11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer

The 3,160-foot track gets you going up to 27 miles per hour down the beautiful Sugar Mountain. (Photo courtesy of Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster's Facebook page)

By Claire Mainprize

June 26, 2023

From well-known water parks to family-owned and operated attractions, there’s plenty for adventurous North Carolinians to do during the summer months. 

But for those who aren’t gung-ho about launching themselves down slides and zip lines, sipping cold brew by a wave pool counts as an adventure, right? (Asking for a friend.)

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park 

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park’s Facebook page

Where: Wilmington

When: Open Sunday–Thursday from 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–Midnight, and Sunday from 10 a.m.–11 p.m. through August 27. 

Cost: From $26

With so many different attractions here, “fun park” really is the best way to describe it. For the best views of Wilmington and a brief-but-intense thrill ride, dole out an extra $5 for the Sky Tower. For gentler fun, check out the venue’s laser tag, mini bowling, go-karts, bumper cars, the rock climbing wall, and the arcade.

Jungle Rapids’ biggest draw, however, is the water park. Billed as the “best water park in eastern North Carolina,” it has two body slides, four tube slides, a kid’s splash area, and the Warm Springs Spa. Outside food and beverages are prohibited, but there’s a cafe and snack shack that’s got something for the whole family, including cold brew!

Adventure Landing

Where: Raleigh

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer

Photo courtesy of Adventure Landing Raleigh’s Facebook page

When: Open Sunday–Thursday from 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m.–11 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.–11 p.m.

Cost: Packages start at $27.99

If you’re looking for an array of activities inside and out, Raleigh’s Adventure Landing is just the place. Channel your sporty side in the sun with miniature golf, batting cages, and go-karts, then head inside for the arcade, laser tag, and sweet A/C.

Because Adventure Landing specializes in birthday parties and group outings, discounts for larger groups exist. The park also offers discounts for first responders and regularly runs additional specials (like Military Appreciation Weekend on the Fourth of July!).

Xtreme Park Adventures

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Xtreme Park Adventures’ Facebook page

Where: Durham 

When: Open weekends from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and weekdays by reservation only 

Cost: From $13

Pay no mind to the logo that features a headstone; this place isn’t that extreme. But it will certainly get you into the adventurous spirit and push you to greater heights (literally). Attractions range from gem mining and rock climbing to a ropes course and ATV adventure. There’s also a mobile option that can bring laser tag and/or paintball straight to you! 

Xtreme Park Adventures also offers half or full-day summer camps, the perfect option for parents who’d prefer to drop their kiddo off and cross some things off their own to-do list — or have a much-needed self-care day.

Tweetsie Railroad

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Tweetsie Railroad’s Facebook page

Where: Blowing Rock 

When: Open Thursday to Monday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Cost: Children: $40, Adults: $60

Tweetsie Railroad operates two narrow-gauge steam locomotives, one of which was completed in 1917. The whole park is centered on these historic beauties, but there’s so much more to enjoy. 

Although it’s a bit on the pricey side, daily admission includes unlimited train rides, live Wild West-themed entertainment, amusement rides, the Deer Park Zoo, and panning for gold. For additional fun, you might want to consider attending one of the special events this summer, like the K9s In Flight Frisbee Dogs!

H20BX Waterpark

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of H2OBX Waterpark’s Facebook page

Where: Powells Point, Currituck County

When: Open daily from 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Cost: From $32.99
If you and your crew are heading to the Outer Banks for a vacay this summer, you must pencil in a visit to the area’s no. 1 family attraction: H20BX Waterpark. With a surfing simulator, adventure lagoon, pirate-themed kid’s area, and tons of water slides, there’s something for everyone. There are even a couple of rides that the whole family can do together on a single tube, like the six-story raft ride called Rogue Wave.

Santa’s Land

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Santa’s Land, Inc.’s Facebook page

Where: Cherokee

When: Open Thursday–Monday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. until November

Cost: $27.65

It’s simply not fair that Santa only gets a month or so to shine. Fortunately, he and Mrs. Claus happen to spend the summer in the Smoky Mountains—lucky us!

