Summer’s almost here, and the water is calling. There’s nothing better than to be out on a boat in the summer, whether the boat is a kayak, a pontoon, a pedal boat or something in between.
But what if you don’t own a boat?
There are still several opportunities for enjoying a float or a paddle on a river or a lake. Read on for some places where you can rent a boat or sign up for a guided tour on the water. The price varies and so does the exertion level required for the experience. Whether you want to relax, work out, or party, there’s a way to enjoy the water this summer.
We’re including opportunities that are within about a hour and fifteen minutes from Charlotte, but several are right here.
Do you know of other great ways to get on the water this summer? Let us know! We might add to this article.
Mecklenburg County Nature Preserves
Two of Mecklenburg County’s Nature Preserves have access to lakes. Latta Nature Preserve is the gateway to Mountain Island Lake, and McDowell Nature Preserve accesses Lake Wylie. Both Latta and McDowell offer guided kayaking tours, at $20. At Latta Nature Preserve, you can also take a kayaking intro ($20 for a single kayak, and $25 for a tandem.)
Look at the schedule for kayak activities, and register, here.
Anne Springs Close Greenway
Anne Springs Close Greenway offers kayak, tandem kayak, and stand-up paddleboarding rentals on Saturdays and Sundays. The cost is $5 per two-hour time slots for ASC Greenway members, and $10 for non-members. Please note that the Greenway is open to only members on the weekends, unless you have a boat rental. Reservations are required. Follow the above link to make your reservation.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
The Whitewater Center offers flatwater kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding on the Catawba River and Long Creek. For $30 you can have access to both kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding all day. The fee includes a personal flotation device. Tandem kayaks are available, but require two activity passes. Parking is $6.
U.S. Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation
Catawba Riverkeeper offers kayaking experiences at three locations on Saturdays and Sundays June through September.
Flatwater Kayak Rentals take place at Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park, 1400 Catawba Street, Belmont. Pay $25 for 90 minutes of self-guided paddling on a calm part of Lake Wylie. Residents of Belmont get a $5 discount with ID. The experience includes use of the kayak, paddle, personal flotation device, and safety instructions. Rentals are walk-up only, no reservations.
Slow Flow Kayak Rentals allow you to paddle for 60 to 90 minutes on slow moving water from McAdenville to Cramerton. The trips are unguided, but Catawba Riverkeeper staff will help you in and out of the water. You start at the McAdenville South Fork River Greenway, and end in historic Cramerton. The price is $30, and that includes use of the kayak, paddle, personal flotation device, safety instructions, and a shuttle ride back to your car. Belmont residents receive a $5 discount. Rentals are walk-up only.
Half-Day Guided Tour. This is a three-hour guided tour from Spencer Mountain to The Boathouse. Meet at The Boathouse, 115 Willow Drive, McAdenville. They’ll shuttle you to Spencer Mountain, and two experienced guides will help you navigate a beautiful stretch of the South Fork of the Catawba, which includes low class 1 rapids. The cost is $50, and that includes use of the kayak, paddle personal flotation device, safety instructions, the guided trip and shuttle. Reservations are encouraged, but walk-ups will be permitted if available.
Cane Creek Park
Cane Creek Park in Waxhaw provides a wide variety of boating experiences with a low price. This park boasts a 350-acre lake with a swim beach. Jon boats, canoes and kayaks are all available for rental for just $4/hour. Or rent a pedal boat for just $2 for 30 minutes. You can also buy a day pass for $5, and that includes swimming, mini golf and pedal boats. Veterans with honorable status receive a 50% discount. Here’s the rate sheet for all that Cane Creek offers.
Cane Creek Park, 5213 Harkey Road, Waxhaw
Paddleboats are available at Shoppes at University Place. They can accommodate two adults, plus one small child. The cost is $15 for 30 minutes. From April to September there are hours in the evenings during the week, and on days and nights Saturdays and Sundays. From October to March, hours are just Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Shoppes at University Place, 8929 JM Keynes Drive, Charlotte
Interested in fishing? Lake Fisher, which is operated by the City of Concord Parks and Recreation, rents 14-foot and 15-foot jon boats. Personal flotation devices and oars are included in the rental fee, which is:
City of Concord Residents
- Children under 12 (must be accompanied by an adult): Free
- Youth (12-16): $4
- Adults (17-59): $5
- Seniors (60+): $4
- Children under 12 (must be accompanied by an adult): Free
- Youth (12-16): $8
- Adults (17-59): $10
- Seniors (60+): $8
You need to bring your own fishing equipment and tackle. You may also bring an outboard motor up to 10 HP, fuel, trolling motor and/or marine batteries, if you’d like. You need a North Carolina fishing license.
Lake Fisher, 5099 Lake Fisher Road, Kannapolis
Morrow Mountain State Park
Morrow Mountain State Park provides access to Lake Tillery, as well as a beautiful view from the top of the mountain. You can rent a kayak or canoe from the boathouse on the weekend. The cost is $10 per hour, 25 for a half day, and $45 for a full day. Rentals are available first-come, first-served until they run out of personal flotation devices. If you bring your own U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, you can use that. Morrow Mountain State Park is just an hour and fifteen minutes from Charlotte.
Morrow Mountain State Park, 49104 Morrow Mountain Road, Albemarle
Rent a Pontoon Boat
There are many outfitters on Lake Norman and Lake Wylie that rent pontoon boats. In some cases the rental comes with a captain and in some cases you are the captain. The price varies, but generally up to ten people can be aboard, so if everyone chips in, it becomes more affordable. Also, always check Groupon. Just go to Groupon and search for “boat.” At the time of this post, there’s one 25% off deal for a pontoon rental on Lake Wylie and one on Lake Norman. Jet ski rentals and ski boats are also available for rental.
Another option, besides the U.S. Whitewater Center, for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on the Catawba River, is Tailrace Marina. Two-hour rentals are available for single kayaks ($30), double kayaks ($40) and stand-up paddleboards ($30.) One thing that could make this a good option is that they offer season passes for $180. Tailrace Marina also rents pontoon boats.
Tailrace Marina, 1010 Marina Village Drive, Mount Holly
Lilly’s Bridge Marina
Another option, besides Morrow Mountain State Park, for paddling on Lake Tillery is Lilly’s Bridge Marina. They rent kayaks at $20/hour, or $70 for a full day. They also rent pontoon boats.
Lilly’s Bridge Marina, 1183 Lilly’s Bridge Road, Mount Gilead
It’s like the Party Bus, but on the water. Tickets are $36 and you can pedal around Lake Norman for two hours on a boat with 14 others people. Bring your own wine or beer. A captain will make sure you stay on course.
Charlotte Cycleboats, 400 N. Harbor Place, Davidson