When the Robinson helicopters at Queen City Helicopter Corp. aren’t acting as airborne classrooms for aspiring pilots, they’re whisking passengers on aerial tours of nearby landmarks. The peaks of Crowders Mountain, the sports arenas of uptown Charlotte, and the horses and buggies of the Charlotte Motor Speedway loom large in the windows of the chopper after it takes off from the company's very own private, FAA-approved heliport. On the ground at the FAA flight school, pilots safely test their abilities inside a flight simulator and study in the onsite classroom.
Since 1936, the historic Gem Theatre has moved movie lovers to laughter and tears with films in an elegant, comfortable single-screen vintage theater. Peruse current showtimes and choose a first-run film, which may include a romantic romp, a superhero adventure, an independent feature, or Casablanca II: Electric Boogaloo. Guests pick up their sodas and popcorn at the concessions stand in the carpeted lobby, whose ornate table lamps cast soft light on potted plants and flowers. In the red and gold 916-seat amphitheater, upholstered floor seats beckon audience members and balcony perches provide a sky-high view behind marbled wood rails. Before the film, guests watch wrought-iron vines curl around colorful birds in sculptures flanking the screen. Sumptuous gold curtains hide the big screen until showtime, allowing staff members to finish reenacting each film’s climactic scene in private.
Wahoo’s Adventures refers to itself as the “original” whitewater outfitter, having facilitated outdoor excursions on rafts, tubes, canoes, and kayaks for the past three decades. Whitewater-rafting tours take place upon the Watauga River, the Nolichucky River, and Wilson Creek Gorge, three waterways with differing levels of frothiness, much like three cappuccinos ordered by a family of bears. Alternatively, adults without rafting experience and children as young as 6 months can lazily drift down the New River while sprawled across tubes. As they pass rugged hillsides and scenic farmland, tubers can smell wildflowers, listen to chirping birds, and keep eyes peeled for Sasquatch footprints. Keeping clients safe is Wahoo’s main priority, which is why their experienced guides equip adventurers with high-quality life jackets, helmets, and paddles before taking the water.
Beech Mountain's slick slopes and snowy trails give its customers a thrilling powder experience with the claim of eastern North America's highest ski resort, which sits 5,506 feet above sea level. The resort features beginner Play Yard areas, intermediate slopes and advanced skier tracks, including the White Lightning and Southern Star. After shredding blankets of frozen rain, patrons can peruse the souvenir shop or enjoy a fresh coffee at the café, warming tummies while taunting yetis that are too large to hold espresso mugs. For those who are sans skis, Beech Mountain's rental shop stocks everything needed to blissfully coast into the great white beyond.
Since Pattie Smith and her husband built Charlotte Racquet Club North in 1998 to infuse northern Charlotte with much-needed tennis action, they’ve watched the club blossom from seven courts and a doublewide trailer to a sweeping 14-court facility complete with a pool and a fitness complex. Pattie plans on adding four indoor courts by November to keep members playing through the winter—including one 78-year-old ace who games, sets, and matches twice a week.