Playgrounds & Parks in Charlotte
From spraygrounds and nature trails to zip lines and rock walls, the Queen City is popping with playgrounds for kids of all ages.
by Amanda Lea
When the “floor is lava” games are getting old and the kids have extra energy to burn, try filling your day with fresh air and new adventures. Grab snacks, sunscreen and water, of course, and plan for a day filled with play.
Playgrounds in Charlotte
Highlights & features: Check out the two playgrounds aimed at kids of various ages. Here you’ll find a big blue dinosaur for kids to climb, a swinging bridge and multiple slides. Bring a soccer ball to kick around the fields.
Good to know: Park on the neighborhood street and enjoy the short walk on the paved sidewalk to the playground. There’s not much shade, so be sure to grab a hat. Restrooms are not available.
Nearby: Pick up sandwiches from Lupie’s Cafe for a quick and tasty lunch or dinner.
Area: North Charlotte
Highlights & features: When the weather warms up, Charlotte locals flock to this park. The spacious sprayground is an ideal locale to cool off and burn some energy while running between the water features. Bring your four-legged friend to explore the dog park or walk the paved and unpaved trail loops.
Good to know: Three parking lots are located in front of the community garden, picnic shelters and the Clarks Creek Nature Preserve, which is just a short walk away. Bathrooms are situated in between the playground and sprayground.
Nearby: For some extra fun, head over to Frankie's Fun Park for food, arcade games, mini golf, go-karts and air conditioning.
Highlights & features: Located a few minutes away from Uptown Charlotte, Cordelia Park offers access to the scenic, pedestrian-friendly walking paths along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. In addition to walking paths, this playground also features an outdoor pool, sprayground and indoor park pavilion.
Good to know: Navigate your way through the neighborhood streets to get to the park’s parking lot. This lot provides quick access to the playground and bathrooms in the indoor pavilion.
Nearby: Cordelia Park is conveniently located between NoDa and the Mill District. Make a pitstop at Optimist Hall, a food hall with options for even the pickiest eater, for dinner and gelato at the end of a long day of play.
Highlights & features: This sprawling park has a lot to offer. You’ll find two playgrounds, access to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, a paved loop around the pond, and tons of green space. The NFL Play 60 KidZone is a great challenge for older kids dreaming of the big leagues.
Good to know: Restrooms, including a family restroom, are located near the pond and by the Play 60 KidZone. There are multiple entrances and parking areas. A smaller, fenced-in playground is located off Princeton Drive. A larger playground and the Play 60 KidZone can be accessed from the East Boulevard entrance.
Nearby: Discovery Place Nature is adjacent to Freedom Park and is perfect for nature lovers of all ages.
Area: North Charlotte
Highlights & features: Be sure to check out the Carolina Panthers Play 60 Challenge Course – there’s even a timer for kids and parents to race each other through the course. For a change of pace, the BMX Bike Track hosts bicycle motocross competitions every Saturday, and spectators can cheer on the racers for free. Ready, set, go!
Good to know: There’s not much shade in the playground area, so don’t skimp on the sunscreen. Parking is easy and restrooms are located throughout the park. Have your phone handy for some picturesque photos by the pond.
Nearby: Hickory Tavern is a sports bar close by serving up burgers, chicken wings and lots more.
Highlights & features: A sprayground, playground and trails, oh my! This tree-lined park tucked in the Dilworth neighborhood is small but mighty. When the kids get tired of playing, take a scooter or stroller ride along the trails.
Good to know: This one checks all the boxes – there’s shade, bathrooms and parking. There are several sets of stairs to get to the playground and sprayground, so little ones might need a hand.
Nearby: If you’re up for some more park-hopping, Freedom Park is just down the road.
Highlights & features: With options for toddlers and teenagers alike, your group will have a blast testing out the engaging and challenging equipment. Curved monkey bars and an elevated ropes course will keep kids on their toes, while a boat-themed slide and rock wall will get the creative juices flowing. Marion Diehl Park also features the Braille Trail, a paved loop where people with visual impairments can walk the trail without the need for a sighted guide.
Good to know: Parking is available right near the playground. Restrooms are not currently available.
Nearby: Stop by Mugs Coffee to have some caffeine in hand while the kids play
Area: North Charlotte
Highlights & features: At Nevin Community Park, there are separate playgrounds for big kids and tiny tykes, plus a shaded sprayground. There’s also plenty of green areas for impromptu bubble blowing and tag tournaments. Walking trails are bike and stroller friendly.
Good to know: Restrooms are available. There’s plenty of parking near the playground and sprayground.
Nearby: Dine on kid-friendly grub at Derita Dairy Bar. From grilled cheese and hot dogs to burgers and fries, the menu selection is a win-win for everyone.
Neighborhood: Madison Park
Highlights & features: There are three playground spaces for varying ages and abilities. One is built with tiny tots in mind, with wide landing platforms instead of steps and small tunnels for exploring. The larger playground is perfect for your future ninja warrior, with a variety of spinning monkey bars and challenging rock walls. Once the kids are worn out, take a stroll around the pond or a bike ride on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.
Good to know: Parking is available right in front of the playgrounds, as well as near the pond and greenway entrances. Restrooms are located at various shelters throughout the park.
Highlights & features: Also known as the “butterfly park” because of its outline, one of this playground’s best features is its slides and swings. Don’t miss the paved trail that meanders around the park.
Good to know: The park entrance sits behind Sedgefield Middle School, off Poindexter Drive. Look for the sign, it can be easy to miss. Street parking is available but limited. Restrooms are not available.
Area: Northwest Charlotte
Highlights & features: At Shuffletown Park, kids can play at two different playgrounds or explore the walking trail. Bring a volleyball and practice your spike on one of the two courts.
