We all know that staying active and fit is one of the best things you can do for your long and short-term well-being. We thought we’d take a more in-depth look around to find the fun ways to be active in various neighborhoods and towns in our area. Here’s a guide that will walk you through the best ways & places to workout, eat healthy, and stay fit in Matthews, NC.

We consulted with the doctors and staff at ORTHOCAROLINA’s Matthews Office at 710 Park Center Drive as our experts on Living the Healthy Life, The Matthews Edition.

Best Places to Walk/Bike/Run in Matthews

Spanning more than 30 acres, Squirrel Lake Park, has a lot to offer visitors, but especially for those who are looking for somewhere to get in their daily walk or run. The park’s scenic trails provide the ideal place to get outdoors and get your heart pumping. It also connects to another great option for walking, running, or even biking — the Four Mile Creek Greenway, which is the first greenway in Matthews. The paved greenway connects downtown Matthews with Squirrel Lake Park and links neighborhoods from E. John Street to S. Trade Street.

Another option to consider for a daily workout is the Matthew’s SportsPlex, which features two miles of paved trails that are perfect for a quick run, walk, or bike ride. For riders looking for a more intense bike ride, Colonel Francis Beatty Park is well known for its mountain biking trails that feature wooden obstacles as well as a ski jump landing pad.

Best Places to Walk Your Dog in Matthews

McAlpine Creek Community Park features Ray’s Fetching Meadow, a one-acre, fenced-in dog park where pets can go off-leash, giving both owners and their dogs the freedom to run like mad — if, they feel like it. Not only does the park offer a safe place for pups to play with the dog park, but there’s also several miles of walking trails spread throughout the park that are convenient for a leisurely stroll with your four-legged friend.

William R. Davie Park is home to the Davie Dog Park, a five-acre park that not only allows dogs to be off-leash, but also has two separate fenced-in areas in ensure your pups safety not matter what size he is. One of the fenced in areas is dedicated to dogs under 20 lbs. and the other is for dogs over 20 lbs.

Most Underrated or Unknown Exercise Options in Matthews

The Matthews Community Center offers a wide variety of exercise classes that range from six-week beginner ballet classes taught by a member of the Matthews Ballet to gentle yoga classes.

Crews Recreation Center is another local gem that has a wealth of activities to choose from, including an introduction to fencing class as well as men’s and women’s adult basketball leagues. Then for the little ones there are options like baton twirling classes.

Best Place to Do It All

One of Charlotte’s most extensive, best integrated wellness facilities is in Matthews at 1205 Mann Drive, the Orthocarolina Wellness Center. This facility integrates physical therapy, post- PT rehab, work conditioning, group fitness classes, personal training, youth sports performance, yoga, and wellness services such as massage, a Registered Dietitian, weight management programs, and corporate wellness, all under one roof. You’ll find top of the line strength and conditioning equipment such as Hammer Strength, Life Fitness, and Rogue; a 50-yard turf field and first class orthopedic services to get you back to work and play.

Best Free or Almost Free Fitness in the Area

Did you know that if you’re a member of the YMCA you have access to over 300 free classes that take place every month between their 19 Charlotte area locations — which includes the Brace Family YMCA in Matthews. Classes range from small group yoga and kickboxing to barre basics and classes specifically designed for youth and family fitness. Average monthly fees are around $72, so if you go more than seven times then you’ll have paid less than $10 a class — not to mention all the other fitness perks you get as a member like access to the cardio and weight-training equipment as well as the pool.

Lace up those running shoes for Carolina Beer Temple’s weekly run club. Each week the Tuesday free run begins at 6:45 p.m. and runners have the option of doing a one, three, or five mile loop. Don’t feel like running? Participants also have the option to walk the route.

Best Nearby Outdoor Activities for Families

Not only does Squirrel Lake Park provide some of the best walking trails in Matthews, but it’s also a great family-friendly option to consider for families who want to get outside together. The park’s many amenities include picnic tables and shelters perfect for a packed lunch outdoors or a cookout on one of the park’s charcoal grills. Additionally, there’s a playground, swing set, and a 12-hole disc-golf course. Plus, there’s a fishing pond and pier for anyone looking to cast a line.

