2017 Readers' Favorites: Family Outings
Animal Attraction + Easter Egg Hunt: Lazy 5 Ranch
Go on your own drive-through safari or join in a group wagon ride. Buy a bucket of feed to share with the emus, llamas, Watusi cows, zebras and giraffes. The annual Easter Eggstravaganza provides egg drops for different ages of kids, plus a chance to meet live bunnies, join in a scavenger hunt and play other games. Cash only. 15100 Mooresville Road, Mooresville. lazy5ranch.com.
Children’s Museum + Rainy Day Outing: Discovery Place Science
Three floors of interactive spaces, including an IMAX theatre, tropical rain forest and aquarium make for hours of entertainment and engagement. From the Thinker Lab and touch tank with different live aquatic species, and the collection of “cool stuff” like the vacuum-powered Air Chair and bed of nails, there’s hours of educational fun to be had here. 301 N. Tryon St., Charlotte. discoveryplace.org.
Daddy/Son Outing: Victory Lane Karting
Have a blast on indoor and outdoor kart tracks, plus racing classes for beginner through advanced drivers. 2330 Tipton Drive, Charlotte. victorylanekarting.com.
Day Trip: Riverbanks Zoo
There’s much to do at this zoo, about 1-1/2 hours from Charlotte. Along with plenty of animals to see, including koala bears, giraffes and elephants, enjoy a carousel, pony and train rides, rock wall and vertical-ropes challenge. 500 Wildlife Pkwy., Columbia, SC, riverbanks.org.
Family Sporting Event: Charlotte Knights Baseball
Charlotte Knights Baseball is more than just baseball. In addition to the action on the field, there is the Kid’s Zone with a giant Home the Dragon (the team mascot) inflatable play area, specially themed game days and Friday night fireworks. BB&T Ballpark, 324 S. Mint St., charlotteknights.com.
Greenway — TIE: Little Sugar Creek Greenway and Anne Springs Close Greenway
Little Sugar Creek Greenway spans 4 miles and connects Freedom Park, Discovery Place Nature, Metropolitan and Central Piedmont Community College. Hop on at any multiple locations, including Freedom Park, Metropolitan or behind Park Road Shopping Center, Charlotte.
Anne Springs Close Greenway is a 2,100-acre nature preserve with 40 miles of trails and a swinging bridge. In addition to hiking, they host classes for kids, horseback riding and biking. Find a Lake Haigler Nature Walk map online. 1604 Highway 21 Bypass, Fort Mill. ascgreenway.org.
Kid-Friendly Festival: Matthews Alive
Festival-goers unite in downtown Matthews each Labor Day Weekend for food, Midway rides, arts and crafts, and live entertainment. Downtown Matthews. matthewsalive.org.
Live Theater for Kids: Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
In its 70th year, the professional production company produces a season of on-stage performances appropriate for kids of all ages. Children’s Theatre of Charlotte also hosts annual summer camps and theater classes for the youngest aspiring actors. ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center, 300 E. 7th St., Charlotte. ctcharlotte.org.
Mommy/Daughter Outing: Ballantyne Nail Spa
Pamper yourselves with a mani/pedi in a spa atmosphere at this popular nail spot. Multiple locations in South Charlotte. ballantynenailspa.com.
Place to Jump: Sky High
Let them burn out their energy with an indoor high-ropes course, dodgeball court, foam pit and rope swing, trampolines, Fort 485 Laser Tag and arcade, while you enjoy free Wi-Fi in a comfy seating area with televisions. 601 N. Polk St., Charlotte. clt.skyhighsports.com.
Place to Splash: Ray’s Splash Planet
Head to Ray’s Splash Planet for year-round fun with a three-story high waterslide, lazy river, plus annual events like Swim with Santa and the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt. Admission is $6-$8 for Mecklenburg County residents, and they can host birthday parties. 215 N. Sycamore St., Charlotte. rayssplashplanet.com.
Place to Take Out-of-Town Visitors: U.S. National Whitewater Center
Whether you want to go all in with land and water activities or relax at the riverside restaurant, this center located 20 minutes from uptown Charlotte has options for all adventure levels and budgets. 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte. usncw.org.
Place to Throw a Fishing Line: Lake Norman
Spanning the towns of Huntersville, Mooresville, Cornelius and Troutman, there are plenty of places to kick back and try your hand at fishing. Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius and Lake Norman State Park each have lake-front areas for recreational activities. visitlakenorman.org.
Playground/Park: Freedom Park
Ride bikes, take a walk, climb on the equipment or soar through the air on the swings, and try the Play60 KidZone obstacle course at this 7-acre park. 1900 East Blvd., Charlotte. charmeck.org.
See other Readers' Favorites winners here.