A Charlotte Bucket List For Kids
10 things to do in Charlotte before the kids turn 10.
1. Experience nature at the Charlotte Nature Museum
From exploring the night sky at the planetarium, to chasing a butterfly in the butterfly pavilion and exploring outside at fort wild, Discovery Place Nature is a wonderful way for little ones to experience nature.1658 Sterling Road. 704-372-6261. nature.discoveryplace.org.
2. Interact and play at ImaginOn
ImaginOn is the uptown library built for children and also home to children’s theatre of charlotte. Find a large collection of picture and children’s books on the first floor of the Spangler Library, and a special area designated for babies and toddlers that includes hands-on activities, plus a wooden truck that kids can climb on, and computer stations with lots of age-appropriate apps. There also is family storytime Monday through Friday, as well as bilingual and preschooler storytimes, and ongoing special events throughout the year. 300 E. Seventh St. 704-416-4600. imaginon.org.
3. Cool off at Romare Bearden Park
Hot day? Get drenched at the waterfall or hop in and out of the mist from a set of pipes and posts in the “Childhood Muse Plaza” at Romare Bearden Park, across the street from BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights baseball team. 300 S. Church St. 704-432-4280. charmeck.org.
4. See a production from the Children's Theatre of Charlotte
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte kicks off its 70th-anniversary season in fall 2017 with the Tony-award winning musical “Mary Poppins.” See favorite storybook characters brought to life in two theater spaces at ImaginOn. The theater company also offers performance classes and summer camps. 300 E. Seventh St. 704-973-2828. ctcharlotte.org.
5. Pretend to be a NASCAR driver at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
All ages can pretend to be NASCAR drivers at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Learn about the legends of NASCAR, feel what it’s like to drive the track banks behind the wheel of a NASCAR simulator, challenge the family with a pit crew experience in the race week exhibit and see 18 historic race cars. 400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 704-654-4400. nascarhall.com.
6. Get active at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
Purchase passes to rock climb, do some whitewater rafting, zip line or rent a kayak to float on the Catawba River at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Don’t miss the summer concert series. It’s a great place to hear live music and picnic as a family. 5000 Whitewater Parkway. 704-391-3900. usnwc.org.
7. Explore history at The Schiele Museum
See the stars, planets, galaxies and more on the dome ceiling at the James H. Lynn planetarium at The Schiele Museum of Natural History and get a glimpse of life in the Carolinas in the 18th-century at its outdoor backcountry farm and Catawba Indian exhibits, plus see dioramas of north Carolina’s natural history. 1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia. 704-866-6900. schielemuseum.org.
8. Explore Discovery Place Science
Spend the day at this life-size science lab, and you are guaranteed to learn something new at Discovery Place Science. Think it up in the “thought studio,” take engineering to a new level at Project Build, hold a sea creature, lie on a bed of nails in the Cool Stuff area, and learn about what’s around you in World Alive. It’s also home to Charlotte’s IMAX dome theatre. Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St. 704-372-6261. discoveryplace.org.
9. Have a play day at Discovery Place KIDS
Discovery Place Kids is the ultimate venue for younger kids to explore. From water tables to a real (now retired) fire truck and its “I Can” theme areas, kids can play, climb, pretend and work on those all-important fine motor skills. 105 Gilead Road, Huntersville. 704-372-6261. kids.discoveryplacekid.org.
10. Reach for the sky at the Carolinas Aviation Museum
Spread your wings and zoom over to the Carolinas Aviation Museum near Charlotte Douglas International Airport for an up-close look at civil, commercial and military aircrafts. The museum is housed in a 40,000-square-foot aircraft hangar that houses the airbus involved in the “Miracle on the Hudson” water landing. 4672 First Flight Drive, 704-997-3770, carolinasaviation.org
BONUS: Catch a thrill at Carowinds
Introduce them to the thrill of roller coasters and theme parks at Carowinds. Fury 325, the tallest and fastest giga coaster in the world, might be a bit much for little ones, but try Planet Snoopy (where rides are rated by thrill factor). Also be sure to check out the new Carolina Harbor Waterpark that opens summer 2016 and Plants Vs. Zombies intra-active 3-D game experience. I-77, Exit 90. 704-588-2600. carowinds.com.