A Guide to North Carolina’s Best Water Parks

By Beth Mack

August 21, 2023

The dog days of summer have arrived. With the forecast showing no end to the 90-degree temperatures, North Carolinians both young and old are actively looking for ways to keep cool. Whether you have children of your own or are just a kid at heart, there is no better way to have some fun in the sun than at a water park. From massive parks featuring a host of rides, attractions, and amenities to smaller, family-owned parks, there is something for everyone no matter where you may find yourself in North Carolina. 

Great Wolf Lodge 

This massive 80,000-square-foot indoor water park and resort is kept at 84 degrees year-round. Water park highlights include Fort Mackenzie (a four-story water treehouse playground complete with slides), Slap Tail Pond wave pool, Howlin’ Tornado (a six-story raft ride), Chinook Cove featuring water basketball, Big Foot Pass water obstacle course, and a variety of slides. For those with toddlers, Great Wolf offers the interactive Cub Paw Pool and Whooping Hollow water playground. After working up an appetite, you can choose from one of the eight on-site food options. If you prefer to stay dry, there are a slew of other attractions for an additional cost like laser tag, mini golf, arcade, miniature bowling, and even a movie theater. With all of the amenities offered, it is hard to cram it into just one day, which is where the hotel comes in handy for the ultimate family getaway all under one roof. Full-day passes for the water park start at $48 and vary based on the day of your visit (weekends, holidays, and special events).

10175 Weddington Road
Concord, NC 28027
(866) 925-9653

10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

H20BX Waterpark 

If you are looking for some fun for the whole family, H20BX Waterpark in the Outer Banks has you covered. For thrill-seekers, the waterpark offers eight attractions like The Plank, a 90-foot free-fall body slide, the Endless Wave Flowrider boogie boarding experience, and the Dune Runner, a 70-foot tall tube ride. To slow down your heart rate, you will find seven family-orientated attractions including the Cat-5 Bay Wave Pool, Calico Jack’s Cove (a four-story water treehouse), multiple slides such as the Rogue Wave (a six-story tube ride), the Deep Six Adventure Lagoon obstacle course, and Teach’s Tide Adventure River lazy river for a relaxing float. Younger kids are not left out with an assortment of six water slides to choose from. Get there early to grab lounge chairs for your sunbathing needs or rent a private cabana. There is no shortage of food options at the waterpark, with seven food stands featuring full meals at Heavenly Hawgs BBQ, Outer Banks Eats, and Outer Franks, as well as sweet treats at Dune Devil Desserts, coffee from Bait & Tackle Coffee Bar, and adult beverages from Flyboys. Admission is $32.99 for guests under 42” or 65 years of age, and $42.99, for 42” and taller. For frequent flyers, season passes are available for $130.

8526 Caratoke Hwy
Powells Point, NC 27966
(252) 491-3000

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe 

With over 40 rides and attractions, there is plenty of fun to be had in Greensboro this summer. Guests can ride the waves in Thunder Bay Wave Pool, swirl around The Cyclone Zone pool, relax for a float down the Lazy River, or race down one of the multiple raft and body slides. New for the 2023 season is the Bermuda Triangle, three body slides bring excitement with pulsing vibrant lights, dynamic sounds, and speed. The park provides fun for the whole family with 13 rides and attractions ranging from the Soak Zone play area to the kid-friendly Rumble Bay Wave Pool. To rest between activities, lounge chairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis, or you can rent a private cabana. Wet ‘n Wild has 15 on-site food venues with options ranging from pizza and burgers to smoked turkey legs. For a sweet treat, you will find several ice cream and Icee spots, along with the Dockside Watering Hole offering ice-cold craft beer and wine. Day passes start at $59.99 but be sure to check out their website for promotions and discounts or you can check out a season pass starting at $99.99

3910 South Holden Road
Greensboro, NC 27406
(336) 852-9721

Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park 

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park has been making a splash in Wilmington since 1997, and it’s one of the largest water parks in Eastern North Carolina. The water park has plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy all day including the Superbowl (a raft funnel slide), a lazy river, a wave pool, and multiple slides including body slides, mat slides, and raft slides. For the younger crowd, the park has a 7,000-square-foot kiddie splash area with slides, a treehouse, and other interactive water features. To get some rest between activities, the park offers lounge chairs on a first-come, first-served basis or you can rent a private shaded cabana for you and your crew. If you work up an appetite, swing by Big Splash Cafe for burgers and pizza, or cool down with ice cream. For adults, Big Splash Cafe also offers beer and wine to take the edge off. After you dry off, visit some of the park’s other attractions such as laser tag, mini bowling, an arcade, mini golf, go-karts, an indoor kids’ playground, a rock climbing wall, and bumper cars, available at an additional fee. Entry to the water park is $35 for guests below four-feet tall and those 65 years old and up, and $45 for those taller than four feet. You can also grab a season pass for $180

