Things to Do

25 Must-Do Experiences for Kids in Charlotte

Create memories and find new adventures in the Queen City with this list of 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 holds a host of time-treasured traditions that are part of the initiation process. Here’s a look at 25 “so-Charlotte” activities every kid (or kid at heart) should experience in the city.

Carowinds - Photo courtesy of Carowinds/Cedar Fair

1. Careen down the tracks of the exhilarating roller coasters at Carowinds. Grab a seat on Fury 325, the tallest and fastest giga coaster in the world; Copperhead Strike, the park’s first double-launch roller coaster; and the Intimidator, an 80-mph coaster inspired by North Carolina native and NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.

2. Snag a seat near the field at Bank of America Stadium in hopes of being handed a touchdown-scoring football by a Carolina Panthers player or to proudly wave your soccer scarf at a Charlotte FC soccer match.

3. Pass on the joy of nature to future generations at Fort Mill's 2,100-acre Anne Springs Close Greenway. Discover hidden waterfalls, massive lakes and beautiful hardwood forests while hiking or biking numerous trails.

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

5. Meet (and snap a selfie with) Charlotte Hornets mascot, Hugo, during a game at Spectrum Center, where Charlotte transforms into Buzz City.

6. Host your birthday party at 10 Park Lanes or Frankie's Fun Park, where you can bowl strikes and battle your friends in old-school arcade games.

7. Watch the fireworks light up the sky above Truist Field as you cheer on the Charlotte Knights. Gather your crew and chow down on a mini helmet full of ice cream, and don't miss your chance to run the bases after select Sunday games.

8. The Charlotte area was the location of the country’s first gold rush. Dig into the city's past at the Levine Museum of the New South in Uptown Charlotte or pan for gold at Reed Gold Mine just outside of Charlotte in Midland, North Carolina.

Discovery Place Science

9. Take a field trip to Discovery Place Science, which has been igniting kids’ minds with fascinating science, nature and technology exhibits since 1981.

10. Grab a loaf of bread and treat the ducks to lunch at Freedom Park's duck pond. Let the kids test their skills on the NFL Play 60 KidZone, which features an obstacle course, timed 40-yard dash, climbing structure and pep talk station with messages of encouragement from Carolina Panthers players. Or grab a photo with a 1920s steam locomotive, one of Charlotte's hidden treasures of the past.

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. To continue your journey through time, visit Historic Brattonsville in York County, South Carolina, or Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville, North Carolina.

12. 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.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

13. 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.

14. Pick strawberries, garden veggies, apples or pumpkins, depending on the season, with your family at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville or Wise Acres Organic Farm in Indian Trail. Use your bounty to bake every pie imaginable.

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. Spread your wings at Discovery Place Nature and walk among the majestic, free-flying butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion.

#CharlottesGotALot

17. Jump around at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in north Charlotte or Pineville, and soar to higher heights at iFLY indoor skydiving in Concord, North Carolina. Fun for children and adults, it may be hard to come down from these activities.

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, trails and more.

19. Under the sea is always better, especially at SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium in Concord Mills. As you explore the creatures of the deep blue, you may forget that there is a bustling world of shoppers just outside the doors.

20. Feel the rush of childhood wonder come roaring back at 180+ miles per hour during a race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Catch one of the two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races — the Bank of America Roval 400 in September or the Coca-Cola 600 in May — or a number of other events throughout the year to satisfy your family's need for speed.

#CharlottesGotALot

21. Walk the Raptor Trail and participate in the behind-the-scenes tour of the Raptor Hospital at the Carolina Raptor Center, a nonprofit committed to the exploration, rehabilitation and conservation of birds of prey.

22. High five the Charlotte Checkers hockey players (and polar bear mascot Chubbie) as they walk through the RedLine Club at Bojangles Coliseum before the game, and then proudly wave from atop the Zamboni during the game’s intermissions.

23. Ride in a hot air balloon at the annual Carolina BalloonFest just north of Charlotte in Statesville, North Carolina.

24. Race in high-speed go-carts at The SpeedPark at Concord Mills, Victory Lane Karting, K1 Speed or GoPro Motorplex, some of the same facilities where NASCAR stars from the area got their start.

25. Hike to the summit of Crowders Mountain and see the skyline of Uptown Charlotte in the distance on a clear day.