Accessible Water Activities in Charlotte
Lakes, rivers, pools and splash pads in and around Charlotte provide adventure and fun for adults and children who need accessible options.
by Vanessa Infanzon
Accessible water activities and water sports are available in and around Charlotte for when you, a friend or a family member need extra assistance, adaptive equipment or accessible paths to participate. Enjoy a summer of fishing, boating or splashing around these summer spots, all within a 90-minute drive from the Queen City.
Note: Contact companies and organizations directly for reservations and detailed information about available programs and dates of operation.
Spend the day on W. Kerr Scott Lake in Wilkesboro on a modified pontoon boat from Foothills Outdoor Adventures. Equipped with the same restraint system used in adaptive vans and school buses to secure wheelchairs, this boat gives everyone access to a day on the water. Try river activities in canoes and kayaks as another fun possibility depending on an individual’s skill level.
View Lake Norman from the Catawba Queen, a Mississippi River Boat, and Lady of the Lake, a 93-foot luxury yacht. Queens Landing in Mooresville features dinner and sightseeing cruises, and all are wheelchair accessible.
Cast your fishing line at Mountain Island Park in Mount Holly. Anglers fish for largemouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, black crappie, white crappie, white perch and striped bass. The park’s accessible fishing pier, 1.6-mile natural surface walking trail, playground and primitive group campsites are perfect for an outdoor adventure.
Catch your dinner at W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir in Wilkesboro. Fish from two ADA-compliant fishing piers, Keowee Park and Smithey’s Creek, for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and more. The area features 18 recreation areas with various amenities including boat ramps, camping, picnic tables, playgrounds, and biking and hiking trails.
Spraygrounds and Splash Pads
Cool off at a sprayground on textured non-slip concrete or recycled rubber. In Mecklenburg County, there are nine spraygrounds, open from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Wheelchairs will get wet as the user moves around the splash pad.
Stand under one of Nevin Park’s jets, nozzles or colorful fountains for a refreshing splash of water. Within walking distance is Race Playce, the park’s fully accessible playground with a variety of inclusive play elements such as slides, swings, spinners, rope wall and more.
Chill out at Uptown Charlotte’s First Ward Park while enjoying the view. Fountains shoot water from the spray pad. Save time for a visit to ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center or The Market at 7th Street just across Seventh Street from the sprayground. Hop on the LYNX Blue Line for more fun in Charlotte.
Eat at a BBQ joint in Lexington before hitting up the town’s splash pad and pool.
Swimming and Water Play
Stay cool with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation’s indoor waterpark, indoor and outdoor pools and lakefront beach. Pools are accessible by at least two options: zero-depth, ramped, wall entry or self-operated lift.
Make a splash at Eastway Regional Recreation Center in its eight-lane 25-yard lap pool and family-friendly leisure pool. Check out the weight room, indoor track and outdoor paved walking trails while you’re there.
Glide into the 25-yard therapeutic pool at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. For more of a challenge, hit the 50-meter pool. Fit in a workout at the fitness center or just relax in the hot tub and then head to nearby Marshall Park or the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Make some noise at Ray’s Splash Planet in Uptown Charlotte, an indoor waterpark with a lazy river, water slides, a play area with jets, a whirlpool and a lap pool.
Hit the beach at Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius. The sandy beach opens to a roped area for swimming in Lake Norman. Guests may use the Mobi-mat for wheelchair access across the sand to the water. The park also has beach wheelchairs for guests to borrow.
Beat the heat at Double Oaks Family Aquatic Center or Cordelia Pool, Charlotte’s outdoor public pools. Cordelia Park has basketball courts, a splash pad and picnic tables. The pool is adjacent to a one-mile portion of Little Sugar Creek Greenway, a paved walkway through neighborhoods and natural areas.
Test your adventurous side at Carowinds’ Carolina Harbor Waterpark. Multiple water slides, rides and two zero-entry wave pools provide enjoyment for people of all abilities. A water wheelchair is available for guests participating in waterpark attractions and this guidebook outlines the accessibility of each ride.
Learn how to water ski on Lake Norman. The Lake Norman YMCA in Cornelius provides adaptive sports such as water skiing for adults and children with disabilities in partnership with Carolinas Rehabilitation.
Bring your boat to an EZ Launch, ADA-compliant access points for kayaks and canoes. Head to Latta Nature Preserve’s North Canoe Access on Mountain Island Lake. Guests may walk down a paved pathway to the launch area or park at the accessible parking spaces.
Looking for a day trip? Try out the EZ Launch at Lake Cooley Outdoor Education Center in Inman, South Carolina, and the Tyger Berry Landing in Duncan, South Carolina, both on the Tyger River in Spartanburg County.
Ready for wakeboarding tricks? SouthTown Wake Park in Rock Hill, South Carolina has an adaptive cage for wakeboard riders who use wheelchairs. Dock hands and operators guide the rider along with assistance and instruction.
Water Sport Events
Visitors and residents can enjoy Charlotte’s adaptive water events hosted by area nonprofit organizations.
Kayak, swim or waterski with Adaptive Sports & Adventures Program. Surf Clinic at Carolina Beach.
Try out skis, wakeboards, ZUP boards, kneeboards or tubes with Wake the World. The nonprofit schedules adaptive wakeboarding events on several of North Carolina’s lakes including Badin Lake and Lake James.
Additional Accessible Spraygrounds
Atrium Health Ballpark, Kannapolis
Village Park, Kannapolis
Crooked Creek Park, Indian Trail
Harrisburg Park, Harrisburg
Lake Park, Pineville
Rotary Square Splash Pad, Concord
Southmont Park, Lexington
Wilkesboro Heritage Square Splashpad, Wilkesboro
Steele Street Park, Fort Mill, South Carolina
City Park, York, South Carolina