By Cassie Townsend & Allison Troyano
For the Kids
Watch as science comes to life at Discovery Place, a hands-on science museum for all ages. Channel your inner inspiration, imagination and innovation with exhibits, like “Think It Up,” a hip thought studio and multi-sensory world of color, light and sound, and “KidScience,” a unique experience for visitors age 7 and younger to inspire the next generation of Sir Issac Newtons and Marie Curies.
Let your imagination soar at ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center, where the excitement about storytelling is contagious. Equal parts library and theatre, ImaginOn invites families to participate in family storytime, classes and workshops while being inspired by performances of "Schoolhouse Rock Live!” “The Magic Kite,” and “Journey to Oz” at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.
For the chefs-in-training, sign your kids up for a hands-on class with Flour Power Studios, a cooking studio tailored to children of all ages. They'll be so excited to share what they learned, you may gain another helper in your own kitchen.
Get up close and personal with giraffes, zebras, camels, ostriches and more at Lazy 5 Ranch, just north of Charlotte. The Lazy 5 Ranch is a privately owned drive-thru park that features exotic animals, a 3.5-mile safari, petting areas, a black smith shop, gift store, horse barn, playground and picnic areas.
For the Parents
Become a local foodie. Take a tour of one of Charlotte's many farmers markets, including Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, Kings Drive Farmer’s Market, or Atherton Mill and Market. Then see and learn how our food goes from the farms to the table at the 7th Street Public Market, where the whole family can dine in the heart of Charlotte's food and culture hub.
Ninth in national wine production with more than 100 wineries, North Carolina is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing during your days off. Slip outside Charlotte city limits to enjoy a tasting and tour of Childress Vineyards, Raffaldini Vineyards, Treehouse Vineyards or one of the dozens of other vineyards in the Charlotte region.
With more than 40 public golf courses in the greater Charlotte area, it’s easy to find a tee time. The Ballantyne Hotel &Lodge in South Charlotte offers a great escape with a full spa and 18-hole championship golf course. Other notable greens include the wetlands-shrouded 15th hole at the Dan Maples-designed Rocky River Golf Club, the hourglass-shaped greens and tall pines at Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation (a Tom Jackson design) and “Charlotte’s Crown Jewel of Golf,” Highland Creek Golf Club.
For the Whole Family
Start your engines! NASCAR lovers won't want to miss a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown. The whole family will enjoy a ride in the realistic racing simulators, a run at the fastest time in the pit crew challenge and a look at 18 historic cars that make up Glory Road. For the “hot pass” racing experience, hop on a private motorcoach for an all-access look at racing shops and attractions around Charlotte on a NASCAR Hall of Fame Racing Insiders Tour.
Get moving and explore Charlotte on some of the city's best greenways, hiking trails and parks. Take in the city views on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway and end with a family picnic at Freedom Park. Or enjoy the green spaces in the heart of Uptown at The Green and Romare Bearden Park. Kids will also love learning about nature at the Charlotte Nature Museum, McDowell Nature Center and Preserve and the Carolina Raptor Center.
Get your adrenaline pumping with a visit to the "thrill capital of the Southeast.” Test your fortitude with Carowinds’ new Fury 325, the world's tallest and fastest giga coaster. Kids and adults can enjoy over 50 rides, shows and attractions as well as Planet Snoopy, a section of the park just for kids.
Take your explorers on a ride to remember at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Home to the world's largest man-made recirculating river, the USNWC offers whitewater rafting, zip lining and kayaking for the whole family, plus dining and entertainment options.
Spend your days basking in the sun on the waters of nearby Lake Norman or Lake Wylie. Lake Norman, the largest man-made lake in the Carolinas, is a great spot to rent a boat for watersports, relaxing, or taking in the eye-candy of the luxurious lakeside properties. Take a kayak or canoe out on Lake Wylie, or enjoy a laid-back day with prime fishing from the waterfront deck at McDowell Nature Preserve.
Dive into Charlotte’s culture with a visit to the city’s premier museums. Become a Picasso, Jr. at the Mint Museum’s Sunday Fun Day, and snap a picture with Charlotte’s famous Firebird sculpture outside of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art.