5320 Oleander Drive
Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 791-0666

11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Carolina Harbor Waterpark 

During the summer, Carowinds can get quite toasty no matter how strong the breeze. Luckily, just past Copperhead Strike, you will find the entrance to Carowinds’ three-acre water park, Carolina Harbor. Cool off by diving into one of the many water attractions including the Coastal Currents lazy river, Seaside Splashworks (a three-story interactive water play structure with a 423-gallon tipping bucket on top), Surf Club Harbor wave pool, Storm Surge (80-foot body slide), Kiddie Hawk Cove water play area, or take a ride on one of the many tube, mat, and body slides. Catch some rays on one of the lounge chairs or grab a bite to eat from one of the water parks’ five eateries. For the ultimate relaxation, you can reserve a cabana and have food and beverages delivered to you without having to move a finger. The best part is that admission to Carolina Harbor Waterpark is included in the regular Carowinds ticket price so you can enjoy both parks for the price of one. For a discounted rate, it is recommended to buy your ticket online with prices starting at $44.99 depending on the day or you can opt for a season pass for $120.

14523 Carowinds Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28273
(704) 588-2600

Sunday-Thursday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Fantasy Lake Adventure Park 

In its inaugural year, Fantasy Lake Adventure Park was a former rock quarry that previously only hosted scuba diving sessions but has expanded this year to include more water activities. The main attraction is the Wibit Water Adventure, a large inflatable water park complete with everything from slides, a climbing wall, and even a trampoline. To join in the fun, guests must be at least six years of age and be able to swim. The park offers a smaller landbound inflatable water slide for younger guests and a sandy beach leading to a swimming area for guests of all ages. Cruise around and explore the picturesque lake with kayak, and paddle board rentals, available for an additional charge. They even offer scuba diving! To escape from the sun, Fantasy Lake offers lounge chair and umbrella rentals or splurge for a private Aqua cabana that floats on the lake. For a pick-me-up, swing by the concession stand and grab a snack or drink, or bring your cooler and chairs for a beach picnic (just no alcohol or glass). Passes for the Wibit Water Adventure are sold online in advance and start at $40 for two hours. Guests can stay and enjoy the beach and swimming area for as long as they would like after your session or rental.

3601 Quarry Road
Wake Forest, NC 27587
(919) 556-1803

9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Elevated Wake Park

For water sport enthusiasts, the Piedmont Triad area is home to one of the state’s few full-sized cable wakeboarding parks. Think Whitewater Center but for wakeboarding instead of rafting. Rather than traditional wakeboarding, where riders are towed by a boat, the park utilizes a system of cables to tow riders around the lake with the opportunity to try out some jumps and tricks on ramps placed throughout the course. No equipment? No problem! The park offers equipment rentals for $15 which includes a life vest, board, and helmet. You can opt for a two-hour pass for $38, four hours for $45, or make a day out of it for $55. For those new to wakeboarding, they also offer lessons for $40 that can be booked online in advance. Elevated also offers an Aqua Park, a floating inflatable playground with obstacles suitable for those five years old and up. Passes start at $20 for an hour or $45 for the day

220 Bryant Rd
Lexington, NC 27292
(336) 481-9107

12 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Lions Water Adventure 

A reprieve for North Carolinians near Kinston can be found at Lions Water Adventure. With three water slides, a 550-foot lazy river, an eight-lane lap pool, and a 5,000-square-foot Kiddie Lagoon, the whole family can beat the heat. To refuel, Swimba’s Canteen offers classic grill items such as hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, soft drinks, snacks and, of course, ice cream. For those above the age of two, tickets are $10 Monday through Thursday and $15 Friday through Sunday, available for purchase online or in person.

2602 West Vernon Avenue
Kinston, NC 28504
(252) 699-3009

Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. 

