18 water activities to get you ready for summer in Charlotte

18 water activities to get you ready for summer in Charlotte
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email

This story is proudly presented by Morningstar Marinas, with 3 LKN locations and a brand new fleet of rental pontoons just in time for summer. Want an upgrade? Check out their members-only Peninsula Yacht Club with exclusive dining, boating and sailing perks. You can even join with a Social Membership to take advantage of club facilities and special events throughout the season.


Temps are starting to rise, which only means one thing: You’ve gotta find fun ways to keep cool.

Here are 18 water-based activities to keep you from sweating profusely this spring and summer in Charlotte.


(1) Climb an outdoor rock wall with nothing but a pool to catch you at U.S. National Whitewater Center

Details: The USNWC’s deep water solo is a series of climbing walls (ranging 25-40 feet tall) that hang over a 20-foot deep pool. Climbers tackle the wall without a harness and nothing but water below.

Price: $59 adult day pass gets you access to all available land and water activities.

Agenda guide: I climbed Deep Water Solo at the Whitewater Center. Here’s what you need to know and how I did

whitewater center deep water solo


(2) Splash around for the day at Carowinds’ Carolina Harbor Waterpark

The attractions

  • The Barracuda Blasters: Grab a tube and race a friend down two twisting long tunnel slides.
  • Blackbeard’s Revenge: This attraction is a whopping six stories tall and features three slides, including Captain’s Plank which has a nearly vertical free fall.
  • Coastal Currents: This is a basically a super chill lazy river. Perfect for just floating and cooling off.

Tickets: Day passes start at $45 per person. You’ll get access to both Carowinds and Carolina Harbor Waterpark. If you want to go all season long snag a season pass. Buy tickets.


(3) Grab some beers and float down the Catawba River in a tube

The experience: Reserve a tube at Rockin’ River Adventures and float 3 miles from the Lake Wylie Dam to River Walk on a two- to three-hour excursion that includes shuttle service, a tube with a headrest, two cup holders and a life jacket.

Price: $20/tube, $5 for a floating cooler

Address: New Gray Rock Road, Fort Mill, SC


(4) Enjoy a Lake Norman dinner cruise on a luxury yacht or Mississippi river boat

Boat options

  • Lady of the Lake is Queens Landing’s 93-foot yacht. It has two fully enclosed floors with bars on each level and a balcony that offers lake views. It’s a fancier dining experience, and you can even add VIP packages with champagne.
  • Catawba Queen is an old school Mississippi river boat. They offer a more casual buffet-style dinner, and there’s a bar.

Details: Dinner cruises sail Friday-Sunday. Check the schedule for exact dates and times.

Price: $64.99-$74.99 adults; $58.99-$68.99 seniors; $31.99-$33.99 youth 5-12; $16.99-$17.99 children 2-12.

Address: 1459 River Hwy, Mooresville

lake dock near charlotte nc


(5) Have a family staycation at Great Wolf Lodge’s indoor water park

The experience: Stay for a night or two at the lodge, and get full access to their 80,0000-square-foot indoor water park. Attractions include a four-story tube ride, a water fort tree house with slides and a toboggan-style mat slide where you can race your friends. It’s a rain-proof vacation. Plus, they have super cool themed hotel rooms.

Luxury upgrades: Rent a cabana in the water park if you’re looking to lounge. Great Wolf Lodge has a spa, so you can get pampered while the kids splash around.

Address: 10175 Weddington Road, Concord

Price: They offer three different room options: standard, themed and premium. A themed room runs around $350 a night, but prices vary. Remember, water park access is included as part of your stay. Book here.


(6) Go on a cycleboat party cruise on Lake Norman

What to expect: Charlotte Cycleboats offers two-hour cruises on open-air pedal-powered party boats. Each boat can hold up to 15 people. You can BYO beer, wine and snacks. Private rentals are also available.

Price: $37/person; $525 full boat rental. Book here.

Address: 17505 W. Catawba Ave., Cornelius


(7) Hang out on the beach on Lake Norman

Where to go

  • Lake Norman State Park features a 125-yard sand beach equipped with a concession stand, bathhouse, restrooms and lockers. $4-$5/per person. Main park is free to access.
  • Ramsey Creek Beach is a 43-acre lakeside park with a half-acre sandy beach. It’s open late May through Labor Day with lifeguard service 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. $5-$10/per car.

