Whether you’re traveling to Charlotte, NC, for a Panthers game, rock concert, or business convention, there are myriad things to do with kids who tag along. Recently named one of the best and most diverse cities in America, Charlotte is home to attractions that appeal to every demographic and age group. Let’s explore some of the most fun and best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC!
Discovery Place Science
Always ranks in “best-of” lists and it's one of our best things to do with kids in Charlotte
301 N Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Discovery Place Science has a range of interactive exhibits that cover topics such as physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and more. Some of the most popular exhibits include the Cool Stuff exhibit, where you can explore the science behind things like liquid nitrogen and sound waves, and the World Alive exhibit, which features live animals from around the world.
The museum's IMAX theater features a range of films on a giant screen that transports you to different parts of the world and explores topics like nature, space, and history. Other hands-on activities and workshops allow kids to experiment and learn about science in a fun and engaging way. These activities change regularly, so there's always something new to try.
Be sure to look into ThinkerSpace, an interactive exhibit highlighting the intersection of science and art by enabling youth to create their own designs and inventions using a range of materials and tools. Discovery Place Science easily offers some of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC.
- 11611 Ardrey Kell, Charlotte, NC 28277
- 10930 Granite Street, Charlotte, NC 28273
- 8636 Hankins Road, Charlotte, NC 28269
This adrenaline-pumping indoor sports complex has a variety of activities for kids. You and your fun-seeking group can partake in the following at Sports Connection in Charlotte:
- 18-hole mini golf
- Laser tag
- Arcade games
- Batting cages
- 16-lane bowling alley (with optional bumpers)
- Indoor soccer, basketball, and volleyball
- Inflatable obstacle courses
The Sports Connection easily offers some of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC who love being active!
Carowinds – a best thing to do with kids attraction that always ranks highly
300 Carowinds Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28273
Carowinds amusement park offers some of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC. It has a variety of rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and kiddie rides that are perfect for younger children.
Carowinds is not just your average amusement park. Some of the fastest, tallest, and longest roller coasters in the world call Charlotte home, and they regularly receive awards from national publications.
If roller coasters aren’t up your kid’s alley, they can have a blast hanging out at the Carolina Harbor waterpark or enjoying the plethora of live music, dancing, and acrobatics performances that take place throughout the park on a daily basis.
While summers draw large crowds and kids on summer break, October and December may be the best times to visit the park – you can learn more about the best time to go to Carowinds by reading this deep dive on the park.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the best restaurants in Charlotte.
SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord, NC 28027
Located only a few miles outside of Charlotte, the SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium features exhibits on aquatic animals and ecosystems, including interactive touch tanks and a glass tunnel that visitors can walk through.
Home to thousands of marine creatures from around the world, the aquarium up-close encounters through its touch tanks, where exciting creatures like sea stars, anemones, and more await. Take your time meandering through the 180-degree walk-through tunnel, where you can see sharks and other sea creatures swimming around you!
Check the website for educational programs that may appeal to a variety of ages. From animal encounters, guest lectures, and behind-the-scenes tours, there’s always something new on the schedule to attract curious animal-loving kids! A visit to SEA LIFE is definitely one of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC.
ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center
300 E 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Just imagine all the fun that your kids can have at this interactive library designed to foster imaginative thinking and literacy! The ImaginOn library has a large collection of books, audiobooks, and DVDs for children and young adults. The library also offers a variety of programs and events, including story-times, author visits, and book clubs.
As one of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC, ImaginOn houses two on-site theaters – the McColl Family Theatre and the Wells Fargo Playhouse – which regularly host a variety of shows and performances for children and families throughout the year. Additional workshops in writing, acting, and technology are intermittently available, as well. Otherwise, your kids are bound to be entertained by interactive exhibits which focus on interesting topics in the realms of science, arts, and technology.
Discovery Place Nature (Formerly Charlotte Nature Museum)
1658 Sterling Road, Charlotte, NC 28209
Tap into the joys of local wildlife, flora, and fauna at Discovery Place Nature! The massive facility houses a butterfly pavilion, live animals, and interactive exhibits designed to help visitors of all ages explore and learn about the natural world. Here are some of the things you can do at Discovery Place Nature:
- Explore the exhibits: The museum highlights different aspects of nature, including habitats, ecosystems, and animal behavior. The exhibits are interactive and encourage visitors to explore and learn through hands-on activities.
- Walk the nature trails: Several nature trails wind through the woods and wetlands surrounding the museum. The trails offer a chance to observe native plants and animals in their natural habitats.
- Attend a program or workshop: The museum offers a variety of programs and workshops for visitors of all ages, including guided hikes, animal encounters, and nature-themed crafts and activities.
- Visit the naturalists: Discovery Place Nature has a team of naturalists who are available to answer questions and share their knowledge about the local environment and wildlife.
- Participate in citizen science: The museum encourages visitors to participate in citizen science projects, such as bird counts and water quality monitoring, to help collect data and contribute to scientific research.
Watching your children wonder at the beauty of the life cycle is one of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC where green spaces abound. The nature center is also close to some of the best hotels in Charlotte NC.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 E MLK Jr. Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28202
Vroom, vroom! This favorite Charlotte attraction is sure to kid your kids’ engines running! The NASCAR Hall of Fame showcases multiple exhibits on the history of NASCAR racing, including interactive exhibits, racing simulators, and exhibits on famous drivers.
