10 Questions to Ask When Choosing Child Care

For your child’s well-being and your own peace of mind, it pays to be picky about day care.


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If you plan to return to work after your baby is born, you probably know that open day care spots can go faster than ice cream melts on a hot day. But for your child’s well being and your own peace of mind, it pays to be picky about day care.  

Waitlists are the normal for most child care centers in Charlotte. Many centers allow couples to pay the application fee and be placed on a waitlist before they are expecting to help ensure a spot when the time arrives. If you are interested in full-time day care, start touring centers you are interested in and get on waiting lists as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

“Visit three to five day care programs,” says Kris Murray, author of “The Ultimate Childcare Marketing Guide” and a consultant to the child care industry. To narrow your selection, here are the top questions Murray suggests asking day care providers that can help you know if you’ve found the right place or if you need to keep looking.


What activities will my child do? The code word to listen for is “curriculum.” With emerging research about early brain development, top child care programs aren’t glorified babysitters. They’re full-featured learning environments, even at the infant level because learning starts from birth. 

“There are all sorts of age-appropriate curriculums available now, from baby sign language in an infant room to early reading, nature, science, art, technology and drama programs for toddlers,” Murray says. Each program is typically organized into themes. If the theme is insects, for example, your toddler might be asked to dress up as his favorite bug for the drama unit, paint a bug for the art unit and learn about insects in the computer lab for the technology unit. It may all just look like fun and games, but that’s the idea. “Children learn best through play,” Murray says.

What’s the teacher to child ratio? It’s important for your child to get plenty of attention, especially the younger she is. Babies and toddlers 12 months old and younger need an adult to child ratio of no more than 1:4 (one adult per four infants). For toddlers 12 to 28 months old, the ratio can range from 1:3 to 1:6. Small class sizes of 10 to 12 children or less are preferred. Even if there are plenty of adults to children, a larger group of toddlers can feel chaotic.

What’s your policy about unannounced visits? The best answer is, “No problem. We have an open-door policy.” Impromptu parent visits should always be welcome, Murray says. After signing your child up, you should be able to drop by anytime.

How do I know what my child does all day? Some day care centers distribute a daily activity sheet detailing what each child experienced that day, such as what she had for snack and how often her diaper was changed. Even better is paperless communication. Many day care centers offer email or text messages two to four times daily, often with pictures.

“Real-time streaming helps you stay connected to your child’s day,” Murray says. When you pick your child up, you can say show them the cute pictures you received via email or text and talk about them together.

What are the qualifications of the caregivers? Lead teachers should have five to seven years of experience. With practice comes the competence to handle challenging issues, such as fighting and other behavioral problems or potty training in a toddler program.

Teacher bios may be available on the day care website, or “Ask for a list of the teachers, which includes the number of years of experience they’ve had in the field, their degree (in early childhood education for the lead teacher) or the training they’ve had,” Murray says.

Are drop-off and pick-up hours flexible? If you work from home sometimes or need half-day help here and there, look for a day care option that can work with your nontraditional schedule. Day care that’s less than full-time is a growing trend.

“For a monthly membership fee, many day care centers will allow you to drop off your child whenever you want,” Murray says.

What’s the security situation? Most child care programs are safer than they were five years ago. Some now, for example, have biometrics — requiring approved guests to place a finger on a pad to enter the building — instead of punching in a code at the door.

“Stricter regulations on safety and background checks are now required in many states,” Murray says.

When touring a day care center, ask whether the children are monitored by a secure webcam. Is the feed distributed to the director’s office so there’s oversight of what’s happening in the classroom? (Good.) Can you have access to the feed as well? (Double good.) Not only does camera surveillance provide peace of mind because you can see what’s going on, it allows you to engage in your child’s day (“I saw you help Sam pick up his crayons. That was so nice of you.”)

“You get to spy with a positive purpose,” Murray says.

How often do the kids get to go outside? Beyond extremely hot or cold weather, “there’s no excuse for children not to get outside every day,” Murray says. Your child care center should support the full health of the child, which includes spending time in nature and being active.

