Camp 101: What to Know Before They Go

10 real conversations to have with your child before they leave for summer camp.


Published:

Going away to summer camp for the first time is a rite of passage for your child and for you. Getting ready for this adventure together means having real conversations about what to expect.


1. Camp Choices

Start the camp conversation with your child before choosing a camp. Talk to your child about what type of camp experience he or she wants and is ready for.

Katie Johnson, executive director for the Southeast Field Office of the American Camp Association, suggests asking children what camp activities they most look forward to and use this as a guide when looking at possible camps.

Parents should also respect their children’s feelings about readiness for overnight camp, says Johnson. In addition to the many day camps that are available, overnight camps often offer mini-sessions to help children step into a full sleep-away experience.

For children who want an overnight experience but are still nervous, consider having your child attend the same camp session that close friends plan to attend, says Jen de Ridder, the director for the YMCA Camp Hanes in King. "Going to camp with a friend can be a real confidence booster, especially for the first time."

Research possible camps and narrow your choices down to two or three, says Robert Danos, the assistant director for Camp Mondamin in Tuxedo. Then, let your child make the final choice. "That can work well for a child who needs to ‘buy in’ to the idea," he says.


2. Talk up the fun

Once you choose a camp and register your child, prepare him or her for the experience by first stoking the excitement. Build confidence by focusing on the fun things their children will be doing at camp.

Keep a positive tone. "Talk about the friends they will make, the skills they will develop, and even share some of our own positive camp experiences," says Brian Hollingsworth, director of Oak Hill in Oxford.

He cautions parents, however, to pace themselves. "You don’t want to overload them with information or too many expectations," he says. "Just keep the topic fresh and alive over time."


3. Daily Routines

Parents should carefully review handbooks and other information the camp sends so they can pass along relevant and accurate information to their children about day-to-day life at camp, says Johnson.

She suggests discussing how the camp routine will differ from home. "Gradually introduce this information during daily routines." 

Explain tasks such as making beds, packing trunks and tidying up, and how all of these things are important in a shared space. Also discuss bathroom procedures such as what items your child should take to the bathhouse and what to do if she needs to go to the bathroom at night.

Meals at camp are often served family style with everyone sitting down around the table and pitching in to clean up. During meals at home, prepare the kids for camp eating by emphasizing healthy food choices, table manners and cleaning up after oneself.


4.  Medical Procedure

If your child takes daily medication, be sure to discuss this with the camp director and staff in advance, and prepare your child for the camp’s medication procedure. Also find out what your child should do if he or she is not feeling well.


5.  Lights out

Once the flurry of daily activities is over and the fire dies down, lights out can be the most difficult time for children while at camp. Visit the camp beforehand to familiarize your child with sleeping quarters. Also give your child strategies for falling asleep such as relaxing by deep breathing or visualizing themselves in a favorite spot.

Many city children go to camp unprepared for the total darkness of no streetlights. Tell them about this but allay fears by buying a special camp flashlight and practice using it in the dark. Prepare your child as well for the symphony of insect sounds that can be heard on a country night.


6. Making Friends

Give children behavioral guidelines about how they should treat others and be a friend to their camp mates, says Hollingsworth. "Relationships are the heart of every camp experience."

He also advises talking with your child about the strengths and abilities they bring to the group. "They can make the camp experience even better through their actions, gifts and talents," he says.

Parents should also prepare their children for the diversity they are likely to experience at camp. "They will need to learn to get along with a wide variety of people," says de Ridder. Teach them to make new friends by asking about others interests and being a good listener. Friends made at camp are often friends for life.


7. The Great Outdoors

Much of the fun of summer camp involves being outside. Teach your child to protect herself from the elements.

Sunscreen is a must. Come up with a plan for when and how to apply it. Your child will want to ask a friend or counselor to help cover unreachable spots. Some children, especially boys, object to having others touch them to apply sunscreen. If you know this will be a problem for your child, send spray sunscreen, which is worth the extra expense to prevent a painful burn.

Also make sure children have basic outdoor training. Point out or show pictures of poisonous plants such as poison ivy and poison oak and teach the rhyme, "leaves of three, let it be."  And to avoid getting lost on outings, emphasize the importance of staying with the group.


