Things to do

18 Must-Do Experiences for Kids in Charlotte

Whether you’re a proud Charlotte native, a welcomed transplant or a visitor, 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 a look at 18 “so-Charlotte” activities every kid (or kid at heart) should experience in the city.

Lazy 5 Ranch - Photo courtesy of Mooresville Convention & Visitors Bureau

Here’s a look at 18 “so-Charlotte” activities every kid (or kid at heart) should experience in the city.

1. Meet Charlotte Hornets mascot, Hugo, during a game at Spectrum Center, 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 Uptown's 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. Take a field trip to Discovery Place Science, which has been igniting kids’ minds with fascinating science, nature and technology exhibits since 1981.

Discovery Place Science - Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography

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 to lunch at Freedom Park’s famous duck pond. 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 aged 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.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

14. Explore Charlotte’s racing roots when you put the pedal to the metal in the realistic racing simulators or prep a race car 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 Discovery Place Nature 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 CenterTake on the whitewater rapids, climbing walls, zip lines, ropes courses and trails. 

Bonus: 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 originally ran in Charlotte Happenings.