Opening Days at Theme Parks, Baseball Stadiums and More

Opening Days at Theme Parks, Baseball Stadiums and More

As the world's tallest and fastest giga coaster, Fury 325 thrills riders at Carowinds

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 season, with schedules that run through fall. 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

Carowinds
Opens for the year: March 25, 2017; Charlotte
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 20).

New in 2017: Four new rides are coming to the newly built County Fair for some nostalgic, down-home fun. The new rides include the Electro-Spin, which sends riders through a freely rotating orbit high in the sky; and the Rock ‘N’ Roller - a fast-paced circular ride that will rock and roll you around and around, up and down as high-energy tunes play.

Tryon International Equestrian Center
Equestrian events open for the year: March 24, 2017; Mill Spring
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.

Tweetsie Railroad
Opens for the year: April 7, 2017; Blowing Rock
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.

Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park
Opens for the year: May 27, 2017; Greensboro
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.

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park – Water Park
Opens for the year: May 20, 2017; Wilmington
The indoor attractions at this fun park – laser tag, Kids Jungle playground, rock climbing wall and others – make it a great destination year-round. But when the weather is warm, the water park makes a major splash. The Side Winder, Million Gallon Wavepool and Jungle Rapids Super Bowl will have you drenched in fun for hours.

H2OBX Waterpark
Grand opening: June 21, 2017; Powells Point (Mainland Currituck County near the Outer Banks)
This brand-new water park 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.

Baseball

Charlotte Knights
Opening day: April 6, 2017; Charlotte
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 - each of the last two seasons. The ballpark was also named "Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball" in 2015 by Baseball America. 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.

New in 2017: To celebrate 30 years of franchise history, the Charlotte Knights are offering four unique partial season ticket plans for the 2017 season.

Durham Bulls
Home opening day: April 10, 2017; Durham
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.

Durham Bulls Athletic Park night game

Durham Bulls Athletic Park has an historic look with modern touches

Asheville Tourists
Home opening day: April 13, 2017; Asheville
The team claimed their third division pennant in the last 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 - which Asheville is known for - 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.

Get the full rundown on fun at the games of North Carolina's 11 Minor League Baseball teams.

Natural Attractions

Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park
Opens for the year: Now open; Boone
Whether you’re a skilled rider or a novice, the eight miles of mountain bike trails here offer a fun way to see nature while getting your adrenaline rushing. Summer 2015 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. Though the trails opened early this year, bathrooms open April 1.

Cape Fear Riverboats
Opens for the year: March 11, 2017; Wilmington
You can take tours along the Cape Fear River on the two boats operated by this company. The one-hour sightseeing cruise is offered several times throughout the week and showcases iconic views of Wilmington with a captain's narration. The Black River Nature Cruise, held on select Wednesdays, takes guests on a four-hour tour of scenic wilderness. Special event tours are also held throughout the year.

North Carolina Zoo
New season opens April 1, 2017; Asheboro
While the zoo is open year-round, it kicks off its 2017 season in the spring. Spanning 500 acres and five 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.

New in 2017: The new, larger ocelot habitat is now open at the desert exhibit, providing visitors with a better view of the wild cats.

Skydive OBX
Opens for the year: April 16, 2017; Manteo
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’s jumped out of planes thousands of times, for a tandem jump, while your friends and family look on and snap photos from the ground.

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