Slide, Swim, Splash: 9 Water Parks Within 2 Hours of Charlotte

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  1. Carolina Harbor

Carowinds’ massive water park (the largest in the Carolinas) opens May 27, and entry is included with admission to the amusement park. Speed down the Boogie Board Racer, the longest mat-racing slide in the Southeast; Storm Surge, a labyrinth of water slides; or take the little ones to Kiddy Hawk Cove and Myrtle Turtle Beach. General admission starts at $45. Sign up for the Pre-K Pass to get free admission for kids ages 3-5. 14523 Carowinds Blvd., 704.588.2600

  1. Ray’s Splash Planet

This indoor oasis has slides, lap lanes for lap swimming and water basketball, a lazy river, a gradual-entry moon beach and more. It’s ranked consistently on the city’s best-of lists since opening in 2002. Ray’s Splash Planet is $8-$10 for residents and $10-$15 for non-residents. 215 N. Sycamore St., 980.314.4729

  1. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte has six branches with water parks: Brace Family YMCA, Harris YMCA, Keith Family YMCA, Morrison Family YMCA, Sally’s YMCA and Simmons YMCA. Many additional locations have pools, kiddie pools, or water slides. Calculate membership cost online, and contact individual branches about hours, season opening dates, and day pass availability. Multiple locations

  1. Great Wolf Lodge

Head to Great Wolf Lodge’s 84-degree indoor water park and enjoy the wave pool, 11 water slides, a toddler area, mat racing slides, and more. Children of all ages will enjoy Fort Mackenzie, a four-story, treehouse-style area with interactive splash features. Stay the night or purchase a day pass for $50 per person ($40 for pass from 4 pm-close). Ages 2 and under receive a free day pass. 10175 Weddington Rd., Concord, 800.905.9653

  1. Lineberger Park Pool

Experience the zero-depth entry, a lazy river, a two-story waterslide, three lanes for lap swimming, and splash areas. Lounge chairs are available to rent. Open daily from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., May 28-Sept. 17. Admission is $4 per person. 632 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia, 704.869.1018

  1. Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe is open May 28-30, then daily from June 4-Aug. 21 (also open Sat-Sun, Aug. 27-Sept. 11). Check out more than 40 water rides and attractions, including the new Bombs Away: one tube sends you straight down at 26 feet per second, the other loops you around to a splashdown. There are also two large children’s areas: Splash Island and Happy Harbor. Daily tickets and season passes available; find the best prices online. 3910 South Holden Rd., Greensboro, 800.555.5900

  1. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort

Find mini golf, gem mining, kayaking, canoeing, and a water park at this family-friendly resort. Enjoy squirting cannons and splash buckets, slides, and a water zipline. The water park is open on weekends and daily during peak season, which begins June 3. Stay the night or purchase a day pass for $32; ages 1 and younger are free. 182 Jellystone Pkwy., Bostic, 828.417.0085

  1. Neptune Island

Young buccaneers will love the pirate-themed splash pad, and the whole family will enjoy Neptune Island’s wave pool and lazy river. Thrill seekers will love the water slides, especially Neptune’s Revenge.  The water park is open daily from May 28-July 31 and weekends only in August and Sept. 3-5. Entry is $3 for ages 2 and under; $17 for 48 inches and shorter, military, first responders, and seniors; $19 for 48 inches and taller. 1109 14th St., Hartsville, 843.951.9400

  1. Lake Lure Beach and Water Park

Enjoy a day on the sand surrounded by views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Children can splash in Lake Lure and build sandcastles or play at the small, on-site water park. Guests taller than 45 inches may ride the water slides; water balloons are available for purchase at the beach house for water wars. The water park is open on weekends beginning May 28 and daily for peak season, which starts June 11. Entry is $8-$10, and children under 4 are free. 2930 Memorial Hwy., Lake Lure, 828.625.1373