Not sure how to make the most of family time this upcoming summer? Luckily, options abound. Some of these are open currently and the rest will reopen as Phase 2 of our state’s reopening occurs. Here are our favorite nine things to do with kids in Charlotte, NC, whether you’re a visitor or longtime resident.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Charlotte’s USNWC is like a giant playground. Although used as a training ground for Olympic athletes, it is nevertheless family friendly, designed for all ages and abilities. Choose from land activities like mountain biking or rock climbing, water activities like whitewater rafting or flatwater kayaking, or dangle from the air via the park’s zipline course. More on why you should visit the USNWC here.
Where? Around a 20-minute drive from the city.
Average cost: Prices range based on the activities you choose, but you can expect to spend around $20 – 50 per person minimum.
Our Top Pick: The mountain biking trails at the US National Whitewater center are a perfect family activity.
Ranked by Livability.com as the nation’s top children’s library, ImaginOn is one of the best places to take kids in Charlotte. Young readers will delight in the Spangler Library for kids 11 and younger and The Loft, a teen-only reading space. A multimedia production studio and children’s theatre that stages regular productions also share space in this stellar facility.
Where: E. 7th Street
Average cost: $12 – $21
Our top pick: Enjoy the “story lab” where kids explore interactive, hands-on exhibits that deal with not only reading but also science and technology.
In Charlotte, there are few better places to spend a sunny day with kids than Freedom Park. A seven acre pond is the centerpiece of this park, which is located just three miles from uptown, between Dilworth and Myers Park. Feed the ducks, play on the playgrounds, throw a ball or frisbee, or scamper along the trails.
Where: East Blvd. and Queens Road West. Direction to Freedom Park.
Average cost: Free.
Our top pick: Set up a blanket and have a picnic by the lake.
Spend the day at the Lake Norman Shore
Lake Norman offers a variety of activities year round, from boat rentals to events, and it’s just under 30 minutes away from Charlotte. Ramsey Creek Beach, a 43-acre lakeside park, has the only public-access swimming beach along the lake. It’s open late May through Labor Day with lifeguard service 10 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Average cost: Ramsey Creek charges between $5 – 10 per car.
Our top pick? Go jet skiing with Lake Norman Power Sports would make it even more fun for the whole family.
Carolina Raptor Center
Get up close and personal with birds of prey at the Carolina Raptor Center. For example, time your visit to coincide with a presentation from one of the center’s volunteers. Or, wander the nature trail and hang out with over 30 species so close you can count their tail feathers.
Where: Huntersville, NC
Average cost: $5 – $10/month
Our top pick: Check out the “Behind the Scenes Tour” at Carolina Raptor Center’s medical center and education trail, boasting one of the country’s most extensive collections of birds of prey.
Schiele Museum of Natural History
Learn about our state’s natural history, North American habitats, and more during this indoor/outdoor experience. Be sure to stop by the Schiele’s planetarium and time your visit to overlap with a science theatre show. Haven’t been to the Schiele yet? There’s a lot to see!
Where: Gastonia, NC
Average cost: $5/per person
Our top pick: Check out the rotating exhibits – our favorite is the Dino Safari!
Big Air Trampoline Park
Defy gravity on trampoline floors, navigate a laser maze, tackle an obstacle course, play in a virtual reality arcade and more. Hours of entertainment await at Big Air Trampoline Park.
Where: Sardis Road, in Charlotte.
Average cost: $16/hour for ages three-plus.
Our top pick: Take the kids to Cosmic Trampoline night: They turn down the lights, turn up the music and fire up the lasers, and strobes.
Discovery Place of Charlotte, Things To Do With Kids In Charlotte
Discovery Place is the Charlotte destination for curious kids. Live shows, interactive exhibits, and hands-on labs not only hold kids’ attention, but also inspire curiosity. There are three Discovery Place locations, each with a different focus: Discovery Place Science in uptown, Discovery Place Nature in the Freedom Park area, and Discovery Place Kids in Huntersville.
Where: Uptown Charlotte.
Average cost: $15 – $19
Our top pick: Catch an IMax – visit to see what’s playing.
This amusement park is just a hop and a skip from the center of Charlotte. A fifteen minute drive will deliver you and your kids to roller coasters, water slides, and hours of thrills and fun.
Where: On the NC/SC border.
Average cost: $50 – $70
Our top pick: One of our all-time favorites is Scarowinds, the annual Halloween event.
Sea Life Aquarium
Such a fun activity and a great learning experience as well. Kids can see over 1,000 underwater creatures including sharks and jellyfish, plus they can experience the interactive pools where they can actually touch some of the animals. They can also visit the 360° ocean tunnel where they will be fully encircled by sea life. One of the ultimate family-friendly Charlotte activities.
Where: Concord, NC just a short fifteen minute drive from center city.
Average cost: Only $12
Our top pick: The jellyfish at the Sea Life Aquarium are one of our kids’ favorite activities to do in Charlotte. Absolutely eye-catching!
To sum up, all you need to make this a summer your kids will remember awaits in the Queen City.