What’s your disaster recovery and emergency policy? If there’s a fire or disaster at the school, you want to know that teachers are properly trained to quickly and effectively respond to get every child out. Every teacher should be trained in CPR too.

Ask yourself: Am I comfortable with the environment? After you’ve narrowed it down to your top picks, spend an hour observing a classroom when the kids are awake. What’s the vibe? The day care center should feel open and interactions warm-hearted. Teachers should look like they’re happy to be there and engaged with the children. If you get a good feeling about the place, chances are your child will like it too because he will pick up on your satisfaction.

Finally, confirm your selection by finding out what everyone else has to say. Review testimonials from other parents on the day care center’s Facebook page and review sites such as Yelp, or ask neighbors and friends for recommendations.

“Sometimes there are disgruntled employees or an occasional unhappy parent,” Murray says.

If you see 10 great reviews and one negative one, you’re probably fine. Look for a preponderance of positive.”


Sandra Gordon is a freelance writer who specializes in health, health care, parenting nutrition and lifestyle topics.

 

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May 2018

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corner of Main Street and Concord Road
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The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S Tryon St
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The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
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The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
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2136 Central Ave
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Cost: $13-$17

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Telephone: 704-372-6261
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Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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Cost: $14.95 for children at the door, $7.95 for children at the door with pledge

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SEA-LIFE Aquarium
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Telephone: 704-274-8300
Website »

More information

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Cabarrus Arts Council
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Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$7, children under age 3 admitted free. Includes museum admission.

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6923
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Billy Graham Library
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View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

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Cost: $7-$10

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The Charlotte Museum of History
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View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

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Cost: $5 cash, $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

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Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

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View map »


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Cost: See website for prices

Where:
Hope Community Church
4418 Rea Road
Charlotte , NC  28226
View map »


Telephone: 704-9654-614
Website »

More information

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Website »

More information

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Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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Where:
Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 866-229-1573
Website »

More information

This exhibit highlights selected works from the Locke collection which were either created by female artists or feature women as the subject. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

This exhibit celebrates iconic African-American artists and reflects the lives of the owners of the collections.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

An array of found objects with bursts of bright and dark colors form works of art that are both mesmerizing and reflective.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Through the lens of a camera, Frankhavemercy captures the emotions of growth, struggle and joy in his first exhibition. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

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Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

Meet remarkable live frogs from all over the world whose unique "superpowers" have adapted over time to help them survive. This exhibition uses a graphic novel approach throughout,...

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Guests are invited to experience Turtle Week as the attraction pledges to end the use of plastic straws. By signing the pledge, participants not only commit to helping save all the members of...

Cost: $14.95 for children at the door, $7.95 for children at the door with pledge

Where:
SEA-LIFE Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 404.233.3993
Contact Name: Laurel Haislip
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews Police Department
1201 Crews Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Let your kids discover the details of the museums galleries in a fun and challenging way. With two levels of difficulty this gallery activity invites participants of all ages to examine art work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabarrus Arts Council
65 Union St. S.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

Dino Safari:  A Prehistoric Adventure Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era – the age of dinosaurs. See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time...

Cost: $6-$7, children under age 3 admitted free. Includes museum admission.

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6923
Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor, so parents are in charge of their children. No need...

Cost: $5 cash, $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

SKILLS Group of Charlotte, an after school enrichment program for teens and young adults with special needs, offers the opportunity for cooking, Zumba, academic adventures, and more.

Cost: See website for prices

Where:
Hope Community Church
4418 Rea Road
Charlotte , NC  28226
View map »


Telephone: 704-9654-614
Website »

More information

Explore the Mint Museum's exhibitions.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road
Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Come rock out at Ballantyne Village every Wednesday in May.

Cost: Free

Where:
Ballantyne Village
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Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit highlights selected works from the Locke collection which were either created by female artists or feature women as the subject. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

This exhibit celebrates iconic African-American artists and reflects the lives of the owners of the collections.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

An array of found objects with bursts of bright and dark colors form works of art that are both mesmerizing and reflective.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Through the lens of a camera, Frankhavemercy captures the emotions of growth, struggle and joy in his first exhibition. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

This exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta. It contains fashions made during the span of his...

