Where to Swim, Paddle and Float in Charlotte This Summer

Cool off at these 15 places to splish-splash the summer away.
Ramseycreek Mecklenburgcountycopy
Photo courtesy of Ramsey Creek Park at Lake Norman

There’s no denying it, summers are brutally hot in Charlotte — so hot that we often find our kids hiding inside watching TV or playing video games to avoid the blazing heat. When the heat gets to be too much, but burning off kids’ energy is imperative, Charlotte has plenty of places to swim and get wet – from beaches to spraygrounds and waterparks – to help everybody stay cool.


Natural Watering Holes

The Quarry at Carrigan Farms
1213 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy., Mooresville

Imagine swinging Tarzan style from a rope swing into a 25-foot deep quarry. The dream can be a reality at the Quarry at Carrigan Farms. The quarry was converted into a natural swimming pool when a natural spring was discovered beneath the rock.

Because the quarry is 25-feet deep throughout, ages 11 and younger must wear a life jacket and all other swimmers must either pass an on-site swim test or wear a life jacket.

Hours: Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with select weekend days offered each month. Check the Carrigan Farms website to confirm dates.

Cost: $15 per person.


Ramsey Creek Park at Lake Norman
18441 Nantz Road, Cornelius

Bring your beach chair, sand buckets and picnic lunch for a day playing in the sand and splashing in the waters of Lake Norman. Not only does Ramsey Creek Park offer half an acre of sandy shoreline, there also is a playground, nature trails, fishing pier and volleyball court. Avoid paying the entrance fee by catching a shuttle from the Cornelius CATS’ Park and Ride site at 20300 Sefton Park Road, Cornelius. Shuttle riders are admitted free.

Hours: Open daily through Labor Day, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Cost: $5 per vehicle for Mecklenburg County residents, $8 per vehicle for non-county residents on weekdays; $10 for Mecklenburg County residents and $15 for non-county residents on weekends.


My Aloha Paddle Sports
17505 W. Catawba Ave., Cornelius

My Aloha Paddle Sports helps get your family on the water with kayak and stand-up paddle-board rentals. For those looking to get wet, there’s always the fun chance of falling in. Children ages 10 and under can ride on the stand-up paddle board or kayak with a parent. Youths ages 10 to 18 are free to float on their own as long as a parent is with them on an accompanying rental. A free lesson is provided for anyone renting a stand-up paddle board or kayak for rentals of 90 minutes or more.

Hours: Open year-round Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Cost: Rental rates start at $15 per hour for kayaks and $20 per hour for stand-up paddle boards.


U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte

Whether you tame the whitewater rapids on a raft or paddle on the tranquil flatwater of the Catawba River in a kayak, the water options at the U.S. National Whitewater Center are abundant. When the kids need a break from the water, check out the zip lines, trails and ropes course. Most activities are for ages 8 and older.

Hours: Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk year-round. Times for water activities vary depending on the weather. Check the website for the most up-to-date information.

Cost: Day passes cost $49 for ages 9 and under, and $59 for ages 10 and older. Individual activity passes also are available.


Double Oaks Family Aquatic Center 

Photo courtesy of Cordelia Park

Outdoor Pools

Cordelia Park
2100 N. Davidson St., Charlotte

The community swimming pool at Cordelia Park in Villa Heights — NoDa’s next-door neighborhood — is where you’ll find children and families cooling off in the summer. Besides the 50-meter swimming pool with newly renovated water slides and a diving board, Cordelia Park also has a sprayground. Free swim lessons are offered for children ages 3-12. Registration for lessons is available onsite on a week-by-week basis each Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. Kids under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Double Oaks Family Aquatic Center on Statesville Avenue also offers free swim lessons with a weekly on-site registration.

Hours: Open through Labor Day, Monday through Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.

Cost: $1 per person.


Double Oaks Family Aquatic Center
2014 Statesville Ave., Charlotte

Serving the Druid Hills and Double Oaks neighborhoods is the city’s newest outdoor public pool – Double Oaks Family Aquatic Center. The 6,000-square-foot pool boasts zero-depth entry, lap swimming and waterslides. Just like Cordelia Park, free swim lessons are offered for children ages 3-12. Registration is available on a week-by-week basis each Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. onsite. Children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Hours: Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday through Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.

Cost: Admission is $1.


