Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and has activities in spades. Whether you like history, street art, or outdoor adventures, there’s something for all ages in Charlotte. A huge thank you to Ann from Kids Travel Books sharing the best things to do in Charlotte with kids!
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Things to Do for Kids in Charlotte NC
1. Uptown Favorites
Uptown Charlotte has something for everyone in the family. Kids of all ages enjoy the children’s library and theater combination at ImaginOn. It’s a place to not only read books, but see books come to life, and so much more.
Older kids and budding scientists take advantage of the opportunities to experiment and learn at Discovery Place.
Sports fanatics appreciate the easy access to catch one of Charlotte’s local professional teams, or even check out their favorite racers and racecars at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. And of course, like all big cities, there are various parks, restaurants, and shops to round out the visit.
My favorite Uptown Charlotte spot for families on vacation, though? Definitely the Levine Museum of the New South. This interactive and informative museum takes visitors back to the start of Charlotte’s history. Find out how the south has been shaped since the Civil War.
The exhibitions are fun for kids, with plenty of opportunities to get hands on and experience the past. It feels like a time machine as you travel through and discover Charlotte’s best and worst times. Yes, some exhibit topics can be heavy, however the museum makes it easy for parents to manage how much information they want to share with their kids. The Levine Museum is the perfect introduction to the city.
2. Discovery Place Nature Museum and Freedom Park
Locals flock to Freedom Park because of the many outdoor activities and special events hosted there. It’s definitely one of our top things to do in Charlotte with kids and a great place to let them get the wiggles out with the awesome playgrounds, multiple sports fields, and trails and paths highlighted by a large lake.
My highlight of Freedom Park is the unique, Charlotte-specific NFL Play60 KidZone. This play area, sponsored by the Carolina Panthers, features several football-based activities for kids (and adults) to practice their running, climbing, and maneuvering skills.
No visit to Freedom Park is complete without heading to the Discovery Place Nature Museum located within the park. It’s more than just a break from the outside elements; it is a way to get up close to some of the local area’s plants and small animals. The highlight of the museum is the nature playground located outside, Fort Wild. Kids explore their surroundings while letting their imaginations take them wherever they want to go.
3. U.S. National Whitewater Center
Active families should head to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in the western part of Charlotte. Along with the whitewater rafting opportunities, there are so many ways to enjoy the facilities. Throughout the 1,100 acres you’ll find hiking and mountain biking trails, rock climbing, zip-lining, ropes courses, and canopy tours. The man-made river is the perfect place to try kayaking, paddle boarding and more. Buy an activity pass and you will have access to over 30 outdoor recreation activities.
Even if you feel the kids are too young to participate in some of these activities, they are fun to watch. The relaxed environment makes it one of the coolest destinations to just sit on the grass and take in the atmosphere. There are multiple events hosted at the USNWC throughout the year, and even 9 unique festivals.
4. Carowinds Amusement Park
Just south of Charlotte city limits and across the border in South Carolina, you’ll find Carowinds Amusement Park. This is another awesome all-day attraction that is filled with family friendly things to do in Charlotte. Kids will find familiar faces with the Snoopy characters walking around for meet and greets.
The combination of family-friendly rides and attractions appeal to everyone, but the thrill seekers can still find a way to get their adrenaline pumping with the roller coasters. Carowinds has 13 roller coasters, including 2 of the 10 tallest coasters in the world. Get ready for some wild rides!
Be sure to pack your swimsuits so you can enjoy Carolina Harbor Waterpark. It is part of the Carowinds Amusement Park and your ticket gets you into both areas. The waterpark has a combination of fun slides, water play areas, a wave pool, and more.
5. Head to the Mountains
The next best thing to see in Charlotte is actually outside of Charlotte. Though the city and immediate surrounding area are only slightly hilly, the larger mountains aren’t too far away. The Appalachian Mountains and the popular Great Smoky Mountains or Blue Ridge Parkway are less than a 3-hour drive away. For those with less time, but still desire to get high into nature, you have some choices.
Less than an hour away and to the west of Charlotte are Kings Mountain National Military Park and Crowders Mountain State Park. About an hour east of the city is Morrow Mountain State Park. All three mountains have their special features and awesome views. My pick is Morrow Mountain in Albemarle. There are several trails, a museum dedicated to the history of the mountain, and a large lake for swimming, canoeing, and fishing.
About the author: Ann Belle writes for KidsTravelBooks, a site dedicated to helping families teach children about other cultures through books.Kids You can find more about North Carolina in her North Carolina Books page.