There is more to Charlotte, North Carolina than auto racing! With a little imagination, you can make Charlotte a family vacation destination. Here’s a list of Charlotte activities for kids to get you started.
For infants and toddlers
You will find plenty of open spaces, playgrounds, picnic grounds, jogging/walking trails, plus ample parking at Freedom Park. This pet-friendly park is popular with locals and visitors alike. The open-air amphitheater hosts many concerts and festivals throughout the year, making Freedom Park a nice, family friendly venue. The drawback is that many other families are after the same type of experience. If you stop by Freedom Park on a weekend, expect it to be crowded. Freedom Park is located between the neighborhoods of Dilworth and Myers Park, on 1900 East Boulevard.
A quieter venue choice is the adjacent Charlotte Nature Museum. This is a small museum, but kids love the butterfly atrium and nature walk.
For kindergartners through preteens
The updated Discovery Place is a must. Think hands-on interactive exhibits that involve things like digging for fossils or running an amateur radio education center. One of the main draws is the daily live “Rat basketball.” Discovery Place is recommended for school-going children, and there is a dedicated area for children aged seven and under. Set aside a whole day to let your kids wind out their imaginations.
Near Discovery Place is ImaginON, a venue focused on education, learning, and the arts. ImaginOn is collaborative venture between the Children’s Theater of Charlotte and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. The aim is to bring stories to life through various media, from a traditional dollhouse to computer stations. There are also theatre and production classes for older children. Teens have their own space packed with the latest teen fiction and activities. You’ll find ImaginON at 300 East Seventh Street.
Billy Graham Library may not sound like much, but this place stretches over 40,000 square feet. Mind you, that 40,000 square feet includes landscaped gardens, consisting of the wonderfully restored Graham’s family homestead (built in 1927), a library cum exhibition space (featuring both permanent and seasonal exhibits), a bookstore, and a dairy farm. The Billy Graham Library pays tribute to Christian pastor, Billy Graham.
Carolwinds is sometimes called the thrill capital of the Southeast. This is a big-time amusement park containing 50 nerve-wrecking, pulse-racing rides. The attractions here are the rides. In other words, don’t expect fairytale lands or giant talking mice. You will find Nickelodean-themed rides for the younger kids plus water rides. Inside the park, you get to cross the North Carolina/South Carolina border. There’s plenty of parking too.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center, located about 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte, is an extreme-sports haven. From family rafting to white water kayaking, or freefalling from 40-feet, there are various healthy activity choices for the adrenalin-seeking teen.
Auto-enthusiast teens will want to check out Charlotte’s racing culture. The place to start is the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Among the high-tech interactive exhibits, the simulators, like the pit stop competition, are a must. Racecar crazy teens can feast on tidbits about their favorite racecar drivers.
The more patient teen might be convinced to take a Segway tour in downtown Charlotte. A Segway is a two-wheel, electric-powered human transporter. It’s good fun and a great way to see a city.
What’d we miss? Feel free to comment and share additional activities for kids in Charlotte.