Can’t-Miss Water Activities in the Queen City
As the temperature heats up in the Queen City, it’s time to cool down.
by Jamie Killian Jun 13, 2022
Anne Springs Close Greenway
Area: Fort Mill
Kayak, paddle board or fish on one of the many lakes and ponds at the Anne Springs Close Greenway. Nature trails lead to lovely spots along an active creek bed, making it a great place for little ones to splash and play in the water.
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. The club has two locations, one in Mooresville and one in Sherrills Ford. For a quieter day on the water, head to the Sherrills Ford location. For an action-packed outing, try the Mooresville location. Choose from jet skis, pontoon boats, sailboats and jetskis.
Carolina Harbor Waterpark — Carowinds
Neighborhood: South Charlotte
For a fun-filled day with or without the kids, Carowinds’ Carolina Harbor Waterpark features attractions ranging from water slides and wave pools to splash pads and cabanas. When you need refreshments, check out Rita’s Italian Ice as well as several on-site eateries to fill you up and keep the fun going.
Head to The Boathouse to rent paddle boards or kayaks and explore South Fork, the Catawba River’s largest tributary. You can also schedule a guided tour of the river that includes some whitewater. If you’re wanting to head out alone, check out the Catawba Riverkeeper swim guide for the safest places to swim. If you need equipment to explore even more, they also have a great boat rental directory.
Catawba River Blueway – Mountain Island Section
Area: Mountain Island
Have your own boating equipment? Check out the six miles of waterway that loop around Mountain Island Lake with three launch spots for canoes or kayaks, including a boat launch at Latta Nature Preserve. Need to rent a paddle board or kayak? Check out Mountain Island Lake Paddle Co.
Area: Rock Hill
Lake Wylie is a great place to cool off and Ebenezer Park offers public beach access enclosed by a circular pier (note: no lifeguards are on duty, so life jackets are recommended). While at the park, check out the fishing piers and walking trails and take in the sights at one of Charlotte’s man-made lakes.
Great Wolf Lodge
Located in a unique lodge-style hotel, Great Wolf Lodge has four- and six-story waterslides with splash pools to 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.
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, offering diving certification including pool and open-water sessions as well as specialty and advanced diving courses for more experienced divers.
Neighborhood: Villa Heights, North End
Need a good ol’ fashioned pool day? Try Mecklenburg County’s public pools like Double Oaks Aquatic Center and Cordelia Pool. Open to sixty patrons on a first come, first served basis, swimmers can enjoy 90-minute swim times at these membership-free pools. The pools are open weekends from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Check online for scheduling
The Quarry at Carrigan Farms
Initially a granite quarry, The Quarry at Carrigan Farms is an idyllic natural swimming hole in Mooresville. The 25-foot-deep swimming hole with sand beach is surrounded by jaw-dropping granite cliffs and is an absolute must for any summer swimming list. For lunch, pack a picnic or enjoy The Quarry Kitchen which serves picnic-ready foods from veggie burgers to cooling slushies.
Relax on Lake Norman with an afternoon sightseeing or evening dinner cruise on Lake Norman with the help of Queen's Landing Marina. Its fleet includes a Mississippi riverboat, “Catawba Queen,” and luxury yacht, “Lady of the Lake.” Each dinner cruise serves a four-course, plated dinner. Look out for special events throughout the year such as live music and themed cruises for the holidays.
Ramsey Creek Park
This park covers 46 acres and includes public waterfront beach access on Lake Norman. Lifeguards are on duty and swimming is open from Memorial Day to Labor day on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. There are also boat launches, a fishing pier and walking trails for a perfect day on the lake.
Ray’s Splash Planet
Neighborhood: Fourth Ward
Another water activity through the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation department, Ray’s Splash Planet is a great way to play no matter the weather. This indoor facility features slides, interactive water play and a lazy river.
Got a few hours to spare? Have some fun in the sun at one of the city’s splash pads or “spraygrounds.” Charlotte’s Spraygrounds can be found throughout the county and feature unique sprays, nozzles and spouts to keep you cool during hot days. Visit Cordelia Park in Villa Heights (right next to the public pool), Dilworth’s Latta Park, Veterans Park in Plaza Midwood, Nevin Park in North Charlotte, the West Charlotte Recreation Center or take a day in Uptown at the Fish Fountains on The Green or at First Ward Park.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Neighborhood: West Charlotte
The U.S. National Whitewater Center has tons of water sports that cover all ages and skill levels. The relaxed environment is perfect for younger participants and first-timers while action-seekers can enjoy Adventure Rafting, fast-paced class III-IV rapids on the whitewater channels and the most popular whitewater activity. Located on the Catawba River, the outdoor destination offers scenic flat-water activities such as kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) on the river’s calm, flowing waters.