Lions Water Adventure in Kinston, North Carolina

Ray’s Splash Planet 

Just off Interstate 77 in Uptown Charlotte lies a beacon of hope for Charlotteans looking for a place to cool off. Operated by Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation, the year-round indoor water park has amenities for guests of all ages. For those under four-feet tall, Saturation Station offers four water slides and a play area. Guests above 48” can look forward to The Blue Comet, a three-story water slide, a lazy river, The Vortex current pool, and the Sea of Tranquility lap pool that is also equipped for pool volleyball and basketball. Concessions are offered every day during the summer months and Fridays, weekends, and days when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are not in session during non-summer months. Tickets can be purchased in person and start at $8 for those under 17 and above 55, and $10 for those ages 18-54. It is recommended to call in advance during the summer to ensure the park has not reached capacity before you gather the gang and jump in the car.

215 N. Sycamore St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(980) 314-4729

Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 1 – 6 p.m.

Suncrest Water Park

Tucked in the mountains between Taylorsville and Wilkesboro is Suncrest Water Park. Fresh, cool creek water feeds and flows through the park’s six slides and pool. The quaint family-owned park has slides for all age groups and a good old fashioned rope swing to jump into the crisp mountain water. Suncrest does not currently offer food, so be sure to bring your cooler with drinks (no alcohol or glass), snacks, and lawn chairs or blankets for a picnic. Guests under the age of two are free, ages 2-11 are $8, and 12 years of age and up are $11. Tickets can be purchased in person with cash

6806 All Healing Springs Rd.
Taylorsville, NC 28681
(828) 446-0237

Monday-Wednesday: 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Thursday: Closed
Friday: 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Lake Lure Beach and Water Park 

Drink in the views of the Blue Ridge mountains while basking in the sun on the sandy beaches of Lake Lure Beach and Water Park. The park offers 100 yards of sandy beach with a swimming area, sand volleyball, two body slides, and a splash pad. Pack up your cooler for a perfect mid-day picnic under the covered picnic area (no alcohol or glass permitted) or stop by their Beach Club food truck to grab snacks, sandwiches, or beverages. For the more adventurous, kayak rentals are available. Admission is free for children under the age of four, children ages 4-12 are $8, guests ages 13 and up are $10, and seniors are $9

2724 Memorial Hwy
Lake Lure, NC 28746
(828) 625-0077

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

White Lake Water Park

Smack dab in the middle of Fayetteville and Wilmington, White Lake Water Park provides water rides and attractions for all ages. For the younger crowd, you will find kiddie slides, an interactive wading pool, and water bucket dumps. For the older crowd, the park offers the Double Turbo Twister (a 50-foot body slide), a 600-foot Lazy River, bumper boats, and a large swimming pool. If you are looking for a place to relax within the park, you can snag one of the many lounge chairs or rent a private, shaded Tiki Hut complete with a picnic table and charcoal grill. You can also opt to have White Lake do the cooking for you, stop by their Grille or Tiki Bar for a snack or meal, or appease your sweet tooth at the Ice Cream Shop. As an added plus, the park offers go-carts as a dry activity available for an extra fee. Admission for guests four feet and under is $12 for a day pass or $79 for a season pass. For guests taller than four feet, day passes are $18 or you can opt for a season pass for $99.

192 NC Highway 53 East
White Lake, NC 28337
(910) 872-0035

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

White Lake Water Park in White Lake, North Carolina

Salty Pirate Water Park of Emerald Isle 

Take a break from the beach and swing on over to the Salty Pirate Water Park for some fun in the sun without the sand. Take a ride on one of their three body water slides or try out one of their mat water slides. For the younger crowd, there’s a wading pool complete with a pirate ship play area. Grab one of the lounge chairs and a snack from the bar located inside the arcade to recharge. Tickets for guests ages 3-5 are $15 for a day pass or $65 for a season pass, for guests aged 6+ tickets are $20 for a day pass or $100 for a season pass. Children under the age of two are free. 

8915 Reed Drive
Emerald Isle, NC 28594
(252) 354-2609

Monday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday-Sunday:  10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Salty Pirate Water Park of Emerald Isle

Magic Mountain Fun Park & Treasure Island Golf

For a spot to cool down while visiting Holden Beach, stop by Magic Mountain Fun Park. The park offers three body slides for riders 48” and taller, and two body slides for riders under four feet. Tickets can be purchased at Magic Mountain and start at $10 for a 90-minute visit for guests under four-feet tall and $15 for guests over four-feet tall. Once you’re done at the water slides, check out Treasure Island Mini Golf and Arcade features a full miniature golf course, indoor arcade, and an ice cream shop. Mini golf is $6 for adults and $4 for kids ages 8 and under. 

3396 Holden Beach Rd SW
Supply, NC 28462
(910) 842-2727

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Treasure Island Mini Golf and Arcade: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Magic Mountain Water Park & Treasure Island Golf in Holden Beach

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