Cost: $10-$15, includes museum admission

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Meet remarkable live frogs from all over the world whose unique "superpowers" have adapted over time to help them survive. This exhibition uses a graphic novel approach throughout,...

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Guests are invited to experience Turtle Week as the attraction pledges to end the use of plastic straws. By signing the pledge, participants not only commit to helping save all the members of...

Cost: $14.95 for children at the door, $7.95 for children at the door with pledge

Where:
SEA-LIFE Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 404.233.3993
Contact Name: Laurel Haislip
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join the Charlotte Museum of History for a guided, hour-long walking tour of Charlotte’s Belmont neighborhood (not the town of Belmont) as part of Charlotte City Walks. Stop along the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Metrographics Printing
1003 Louise Ave.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the many surprises we find hidden within our pockets. Enjoy both pre-show and post-show activities. Participation is encouraged. Performances run Thursday-Saturday. See...

Cost: $10

Where:
Children's Theatre of Charlotte
300 E. 7th St.
Charotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

Let your kids discover the details of the museums galleries in a fun and challenging way. With two levels of difficulty this gallery activity invites participants of all ages to examine art work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabarrus Arts Council
65 Union St. S.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

Dino Safari:  A Prehistoric Adventure Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era – the age of dinosaurs. See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time...

Cost: $6-$7, children under age 3 admitted free. Includes museum admission.

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6923
Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor, so parents are in charge of their children. No need...

Cost: $5 cash, $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Live entertainment, access to racing’s brightest stars, giveaways, music and interactive displays. Each day starting at noon, vendor displays, kids’ activities, racing-related...

Cost: Free for festival; tickets to Romare Bearden Park's concerts vary per performanc

Where:
Uptown Charlotte
Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Every Thursday in May bands will perform in this Sunset at Metropolitan series. Musicians offer a variety of genres including top 40 and classic rock, to jazz and soul. In addition to great live...

Cost: Free

Where:
Metropolitan
1111 Metropolitan Ave
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Check out the Steele Creek Live Spring Concert Series at the Ayrsley Event Lawn, which is located between Piedmont Social House and Rooney's.

Cost: Free

Where:
Ayrsley Event Lawn
2135 Ayrsley Town Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy food, beverages, and live music at this weekly summer concert series.  There are additional activities like yoga or organized runs on certain nights before the show starts.

Cost: Free; $6 parking fee

Where:
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit highlights selected works from the Locke collection which were either created by female artists or feature women as the subject. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

This exhibit celebrates iconic African-American artists and reflects the lives of the owners of the collections.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

An array of found objects with bursts of bright and dark colors form works of art that are both mesmerizing and reflective.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Through the lens of a camera, Frankhavemercy captures the emotions of growth, struggle and joy in his first exhibition. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

This exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta. It contains fashions made during the span of his...

Cost: $10-$15, includes museum admission

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Meet remarkable live frogs from all over the world whose unique "superpowers" have adapted over time to help them survive. This exhibition uses a graphic novel approach throughout,...

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Guests are invited to experience Turtle Week as the attraction pledges to end the use of plastic straws. By signing the pledge, participants not only commit to helping save all the members of...

Cost: $14.95 for children at the door, $7.95 for children at the door with pledge

Where:
SEA-LIFE Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 404.233.3993
Contact Name: Laurel Haislip
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Blumenthal Performing Arts invites performers of all ages to Open Mic Night. Instrumentalists, singers, dancers, storytellers, poets, jugglers, magicians, and others are welcome. Audience seating...

Cost: Free

Where:
McGlohon Theater
345 N. College St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Sponsor: Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
Telephone: 704-348-5770
Contact Name: Eric Figueroa
Website »

More information

This show will feature new magic and audience participation including: unlocking an audience member’s locked, encrypted cell phone, vanishing a person, and Haydini’s signature sleight...

Cost: $18-$25

Where:
Stage Door Theatre
155 N. College St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

Bring blankets and chairs and watch a movie outside with the family. May 25: "Cars 3" June 8: "Beauty and the Beast" June 22: "Sing" July 6: "Airplane"...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 W. C St.
Kannapolis, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the many surprises we find hidden within our pockets. Enjoy both pre-show and post-show activities. Participation is encouraged. Performances run Thursday-Saturday. See...

