My oldest son is full of life. He’s energetic, friendly, and smart but also very active and intense. He’s never met a stranger (and if he does, he asks their names so they’re not strangers anymore). He’s been this way for as long as I can remember.

As you can imagine, this intensity can be a lot to handle at times. But it’s also a ton of fun! When bugs crawl on him, they really tickle and he talks to them. And when he tastes the first strawberry off of our plant, it’s not just good, it’s “FANTASTIC!”

And his favorite thing in the whole wide world, the activity that provides hours of entertainment while also calming him, is water play. Water is zen.

Whether it’s the pool, a water table, the sink, or puddles, the kid is pouring things from one container to another, splashing, or just elbow deep in muck. If you have a water baby like I do, let me suggest our newest hotspot: The creek. It features shallow, flowing water, with animals and plants to discover and climbing, building, and splashing to be done.

So far, we’ve only really been to a couple public parks where we feel safe to play. The first is at McDowell Park in southwest Charlotte off of 49. There you’ll find some great trails and a few spots to cross the stream.


McDowell Park creek

Our favorite location though is on the greenway right near Squirrel Lake Park in Matthews. If you head down the path, you’ll see a little bridge and to the right, a sandy patch. You can play in the sand or throw on some rain boots or water shoes and a bathing suit and get down to business.


Bathing suits and boots at Squirrel Lake


My littlest guy loves it too.



Squirrel Lake Park creek on a cool day

What to bring:

1. Bathing suits

2. Water shoes or boots

3. Towels

4. Change of clothes

5. Buckets, cups, or other containers

6. Nets

7. Shovels

8. A willingness to get dirty


1. Search for wildlife or treasures

2. Make sand castles

3. Splash or throw rocks

4. Run in the water

5. Cross to the other side

6. Pour water into different containers and inspect it

We generally stay for a while, and although it’s stinky, it’s very fun! When we’re done, we clean up, get dressed, and go play at the playground or have a picnic.

For some other great places to play, check out my post on Nature Walks. Francis Beatty Park has been another favorite for us.


The pond at Francis Beatty Park


He found a turtle at Francis Beatty Park

Do you know of any other great creeks or streams in the area for us to check out?? We love to discover new spots!