The Lake Norman area is a sports-lover’s paradise. The close proximity to Charlotte makes professional, semi-professional, college and high school sports – of all types – available to fans.
Many professional teams call Charlotte home. The Carolina Panthers (football), Charlotte Checkers (hockey), Charlotte Eagles (soccer), Charlotte Hornets (basketball), and Charlotte Hounds (lacrosse) home games are all only a short drive away.
The Charlotte Knights, Hickory Crawdads, Kannapolis Intimidators and Mooresville Spinners provide semi-professional baseball games on summer nights.
Davidson College and UNC Charlotte provide collegiate sports of all types as well, drawing some of their talent from high schools in the area. Many of the parks throughout the area offer the beginnings for players in youth leagues.
If racing is your sport, Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord offers NASCAR, The Dirt Track and zMAX Dragway. For short track racers there are a few options – Concord Speedway, East Lincoln Motor Speedway in Stanley and Hickory Motor Speedway.
Many of the racers’ shops are located in Concord, with some in the Lake Norman area as well. Many of the drivers live on the lake and can be spotted in local stores and restaurants. Eddie Sharp Racing in Denver, Dale Earnhardt Racing in Mooresville and Joe Gibbs Racing in Huntersville are the more well-known shops here.
Charlotte has the NASCAR Hall of Fame but Mooresville has the Memory Lane Motorsports and Historical Automotive Museum and the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame – a museum focused on all types of racing, from dragsters to stock cars.
If participation is more your style, you can drive a NASCAR-style race car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Concord, on the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But for far less money, you can also experience go-cart racing at the GoPro Motorplex or The Pit Indoor Kart Racing, both in Mooresville.
There are numerous golf courses throughout the Lake Norman area. There are private courses at Cowan’s Ford Country Club in Denver, NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville, Peninsula Club in Cornelius, River Run and Country Club in Davidson, Statesville Country Club in Statesville, Trump National Golf Club, Charlotte in Mooresville and Twin Oaks Golf Club in Statesville.
The semi-private courses include Lakewood Golf Club in Statesville, Larkin Golf Club in Statesville, Mallard Head Country Club in Mooresville, Westport Golf Course in Denver and Verdict Ridge Golf and Country Club in Denver.
The public courses are Birkdale Golf Club in Huntersville, Mooresville Golf Club in Mooresville, Skybrook Golf Club in Huntersville and Third Creek Golf Course in Statesville.
For those who may not want the full golfing experience, Lake Norman Miniature Golf in Cornelius, Mooresville Golf Range and Par 3 in Mooresville and the miniature golf at Queen’s Landing in Mooresville will still give you the chance to play a little golf.
Tennis courts can be found at many of the public parks including Bailey Road Park in Cornelius, Baker Sports Complex in Davidson, Bellingham Park in Mooresville, Caldwell Park in Statesville, Cornelius Road Park in Mooresville, Covington Tennis Courts in Davidson, Edgemoor Park in Mooresville, Holbrook Park in Huntersville, Jetton Park in Cornelius, North Mecklenburg Park in Huntersville, Stowe Tennis Courts in Davidson, Torrence Chapel Park in Cornelius, YMCA in Davidson, Waymer Park in Huntersville, War Memorial Park in Mooresville.
You can play basketball on outdoor courts at Abernathy Park in Huntersville, Academy Street Park in Mooresville, Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, Alex Cooper Park in Statesville, Bailey Road Park in Cornelius, Bristol Road Center in Statesville, Harris Park in Statesville, Kimbrough Park in Statesville, Lee Street Park in Mooresville, Liberty Park in Mooresville, North Mecklenburg Park in Mooresville, Ralph L. Bently Community Center in Statesville, South Statesville Park and Playground in Statesville, Stevenson Street Park in Mooresville, War Memorial Park in Mooresville and Waymer Park in Huntersville.
There are outdoor sand volleyball courts at Blythe Landing and Ramsey Creek Park, both in Cornelius.
For indoor sports – basketball, volleyball and swimming – the local facilities are Bailey Middle School Recreation Center in Cornelius (basketball/volleyball), Baker Sports Complex in Davidson (basketball/pool/volleyball, tennis), Davidson Day Recreation Center (basketball/volleyball), Barnette Elementary Recreation Center in Huntersville (basketball/volleyball), Hough High School Recreation Center in Cornelius (basketball/volleyball), Huntersville Elementary Recreation Center in Huntersville (basketball/volleyball), Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics (basketball/pool/volleyball), JV Washam Elementary Recreation Center (basketball/volleyball), Lake Norman Charter School Recreation Center (basketball/volleyball), Waymer Center in Huntersville (basketball/volleyball) and the YMCA in Davidson (basketball/pool/ volleyball).
There are also fields for baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer and softball for both adult and youth play.
The area also hosts miles of greenways for walking, hiking, jogging, skating and bicycle riding. These greenways include Dye Creek Greenway in Mooresville (paved) and the Fortney Creek Trail near Denver (natural surface/unpaved), McDowell Creek Greenway is between Cornelius and Huntersville (paved), Murray’s Mill Trail in Long Island (natural surface/unpaved), Richardson Greenway in Troutman (paved), South Prong Rocky River in Davidson (paved), Torrence Creek Greenway in Huntersville (paved), West Branch Rocky River Greenway in Davidson (paved).
For a longer hike, in less developed surroundings, you will want to head over to the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, which has more than 16 miles of trails along with an equestrian center for horse riding.
If racing bicycles on the road is more your speed, you can watch the professional riders mix it up at the annual Statesville Criterium Bike race in July or join in the Polar Bear ride – a fundraiser by hundreds of riders, many of them members of local road riding clubs – in Davidson in January.
Fisher Farm Park in Davidson and Signal Hill Mountain Bike Trail in Statesville offer mountain bike trails for those who shun the road.
Historic Rural Hill in Huntersville hosts two sports experiences that are unique to the area. The Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games in April features Scottish games of strength and agility while celebrating the Scottish heritage. In June the Warrior Dash will test the resolve of residents and visitors alike as they run the 5K, 12-obstacle course that includes mud pits, climbing walls and barbed wire.
To round out your weekend, on Sunday nights April through November, you can go to Stegall’s Arena, located between Concord and Mooresville, for professional bull riding. Riders come from across the country to compete for the purse awarded to the best ride. There are calf riding and mutton (sheep) busting for the younger, inexperienced riders, too.
Marty Price is a freelance writer.
Where to find them
There are fields for baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer and softball for both adult and youth play.
These fields can be found at Abernathy Ball Field in Statesville (baseball/softball), Abernathy Park in Huntersville (baseball/softball), Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson (lacrosse/soccer), Albert B. McClure Park in Statesville (baseball/softball), Alumni Soccer Stadium in Davidson (soccer), Bailey Road Park in Cornelius (baseball/football/lacrosse/soccer/softball), Bellingham Park in Mooresville (baseball/softball), Bradford Park in Huntersville (baseball/lacrosse/soccer/softball), Carol Grotnes Belk Turf Field in Davidson (lacrosse/field hockey), Cochran Street in Statesville (baseball/softball), Cornelius Park in Mooresville (baseball/softball), Edgemoor Park in Mooresville (baseball/softball), Legion Park in Cornelius