Cost: $10

Where:
Children's Theatre of Charlotte
300 E. 7th St.
Charotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

Let your kids discover the details of the museums galleries in a fun and challenging way. With two levels of difficulty this gallery activity invites participants of all ages to examine art work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabarrus Arts Council
65 Union St. S.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

Dino Safari:  A Prehistoric Adventure Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era – the age of dinosaurs. See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time...

Cost: $6-$7, children under age 3 admitted free. Includes museum admission.

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6923
Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor, so parents are in charge of their children. No need...

Cost: $5 cash, $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Live entertainment, access to racing’s brightest stars, giveaways, music and interactive displays. Each day starting at noon, vendor displays, kids’ activities, racing-related...

Cost: Free for festival; tickets to Romare Bearden Park's concerts vary per performanc

Where:
Uptown Charlotte
Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Come enjoy some music with your meal at Romare Bearden Park's Music Box Lunch, which occurs every Tuesday and Friday afternoon.

Cost: Free

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-348-5770
Website »

More information

Get free entry to the Schiele Museum every second Tuesday of the month from 4-8pm and every fourth Friday of the month from 1-5pm. 

Cost: Free

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 East Garrison Boulevard
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

SKILLS Group of Charlotte, an after school enrichment program for teens and young adults with special needs, offers the opportunity for cooking, Zumba, academic adventures, and more.

Cost: See website for prices

Where:
Hope Community Church
4418 Rea Road
Charlotte , NC  28226
View map »


Telephone: 704-9654-614
Website »

More information

This family-friendly event features craft brews, wine, cider, live music and the best food trucks in Charlotte. Bring the whole family, including your dogs. Along...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
Charlotte, NC  28203
View map »


Website »

More information

Favorite area food and dessert trucks will provide varied menus including seafood, Tex-Mex, burgers, sandwiches, specialty dishes and more. Enjoy local/region...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stumptown Park
120 S. Trade St.
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drop off your children for a night of fun while you hit the town. Activities include laser tag, jump-n-play, rock climbing, mini bowling, ropes courses, bumper cars, and arcade games. Children...

Cost: $25 online, $30 at the door

Where:
Sports Connection - Ballantyne or Northlake Locations
, NC


Website »

More information

Bring your blanket and chairs and enjoy a movie in the park. Food available for purchase. Movie begins at dusk. April 27 at Crooked Creek Park, 5900 Oakwood Ln, Indian Trail....

Cost: Free

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Enjoy food, beverages, and live music at this weekly summer concert series.  There are additional activities like yoga or organized runs on certain nights before the show starts.

Cost: Free; $6 parking fee

Where:
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Come listen to music every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Green at Promenade on Providence
corner of Providence Road and Interstate 485
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Listen to music every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer at Stonecrest Shopping Center.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stonecrest Shopping Center
7900 Rea Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Each Friday and Saturday, starting May 25 through September 1st, local favorites return to Blakeney Shopping Center and bring fun and music for the entire family. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Green at Blakeney
Ardrey Kell and Rea Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy post-game fireworks

Cost: $8-$23

Where:
BB&T Ballpark
324 S. Mint St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-274-8300
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit highlights selected works from the Locke collection which were either created by female artists or feature women as the subject. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

This exhibit celebrates iconic African-American artists and reflects the lives of the owners of the collections.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

An array of found objects with bursts of bright and dark colors form works of art that are both mesmerizing and reflective.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Through the lens of a camera, Frankhavemercy captures the emotions of growth, struggle and joy in his first exhibition. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Come celebrate the founding of the town of Mint Hill at the 35th Mint Hill Madness, a three-day festival. The festival features live music, a carnival, an arts and crafts fair, a parade, a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park
8850 Fairview Road
Mint Hill, NC  28227
View map »


Telephone: 704-545-2335
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

This exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta. It contains fashions made during the span of his...

