Things to do

Family-Friendly Adventures in Charlotte

Charlotte is a city that knows how to play. Whether your kid's idea of fun is riding the rapids, rocketing around a racetrack or standing so still butterflies land on their shoulders, Charlotte will bring out their smiles.

Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE

Indoor Family-friendly Fun

Discovery Place Science

One of the most popular attractions in the Charlotte area, this science museum takes “interactive” to a new level. Kids build structures with PVC pipes, solve engineering challenges, create music by breaking light beams with their bodies and launch their own lightweight sculptures into the air. Kids under 7 have their own hands-on play area with a water table and wind wall, among other attractions. Both kids and adults love The Charlotte Observer IMAX® Dome Theatre and Discovery 3D Theatre.

Discovery Place Nature

This museum aims to inspire curiosity and a love of nature in young children. Interactive exhibits and activities will keep toddlers and kids engaged for hours. A favorite is the “Butterfly Pavilion,” where kids can see butterflies in all stages of growth. The museum backs up to Freedom Park, which offers a playground, expansive pond and walking trails.

Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography
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. Since 1972, the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has become one of the top performance and educational organizations for youth in the country. Get the kids involved in one of the creative drama classes or workshops to see why the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has been nationally recognized for its programs.

Great Wolf Lodge

There’s no debate: Great Wolf Lodge is a favorite hotel for kids. Just minutes from Charlotte, Great Wolf Lodge features themed rooms, an arcade and the interactive MagiQuest, where kids battle dragons and goblins (ideal for kids 5 and up). Most importantly, though, there is an indoor water park that includes numerous water slides, a giant wave pool and a toddler area. Complimentary towels and life jackets are provided and multiple lifeguards are on duty.

ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center

An innovative joint-venture between Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, ImaginOn features a full season of theater for kids, an award-winning children’s library and free activities sprinkled throughout the whimsical building. While preschoolers play dress-up on a stage, teens create animation videos in their own studio.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Adult race fans appreciate the 40,000 square feet of exhibits celebrating the Piedmont’s homegrown sport, but kids really love the interactive features. They can take part in the pit crew challenge, call a race on the radio and solve an engine puzzle. Fifty hands-on activities will keep them busy.

Pit Crew Challenge at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium

Get up close and personal with more than 5,000 sea creatures at SEA LIFE Aquarium in Concord Mills mall. The 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.

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. Sky Zone has something for everyone, including an open jump, a foam pit, a SkySlam court, ultimate dodgeball and skyrobics classes for the parents.

Sky High Sports Charlotte

An indoor fun center for kids of all ages, including a Kids Court for those 6 and younger, when you make a trip to Sky High Sports. Take on a high ropes course, challenge your friends to a game of laser tag, get in on a game of trampoline dodgeball or practice your free throw shots all under one roof. And if you're looking for a full body workout that's high-flying fun, give Sky High's signature fitness program, AIRobics, a try.

Sports Connection

If you have an active family with no intention of slowing down, 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? With three locations in Charlotte, teens can master the bumper cars, arcade games and rock climbing Sports Connection offers, while the younger ones enjoy mini-bowling and jump-n-play.

Outdoor Adventures

Carolina Raptor Center

Stroll the 1-mile nature trail and get to know 25 species of raptors. The Carolina Raptor Center rehabilitates injured eagles, hawks, owls and other birds of prey, which are sure to intrigue and fascinate the whole family.


Boasting major thrill rides, family rides, rides for small children and the sprawling Carolina Harbor water-park, Carowinds is a theme park that truly does have something for everyone. The top attraction, Fury325, is the world’s tallest and fastest giga-coaster!

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

The expansive grounds of these 400 acres of pristine pastures are made for strolling. Whether you’re looking for a family afternoon filled with horticulture education or a weekend exploring the “Wee Houses” exhibition, which is part of the collective “Playhouses, Treehouses and Forts” attraction, little ones will love stepping into a new world of imagination inside the garden.

Lazy 5 Ranch

Get a bucket of animal food and enjoy face-to-face encounters with more than 750 animals from six continents. Tour the Mooresville animal park in a horse-drawn wagon or your own car.

The SpeedPark at Concord Mills

Located at Concord Mills, the SpeedPark offers five go-kart tracks for kids and adults as well as bumper boats, a climbing wall, mini-golf and an arcade.

U.S. National Whitewater Center

Home to the largest man-made whitewater river in the world and the world’s first deep water solo climbing tour, the center’s adventures include rafting, kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, a zip line and more. Kids can’t help but burn off energy here.