This post was originally published May 14, 2015 and updated June 14, 2017.
If you don’t have your own or live in a big apartment complex that does, pools are severely inaccessible here in Charlotte unless you’re at least kind of rich. As a homeowner sans pool, I find myself in a summertime swimming predicament. Where can I hang out by a nice pool without breaking the bank or bothering my friends for access to theirs?
To find the answer, I went hunting for (legal) ways to hack into the fanciest private pools around town. Surprisingly, I found some loopholes that will land you poolside before you can say Marco Polo. So as temperatures continue to rise, here’s where you can cool off around town.
You don’t need an overnight stay at one of Charlotte’s fanciest hotels to get into its pool.
Scheduled spa services of $100 or more at The Ballantyne include an all-access day pass to all spa facilities, including the pool, sauna and fitness center. They used to offer a $50 pool-only day pass (without spa services) but it’s no longer available so you’ll have to endure a massage or facial to get into the pool. Life is hard.
Contact the spa at The Ballantyne (704) 248-4141 to book services or see the “Spa Policies” for more here.
Scheduled spa services at The Ritz-Carlton include access to the Fitness Center and Aqua Lounge, which includes the pool and whirlpool plus a movement studio (fancy talk for empty room where yoga is taught), cycle studio and nail salon. Unlike The Ballantyne, there is no minimum spa purchase required to enter the pool.
The cheapest thing on the spa menu is a $20 chin or lip wax so I’d recommend sucking it up and getting that done in exchange for a day of pool fun. (Pro tip: the Aqua Lounge has wifi so you can call it a work day.)
Contact The Ritz-Carlton spa at (704) 547-2244 to schedule treatments for Aqua Lounge access.
The pool at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel is open to the public certain evenings and weekends. It’s part of Craft City Social Club, Charlotte’s only public poolside bar, which features billiards, darts, giant Jenga and more.
If you want to avoid the crowds, private cabanas are available for rent ($75 – $300 for 3 hours), but cabana rentals aren’t required for entry.
If all else fails, our friendly neighborhood YMCA system features 16 outdoor pools and waterparks (at the Harris, Lake Norman, Lincoln County, Morrison, Sally’s, Simmons, Siskey and University City locations). These facilities are complete with water slides, fountains and plenty of kid-friendly entertainment. You’ll have to forgo the fancy poolside hotel cocktail but, hey, it’s a pool.
The Levine JCC unveiled its gorgeous new outdoor pool and splash park back in May. See its 2017 operating hours and special events here.
NOTE: The pool at the Omni Charlotte Hotel is currently under construction and will not reopen until Fall 2017. A rep from Charlotte Athletic Club confirmed that access to the pool will be available to members and day pass holders again upon reopening.
Charlotte Athletic Club members at the Trade & Tryon location can access the Omni pool as an inclusive perk.
Not a member but still want to swim? Just purchase a CAC day pass for $24 and you’ll get access to their entire training facility plus the Omni pool next door. Cool off after a workout or skip the fitness all together and head straight to the pool.
Call Charlotte Athletic Club at (704) 371-5600 for day pass info.
You could also try just waltzing into these places saying you’re a writer writing about pools. Worked for me. (DO NOT DO THIS.)
Header image of Craft City Social Club via Facebook