Outdoors & Adventure

Can’t-Miss Water Activities in the Queen City

As the temperature heats up in the Queen City, it’s time to cool down.

From paddleboard yoga to dinner cruises on Lake Norman, this local guide will help inspire your next spring or summer outing.

Photography courtesy of U.S. National Whitewater Center

All About the Action

U.S. National Whitewater Center

The U.S. National Whitewater Center has tons of water sports that cover all ages and skill levels. The relaxed environment is intended for younger participants and first-timers. Action-seekers should try Adventure Rafting—a fast paced class III-IV rapids on the whitewater channels and the most popular whitewater activity. Located on the Catawba River, the outdoor facility offers scenic, flat-water activities, such as kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) on the river’s calm, flowing waters.

Aquaventure Watercraft Rentals and Boat Club

For an action-packed afternoon on Lake Norman, rent a Jet Ski or ski boat from Aquaventure Watercraft Rentals and Boat Club. Jet Skis are available to rent for only an hour or for a full week or weekend. You can also rent yachts, kayaks and paddleboards and all of the necessary accessories for fun on the water: ski vests, towlines, tubes, wakeboards, water skis and knee boards. If you’re interested in a long-term commitment, check out Aquaventure’s boat club membership.

Paddle Charlotte Aloha on Lake Norman

Started in 2010, Paddle Charlotte Aloha on Lake Norman is the “source for paddle sports in Charlotte, North Carolina.” The company rents kayaks and paddleboards and specializes in paddleboard instruction. The instructors teach private and group lessons. Instruction includes water safety tips and techniques for paddling and turning. Specialty classes include Sunset Paddle Tours and Paddleboard Yoga.

Lake Norman Scuba

Whether you’re an experienced diver looking for more practice or a novice looking to learn, Lake Norman Scuba is the spot for local scuba diving. The full-service dive shop also offers chartered trips to locations like the Florida Keys, the Maldives and Sri Lanka for the more adventurous divers.

Photo courtesy of Queen's Landing Sightseeing & Dinner Cruises

Life of Leisure

Queens Landing

Relax on Lake Norman with an afternoon sightseeing or evening dinner cruise on Lake Norman with Queens Landing. Its fleet includes a Mississippi riverboat called “Catawba Queen” and a luxury yacht called “Lady of the Lake.” Choose a buffet-style meal or a four-course, plated dinner. Look out for special events throughout the year, such as live music and themed cruises for the holidays.

The Quarry at Carrigan Farms

Initially a granite quarry, The Quarry at Carrigan Farms is an idyllic natural swimming hole in Mooresville. The water is 25 feet deep with a sand beach all surrounded by jaw-dropping granite cliffs. You’ll probably get hungry during a day outside, so head over to The Quarry Kitchen, which serves picnic-ready foods from veggie burgers to cooling slushies. The Quarry is scheduled to open for the 2021 season on May 28.

Photo courtesy Great Wolf Lodge

For the Youngsters (or Young at Heart)

Great Wolf Lodge

Great Wolf Lodge has four-story and six-story waterslides for the older kids while mini slides and splash pools keep the younger ones busy. Everything is wilderness themed, from the interactive treehouse to the cabin-like rooms, making for a real adventure. Want to stay dry? The Lodge has a slew of “on-land” activities, including bowling and mini-golf.

Carolina Harbor Waterpark

For a fun-filled day with kids, the region’s long-time, go-to attraction is Carowinds. One of the newest additions to this theme park that hugs the border of North and South Carolina is the Carolina Harbor Waterpark. Admission is included with a regular ticket to Carowinds. Attractions here range from the longest mat racing slide in the Southeast to a more low-key wave pool.

Charlotte's Splashpads

If you only have a few hours to spare, have some fun in the sun at one of the city’s splashpads or “spraygrounds.” Charlotte’s Spraygrounds throughout Mecklenburg County feature unique sprays, nozzles and spouts to keep you cool during hot days. Visit Cordelia Park in NoDa, Latta Park on Park Avenue, Veterans Park on Central Avenue, Nevin Park in North Charlotte, the West Charlotte Recreation Center or the Fish Fountains on The Green in Uptown for a day of refreshing fun. Most of the “spraygrounds” are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. They are free and easily accessible.