8. Pining for Home

Most children who go away to camp feel homesick at some point. Don’t dwell on it, but let your child know what homesickness feels like. Explain that they may feel lonely or even have a stomach ache. Let your child know it’s normal.

Being homesick is a good sign, says de Ridder. "That just means you love your family and love your life." 

Reassure your child that as they get involved in camp activities, these feelings will pass.

Parents should understand how their child’s camp handles homesickness. Once you know that procedure, you can tell your child what to do if these feelings become a problem.

Danos warns parents not to give their child an "out’’ after some artificial number of days if he is still missing home. "It is key for parents to let their child know that they are committed to the full session," he says.


9. Checking in

Promise to write to your child at camp and follow through, but don’t promise more communication than the camp allows. Some parents sometimes have trouble accepting not being able to communicate with their children more, and send cell phones or expect daily email communication. De Ridder believes parents should embrace the independence fostered by the camp experience and not create unrealistic expectations for their children.

"Tell your child how excited you are about all the fun they will have and that you want to hear all about it when they get home."


10. Open Communication

Listen to what your child has to say about their summer camp hopes and fears. Encourage excitement and talk through concerns.

Let campers personally email or call camp directors with any questions, which helps the child start to take responsibility for the camp experience, suggests Danos.

It is also important to attend tours and any open houses offered by the camp your child will attend. Doing so will give you both a better context for discussing the upcoming camp experience.

"Visiting ahead of time allows children to see the cabins and learn where the bath house is. That way parents and children have a visual," says Johnson.

Talking to your child about going away to camp will help to prepare you as well. Parents often have mixed feelings about their children leaving the nest. Emphasize the positive to your children, and know that you are giving our child a wonderful experience full of fun, new friends and opportunities to learn self-reliance.


Jan Wharton is a freelance writer and mother of three from Winston-Salem.

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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-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Families are invited to an afternoon of code on Tuesdays during this free four-week Family Code Program. Each class builds on the previous week. Bring a laptop or Chromebook. Tues., November 6:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Advent Coworking
933 Louise Ave.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Tech Talent South
Website »

More information

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

The Happy Hearts Girls program is designed to provide girls the opportunity to express themselves, gain an experience on a variety of different activities and assist in their developmental growth...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hickory Grove Recreation Center
6709 Pence Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1122
Website »

More information

Get one free child ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket on Tuesdays. Each additional child (ages 3-12) receives a discount as well, costing only $5 each. 

Cost: $15 for adult

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


Telephone: 866-229-1573
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

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
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Particpants will enjoy many different activities, such as arts and crafts, nature hikes, science, sports and more while out of school for the day.

Cost: $15

Where:
Bette Rae Thomas Recreation Center
2921 Tuckaseegee Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1111
Website »

More information

Thanksgiving is almost here! Come make mac and cheese, crescent roll-ups, green bean casserole, and mini pumpkin pies. Participants can also make fun arts and crafts.

Cost: $84

Where:
Flour Power Kids Cooking Studio
9826 Sandy Rock Place
Suite E
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-6069
Website »

More information

Children will participate in a variety of activities, such as arts and crafts, sports and games while CMS schools are out of session.

Cost: Free

Where:
Arbor Glen Outreach Center
1520 Clanton Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1110
Website »

More information

Let the kids come play the day away! Kids will play a variety of games and sports, explore arts and crafts, and adventure to the playground and gym.

Cost: $25

Where:
Berewick Recreation Center
5910 Dixie River Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1102
Website »

More information

Come and join the staff at Tom Sykes to spend the day playing games, doing arts and crafts and just having fun. Field trips, which are included in price, may occur during this event.

Cost: $30

Where:
Tom Sykes Recreation Center
1501 Euclid Ave.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Develop literacy and critical thinking skills through reading and hands-on activities. Join us for our special outdoor scavenger hunt where participants will look around the exterior of the library...

Cost: Free

Where:
Myers Park Library
1361 Queens Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-5800
Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Certified technicians will check and help families install carseats. No appointment necessary. Bring your vehicle, seat and if possible the child for the most assistance. 