This 125-acre park is teeming with playground equipment that’s sure to keep the kids busy. From slides and climbing stations to seesaws and traditional swings, Idlewild Road Park has it all. Beyond the popular playground equipment there’s also a 1.5-mile nature trail to explore.

Best Nearby Outdoor Activities for Healthy Dates

It’s not always wine & beer with the honey. Grab your date and catch a game on a nice night at the Matthew’s SportsPlex. The athletic complex plays host to a variety of sporting events throughout the year, including United Soccer League games where Charlotte Independence takes on opponents from across the country. Don’t feel like watching a game? Take a leisurely stroll together along the complex’s paved two-mile trail.

The couple that runs together stays together. Okay, we might have made that up completely, but it never hurts to get outside and do something active together. So why not plan a quick Tuesday night run together with Carolina Beer Temple’s run club and then relax with a cold, local brew afterward.

Best Neighborhood Studios in Matthews

Be ready to get your butt kicked at Gunns Fitness, a private training studio run by certified personal trainer, Regina Gunn, who has been recognized for her work in both Shape and Women’s Health magazines. Gunns Fitness offers daily private bootcamp classes as well as in-home training sessions.

You can get your total-body workout over and done with in about 30 minutes at KTA Fitness, through a series of cardio and strength-training exercises that are tailor made for all workout levels. Workouts utilize a combination of stationary bikes, TRX, kickboxing, free weights, and rowing. Beyond the workout only being 30 minutes, the other big draw is that fact that there’s no class schedule, allowing you to workout whenever it’s best for you. As an added bonus, potential members can try the workout the first time for free.

Best Vegetarian/Vegan/Juice Restaurant in Matthews

Clean Juice Matthews is a100% certified organic juice bar that’s chock-full of healthy vegan and vegetarian options. Their menu boasts a wide variety of smoothies, juices, cold-pressed drinks and shots, plus, colorful acai bowls brimming with fresh fruit.

Locals rave about Thai Taste Matthews, especially when it comes to the restaurant’s wide variety of vegetarian options. Diners can choose from several tofu appetizers, stir fried dishes, curries, and pad Thai.

Best Place to Eat After Your Workout

Cool down with a scoop of gelato. Matthew’s popular Artisen Gelato prides itself on serving the freshest, handmade gelato with options that are gluten free, dairy free, and use 100% natural fruit. Their selections are jam packed with vitamins and flavor that keeps locals coming back for more without the guilt that goes along with eating your typical frozen treats. Flavors include pineapple, tangerine, mango, and passion fruit. Additionally, Artisen serves up selections in gluten free/vegan cones.

Best Neighborhood Outdoor/Athletic Store to Buy Your Gear in Matthews

Located in the heart of downtown Matthews, Mojo Cycles, has been a trusted source for bike needs in the area since it was originally opened in 1960 under the name Bicycles East. Not only does the shop sell top-of-the-line bikes and bike parts, but they also service bikes and provide tune-ups.

Omega Sports is a family-run company that was born and raised in North Carolina with several brick-and-mortar locations across the state, including Matthews. The company prides itself on community outreach and regularly sponsors local races and youth athletic teams. Along with its charitable giving, Omega Sports also carries some of the best athletic gear in the area. From the latest footwear and training equipment to protective gear and exercise mats, you can find it all at Omega.

From community centers full of activities and quick, 30-minute workout options to countless miles of scenic trails and healthy restaurants with wholesome menus, there’s certainly no shortage of places to help you stay fit and healthy in Matthews.

If you live in the Matthews area and have a favorite place you go to stay active or grab a healthy meal we’d love to hear about it and add it to our list. Comment below to let us know.

A special thank you to OrthoCarolina’s Dr. J. Ryan Martin and physician assistant Courtney Phillips for helping us put together this list of bests around Matthews.

Click here to find an OrthoCarolina location near you.

Be OrthoCarolina’s friend on Facebook or follow them on Instagram or Twitter @OrthoCarolina