River paddleboat and a 93-foot luxury yacht – are the stars of the show at Queens Landing, a Lake Norman waterfront attraction for more than 30 years. On land, the facility is a popular special event venue and gathering place, with a lakefront patio and live music. And sightseeing and dinner cruises on the Catawba Queen and Lady of the Lake are one-of-a-kind experiences, with dinner cruises for adults starting at $71.99 with discounted fares for seniors and youths.
Learn more: queenslanding.com; 704-663-2628
448 Pilch Road, Troutman
Cost: $15 for adults, $13 ages 2-11 and seniors
The privately owned zoo hosts a large variety of animals, from kangaroos, to large cats and primates. There also are animals in which visitors can feed and pet in both the walk-around section and the drive thru. Hour-long animal encounters can be added at an additional cost.
Learn more: zootasticpark.com
A 122-year-old hardware store, an eclectic mix of retail operations and an assortment of restaurants and taverns, specializing in culinary creations, cocktails and entertainment are part of downtown Mooresville’s growing list of attractions. Merchandise including antiques, baby clothes and one-of-a-kind collectables, along with an arts depot and a town museum in a recognized historical landmark building, are also among downtown’s offerings, enhanced by a regular schedule of festivals and special events.
Mooresville Golf Range & Mini Golf (photo)
174 W. Plaza Drive, Mooresville
Multi-faceted golf facility caters to golfers looking for a tune-up as well as families seeking an active outing. The driving range, with a small bucket of balls available for $8, features multiple tees and targets, and there is also a miniature golf course, where those 3 and under play for free, and a small par 3 course offering a different shot-making challenge. The All-Star Golf shop also offers equipment and instruction.
Learn more: mooresvillegolfrange.com, 704-230-4242.
The Pit Indoor Kart Racing
346 E. Plaza Drive, Mooresville
Cost: Races start at $24, $18 for 15 and under.
Kart racing on an indoor track with multiple turns, elevation changes and other challenges is the centerpiece at The Pit, but far from the only attraction. The 140,000-square-square entertainment center space, open every day, includes 65 arcade games, laser tag, axe throwing, escape room opportunities and more for all ages.
Learn more: meetatthepit.com, 704-799-3470
10390 Caldwell Road, Mt. Ulla
Cost: $69.99 plus tax for a season pass that runs April-October
Patterson Farm grows over 200 acres of tomatoes, 85 acres of strawberries and 200 acres of peppers in addition to growing about 15,000 poinsettias annually. Patterson Farm is committed to educating children and adults about their food source, the importance of agriculture and specifically the crops grown on the farm.
Learn more: visitpattersonfarm.com
1261 Oakridge Farm Hwy., Mooresville
Carrigan Farms is a fifth-generation, family-owned farm that specializes in growing quality fruits and vegetables, educational school tours and field trips, weddings, swim parties and other special events. Spend the day swimming in a deep, refreshing natural quarry, picking strawberries and apples and then, in October, the venue transforms into Scarrigan Farms featuring one of the scariest haunted trails in the region.
Learn more: carriganfarms.com
Lazy 5 Ranch
15100 Mooresville Road, Mooresville
Cost: $11 ages 2-11, $15 12-59, $11 60+
Lazy 5 Ranch allows visitors to get up-close experiences of top-notch show goats and sheep plus wild animals from around the world. There are opportunities to feed or pet via the drive-through, all while helping the recovery of endangered species including the Grevy Zebra, Scimitar Horned Oryx and Ring-tailed Lemur.
Learn more: thelazy5ranch.com