Home of Charlotte Motor Speedway
A lot of NASCAR fans tend to get caught up in raceday excitement and forget that there are other things to do around the tracks. Sometimes, race fans don't always want to just hang around the track. I have not been to or visited all of these places but many of these have been suggested by fans or natives of the towns and states or even by folks in the NASCAR industry themselves! Others have come from websites or the chambers of commerce. So sit back and take an armchair road trip with me across the circuit...
The Historic Latta Plantation
Distance from track: 21.5 miles, about a 37 minute drive. Google map*
In 1799, a Scottish peddler named James Latta purchased 100 acres of land from a man named Moses Hayes. The land contained a log cabin on it at that time until Latta built a Federal-style home on the property in 1800. Although many men have owned the property since it was sold after Latta’s death in 1841, Latta is to be contributed with the success of the plantation. At it’s height, the plantation reached 742 acres. These days, the plantation is owned by Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation and today, you can still tour the past at the Historic Latta Plantation and explore history in the Living History Museum or take a ramble on the grounds.
Daily admission of the house and museum are just $7 for adults. To learn more about the plantation, visit their website.
Levine Museum of the New South
Distance from track: 14.6 miles, about a 23 minute drive. Google Map
From the past to the present- you can visit the Levine Museum of the New South and learn about the people and events that formed the South into what it has become today. The idea of a museum dedicated to the rich history of the South was originally conceived in 1990 but did not become the institution that it is today until the year 2001.
With affordable admission prices, just $6 for adults, you might not want to miss this destination if you’re interested in the history of the South. Visit their website for further details.
Ray’s Splash Planet
Distance from track: 15.3 miles, about a 24 minute drive. Google map
Summer’s gone, it’s true, but you don’t have to let go of it just yet. In the heart of Charlotte lies an indoor water park. The facility itself is made up of two components- the fitness center and waterpark. Clearly, the waterpark would be the main attraction. The waterpark holds 117,000 gallons of water and is open year-round except for major holidays.
Admission prices for adults are $11 per day and $8 for children for non county residents. For more in-depth prices and hours of operation, visit their website.
Paramount’s Carowinds them park
Distance from track: 29.8 miles, about a 37 minute drive. Google map
Water parks not for you? Maybe you have older children and need a bigger diversion. If NASCAR racing just doesn’t give you enough adrenaline this Saturday night, why not head out to Carowinds on Sunday? Although the park is only open weekends in October, if you’re staying a day or two past the race, you might want to check out this 122-acre park. Thrill seekers will love the 13 roller-coasters and five thrill rides. It is a safe bet, though, that any NASCAR fan visiting will want to admire and maybe ride the Intimidator, Carowinds’ tribute to the legendary driver.
Adult single day tickets are only $39.99 if purchased online, a savings of $10. For hours and all other information, visit their website.
Bizarre: Roadside Attractions in North Carolina
Distance from track- view individual attractions for information. RoadsideAmerica.com map
Every state and many towns have them. You’ve seen them. You probably wondered “what the #*%^@?” while driving past them. Yeah, I’m talking about roadside attractions.
Muffler men have had a long running history in roadside America. Some people hate them, others love them. Some love them so much they build guitars just their size. Then they place ads on RoadsideAmerica.com asking folks for muffler men to fill the emptiness of their lives. If fiberglass giants (or their guitars) aren’t your thing, maybe you’d like to visit the gravesite of the Hilton sisters…no, not those Hilton sisters, I’m talking about vaudeville actresses Daisy and Violet Hilton. The Siamese twins died, impoverished, in spite of their acting career, at the age of 60 and were buried together in someone else’s grave.
Finally, in Winston-Salem, you might want to visit the gigantic seashell which formerly served as a gas station and now serves no apparent purpose other than to make passersby gawk (and roadside attraction lovers wet their pants). For more o.O attractions in North Carolina, visit RoadsideAmerica.com, shelly you’ll have a good time.
*Maps provided courtesy of Google Maps