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

A technician will help you learn how to install your seat correctly in your vehicle. Bring your child, seat, and vehicle and plan to spend at least 20 minutes. No appointment required.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Freedom Division office of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police
4150 Wilkinson Blvd
, NC
View map »


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

This drop off program for children presents an engineering challenge based on a popular nursery rhyme. After their engineering challenge, participants meet the animals and participate in humane...

Cost: $20

Where:
Rescue Ranch
1424 Turnersburg Hwy.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Play time is for children just starting to walk through age 5 who are not yet in...

Cost: $3-$5

Where:
Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading
11011 Monroe Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-8611
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-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Certified technicians will check and help families install car seats. No appointment necessary. Bring your vehicle, seat and if possible the child for the most assistance. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Huntersville Fire Station 1
110 S. Old Statesville Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


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

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

Instructors will provide assistance to students in grades K-12 in reading and math. The instructions will be primarily facilitated by NC Educator licensed teachers.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Revolution Park Sports Academy
1225 Remount Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Revolution Park Sports Academy

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
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

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
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Purchase a ticket for Breakfast with Santa at Coco and the Director, and receive a VIP Bleacher Ticket to the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. Breakfast in Coco includes choice of a...

Cost: $30

Where:
Coco and the Director
100 W. Trade St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a four-mile run, walk or trot throughout the streets of MillBridge. All proceeds will benefit Relay for Life. Children ages 10 and younger can run in the Kids’ Turkey Dash across...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
MillBridge Neighborhood
Waxhaw, NC


Website »

More information

The University City Turkey Trot includes a 5K and Fun Run. Costumes are encouraged! Prizes will be awarded for the top three age category winners of the race and for the top three costumes.

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
3024 Prosperity Church Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Do not miss the 30th Annual Southpark Turkey Trot! This family-friendly event features a Fun Run, 8K run, 5K run and Tot Trot.

Cost: $10-$45

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover a world of science through books, hands-on educational activities and experiments.

Cost: Free

Where:
Beatties Ford Road Regional Library
2412 Beatties Ford Road
, 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

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

Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. Let your little ones to discover the joy of being active while bouncing under the supervision of their parents and without...

Cost: $8

Where:
Sky Zone
10200 Centrum Pkwy.
Pineville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Big Air Trampoline Park opens its doors for little ones to jump at their own speed and comfort level. Without the older kids around, the toddlers feel right at home on all the attractions. Big...

Cost: $8

Where:
Big Air Trampoline Park
2408 Sardis Road N.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Play time is for children just starting to walk through age 5 who are not yet in...

Cost: $3-$5

Where:
Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading
11011 Monroe Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-8611
Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

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


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-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
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

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
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Look, See the Bird!" is a hand-drawn, beautifully illustrated children's book that promotes curiosity in children and values connection with nature.

Cost: Included with admission, $8-$12 and free for children 3 and younger

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


Sponsor: Carolina Raptor Center
Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Instead of spending the day in crowded shops, come learn tips and tricks for fire building to keep warm all winter. Roast marshmallows, bring a picnic or snacks, and enjoy activities. Meet at the...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 980-314-1129

More information

Feeling a little stuffed? Take a 2-3 mile leisure hike through McDowell Nature Preserve. Discover our native flora and fauna along the way. Preregistration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
McDowell Nature Preserve
15222 York Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience new features, including a musically-orchestrated topiary display in the Four Seasons Garden, illuminated prairie garden, extended lights of fire and ice in the perennial gardens and an...

Cost: $8-$17, children younger than 2 free

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Gastonia, 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

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

This annual exhibit fills Kings Mountain Historical Museum with model train displays, as well as railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted!

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 E. Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Step into an 1860s Christmas as you stroll through the plantation house, grounds, and outbuildings. Live Christmas music and local artisans with items for sale will be in the carriage barn. Stay...

Cost: $9-$10; children 5 and younger free

Where:
Historic Latta Plantation
5225 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-875-2312
Website »

More information

Stretch out your wiggles at children's yoga story time, hosted by yoga instructor, Stefanie Ezratty from Bellies and Blooms. She will instruct kids on some basic yoga positions that go along...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble - Birkdale Village
8725 Townley Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Play time is for children just starting to walk through age 5 who are not yet in...