Pro tip: If you’re heading to Ramsey Creek Beach, there’s a free beach shuttle available weekends and holidays at 17126 Northcross Drive with service every 15 minutes.


(8) Take a moonlight tour on a glowing stand-up paddle board

Details: Aloha Paddle Sports offers Lake Norman nighttime excursions on LED-lit boards. Even the paddles glow. The 1.5-hour tour starts at dusk, and you’ll need some previous experience stand-up paddle boarding.

Price: $35 with your own board; $50 with equipment rental

Location: 17505 W. Catawba Ave., Cornelius


(10) Kayak Lake Haigler at Anne Springs Close Greenway

Details: Rentals are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m on weekends from May 25 through September. No reservations are required. Kayaks are rented on a first come, first serve basis. You can also rent stand-up paddle boards.

Price: $10/person for non-members, $5 for members

Address: 2573 Lake Haigler Drive, Fort Mill


(11) Go whitewater rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

The experience: Raft down the world’s largest man-made whitewater river, featuring class II-IV rapids. You can opt for the Family Rafting for a little more of a tame experience or the Adventure Rafting for more of a thrilling ride. Upgrade to the Rodeo Rafting if you really want to kick things up a notch (for ages 16 and up only).

Price: $59 adult day pass gets you access to all available land and water activities. Upgrade to the $199 annual pass for access all land and water activities for 365 days.

Pro tip: After your wild ride, grab a beer at the Pump House Biergarten to watch the other rafters head down the channel.

whitewater-center-charlotte


(12) Rent a private cabana and hang by the pool at Craft City Social Club

The experience: You hang out in a private cabana by a pool on a rooftop in Uptown Charlotte. You get fancy drinks brought to you. You are a baller.

Price: Cabana rentals will run you around $75-$300. Book here.


(13) Cool off in an urban sprayground

Details: If your idea of outdoorsy is a manicured city park, look no further than our guide to eight free family-friendly public spraygrounds in and around Charlotte.

Price: Free

Agenda guide: A guide to free public spraygrounds in Charlotte


(14) Take the kiddos to Ray’s Splash Planet

Details: It’s an indoor water park boasting tons of slides and attractions fueled by a whopping 117,000 gallons of water. It’s open seven days a week.

The attractions

  • The Blue Comet: Three-story giant slide shaped in the form of a double figure-eight.
  • The Lazy River: Orbit around the Blue Comet on a tube and relax.
  • Saturation Station: Features four slides, interactive water play and a tumble bucket for guests under 48 inches tall.

Price: Daily admission is around $6-$11.


(15) Swim in a rock quarry at Carrigan Farms

About the quarry: It’s a natural spring-fed body of water that was discovered in the 1960s when mining for granite stone. Now you can swim in it. 

Address: 1213 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville

Swimming details: It’s $15/per person to swim at The Quarry (cash only). The next Open Swim will be on May 25. You must pass a swim test to participate without a life jacket.


(16) Take a dip in one of Charlotte’s swimming pools

YMCA pools: They’ve got more than 15 pools and waterparks across our city.

Neighborhood pools: Get details on eight neighborhood swim clubs you can join, including pricing, amenities and waitlist times.

Apartment pools: Get ready to party because Charlotte’s apartment pool scene is huge. Here are the 10 best apartment pools.

museum-tower-pool-apartment

Rooftop pool at the Museum Tower apartment community in Uptown


(17) Kayak the Catawba River during Rocky Shoals spider lily season

About the lilies: Less than an hour south of Charlotte, Landsford Canal State Park is home to the world’s largest population of Rocky Shoals spider lilies. They bloom May through mid-June.

How to experience them: The spider lilies can be viewed by kayak on the water or along a 1.5-mile hike on land. Thrifty Adventures offers spider lily kayaking trips. $48/per person. Their site says the tours typically sell out in advance, so plan ahead.


(18) Ride a jet ski on Lake Norman

Places to rent jet skis

Pro tip: Chill out on Lake Norman’s Ramsey Creek Beach after your jet ski ride. It opens late May.


This story was made possible by Morningstar Marinas – our partner in getting out on the lake this summer. The editorial selection and content is not endorsed or influenced by this sponsor.

Cover image: Peninsula Yacht Club, by Christina Hussey.

Story Views:
SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY AGENDA
Join the 41,527 smart Charlotteans that receive our daily newsletter.
"It's good. I promise." - Ted   Ted Williams