Get Wet and Wild at These 12 North & South Carolina Water Parks

Check out any of these spots within 2 Hours of Union Co.

By Union County Macaroni Kid July 11, 2022

Let's face it, the summer is hot and long and by now, you might be running out of ideas to keep your kiddos off those tablets. We've rounded up the water parks that are easy to do in a day - within a few hours of Union County - below. While we haven't tried them all, we have done homework among our readers and got the 411 on what to expect at each. They are listed alphabetically below.

Carowinds | Charlotte, NC
Located just on the South/North Carolina Border, Carolina Harbor at Carowinds is one of the largest outdoor water parks in the Carolinas. With slides for every age group and two fully-enclosed areas (perfect for toddlers), it's absolutely one of our favorites. When fully staffed, there is a lazy river, wave pool and several daring slides as well as lots of options for shade. We like to arrive just as the park opens and stay through mid-afternoon, though we know others like to arrive when the main park opens, ride a few rides, and make their way to the waterpark by lunch. If you have a Carowinds Gold Pass (or Pre-K pass for your littles) the Waterpark is included. 

Carrigan Farms | Mooresville, NC
While not your traditional waterpark, this natural quarry has loads for all ages. The rope swings may be better suited for your bigger kids (height requirement) but otherwise, littles can float and play (in a life vest). Please note that it can get crowded on weekends and they do require reservations, though these aren't typically hard to get. It also is a cash establishment with no ATM - so come prepared. 

Discovery Island | Simpsonville SC
Slide, swim, and enjoy the summer at Discovery Island waterpark. With thrilling water slides, delicious concessions, and a number of water attractions by the pool, Discovery Island at Southside Park (Simpsonville) has something for everyone to do under the summer sun. This park is part of the Greenville County Parks and Rec. 

Emerald Point | Greensboro NC
With over 40 rides and attractions, there's something for everyone… from mild to wild… from tots to seniors. It is family-friendly, and the young kids (mom and dad, too) will have a great time in Splash Island and Happy Harbor, our two large children's areas. This is high on our list for this summer! 

Great Wolf Lodge | Charlotte NC
While this one is usually an overnight adventure, did you know you can get day-passes? Yes! Save your money and go for the day or make it an overnight adventure and stay the night. You can often find deals on our sister site (CertifiKID). The waterpark is indoors and there are loads of family-friendly activities. 

Lake Lure Beach and Waterpark | Lake Lure NC
One of our personal favorites, this water park has slides, boats and regular beach-fun. You do have to pay, but the fee is nominal and you can bring in your own food. I would definitely recommend this as a day-trip or make a weekend of it and check out Chimney Rock, take a boat on Lake Lure and hit the zipline adventure as well. Lake Lure is one of our favorite family destinations in North Carolina. 

Otter Creek Park | Greenville SC
Also part of the Greenville County Parks and Rec, this great family-friendly park 4-slides, a leisure pool and a spray pad as well as shelters, concessions and lockers. It seems to me you could make a weekend of the Greenville County water parks and not get bored!

Ray's Splash Planet | Charlotte NC
Part of the Mecklenburg County Parks and Rec, this aquatic center is year-round fun. My kids have attended many birthday parties here and absolutely loved it. It does get crowded though and the slides are based on height not swimming aptitude. 

Shipwreck Cove | Duncan SC
Shipwreck Cove is an exciting wet and wonderful destination for families and kids of all ages, offering pirate-themed water fun for the whole family. Enjoy water park fun for all ages featuring a lazy river, spiraling slides and kiddie pool play area, all in a monitored setting focused on your safety and enjoyment.

Southtown Wake Park | Rock Hill, SC
The Aqua Park at Southtown Wake park is a blast! This unique waterpark consists of an inflatable obstacle course with slides, jumps and various obstacles for an easy and fun activity on the water. Our Aqua Park can hold up to 25 participants per session. Participants must be 7 years old and at LEAST 45 inches tall, so make sure to measure your kiddos! 

Sun Crest Water Park | Taylorsville, NC
Check out this waterpark in the heart of the NC Mountains. Crisp air and fresh water, this park features a 100ft waterslide, additional slides for kids of all ages and an old-fashioned rope swing.
You'll want to check their Facebook Page, as the website does not seem to be updated. 

7th Inning Splash | Piedmont, SC
Featuring 2 waterslides, a splash pad and a traditional lap pool this waterpark has a GIANT funnel that takes you up 36 feet and then drops you into a funnel that slides you around before you drop 3 feet into the pool! Sounds like a blast to me. 

A few tips for a trip to any of these waterparks: 

  • Read up on the rules before you go - some require closed-toe shoes for rides, others may have age or height requirements
  • Sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen - you cannot be assured of a shady spot. 
  • Bring plenty of snacks and a cooler - some places do not allow outside food, but you can get a stamp so that you can exit and reenter.
  • Check the weather - while it may be sunny here, you never know what you're going to get when you drive an hour :-( 
  • Bring your own life vest or PFD (personal floatation device) for your child. You cannot always be certain they will have one to fit your kid and, if your kid is like mine - they may just feel more comfortable in their own. Better safe than sorry!