Wednesday, July 22, 2020

5 Aquatic Adventures to Beat the Heat

Mercy, it is hawt. And many of our go-to summer cooling solutions are COVID-closed. Melting sigh. . .

But, good news! Not every water play option is off limits. We've just got to be a little more creative about finding them this year. Below are some suggestions.

First, what's closed:

As of when this post was published, Mecklenburg County public spraygrounds (including fountain features at places like First Ward Park) are turned off. Ray's Splash Planet and other municipal aquatic centers are closed, though a few pools, including the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center and some of the area Ys are open with limited hours for lap swim and programs. Most public lake beaches, like Ramsey Creek Park at Lake Norman are also closed, as are inland swim areas and beaches at NC State Parks.

Now, here's where you can still find some refreshing water recreation:

Emerald Hollow Gem Mine: The big summertime draw here is creek mining, which means wading in the blissfully cool water while you search for treasures. Other options include classic sluicing at a table or digging in a nearby pit. But I say put on some sandals and opt for the creek, which is a pleasant, short hike from the parking area and offers plenty of space for social distancing.

U.S. National Whitewater Center: Water activities include rafting, flatwater paddling, and deep water solo climbing. Of course, there are other fun things to do there, too, like ropes courses and ziplining All of the above require passes, but you can hike or mountain bike for just the cost of parking ($6/day or $50 for an annual pass).

Carrigan Farms Quarry: Take a dip in a deep, natural quarry. They have implemented a number of coronavirus safety measures. Bonus: They also have a snack bar. You must register in advance due to capacity limits.

Tubing: Enjoy a leisurely trip down a lazy river. Good for most ages and one of the more relaxing water adventures you can take. There are lots of fun options within a two-hour drive towards the mountains. Here's one we recommend: Wilderness Cove. If you have your own tubes, you can go closer to home. Here's one option in York County, SC.

Waterfalls: Of course, you're going to find the most spectacular waterfalls around here in Western North Carolina, however, you might be interested to know there are two local waterfalls within about an hour of uptown. One is at Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve in Kershaw, SC and the other is along the Rocky Creek Trail in Great Falls, SC. Neither will necessarily cool you down, but both have creeks for wading in and sometimes just the sight and sounds of a waterfall can be refreshing.

Got any other fun water play suggestions? We'd love to find more creative cooling adventures to make the most of the sweltering dog days of summer. I hope the recommendations above will help you do the same.

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