At Santa’s Land Fun Park and Zoo, kids can meet the magical man and receive good conduct diplomas (if they’ve been nice, that is!), watch an interactive magic show, and get up close to exotic animals from around the world. It’s a pretty random place, we’ll admit—but fun nonetheless.

Carowinds & Carolina Harbor

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Carowinds’s Facebook page

Where: Charlotte

When: Open 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; Carolina Harbor open through August (see the full calendar here)

Cost: From $44.99

Carowinds is the biggest amusement park in the state, so it obviously deserves a spot on this list. Have you ever heard of Cedar Point, aka the 16-time winner of the “Best Amusement Park in the World” award and home to the tallest, fastest, and longest hybrid roller coaster? Well, Carowinds is run by the same company, so expect nothing short of greatness. 

There you’ll find more than 60 rides, the famed Camp Snoopy, Carolina cuisine, and the biggest waterpark in the Carolinas: Carolina Harbor. You can even stay over at the onsite campground or hotel if you want to make a weekend out of it!

Richard Petty Driving Experience

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Richard Petty Driving Experience’s Facebook page

Where: Concord

When: Book an experience to see availability

Cost: From $142.99

If you or your teenager have always wanted to experience a NASCAR race firsthand, this is your chance. There are multiple options to choose from, all on the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway (which is not technically located in Charlotte, but we digress). 

If you aren’t ready to take the wheel, you can opt for a ride-along with an instructor, but the self-driving options are based on track time (from 5 minutes to 48 minutes). Each one includes a meeting with the crew chief, one-on-one instructions over the radio, and pit stops. You’ll feel like Richard Petty himself after a lap or two.

Dan Nicholas Park

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Dan Nicholas Park’s Facebook page

Where: Salisbury

When: Open daily from 8 a.m.–9 p.m.

Cost: Free to get in, some activities cost $0.50–$4

If you’re looking for a super affordable adventure park, look no further than Dan Nicholas Park. Admission to the park is free, as is the nature center, splash pad, and lake. Isn’t cheap fun the best kind? 

A ride on the carousel or train — or access to Wildlife Adventures — will only set you back a buck each, and entrance to the historic T.M. Stankback Barnyard costs half that. Paddle boats cost just $2 per person and mini golf is $4 each. The most expensive activity is gem mining, which is fun for all ages (buckets range from $10 to $50).

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe

11 Adventure Parks in North Carolina to Visit This Summer
Photo courtesy of Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe’s Facebook page

Where: Greensboro

When: Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m.–7 p.m. on Sundays (See the full calendar here)

Cost: From $39.99

Even if you’ve been to Wet ‘n Wild in years past, you’ll want to head there this summer to see its brand new attraction: the Bermuda Triangle. These three lightning-quick slides pulse with colors and sound all the way down!

There are 40 or so other attractions to love, from the Thunder Bay Wave Pool to Daredevil Drop. With 3 million gallons of water at this place, we suggest spending at least three hours of your day there. Some of the reviews mention overcrowding, though, so do your research and get there early in order to make it the best experience possible.

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

Where: Banner Elk

When: Open 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Cost: Single rides from $5

What’s not to love about a hidden gem? The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster (North Carolina’s very first) is a family-owned-and-operated spot that is sure to become your favorite summer activity. 

The 3,160-foot track gets you going up to 27 miles per hour down the beautiful Sugar Mountain. Kids 3 and older can ride with an adult, and you can ride solo if you’re at least 54 inches tall and 9 years old. For even more fun, you can challenge yourself on the new, multi-level adventure course before or after the coaster. Oh, and dogs are welcome!

Registering ahead of time, which you can do here, is the best way to go.

 

READ MORE: 11 Summer Festivals Across the US to Check Out on Your Next Vacation

Author

  • Claire Mainprize

    Claire Mainprize is a writer and editor who covers the intersections of pop culture, lifestyle, and spirituality. Find more of her work at ClaireMainprize.com.

CATEGORIES: THINGS TO DO
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