Cost: $10-$15, includes museum admission

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Meet remarkable live frogs from all over the world whose unique "superpowers" have adapted over time to help them survive. This exhibition uses a graphic novel approach throughout,...

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Guests are invited to experience Turtle Week as the attraction pledges to end the use of plastic straws. By signing the pledge, participants not only commit to helping save all the members of...

Cost: $14.95 for children at the door, $7.95 for children at the door with pledge

Where:
SEA-LIFE Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 404.233.3993
Contact Name: Laurel Haislip
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Come to the downtown Mint Hill for the 35th annual all-American Mint Hill Madness parade that features more than 50 local businesses, organizations, entertainers, music groups, firetrucks and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Mint Hill
4430 Mint Hill Village Lane
Mint Hill, NC  28227
View map »


Telephone: 704-545-2335
Website »

More information

Your Mini Chef will cook one recipe and learn basic kitchen skills such as measuring ingredients. Sign up online or in person at the Sales and Services desk.

Cost: $15 for members/$20 for program participants

Where:
Morrison Family YMCA
9405 Bryant Farms Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-716-4650
Website »

More information

Did you know that every bird's beak is specially designed for the food it eats? Learn about bird beak adaptations and craft your own bird feeder to take home to the birds in your...

Cost: $5

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1129
Website »

More information

Kids can hear a story, frost cupcakes and meet a super hero.

Cost: $9

Where:
SAS Cupcakes
9941 Rea Road
Suite C
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-295-1777
Website »

More information

Cheer on the Mooresville Spinners on their opening night. Help the team kick off their Southern Collegiate Baseball League season.  

Cost: $5

Where:
Moor Park
691 S Broad St.
Mooresville, NC  28117
View map »


Website »

More information

This year’s star-studded fireworks show will be a magical experience for all those in attendance. Accompanied by classic patriotic music, the fireworks will be visible from all areas of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park
8850 Fairview Road
Mint Hill, NC  28227
View map »


Telephone: 704-545-2335
Website »

More information

Explore the many surprises we find hidden within our pockets. Enjoy both pre-show and post-show activities. Participation is encouraged. Performances run Thursday-Saturday. See...

Cost: $10

Where:
Children's Theatre of Charlotte
300 E. 7th St.
Charotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

Shop the Spring Farmers Market at Legal Remedy Brewing every Saturday morning in May. Come early and stay for lunch when Legal Remedy opens at 11:30a.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Legal Remedy Brewing
Rock Hill, SC


Website »

More information

Dino Safari:  A Prehistoric Adventure Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era – the age of dinosaurs. See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time...

Cost: $6-$7, children under age 3 admitted free. Includes museum admission.

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6923
Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Join a Museum naturalist on the fourth Saturday of every month for an educational walk around the Paw Paw Nature Trail. Meet in the Great Hall to join the guided walk. Children under age 16...

Cost: Included with admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
1658 Sterling Rd.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

These cooking classes center around a monthly theme and occur on the first and last Saturday of the month. Your Junior chef will cook two recipes each day and learn basic kitchen skills...

Cost: $15 for members/$20 for program participants

Where:
Morrison Family YMCA
9405 Bryant Farms Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-716-4650
Website »

More information

Geared towards children ages 3 and younger, this class will focus on movement and energy release. Parent participation required.  

Cost: $6 per class

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Belmont, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-829-1294
Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Enjoy the exciting and educational Flights of the Forest show. Viewers can feel the wind from a raptor's wing it they flies overhead. Participants must be 7 or older; children 16 and...

Cost: Adults $12, Seniors $10, Students $8

Where:
Carolina Raptor Center
6000 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Raptor Center
Telephone: 704-875-6521
Contact Name: Michele Houck
Website »

More information

Live entertainment, access to racing’s brightest stars, giveaways, music and interactive displays. Each day starting at noon, vendor displays, kids’ activities, racing-related...

Cost: Free for festival; tickets to Romare Bearden Park's concerts vary per performanc

Where:
Uptown Charlotte
Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

This bar + arcade hybrid has over 20 pinball machines, 30 arcade games and other games rotating monthly. On Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5pm the bar opens up to all ages with a parent...

