Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of the water if it wasn’t at the beach. Pools were boring and lakes were icky. Though not much has changed from then until now for me, I understand that waterparks and splash pads are an attractive means for entertaining the kids. Whether you are nannying for the summer, looking for a place to take your kiddos or want a pretty sweet date for your beau – I’ve done the research for ScoopCharlotte on the best waterparks and splash pads across Charlotte so you don’t have to.
Brace yourselves. That dreaded moment is coming ~ approximately 3 days after school lets out, when your kids mosey into the room declaring “I’m Bored”. We love them. We don’t love their short attention spans. Luckily Charlotte is within driving distance of some of the best splash parks and water play in the state. From Lake Norman to the National Whitewater Center and everything in between, here’s the scoop on where to head to stay cool (and to stay sane) this summer break.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
There is nowhere dedicated to a more active, outdoor lifestyle than the US National Whitewater Center. With 1,300 acres of water and play, they offer activities for just about everyone. Family rafting, kayaking, and paddle-boarding adventures are offered to everyone over the age of 8 years old. After cooling off in the water, enjoy the center’s multiple land activities as well including climbing, zip lining, high ropes courses, and numerous hiking trails. A full list of activities, age/weight requirements, and pricing can be found here. Head out to the center every Thursday and Saturday for a full day of fun and stay for the USNWC’s River Jam, a weekly concert series where the kids can run around and you can enjoy a craft beer and some of Charlotte’s best local artists.
Dedicated to a water adventure you’ll enjoy just as much as your children? A Lake Norman rental solves all. North Carolina’s largest manmade lake is a water sport’s paradise. Whether you are looking for fishing or boating, Lake Norman’s activity page and family fun page have hundreds of options for summer fun. VRBO’s start at just $50 per night or contact Vacations on Lake Norman for a full service Saturday to Saturday rental experience. With 50 miles of water and just 20 miles from CLT, summer fun is guaranteed.
Ray’s Splash Planet
Ray’s is a joint effort between Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools dedicated to “leaving a permanent smile on your family’s faces.” Their indoor water park includes attractions like a three story giant water slide, tube floating, the Vortex – a quick current circulating pool, and water squirt guns located around the pool. Since 2002, Ray’s has been creating countless ways to cool off and get soaked with 117,000 gallons of water fun. Mecklenburg county residents can enter the park for just $6.00 per child & $8.00 for adults. Non-residents will run $8.00 per child & $11.00 per adult ticket. Grab your towel!
Carolina Harbor Waterpack at Carowinds
It’s no surprise that Carolina Harbor at Carowinds claims to be the coolest place to slide, splash, chill and dine. The attractions at this popular summer spot suit all ages from Kiddy Hawk Cove, a family area inspired by NC’s first flight to Blackbeard’s Revenge, a six story tall slide sure to make you scream. Open everyday this summer until August 28, season pass deal prices are extended until June 8. Interested in a day pass? Book online and everyone pays kids prices of just $44 per day and check out Carowind’s calendar for special events happening all summer. Events include activities like Drive In Movies and Kidsfest.
A quick 30 minute drive gets you endless water entertainment at South Carolina’s Lake Wylie. Pier 88 Yacht Club is your all inclusive stop with boat rentals, gift shops and some killer lake snacks. Whether you want to rent a motor boat or kayaking is more your speed, Lake Wylie has a lot to offer. Rentals on AirBnB start at just $80 per home per night. More interested in a day trip? Public boat ramps are available at Allison Creek and Nivens Creek for all boating needs. Allison Creek is perfect for fishing but head to Nivens Creek for a day of splishing & splashing. Need a break from the water? Spend some time at McDowell Park and Copperhead Island for beach volleyball or hiking trails.
Free Splash Parks
Charlotte is loaded with spray grounds that will entertain your children at no cost. Birkdale Village provides a mini splash park in the middle of the center. Kids can play while parents relax on the sidelines. Latta Park in Dilworth is another popular splash zone. Conveniently located next to a playground, this tucked away spot offers a killer view of the Charlotte skyline. After a morning at ImagineOn, head over to First Ward park for interactive fountains and life-size checkers. Another uptown splash ground is located at Romare Bearden Park. There you will find a waterfall and fun pipes for kids to play around. Finally, Cordelia Park located in the ever-growing NoDa hosts one of Charlotte’s best splash pads. Walk across the street to the Cordelia Swimming Pool where admission is just $1 per person.
Great Wolf Lodge
Over 80,000 square feet of fun awaits at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. Little ones will enjoy Club Paw Pool while tweens will gravitate towards the Howlin’ Tornado, Great Wolf Lodge’s funnel of fun. Boasting as North Carolina’s “weatherproof family vacation,” Great Wolf Lodge has multiple events going on all summer long from 9am to 9pm. Pack up the family and enjoy a staycation. Save 30% when you book for two nights or more and up to 50% when you book 60 days in advance. What are you waiting for?