Cost: $3-$5

Where:
Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading
11011 Monroe Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-8611
Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

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


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-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
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

Enjoy the wonder of the park dazzlingly lit for the holidays, with a nighttime train and more. Advance tickets required.

Cost: $38

Where:
Tweetsie Railroad
300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln.
Blowing Rock, NC  28605
View map »


Sponsor: Tweetsie Railroad
Website »

More information

Carowinds comes alive with holiday spirit during WinterFest. Friends and family are treated to an ultimate holiday celebration as the park magically transforms into a winter wonderland - full of...

Cost: $26-$47

Where:
Carowinds
300 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Spend the evening socializing, playing games and participating in friendly competition, all while having a great time with peers!

Cost: Free

Where:
Southview Recreation Center
1720 Vilma St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1105
Website »

More information

The Southpark Mall Microsoft store will be hosting a free ASUS ROG Arena: Fortnite Fridays Tournament! All skill levels are welcome.

Cost: Free

Where:
Microsoft
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Microsoft
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

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

"Home Alone" is a quintessential holiday favorite. The whole family will delight in John Williams' beloved score performed live, while the full-length film is projected on a big...

Cost: $29+

Where:
Belk Theater
130 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Charlotte Symphony
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Take the train to the North Pole to meet Santa with a live reading of the story, "The Polar Express," complete with songs from the movie. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served....

Cost: $32+

Where:
North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes, and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $9.50-$37

Where:
The NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy. 51 N.
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-802-2300
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

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
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

This hilarious and heartfelt holiday comedy, adapted from Barbara Robinson’s classic story, will have your family laughing and crying. In this production, Children’s Theatre of...

Cost: $19+

Where:
McColl Family Theater
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Graham cracker houses will already be formed, so all participants have to do is decorate! SAS Cupcakes will also be reading a fun story!

Cost: $9 per child; parents free

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


Telephone: 704-295-1777
Website »

More information

More than 150 artists and crafters from the Charlotte region will offer handmade goods at the Winter Wonderland Craft Fair. Shop for pottery, jewelry, quilts, handbags, children’s clothing,...

Cost: $5 for nonmembers, children under 14 free, $5 special event parking fee

Where:
Anne Springs Close Greenway
288 Dairy Barn Ln.
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Run, run, run as fast as you can to this hands-on holiday workshop where you and your child can assemble a gingerbread picture frame that doubles as a Christmas ornament. All kids get to keep...

Cost: Free

Where:
Home Depot locations
, NC


Website »

More information

Ray Evernham’s sixth annual AmeriCarna Live car show presented by Ingersoll Rand and MSC Industrial Supply Co. is something car lovers will not want to miss!

Cost: $5; children younger than 10 free

Where:
Ingersoll Rand
800 Beaty St.
Davidson, NC  28036
View map »


Website »

More information

Being involved in the community is a great way to make connections and build your leadership skills. Work with the Odd Sock organization to provide socks to needy families.

Cost: Free

Where:
Scaleybark Library
101 Scaleybark Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-6400
Website »

More information

Shop with Santa to Benefit Charlotte Black Dogs! Enjoy free Santa photos, gift wrapping, in-store specials and a silent auction.

Cost: Free

Where:
Pet in the City
9600 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Charlotte Black Dogs
Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Mooresville author, Marnie Schneider, for a book signing and ice cream event benefiting the Ronald McDonald House! With the purchase of "Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog: Gameday in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Two Scoops Creamery
119 Landings Dr.
Suite 104
Mooresville, NC  28117
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn the survival skill of shelter building with your family! Work together with a McDowell Naturalist, using materials found in the woods to build a sturdy, weather-resistant fort....

Cost: Free

Where:
McDowell Nature Preserve
15222 S. York Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Stop by for refreshments, the annual tree lighting, choir and dance performances, holiday crafts, carriage rides, vendors and a visit from Santa. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cornelius Town Hall
21445 Catawba Ave.
Cornelius, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The NASCAR Hall of Fame brings the holiday season to light with the fourth annual tree lighting on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza in Uptown Charlotte. The community is invited to join Santa Claus,...

