Slide, Swim, Splash: 9 water parks within 2 hours of Charlotte
Carowinds’ massive water park opens May 29, and entry is included with admission to the amusement park. Speed down the new Boogie Board Racer, the longest mat-racing slide in the Southeast, or take the little ones to Kiddy Hawk Cove, Myrte Turtle Beach, and other exciting attractions. General admission starts at $45. Sign up for the Pre-K Pass to get free admission for kids ages 3-5. 14523 Carowinds Blvd. carowinds.com/carolina-harbor.
This indoor oasis has slides, a Lazy River, Saturation Station, gradual-entry Moon Beach, and more. It’s great for rainy day fun, but be aware the pool closes for 30 minutes if lightning strikes. Ray’s Splash Planet is currently closed for renovation, but Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation anticipates a fall opening, likely September 2021. In the meantime, check out the new Eastway Regional Recreation Center’s indoor leisure pool, which opens this month. Ray’s Splash Planet is $8-$10 for residents, $10-$15 for non-residents. 215 N. Sycamore St. rayssplashplanet.com.
The YMCA of Greater Charlotte includes 19 branches, two overnight camps, and one child development center. Seven of those branches have water parks: Brace Family YMCA, Harris YMCA, Keith Family YMCA, Morrison Family YMCA, Sally’s YMCA, Simmons YMCA, and Stratford Richardson YMCA. Many additional locations also have pools, kiddie pools, or water slides. Calculate membership cost online, and contact branches individually about hours, season opening dates, and day pass availability. ymcacharlotte.org.
Head to Great Wolf Lodge’s 84-degree indoor water park and enjoy the wave pool, tube slides, 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. Ages 2 and under receive a free day pass. 10175 Weddington Rd., Concord. greatwolf.com.
Experience the zero-depth entry, a lazy river, a two-story waterslide, three lanes for lap swimming, and splash areas. Register for a timed session from 12:30 to 3 p.m. or 3:30 to 6 p.m. up to one hour prior to your session. The pool opens Memorial Day weekend for weekends only until June 14 when it opens daily. Admission is $4 per person. 632 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. cityofgastonia.com.
Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe opens for the season on Saturday, May 29. Check out more than 38 attractions, including but not limited to a wave pool with two million gallons of water, the extreme Daredevil Drop slide, Raging Rapids river ride, and Happy Harbor for small children. This water park is approximately one hour and 20 minutes from Charlotte. $41 for guests 48 inches and taller, $31 for guests 48 inches and shorter, $10 parking. 3910 South Holden Rd., Greensboro. emeraldpointe.com.
Find mini golf, gem mining, lazer tag, kayaking and canoeing, and a water park just one hour and 30 minutes from Charlotte. Enjoy water interactives like squirting cannons and splash buckets, slides, and the nearby pool. The water park opens on weekends starting May 1 and daily during peak season, June 11-Aug. 14. Stay the night or purchase a day pass for $25, Fri. and Sat.; $20, Sun.-Thurs., $5 for parking, ages 1 and younger free. Day passes aren’t currently available due to COVID but may become available in the future. 182 Jellystone Pkwy., Bostic. campgoldenvalley.com.
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. Neptune Island is approximately one hour and 50 minutes from Charlotte. The water park opens to the public on May 16 on weekends until regular hours begin on June 12. $3 for ages 2 and younger; $17 for 48 inches and shorter, military, first responders, and seniors; $19 for 48 inches and taller. 1109 14th St., Hartsville. neptuneisland.com.
Enjoy a day on the sand surrounded by views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Children can splash in Lake Lure and build sandcastles or enjoy 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 also has a splash zone. $8-$10, children younger than 4 free. 2930 Memorial Hwy., Lake Lure. lakeluretours.com.