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Charlotte for all speeds in all seasons

Trick question: Where is the Charlotte Motor Speedway? (Hint: it’s not in Charlotte.)

Answer: It’s in Concord, North Carolina, where an exciting family vacation waits for everyone, not just NASCAR fans.

The speedway itself is abuzz with activities all year, and the surrounding area, Cabarrus County, is a fast track of things to do.

If you’re in North Carolina for a family ski vacation, it’s only about three hours from the slopes.

A visit here begins with checking in. The Speedway has a year-round campground with hookups for RVs. The Embassy Suites Golf Resort and Spa is a full-service atrium hotel near the Speedway, Rocky River Golf Course and the famous Concord Mills Mall. Suites sleep up to six in two rooms and have a kitchenette with a refrigerator and microwave.

The nationwide Great Wolf Lodge resort chain offers a laidback North Woods-themed vacation in Concord. The all weather, city-sized resort has luxury rooms with whirlpool tubs and bunkhouses for kids. It’s a complete destination with restaurants, a spa, games, activities for all ages and an indoor water park.

The Speedway itself is a year-round entertainment complex. Take the Feel the Thrill Speedway Tour in a van. It’s open to all ages. You’ll see the Monster Energy NASCAR garage, ride two infield race tracks and Pit Road, tour the dragway and dirt track, and take a picture in the Winner’s Circle. Learn about centrifugal force. It will keep you from tipping over when rounding the steeply banked oval.

On another tour called Over the Wall, see Pit Row and the VIP suites in the Speedway Club.

Older children and parents can also get out on the famous track in a race car. For a ride-along, the passenger must be at least 5 feet tall and 110 pounds.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience is open to teens with a driver’s license. Prices for in-car racing experiences range from $100 to $3,600.. Get tickets or reservations for all events well in advance.

The Speedway is just one of the area’s must-see attractions for families who love the fast lane. Concord Mills is not just a knockout shopping mall. It has an outdoor Speedpark with go-kart racing, slides and mini-golf. In winter there’s an ice rink.

K1Speed is a challenging indoor go-kart track. See racing roar to life in a film at the High Octane Theater at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Next to the Speedway, the Motorcar Hall of Fame Museum has more than 50 classic muscle cars on display.

If you’re not into speed, take kids to the Charlotte-Concord SEA-LIFE Aquarium to see a world of aquatic creatures from fresh water turtles to ocean sharks and stingrays. With reservations, take the Behind the Scenes tour to view the private life of the aquarium and its caregivers. A science museum, Discovery Place, has hands-on activities, IMAX movies and live shows.

The historic Concord downtown has been revived with boutiques, trendy restaurants and specialty shops. Don’t miss The Bead Lady, a destination for bead hobbyists from all over the world. It’s a complex of many rooms, all filled with beads, gems, beading accessories and related needs for making jewelry and decorator items.

Then choose from 40 homemade ice cream flavors at the family-operated Cabarrus Creamery nearby.

For more information:

Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau, cabarrus.com.

Charlotte Motor Speedway, charlottemotorspeedway.com

Where to Stay:

Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Concord Golf Resort and Spa is close to the Speedway and Concord Mills and it overlooks the top-rated Rocky River Golf Course. embassysuite.reservationcounter.com

Great Wolf Lodge, Concord, greatwolf.com

Speedway Campground, charlottemotorspeedway.com/camping

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