Climb into the race car simulator and experience what it's like to race on a NASCAR track! The simulator features an authentic steering column and pedals, as well as a wraparound screen that displays a high-speed race! After than, attempt the pit crew challenge. Kids can try their hand at being a member of a NASCAR pit crew by changing the tires on a practice car. This activity helps kids learn about the teamwork and precision required to keep a NASCAR team running smoothly.
Over at the Kids Zone, children can explore the science behind NASCAR racing and assist in constructing racing toy vehicles. Cruise through the Hall of Honor, dedicated to some of the best race car drivers, crew chiefs, and NASCAR team owners. Can your kid find their favorite NASCAR driver on the wall? A trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame will go down in history as one of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S New Hope Road, Belmont, NC 28012
The beautiful Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, located in the charming town of Belmont, just outside of Charlotte, features walking trails, fountains, and exhibits on local flora and fauna. Many fun and educational activities are available for youth visitors, including the following:
- Storytime in the Garden: Enjoy a storybook reading in the garden setting, and then go on a scavenger hunt to find plants or animals related to the story.
- Nature hikes: Explore the garden trails and learn about the plants, animals, and insects that call the garden home.
- Garden crafts and games: Create nature-inspired crafts, such as leaf rubbings, flower crowns, or birdhouses. Staff-led games teach kids about plants, such as plant bingo.
- Garden discovery stations: These interactive stations allow kids to explore and learn about different aspects of the garden, such as the importance of pollinators or the life cycle of a butterfly.
- Gardening workshops: Participate in gardening workshops to learn about planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables and flowers.
- Seasonal events: Attend seasonal events, such as pumpkin carving, holiday light displays, or a spring flower festival.
You might not suspect that a visit to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden would be one of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC but it is inarguably one of the best places where children can learn about and immerse themselves in nature.
The Mint Museum
2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte, NC 28207
“What’s a Mint Museum?” your kids might ask before arriving at this top Charlotte destination for families. While adults can peruse the rooms of American and European art, there are plenty of activities to keep kids’ interest. Storytime is one such example, in which staff readers weave exciting tales connected to the museum’s various exhibitions and collections.
The Mint Museum hosts Family Days throughout the year, where families can enjoy art activities, live music, and special exhibitions. Coloring pages, art projects, and scavenger hunts are offered on a more regular basis, while more dexterous youth and adults can participate in painting, pottery, or printmaking workshops.
These are just a few examples of the kid-friendly activities available at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. Check their website or contact the museum for more information about upcoming events and programs.
Last, but not least, Charlotte parks offer a space to relax and unwind while taking in the gorgeous natural vistas of the Charlotte area. We’re sharing details on the three best parks that Charlotte families love to visit when the weather is beautiful. Setting up a picnic blanket and spread at one of these parks is by far one of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC.
1908 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28203
The best part of Freedom Park is its seven-acre lake and adjacent 1.3-mile paved walking and biking trail that loops around it. While strolling along, you’ll run into a large playground with all the trappings of childhood fun: swings, slides, climbing obstacles, and more! Rent a paddleboat to explore the beauty of the lake, or engage in a fun round of nine-hole frisbee golf.
You’ll be entranced by several public art installations – including murals and sculptures – integrated among the park’s natural features, in addition to picnic areas perfect for lunch or a mid-day snack. The park is also close to some of the best restaurants in Charlotte NC. Check the Freedom Park calendar of events before you visit, as the park organizes regular outdoor amphitheater performances in the summer and concerts and festivals throughout the remainder of the year — visiting the park during one of these events is one of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC.
Reedy Creek Nature Center & Preserve
2900 Rocky River Road, Charlotte, NC 28215
Reedy Creek Nature Center & Preserve is a beautiful natural area located in Charlotte, NC, with many activities for visitors to enjoy. With over 10 miles of hiking trails, explorers can come into contact with many diverse habitats, including forests, meadows, and wetlands. There are also trails for horseback riding and mountain biking.
For a dose of fun education, the Reedy Creek Nature Center provides educational exhibits and interactive displays about the local flora and fauna, as well as a calendar of events and activities throughout the year. The preserve is a great spot for bird watching, with over 100 species of birds recorded in the area. Visitors can bring their binoculars and look for birds in the various habitats around the preserve.
Grab your fishing gear and walk to one of several ponds stocked with fish, which are available for catch-and-release fishing. Keep an eye out for geocaching sites along the trails, where you can hunt for hidden treasures left by other park-goers. What special trinket will you leave behind for someone else to discover?
Romare Bearden Park
300 S Church Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Romare Bearden Park is arguably the most beautiful park in Uptown, offering some of the best things to do with kids in Charlotte NC. In addition to enjoying the landscaping and art installations by muralist Nick Napoletano and sculptor Richard Hunt, visitors can frolic on the playground, grill out in the barbeque pit, or bike to their heart’s consent.
The Splash Pad area is the perfect spot for kids to cool off and play during the summer months. Multi-purpose fields are ideal for soccer, frisbee, and other team sports. Regular yoga and exercise classes draw crowds in temperature weather, and at night, you can bring your family to watch outdoor movies while the fireflies provide extra illumination.