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18 Things Your Kid Should Experience Before Turning 18

Lather up with sunscreen for summer camp (or just plain old fun) at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Take on the whitewater rapids, climbing walls, zip lines, ropes courses and trails.
Lather up with sunscreen for summer camp (or just plain old fun) at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Take on the whitewater rapids, climbing walls, zip lines, ropes courses and trails.
Whether you’re a proud Charlotte native or a welcomed transplant, you’re part of the Queen City’s unique family. And like any family, Charlotte’s holds a host of time-treasured traditions that are part of the initiation process. Here’s our look at 18 “so-Charlotte” experiences every kid should have before adulthood (or that every kid-at-heart should experience at some point) as a rite of passage to becoming a Charlottean.
 

1. Meet Charlotte Hornets mascot, Hugo, during a game at Time Warner Cable Arena, where Charlotte becomes Buzz City.

2. Careen down the tracks of Carowinds’ newest and oldest roller coasters. Fury 325, the tallest and fastest giga coaster in the world, opened in 2015 while the Carolina Goldrusher, a wild wood and steel mine train, debuted in 1973.

3. Slurp a signature milkshake (before you devour a burger) atop a bar stool at Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop, which opened its doors in 1931 and was featured in the 2001 film “Shallow Hal.”

4. Dash through the water spouting from the fish fountains on The Green in Second Ward on a warm day.

5. Find a killer seat at Bank of America Stadium in hopes of being handed a touchdown-scoring football by a Carolina Panthers player. Dab on ‘em, like Quarterback Cam Newton.

6. Pile on a bus for a school field trip to Discovery Place, which has been igniting kids’ minds with fascinating science, nature and technology exhibits since 1981.

7. Watch the fireworks light up BB&T Ballpark as you cheer on the Charlotte Knights. Chow down on roasted peanuts and a mini helmet full of ice cream.

8. Pan for gold at Reed Gold Mine and explore the city’s famed gold mining history. The Charlotte area was the location of the country’s first gold rush.

9. Forget the fork and knife and indulge in Price’s Chicken Coop fried chicken. Try it on the restaurant-facing lawn, like comedian Jay Leno was once spotted doing.

10. Grab a loaf of bread and treat the ducks at Freedom Park’s famous duck pond to lunch. Spread out a blanket and enjoy your own picnic while you’re there.

11. Explore the 11th U.S. president’s 19th-century log cabin homestead and learn about frontier cooking in the old kitchen at the President James K. Polk State Historic Site in Pineville.

12. Host your birthday party at 10 Park Lanes, where you can bowl strikes and battle your friends in old-school arcade games. Bask in the 54-year-old alley’s modern yet retro glory.

13. Pick strawberries, garden veggies, apples or pumpkins, depending on the season, with your family at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville. Use your bounty to bake every pie imaginable.

14. Explore Charlotte’s racing roots when you put the pedal to the metal in the realistic racing simulators or prep a racecar in the pit crew challenge at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
 
15. Let your imagination soar as you watch a Children’s Theatre of Charlotte troupe bring one of your favorite childhood stories to life in the McColl Family Theatre at ImaginON: the Joe & Joan Martin Center.

16. From rhinos to ring-tailed lemurs, feed and pet the exotic animals at Lazy 5 Ranch while pretending you’re on safari. Bonus points if a zebra or giraffe licks your face.

17. Spread your wings at Charlotte Nature Museum and walk among the majestic, free-flying butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion.

18. Lather up with sunscreen for summer camp (or just plain old fun) at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Take on the whitewater rapids, climbing walls, zip lines, ropes courses and trails. 

*PLUS ONE: Transport yourself back to the days of historic streetcars when you peer out of the window of the CityLYNX Gold Line. Watch Charlotte’s beautiful Elizabeth neighborhood whiz by. 

This article ran in the March 2016 issue of Charlotte Happenings.

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