Camp T.N. Spencer Park
3155 Foxford Road, Concord

Located in Concord is the Camp T.N. Spencer Park swimming pool. The L-shaped pool ranges from 2 to 10 feet in depth and has a giant mushroom that spouts out water in the shallow end where smaller kids can be found splashing and giggling. Children of all ages are welcome with an accompanying adult. Inquire about swim lessons and birthday party packages.

Hours: Open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Cost: Admission is $2 for children age 2-5, $4 for ages 6-13, and $6 ages 14 and older.


The Green



Birkdale Village
16805 Birkdale Commons Pkwy., Huntersville

Need a little retail therapy but dread dragging the kids along with you? Birkdale Village has something for parents and kids. Smack dab in the center of Birkdale’s outdoor shopping complex is a sprayground. It’s a win-win for kids and parents alike. Bring dry clothes to change into after the sprayground as there are dining options too.

Hours: Open through Labor Day, Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.

Cost: Free.


Crooked Creek Park
5900 Oakwood Lane, Indian Trail

The sprayground at Crooked Creek Park in Indian Trail might just be the most interactive in the area. It features a tree in the middle with animal sculptures that dump buckets of water to run under, plus flower, frog and turtle designs that squirt water, and a spraying log that can be aimed at friends.

Hours: Open daily through Labor Day, 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Free.


Latta Park
601 E. Park Ave., Charlotte

The Latta Park sprayground in Charlotte’s Dilworth neighborhood is a favorite for parents and children alike. While the little ones are running through the fenced-in water feature, parents can relax to views of the uptown skyline.

Hours: Open daily through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cost: Free.


Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St., Charlotte

It’s hard to resist running through the waterfall at Romare Bearden Park uptown. The park also features cooling misters in the Childhood Muse Plaza. The sprayground/waterfall is ideal for keeping young ones occupied during park concerts and events while Mom and Dad enjoy the music.

Other uptown splash pads are located at First Ward Park across from ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center and at The Green across from The Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street. Take the Lynx Blue Line for a day of uptown fun playing at all three parks.

Hours: Open daily through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cost: Free.


Stallings Municipal Park
340 Stallings Road, Stallings

Stallings Municipal Park is designed with three playgrounds, including on that is fenced where the little ones can’t escape, plus an interactive sprayground for bigger kids.

Hours: Open daily through Aug. 26 and weekends through Sept. 3, 10 a.m. to noon, 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Cost: Free.


Veterans Park
2136 Central Ave., Charlotte.

Located between Elizabeth and Plaza Midwood is Veterans Park, which boasts one of the largest spraygrounds in Charlotte. It’s so large, don’t be surprised to find adults running and playing. There also is a covered playground adjacent to the sprayground where kids can play without fear of sunburn.

Hours: Open daily through Labor Day, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cost: Free.


Blackbeard's Revenge

Photo courtesy of Carolina Harbor Waterpark at Carowinds


Carolina Harbor Waterpark at Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte

Race down Blackbeard’s Revenge six-story-high waterslides, catch a six-foot wave in Tidal Wave Bay, or pile the whole family onto a raft for the twist and turns of Hurricane Falls. Even the smallest members of your family can participate with slide options at Pelican Plunge and plenty of ways to get sprayed in Pirate’s Landing. Get your child measured at the entrance to the waterpark to get a wristband that lets them know which slides they can and can’t go on.

Hours: Open through Labor Day. Hours vary from week to week. Consult Carowinds’ website before you visit.

Cost: Waterpark admission is included with general admission to the theme park. Check the website for pricing. Sign up for the free Pre-K pass that gets kids age 3-5 in at no cost.


Lineberger Park Mini-Waterpark
632 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia

Is it a sprayground, a swimming pool or waterpark? However you define Lineberger Park Pool in Gastonia, it’s a whole lot of fun. The mini-waterpark features a zero-depth entry pool with fountain geysers, a lazy river, windy waterslide, lap lanes and splash pads for younger kids.

Hours: Open daily through Aug. 19 and weekends until Labor Day. The splash pad is open daily 11 a.m.-7 p.m. through Sept. 15.  Two swim sessions are held daily: 12:30-3 p.m. and 3:30-6 p.m.

Cost: $3 for children age 1 and older.

Bryan M. Richards is a craft beer, food and travel writer who lives in Charlotte with his wife and their 2-year-old son.