Outdoors & Adventure

Can’t-Miss Water Activities in the Queen City

In today’s current state, water activities may be a bit different this year, but there’s still a variety of ways to cool down in the Queen City.

From paddleboard yoga to dinner cruises on Lake Norman, this local guide will help inspire your next 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. They have new safety procedures in place to minimize contact, in addition to a COVID-19 questionnaire patrons must fill out.

Photo courtesy of Queen's Landing Sightseeing & Dinner Cruises

Life of Leisure

Queen's 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. Queens Landing is operating on a more limited capacity in order to follow the CDC guidelines. Look out for special events throughout the year, such as live music and themed cruises for the holidays

Photo courtesy Great Wolf Lodge

For the Youngsters (or Young at Heart)

Great Wolf Lodge

While Great Wolf Lodge is temporarily closed through July 8, starting Thursday, July 9, they will start taking reservations for overnight guests to enjoy their indoor water park and amenities. Four-story and six-story waterslides provide adventure 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. The fitness center will remain closed and day passes will not be available for the foreseeable future, so book your overnight stay to enjoy the lodge that will be operating at a limited capacity for the safety of their guests.

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.