Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to start planning your vacation getaways. So, if your idea of “getting away” is escaping the steaming hot heat and the humidity, then a water park is the perfect relief. And North Carolina has plenty of them to choose from – whether you want to stay outdoors or be inside, take a gentle wade in the pool or brave a monstrous tube slide. The Tarheel state has a little something for everyone.
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Great Wolf Lodge, Concord (Nearby Hotels)
Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC is anything but ordinary. First of all, it’s an indoor water park, not outdoors. Plus, they have a whopping 80,000 square feet of fun to be had, including slides and tube rides up to four stories in height, family raft rides, a water fort tree house, wave pools and activity pools. For the parents or those who want to take a break from all the action, there are poolside cabanas and a spa salon, as well as a separate spa designed specifically for kids. Since the Lodge is also a full-service hotel, you can stay right on the property and eat there as well, with one of the property’s six dining options that includes a pizza place, a buffet, a grill and even a Dunkin Donuts!
Wet n' Wild Emerald Pointe, Greensboro (Nearby Hotels)
Wet n’ Wild Emerald Pointe, located in Greensboro, NC, is one of the largest water parks in the area and has been rated one of the top ten in the country. Spread across a whopping 41 acres, there’s three million gallons of fun to be had here, including tube slides, body slides, extreme body slides, wave pools, the “Lazee River,” the interactive “Soak Zone” water play area and Happy Harbor – a play area especially for small children. After you work up an appetite, there’s also plenty of summertime favorites for munching like hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and funnel cakes.
Carolina Harbor Water Park (Carowinds), Charlotte (Nearby Hotels)
Although Carolina Harbor Water Park is technically located within the Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte, it has enough attractions to make it a vacation destination all on its own. There’s a 27,000 square foot wave pool, Blackbeard’s Revenge – a six story tall complex that six adrenaline-pumping slides and three twisting attractions, a lazy river (that will float you right across the South Carolina state line!) and Surfer’s Swell – a unique angled wall that gives riders the sensation of catching an ocean wave. You’ll pay one price to get into both parks, so make sure you allow yourself enough time to experience everything!
Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park, Wilmington (Nearby Hotels)
Although Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park may be on the smaller side, it doesn’t mean there’s any less fun to be had here. In addition to a lazy river and wave pool, there’s also four twisting slides, two body water slides, a kids splash area and a warm springs spa. The entire area is staffed with lifeguards and attendants, plus you can reserve yourself a relaxing cabana poolside by calling ahead. Once you’re done frolicking in the water park, there’s plenty more to do here too including go-karts, laser tag, arcade games, mini bowling and miniature golf.
H2O-BX Waterpark, Powell's Point (Nearby Hotels)
Located in the Outer Banks, H2O-BX is a brand-new waterpark with more than 30 different slides and attractions. Their cutting-edge water slides are based on epic coastal Carolina experiences like riding a wild Mustang, jumping off a sand dune or sailing on the ocean. Plus, there’s a seven-story tube slide, a nine-story free-fall slide and a 50 foot tall tube slide that features a nearly-vertical, 35 foot wall at the end that will send riders “boomeranging” back and forth. Your coastal Carolina experience can even continue into your meal with options like fish tacos and real Carolina barbecue, as well as local craft beers. But, perhaps the best thing about this park is that they closely monitor the attendance of the waterpark to give guests a more exclusive experience, unlike any other park in the country!