By Allison Troyano
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Come one come all to this time-honored tradition that’s been inspiring wonder for over 100 years. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be wowing crowds in the Queen City from Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 at Time Warner Cable Arena. What’s been called “The Greatest Show on Earth” will feature every type of circus performance from clowns and gymnasts to unbelievable acts and gravity-defying trapezists. This year’s show called “LEGENDS!” is unimaginable family fun for children of all ages.
Children's Theatre of Charlotte
Take the whole family to witness the excitement of the performing arts, and then inspire them to participate in it themselves at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Now in its 67th season, the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has become one of the top performance and educational organizations for youth in the country. This winter, families can enjoy performances of “Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse” from Jan. 23 through Feb. 15, “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel” from Jan. 24 through Feb. 8, and “Jackie & Me” from Feb. 27 through March 15. Get the kids involved in one of their creative drama classes (for ages 2 up to fifth grade) or workshops (for grades two through 12) to see why the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has been nationally recognized for its programs.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
Live life in the fast lane at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Located in the heart of Uptown, this 150,000-square-foot attraction honors the history and heritage of the sport. Drive your way through high-tech interactive exhibits like the realistic racing simulators and pit crew challenge, more than 1,000 unique artifacts including dozens of authentic stock cars, and the state-of-the-art High Octane Theater. Don’t forget to grab something to remember your trip from the NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop on the way out!
Charlotte- Concord SEA LIFE Aquarium
Get up close and personal with more than 5,000 sea creatures at SEA LIFE Aquarium in Concord Mills mall. The 10,000-square-foot attraction brings you face-to-face with sharks, jellyfish, octopus, seahorses, starfish and more and teaches visitors about what we can all do to protect our oceans. Everything at SEA LIFE Aquarium is interactive: you are surrounded with 180 degrees of sea creatures while walking through the ocean tunnel, you can touch starfish and crabs in the Touchpool Experience, witness sea life in action at feed shows and put your knowledge to the test on an interactive quiz trail.
Watch as science comes to life at Discovery Place, where exhibits, experiments and the largest IMAX screen in the Carolinas amaze, educate and entertain. Kids of all ages (including adults) will enjoy exploring their imaginations in exhibits like “Project Build,” where you can create your own pyramids and skyscrapers, and “World Alive,” a hands-on look into our planet’s ecosystems and the creatures who live in them. Don’t miss the 44-foot T. rex skeleton in the special “Dinosaurs in Motion” exhibit open through Jan. 16.
Discovery Place KIDS
For the younger kids, plan a visit to Discovery Place KIDS in Huntersville. Here, children can explore and learn through child-centric activities like creating their own artistic masterpieces and learning about communities through an interactive farm and a visit to the town market, the doctor’s office and the café. The experience is all built around the “I can” theme, teaching children through role playing, creating, moving and experimenting that they can achieve anything.
Sky Zone Charlotte
The traditional gym may have some new competition. As the self-proclaimed inventors of “fun fitness,” the world’s first indoor trampoline park is redefining the way your family can stay active throughout the cold winter months. Bounce, jump and fly on trampolines as far as the eye can see! Sky Zone has something for everyone including an open jump, a foam pit, a SkySlam court, ultimate dodgeball and upcoming skyrobics classes for the parents.
Great Wolf Lodge
Get ready for a getaway adventure right in your backyard with Great Wolf Lodge. Bring the whole family for a weekend away and enjoy their massive indoor water park (it’s over 80,000 square feet and the temperature is always at 84 degrees) filled with slides for thrill seekers and plenty of fun for the little ones too. But the fun doesn’t stop at the waterpark. There are live-action MagiQuest®, Compass Quest™ and ShadowQuest™ adventure games, restaurants, shopping and daily family activities that make a stay at Great Wolf Lodge a true escape. After an action-packed weekend, both adults and kids can relax at either the Elements Spa Salon or Scooops Kid Spa.
If you’re kids always seem to be “bouncing off the walls,” then Monkey Joe’s is the place for them! Kids will love their wall-to-wall inflatable play center, perfect for get-togethers, parties or just a day away from the cold winter weather. Children 12 years and younger can enjoy slides, jumps and obstacle courses, and there’s even a designated area for toddlers. Visit their locations in the University area, Pineville and Matthews.
If you have an active family with no intention of slowing down this winter, you need a place that has something for everyone. Where else can you find indoor sports, laser tag, a ropes course, bowling and rock climbing all in one place? And with three locations in Charlotte, Sports Connection is the perfect cure-all for the winter blues. Teens will love the bumper cars, arcade games and rock climbing while the younger ones enjoy mini-bowling and jump-n-play. In addition to being the destination for family fun, Sports Connection is also a great place to bring everyone together for parties and gatherings.
This article ran in the January 2015 issue of Charlotte Happenings.