Inspiring Healthy Living in Special Needs Families


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I felt out of place chatting with moms on a playground at a museum in Denver, Colorado. It was 2013, and we had just temporarily moved out West for my husband's job. I was still reeling from my son Andrew's autism diagnosis that week. I had just reached into my bag for Goldfish when the mom next to me pulled out bananas and sliced green peppers. At the time, a banana and raw peppers seemed like a strange snack to me. I had never packed a whole food for a snack. I never remember whole fruits or vegetables in my own lunch box growing up. 

I grew up in the 1980s in a rural area where a typical packed lunch was a diet soda, a bologna sandwich, a pack of "nabs" crackers and a a Little Debbie cake. Sitting at the museum that day, I was carrying an excess of 250 pounds on my 5-feet-1-inch frame. I had high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and at times, needed a wheelchair.

When I moved to Colorado, I was struck by how healthy the vast majority of people around me seemed. Moms actively climbed alongside kids on the equipment, while I stayed lonely on the bench. I was usually the heaviest woman of those around me. I remember a conversation about my son's recent diagnosis with one mother at the zoo who was eyeing me while I crunched on Doritos and M&Ms.

"Have you thought about going gluten free? Because, I feel like that has helped my daughter's Tourette's. She hasn't had an outburst in two years. I got rid of all gluten and processed food." She went on to explain that she milled her own grain for bread and homeschooled her five children. I thought she was pushy! 

But, if I had to be really honest with myself, those homemade granola bites that mama had offered me were delicious and I was intrigued by her story. Later, in the bathroom, my son was practically clawing at my eyeballs to get out because there was an accelerator hand dryer, and my tears welled up and poured. It had been so hard to walk the inclines of that mountainside zoo in the baking hot sun. I was out of breath, my feet were swollen and my head was swimming with fears over my son's new diagnosis. I didn't understand what occupational therapy was, or gluten for that matter. I didn't know why my child would lay on the sidewalk, refusing to walk through a door if someone was holding it open or bawl for an hour if we took the "wrong street" home. Why did he spin circles in loud restaurants? Why did he walk straight up to kids and spout facts about train model numbers and their corresponding connecting rods instead of just saying hi?

What I did know, is that I was going to have to change much about our lifestyle, including our eating habits. I could feel it. I knew I needed to change, for myself and for my son. At the time, I just didn't know how yet.

Fast Forward

Six years later and my husband, Keith, and I have each lost more than 100 pounds. At last check, my blood pressure was lower than my preschooler's. I have become a certified personal trainer and a certified health coach. I eat a completely plant-based, gluten-free diet and I wouldn't have it any other way. Women and their families that have many different ways of eating come to me for help with healthy-habit formation. Despite our healthy changes, my husband and I still struggle at times to motivate our sons (and ourselves) to choose healthy foods, but we are always open to learning new skills. 

I have one very picky eater, but, surprise, it's not my autistic kid! Andrew's little brother, Jacob, is 4. Jacob has two rare disorders: Hemophilia Factor VIII deficiency, a bleeding disorder; and Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Syndrome, a disorder that affects the eye and jaw when eating and drinking. He also suffered kidney failure from Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which was caused by the e.Coli strain 0157:H7. Jacob knows that it was beef that likely caused his nearly fatal illness and that food sensitivities potentially cause some of his ongoing symptoms. He also contracted e.Coli two summers in a row; the last one coinciding perfectly with a major beef recall. This is a long story for another post, suffice it to say, we are concerned about food for many different reasons. Partly because of his medical history, Jacob falls more in line with a typical 4-year-old, in love with broccoli one day and spitting it out the next.

On the other hand, Andrew has developed a mature and adventurous palate to which I credit our parallel growth through various therapies. Andrew is now 9 and has since been dual diagnosed with ADD like his dad. Through my own therapy, I learned that I, too, have Asperger's syndrome, which I should have known from having been diagnosed with synesthesia, a neurological condition associated with autism, as a young adult. 

The journey to get healthy and manage all of our sensory and medical issues has caused my family to be vigilant regarding food and movement. After all, it's through diet and exercise that each person in my family manages our individual conditions and symptoms, from pain and inflammation, to autism-induced constipation, from attention deficits and sensory overload, to addictions and mental health factors. Through hundreds of hours of therapy for each of us in various modalities, training in positive-parenting techniques, trauma recovery and many growing pains, my family has transitioned from a fixed mindset on health to a growth one. We are in a constant state of learning flux and feel called to share what has worked for us. Here are just a few unconventional healthy pathways that may help other families.