Good to know: Parking is a breeze and restrooms are available.
Nearby: For a fun twist, stop by X-tra Ball premium ice cream and pinball parlor. Since it’s located within the comic book shop Spandex City, you can enjoy comics, games and sweet treats all under one roof.
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Highlights & features: With playground options for all ages, look out for slides to speed down or the shaded sprayground for cooling off. A noteworthy feature at this park is the “world’s largest free outdoor gym network,” consisting of dynamic stations for veterans and the community.
Good to know: Parking and restrooms are steps away from the playground and sprayground. Bring a basketball to play a few rounds of HORSE on the nearby courts.
Nearby: Grab an iced latte at Undercurrent Coffee to stay cool and collected while the kids explore.
Playgrounds Near Charlotte
Take a drive to visit some of the playgrounds just outside of Charlotte that are worth the trip.
Area: Indian Trail
Highlights & features: This is the coolest woodland-themed playground with a disc golf course, dog park and lots of room to explore. There’s also a separate ADA playground for kids of all ages and abilities. Nature trails and a splashpad offer additional entertainment.
Good to know: Restrooms are easily accessible, and parking is plentiful. There are also picnic tables, so don’t forget provisions.
Nearby: Throw it back to the good old days with a trip to Kate's Skating Rink.
Highlights & features: At Pineville Lake Park, you can expect a group of playgrounds at one end, a sprayground at the other and a beautiful pond with a walking loop in the middle.
Good to know: Park at the Lakeview Drive end for playground access and the Johnston Drive entrance for the sprayground. Restrooms are available in the shelter by the outdoor stage.
Nearby: Snag some burgers and fries at the iconic Dive N diner and eat by the park’s pond.
Highlights & features: Gorgeous greenery and a peaceful pond are the perfect backdrop for the playgrounds at this park. After conquering the play spaces, take a stroll on the paths and play a nature-themed round of “I spy.”
Good to know: The parking lot by the playground can fill up fast, but parking is also available along the park’s dirt road. Restrooms are conveniently located right next to the playground.
Nearby: The play area and children’s book selection at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Matthews branch is a refreshing break. Plus, the train across the street from the library is a fun photo opp.
Highlights & features: The toddler section of this park is a caregiver’s dream. The park is fenced in and completely shaded, with a sandbox area and sidewalks to roll toy trucks. For a more tranquil experience, go on a family nature walk on one of the park’s trails.
Good to know: Restroom access and parking are very easy. Bring some toys for the sandbox.
Nearby: You won’t regret stopping by The Steak 'n Hoagie Shop for an authentic Philly-style cheesesteak.
Highlights & features: The best part of this park is that it’s fenced in, which makes it easier to monitor multiple kids at once. There are structures and activities for different ages and abilities, plus a shelter with mini picnic tables for snack time.
Good to know: Restrooms are easily accessible, and the parking lot is right in front of the playground.
A little farther from Charlotte, these playgrounds and parks are perfect for a full day of play.
Area: Rock Hill, S.C.
Highlights & features: This playground is fully fenced in so kids can run, swing, climb and slide without a worry. The zipline is the main attraction but the elevated ropes course is also a big hit. While there are a few smaller obstacles for toddlers, this playground is ideal for bigger kids who have a need for speed.
Good to know: A true “hidden gem,” this playground can be tricky to locate. Look for the Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track. The playground parking lot is around the corner to the right. Restrooms are not available and there’s not much shade.
Nearby: Riverwalk Trestle is a peaceful path along the Catawba River. Bridges and boardwalks will satisfy adventure seekers and nature lovers alike.
Highlights & features: There’s no shortage of things to do at this park. Between the playground, paddle boats, nature center, aquarium, mini-golf, carousel and train station, you can, and should, spend hours enjoying all the attractions.
Good to know: Some attractions are available for a small fee, but admission to the park and many of the activities are free.
Nearby: Be sure to grab some sustenance before hitting the road. Besides the usual fare, there are a variety of local gems right off I-85. Try Christo's Family Restaurant, The Smoke Pit or Spanky’s Homemade Ice Cream & Deli.
Highlights & features: This castle-themed playground is truly magical. From the moment your kids enter they’ll be enthralled by the turrets, bridges, ladders and slides. The one-acre playground is nestled within a 58-acre park with walking loops, soccer fields and volleyball courts. The hours will fly by exploring this dazzling destination.
Good to know: Paved parking and multiple restroom sites are available. Bring sunscreen, snacks and water. Break out the bikes and helmets to take advantage of the loops.
Nearby: For a change of scenery, spend time exploring The Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium.
Area: Tega Cay, S.C.
Highlights & features: As the first inclusive playground in York County, this brightly colored area is outfitted with equipment for children of all ages with sensory, physical, cognitive or social development limitations. Musical instruments and a zipline round out the exciting options that will keep kids entertained for hours.
Good to know: The playground is fenced in, and restrooms are available. Handicap-accessible parking is plentiful.
Highlights & features: In addition to the playground and sprayground, this 16-acre park also offers an amphitheater, a carousel, walking trails and train rides. There’s typically a Concerts in the Park and Movies at the Park series in the summer.
Good to know: Some activities charge a small fee and operate on a varying schedule due to staffing, so be sure to check before you go. Free parking is available, and restrooms are located throughout the park. There are plenty of tables to enjoy a picnic lunch.
Nearby: Getting a treat at The Sweetest Thing Ice Cream Shoppe, directly across from the park, is a must.
Go ahead and bookmark this carefully curated guide to some of the best playgrounds in the Charlotte area. It’s a cheat sheet to help you easily reference need-to-know information for each playground, so you and your crew are prepared to have some high-vibe fun.
Article originally written by Amanda Lea. Updates by Arielle Patterson in March 2023.