Cost: Free

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience new features, including a musically-orchestrated topiary display in the Four Seasons Garden, illuminated prairie garden, extended lights of fire and ice in the perennial gardens and an...

Cost: $8-$17, children younger than 2 free

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


Website »

More information

Join the hotel to light a magnificent tree in the lobby while enjoying caroling, hot chocolate, cider and cookies and visiting with Santa.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Ballantyne
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate the start of the holiday season with live music, entertainment, kids activities, fireworks and the Winterland Express and Carousel.

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. St.
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

Celebrate the kick off of ChristmasTown USA with a festive 5K under the lights.The light show officially begins Nov. 30, but race participants get a sneak peek of the holiday display!

Cost: $30

Where:
Pharr Family YMCA
208 Main St.
McAdenville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Ovens Auditorium will host world famous a cappella group Straight No Chaser for their "One Shot Tour."

Cost: Tickets starting at $39.50

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2700 E. Independence Blvd.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. Let your little ones to discover the joy of being active while bouncing under the supervision of their parents and without...

Cost: $8

Where:
Sky Zone
10200 Centrum Pkwy.
Pineville, NC
View map »


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

This annual exhibit fills Kings Mountain Historical Museum with model train displays, as well as railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted!

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 E. Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Step into an 1860s Christmas as you stroll through the plantation house, grounds, and outbuildings. Live Christmas music and local artisans with items for sale will be in the carriage barn. Stay...

Cost: $9-$10; children 5 and younger free

Where:
Historic Latta Plantation
5225 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-875-2312
Website »

More information

Join one of our naturalists on the fourth Saturday of each month for a stroll around Discovery Place Nature’s Paw Paw Nature Trail. Meet in the Great Hall.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

Where:
Discovery Place - Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
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

Music and Movement activities for ages one, two and three! All ages are welcome to attend, and infants receive free admission. Come jam to stories and songs!

Cost: $2 per child

Where:
UWI- Kidz Greenhouse Cafe
5237 Albemarle Road
Suites 211-213
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: United World Initiative's
Website »

More information

This ongoing nature program features a tour, demonstration or activity designed to inspire children and adults to explore the natural world of the Carolina Piedmont.

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the wonder of the park dazzlingly lit for the holidays, with a nighttime train and more. Advance tickets required.

Cost: $38

Where:
Tweetsie Railroad
300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln.
Blowing Rock, NC  28605
View map »


Sponsor: Tweetsie Railroad
Website »

More information

Carowinds comes alive with holiday spirit during WinterFest. Friends and family are treated to an ultimate holiday celebration as the park magically transforms into a winter wonderland - full of...

Cost: $26-$47

Where:
Carowinds
300 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Stroll through the park or take a ride on the Winterland Express to see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. Additional activities will take place each night, such as Santa visits, marshmallow...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. Street
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

Instructors will provide assistance to students in grades K-12 in reading and math. The instructions will be primarily facilitated by NC Educator licensed teachers.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Revolution Park Sports Academy
1225 Remount Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Revolution Park Sports Academy

More information

"Home Alone" is a quintessential holiday favorite. The whole family will delight in John Williams' beloved score performed live, while the full-length film is projected on a big...

Cost: $29+

Where:
Belk Theater
130 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Charlotte Symphony
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Take the train to the North Pole to meet Santa with a live reading of the story, "The Polar Express," complete with songs from the movie. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served....

Cost: $32+

Where:
North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes, and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $9.50-$37

Where:
The NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy. 51 N.
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-802-2300
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

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
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

This hilarious and heartfelt holiday comedy, adapted from Barbara Robinson’s classic story, will have your family laughing and crying. In this production, Children’s Theatre of...

Cost: $19+

Where:
McColl Family Theater
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

Cost: $5-$9, Children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Come get in the holiday spirit with the performance of the renowned Nutcracker Ballet!

Cost: $5-$7

Where:
Matthews Community Center
100 E. W. McDowell St.
Matthews, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Matthews Ballet and Dance
Telephone: 704-321-7275
Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Directories

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Annual Guides

G.P.S. [Go.Play.See]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2018 Readers' Favorites for places to play, explore and learn with the kids.

Education Guide

A comprehensive guide to independent, private, charter and public schools in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York counties.
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