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Charlotte's Great Outdoors

From Easter egg hunts to Earth Day celebrations, Charlotte's got a lot of ways to get outside this spring.
Answer the call of the wild from the hawks, owls and other birds of prey at the Carolina Raptor Center.
Answer the call of the wild from the hawks, owls and other birds of prey at the Carolina Raptor Center.

By Allison Troyano

With the warm weather rolling in, now is the perfect time to embrace Charlotte’s “work hard, play hard” mindset with a month full of outdoor activities. April may be NC Beer Month, but Charlotte’s also celebrating another kind of “hop” with Easter festivities for kids of all ages. When the egg hunts are over, keep exploring the city’s parks and greenways. There are endless ways to discover, so hop to it!

Easter Festivities

Celebrate the season with themed events at many of Charlotte’s parks and attractions. Join in the fun at the Easter Eggstravaganza at Romare Bearden Park on April 3 or the weekend-long celebration at Carowinds complete with a visit from the Easter bunny, crafts and live entertainment.

Birds & Butterflies

Kids will love the hands-on approach to nature at the Charlotte Nature Museum. Be surrounded by live butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion, hang out in the Big Backyard and wander through the 100-year-old forest in this family-friendly museum tucked into Freedom Park. Answer the call of the wild from the hawks, owls and other birds of prey at the Carolina Raptor Center. At their Young Veterinarian Day, kids will learn about the profession with behind-the-scenes tours, live presentations and hands-on activities. If your family is all about animals, get up close and personal on Lazy 5 Ranch's wagon ride. You'll see giraffes and peacocks and wonder if you've left North Carolina for somewhere more exotic.

Greenways

Discover the beauty springing from Charlotte’s green spaces just in time to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. Charlotte's 37 miles of developed greenways are the perfect opportunity to get the family walking, biking or even taking a Segway tour on the winding paths that connect Uptown to the surround neighborhoods. Other greenways systems to explore include McAlpine Creek, Irwin Creek, Stewart Creek, Mallard Creed and Clark’s Creek.

Parks

Find your place among joggers and picnickers at the popular Freedom Park, enjoy Charlotte's green spaces in the heart of Uptown at The Green, Romare Bearden Park and Marshall Park, or discover Independence Park, the oldest park in Charlotte.

Nature Preserves

For a full immersive experience, bring the whole family to Charlotte’s nature centers. You can hike on the 10 miles of trails at the McDowell Nature Center, where they also lead regular fitness hikes and guided kayak tours on the lake. If a warrior pose is more your speed, try a class in their yoga preserve peacefully nestled in the woods. Or bring your young explorers to Latta Plantation, home to the largest nature preserve in the county.

Gardens

Spend a colorful day marveling at the azaleas in bloom at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Brush off your green thumb with their Spring Sprouts series, where you'll receive instruction from their Garden Store to bring back to your own garden. And don’t miss the flowers in bloom at Rose McGill Garden and Wing Haven Gardens too.

Farmers Market

The Charlotte Regional Farmers Market is the best place to get lost in the sights and smells of spring. Make your way through the rows of vegetables, fruits, homemade jams, wines and craft items while chatting with local vendors. Other popular farmers markets in the area include the Kings Drive Farmers Market, Matthews Community Farmers Market, Huntersville Farmers Market and Atherton Mill & Market among others.

This article ran in the April 2015 issue of Charlotte Happenings