10 Playground Adventures for Summer Days in Charlotte
Explore a new Charlotte-area park each week this summer.
Updated May 30, 2017
From family favorites to parks and playgrounds that are brand new, Charlotte and surrounding areas have loads of options for free outdoor fun. Try one of the 10 below on your next family outing for a change of scenery from your go-to neighborhood park. All promise to impress, and will stretch your child’s imagination while keeping them on the move.
1. First Ward Park
301 E. Seventh Street
Family-friendly amenities include an interactive fountain, open lawn for recreational play, fountain plaza, garden walk and giant chessboard. The park is hosting family festivals, day-long events full of musical entertainment and fun activities, on select dates in 2017.
Playdate tip: Budget time to take a trip to ImaginOn library, right across from the park.
2. Freedom Park
1900 East Boulevard, Charlotte
Nestled between historic Dilworth and Myers Park neighborhoods, this 98-acre park is an iconic Charlotte location. Chances are you may have ventured there before, but the children’s playground by the train underwent a recent renovation in fall 2015. Kids can climb, slide, balance on rope swings and more. There’s also the ever-popular NFL Play 60 KidZone that features a one-of-a-kind obstacle course, 40-yard dash with automated timing device, plus boulders to climb. Bring bikes and scooter to ride around the sidewalk that circles the 7-acre pond.
Playdate tip: Save time for a trip to the Discovery Place Nature, a learning center for young children that is adjacent to the park.
3. Marion Diehl Park
2219 Tyvola Road
Everyone in the family will find something to enjoy at the county’s first multigenerational play park. While children are playing on the giant rope-climb, parents can also get some exercise on outdoor cardio and resistance machines. The 79-acre park also has a concrete walking trail, picnic shelter and grass multipurpose field.
Playdate tip: On rainy days, spend time inside at the Marion Diehl Recreation Center. The center has an indoor pool with open swim times that residents and nonresidents can enjoy for small daily fees.
4. Park Road Park
6220 Park Road
This park has been around for a long time, but is still a local favorite. A new playground was built in 2014 dedicated to the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Volunteers helped build the new playground, which has slides, a jungle gym and a model general store. Older favorite attractions include a big yellow caterpillar with a twisty monkey bar configuration, a small lake and sports fields.
Playdate tip: Pack a lunch! There are several picnic tables scattered around the playground. And if you like tennis, bring your racquets to play on one of the 12 lighted tennis courts.
5. Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St., Charlotte
Children can cool off in the interactive splash zone of this uptown park located just blocks from Charlotte’s skyscrapers. Run under cascading waterfalls or in and out of the “Childhood Muse Plaza” that squirts out mist through a set of pipes. Bring a Frisbee, soccer ball or baseball and glove for fun in the grassy field. It is located across the street from BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights.
Playdate tip: There is limited street parking adjacent to the park, but several nearby parking options to choose from, and Mellow Mushroom is also beside the park for a quick lunch or dinner.
6. Squirrel Lake Park
1631 Pleasant Plains Road, Matthews
Find a new favorite family hobby at this park that offers a fishing pond with pier, horseshoe pit and 12-hole disc golf course. Eat lunch at one of covered picnic tables or take a walk on the Four Mile Creek Greenway from the park’s connector trails. There is also a large playground area designed for children ages 2 to 12 to play.
Playdate tip: The playground includes a scavenger hunt for young children to enjoy.
7. Crooked Creek Park
5900 Oakwood Lane, Indian Trail
Crooked Creek Park includes a one-of-a-kind playground, plus walking and bike trails, two dog parks, bocce ball courts and a 18-hold disc-golf course. The unique playground is complete with a zip line and fallen tree climbing structure and tunnel. This park also has an expression swing — a face-to-face parent-child swing. Future plans exist to add a splash pad.
Playdate tip: The dog park remains locked at all times and requires a key card. You must submit an application to receive access.
Places to Splash and Swim
8. Ramsey Creek Park
18441 Nantz Road, Cornelius
Grab your beach chairs, sand shovels and pails before heading to Ramsey Creek Park. This is Mecklenburg County’s first swimming beach that has opened at a county-run park in over three decades. The swimming area covers half an acre and is staffed by lifeguards. Enjoy time in the sun, bring a lunch to eat at the new picnic shelters and create a vacation right at home.
Playdate tip: Save yourself the $10-$15 per car entrance fee by taking the shuttle. Park at the CATS’ Park and Ride site on Northcross Drive in Huntersville — just down the road from the park. Shuttles run on 15-minute cycles until the beach is at full capacity.
9. Jetton Park
19000 Jetton Road, Cornelius
Soak in the sun at this lakefront park with something truly unique – a beach. Although you can’t swim, you can get your feet wet, plus this is the perfect spot to bring sand toys and build. In addition, there is a large playground and miles of beautiful shaded walking trails offering spectacular views of Lake Norman, as well as being perfect for beginning bike riders.
Playdate tip: This is a popular spot, and often packed, so try to arrive early in the morning if you want to avoid a crowd.
10. Lineberger Park
632 W. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia
Lineberger Park features a small-scale water park and has something for swimmers of all ages. Cool off in the lazy river, two-story waterslide, and splash pad with a bucket dump and three rainfall aqua domes. Bring a change of dry clothes to spend time on playgrounds, and Thursday through Sunday, take ride the miniature train to make for a full day of fun. Entry to the pool is $3.
Playdate tip: Plan around the two sessions for public swim, 12:30-3 p.m. and 3:30-6 p.m.
Spraygrounds can’t be beat on a hot summer day. Pack the towels and sunscreen, and go get wet at these favorite sprayground locations. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. during summer months.
Cordelia Park — NoDa, 2100 N. Davidson St.
Latta Park — Dilworth, 601 E. Park Ave.
Nevin Park, 6000 Statesville Road
Veteran’s Park, 2136 Central Ave.
West Charlotte Recreation Center, 2400 Kendall Drive
SEE ALSO: Summer Outdoor Movies and Concerts
See editor Michele Huggins chatting about Charlotte playgrounds on WCNC: