Opening Days at North Carolina Theme Parks and Baseball Stadiums
Spring is a busy – and beautiful – time across North Carolina. The weather warms, flowers bloom and, maybe most anticipated of all, many of the state’s popular attractions open for the 2018 season. Whether you’re looking for thrills, games, rides, just wanting to connect with nature, or all of the above, you’ll find it at these exciting destinations.
Theme Parks, Water Parks and Rides
1 Tryon International Equestrian Center
1 Tryon International Equestrian CenterMill SpringSee on map
World-class equestrian events kick off with a spring series, followed by summer and fall series. Jumper and hunter competitions, as well as dressage horse shows, fill the events calendar. But even if you aren't a horse enthusiast, you'll find plenty to entertain you at Tryon International Equestrian Center. Open year-round, the sprawling complex features restaurants, shops and on-site lodging, while special events include festivals, concerts and the Saturday Night Lights series.
Opens for the year: March 22, 2018 (equestrian events)
2 CarowindsCharlotteSee on map
Roller coasters such as the Intimidator, the high-speed ride that honors racing legend Dale Earnhardt; and Fury 325, the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster, are just two of the more than 50 rides where you’ll enjoy a quintessential Southern, yet thrilling, experience. Plus, Carowinds' Carolina Harbor is the largest water park in the Carolinas (opens May 19).
Opens for the year: March 24
3 Tweetsie Railroad
3 Tweetsie RailroadBlowing RockSee on map
Enjoy a scenic view as you hop aboard an historic, steam-powered locomotive and ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The theme park also features country fair rides (carousel, Ferris wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl and more), a small zoo with around 90 animals, and gold panning and gem mining while you hope to strike it rich. Plus, there’s live entertainment such as a Wild West-themed show and country-clogging jamboree.
Opens for the year: April 6
4 H2OBX Waterpark
4 H2OBX WaterparkPowells Point (Mainland Currituck)See on map
After debuting last summer, this water park is opening for its second year. H2OBX weaves in bits of North Carolina beach architecture, Outer Banks history and more than 30 rides, slides and attractions for days full of fun on the coast. Lounge in a private cabana, forge the adventure river and catch epic waves on the Flow Rider. You can make this a more encompassing trip by also booking a stay at one of the vacation rental homes offered in partnership with the water park.
Opens for the year: May 25
5 Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park
5 Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water ParkGreensboroSee on map
Water rides, slides and pools make up the 36 attractions here, where more than 3 million gallons of water let you get wet and wild. For the adventurous types, there’s the Daredevil Drop and Riptide Racer speed slides; for the little ones, there’s Splash Island, filled with kiddie-sized pools and slides; and there’s lots more in between for all ages and adventure levels.
Opens for the year: May 26
1 Durham Bulls
1 Durham BullsDurhamSee on map
Yes, the Kevin Costner-Susan Sarandon movie from nearly three decades ago made this team more famous than practically any other minor-league team ever. And since then, fans have continued to flock to the ballpark (the current ballpark was built after the original one in which the movie's scenes were filmed) to watch one of Triple-A baseball’s consistently top teams play. The Bulls hold special promotions and events throughout the season, including $1 Concessions, Kids Run the Bases and Friday Night Fireworks.
Opening day: April 5
2 Charlotte Knights
2 Charlotte KnightsCharlotteSee on map
Since opening its new stadium, BB&T Ballpark, in the heart of Uptown in 2014, this Triple-A baseball team has broken home game attendance records - and led the league in attendance. Local fans and visitors enjoy America’s pastime, set against a skyscraper-filled skyline, and where good food and craft beer are also stars of the show. The Knights hold special promotions and events throughout the season, including Friday Night Fireworks and special appearances by baseball legends.
Opening day: April 12
3 Asheville Tourists
3 Asheville TouristsAshevilleSee on map
The team claimed its third division pennant in the past four seasons, so clearly there’s good product on the field. There’s also good product in the stands, considering all of the great local beer - for which Asheville is known - that’s served at games (get it for a bargain during the Thirsty Thursday promotions) and it’s paired with good food (Friday home games are Dollar Dog Night). Also, McCormick Field has been ranked as one of the best ballparks in the country.
Opening day: April 12
Get the full rundown on fun at the games of North Carolina's 11 Minor League Baseball teams.
1 Cape Fear Riverboats
1 Cape Fear RiverboatsWilmingtonSee on map
Take a boat tour along the Cape Fear River. The 1-hour sightseeing cruise is offered several times a day during weekends in March, then the daily schedule begins in April, showcasing iconic views of Wilmington with a captain's narration. The Black River Nature Cruise, held select Wednesdays, takes guests on a 4-hour tour of scenic wilderness.
Opens for the year: March 3
2 Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park
2 Rocky Knob Mountain Bike ParkBooneSee on map
Whether you’re a skilled rider or a novice, the 8 miles of mountain bike trails here offer a fun way to see nature while getting your adrenaline rushing. A few years ago saw the completion of the pump track addition, a dirt track that enables bicycling without pedaling (as seen on BMX trails). Special events take place throughout the year, such as group rides and outdoor summits. The trails are also accessible to hikers and runners.
Opens for the year: April 1
3 North Carolina Zoo
3 North Carolina ZooAsheboroSee on map
While the zoo is open year-round, it kicks off its 2018 season in the spring. Spanning 500 acres and 5 miles of pathways, the zoo offers an exploration of more than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants in exhibits constructed to resemble natural habitats. Take a walk from Africa’s grasslands to North America’s Arctic coast. Last year, the larger ocelot habitat opened at the desert exhibit, providing visitors with a better view of the wild cats.
Opens for the year: April 1
4 Skydive OBX
4 Skydive OBXManteoSee on map
If skydiving is on your bucket list, why not soar over a picturesque destination – the Outer Banks – where human flight began (thanks, Wright brothers). You’ll be paired with a skydive instructor who has jumped out of planes thousands of times for a tandem jump, while your friends and family look on and snap photos from the ground.
Opens for the year: March 31