Where:
Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-430-4587
Website »

More information

Enjoy a variety of "nose to beak" encounters with some of the most interesting raptor species. Purchase tickets online up until 24 hours before the encounter, and in the Visitor Center up...

Cost: Adults $12, Seniors $10, Students $8

Where:
Carolina Raptor Center
6000 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Raptor Center
Telephone: 704-875-6521
Contact Name: Michele Houck
Website »

More information

Come check out Charlotte’s newest live music venue. The Music Yard is kicking off the concert season with a free Spring Concert Series every Saturday in April and May.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Music Yard
2433 South Blvd
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-912-1889
Website »

More information

BounceU knows that sometimes parents deserve a little time by themselves. Drop off your kids for a night of non-stop bouncing and games. It’s more fun and probably less expensive than hiring...

Cost: $20 per child

Where:
Bounce U, Charlotte and Matthews locations
, NC


Telephone: 704-921-8771
Website »

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Enjoy food, beverages, and live music at this weekly summer concert series.  There are additional activities like yoga or organized runs on certain nights before the show starts.

Cost: Free; $6 parking fee

Where:
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-391-3900
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Come listen to music every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Green at Promenade on Providence
corner of Providence Road and Interstate 485
, NC
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Listen to music every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer at Stonecrest Shopping Center.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stonecrest Shopping Center
7900 Rea Road
, NC
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Each Friday and Saturday, starting May 25 through September 1st, local favorites return to Blakeney Shopping Center and bring fun and music for the entire family. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Green at Blakeney
Ardrey Kell and Rea Road
, NC
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Enjoy movies under the stars and on the big screen on the last Saturday of the month (except July).  May 26: "Raiders of the Lost Ark" June 30: "Karate Kid" August 25:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Midwood Park Amphitheater
2100 Wilhelmina Ave
, NC
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The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
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This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
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This exhibit highlights selected works from the Locke collection which were either created by female artists or feature women as the subject. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
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This exhibit celebrates iconic African-American artists and reflects the lives of the owners of the collections.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
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An array of found objects with bursts of bright and dark colors form works of art that are both mesmerizing and reflective.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
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Through the lens of a camera, Frankhavemercy captures the emotions of growth, struggle and joy in his first exhibition. 

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
551 S. Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
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Come celebrate the founding of the town of Mint Hill at the 35th Mint Hill Madness, a three-day festival. The festival features live music, a carnival, an arts and crafts fair, a parade, a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park
8850 Fairview Road
Mint Hill, NC  28227
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Telephone: 704-545-2335
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This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
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Telephone: 704-636-2889
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This exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta. It contains fashions made during the span of his...

Cost: $10-$15, includes museum admission

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
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Meet remarkable live frogs from all over the world whose unique "superpowers" have adapted over time to help them survive. This exhibition uses a graphic novel approach throughout,...

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
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Creepy Nature is designed to share the actual science of weird and unusual plants and animals. This exhibit features horror fiction concepts like vampires, zombies, mummies, and alien...

Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Telephone: 704-866-6908
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Spend your holiday weekend with friends and family at the USNWC for the Memorial Day Celebration. The festivities include 5 and 8-mile trail races, yoga, as well as live music on Sunday...

Where:
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pwy.
, NC
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Kick off summer at Bass Pro Shops with family friendly activities, including workshops, crafts, and food samples. See website for schedule of activities.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
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Kick off summer at Cabela's with family friendly activities, including workshops, crafts, and food samples. See website for schedule of activities.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
1000 Cabela Dr.
Fort Mill, SC
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It’s a pollinators’ paradise this summer as Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden opens two major seasonal exhibitions that celebrate the importance, beauty and majesty of pollinators. After...

Cost: Admission for Garden members is free, $12.95 for adults

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Rd.
Belmont, NC
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Telephone: 704-829-1286
Contact Name: Stephanie Wisnet
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Discovery Place Science presents Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family, an innovative, multimedia experience showcasing never-before-seen dinosaurs in the Tyrannosaurs family tree. The...

Cost: Tickets start at $17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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GPS [Go. Play. See.]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2017 Readers' Favorites for places to play, explore and learn with the kids.
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