Don't Stop Eating Out

My husband used to travel for work, so I challenged myself, whenever possible and within budget, to expose Andrew to "fancier" or even exotic restaurants. Waiters were sometimes nervous to see a stroller or small child coming, but we came anyway. Nicer restaurants had the benefit of being quiet, which gave me a chance to focus on connecting with Andrew and practicing social skills. Rarely did they have hand dryers and never toys or screens, so it was less distracting for us.

I never will forget dining in a fine restaurant with a friend and her children shortly after moving to Charlotte. We had waltzed in dirty, sweaty and smelling like animal feed from a hot day spent at Lazy 5 Ranch. We were obviously out of place in our play clothes. The children may have hidden under the table a time or two, but we were able to expose them to new, fresh-from-the-farm vegetables they would've pushed away at home. It is still one of my most memorable meals. 

The atmosphere in nicer restaurants encourages children to act differently. Jacob may attempt to climb the walls, but if I never take him, he will never learn to sit at the table. Slower paced dining restaurants also encourage slower eating, which is excellent for digestion. When we chew until no lumps remain, this increases blood flow to the stomach and gut and also assists with metabolism. Eating slowly also enables us to pay attention to our hunger cues, of which most special needs children require specific, demonstrated awareness.

Many children on the spectrum have a disconnection of body and mind, or a feeling of being lost in space. I recognize that feeling from my childhood now that I understand I have autism, and it played a role in my previous obesity. I never thought of food as affecting me internally, or externally for that matter. Being mindful during eating helps us connect to what the food is doing within the body, as well as gives us time to think and plan for how it will affect our skin, eyes, face, etc. Will this food make us feel puffy? Will it give us energizing fuel or will it slow us down? How does this food impact my functioning?

Slowing down and savoring our food helps us calm the nervous system, prevent cortisol build up and discourages fight or flight, which is conducive to introducing kids to healthy foods. To encourage Jacob to learn to sit at the table until we have completed a meal, I give him the task of blowing out a candle in the middle of the table when we are done. This has helped him sit for longer at the table, and my oldest gets to have "moon lighting" as he calls the soothing glow.

For those of us on the spectrum or in the special-needs community with misophonia, being in a quieter space allows us to focus on reading facial expressions where needed and keep from going into sensory tunnel vision. There are so many benefits to a low-sensory eating atmosphere. That doesn't, however, mean we shouldn't have to be introduced to loud, bustling environments. It's important to be able to adapt to any environment. Avoiding non-preferred environments strengthens our preference and worsens apprehension. Dr. Carol Armstrong of Cornelius, North Carolina puts it well: "With each time you practice something, your brain becomes faster and better at it." What we practice now is what we are becoming, and this applies so perfectly to eating. 

Get Flexible with Screens

One of our biggest problems with unhealthy eating was the television. I realized we would lounge in front of it, zone out and munch mindlessly. So when I decided to get healthy, I moved the television out of the house and into my husband's office above the garage. I reasoned we could still have the occasional movie night with popcorn; the TV just wouldn't be where we could see it from our kitchen. We also claimed more space to exercise in the living room and we replaced TV with this new nightly hobby. This was not a popular decision in my home. Andrew had many meltdowns on this for months, but I persisted.

We eventually learned new ways to get Andrew to engage with us at the table. We told stories, prayed together and strengthened our connection. We used conversation prompts. We also learned to identify true hunger this way, which is something we have to continually relearn and practice as life gets ever busier and more stressful. I credit this time without television as one of the major contributors to our new health as a family. If you cannot move it out of the house, just hide the remote until you build that basic skeleton of what life is like without it. 

Now, the TV is back in the main house and we are more flexible now that the children are older. We still try to leave our phones and iPads off the table. One thing we tried for a time of transition, which worked well, was a rule of snacking in front of the TV being reserved only for fresh fruits and vegetables — no simple carbohydrates. I also learned that TV time is a great time to get my kiddos to guzzle water, because they do it mindlessly. 

Give Yourself Permission to Go "Low and Slow"

I remind myself daily of this wise advice given to me years ago by our wonderful pediatrician. Normal tasks, including meals, would take longer and be more intense. I would need to plan more time for meals and expect to deal with sensory issues, perseveration (ruminating on a posted rule, for example) and meltdowns. 

Andrew was prescribed a therapeutic sensory diet, including Wilbarger protocol brushing and massage. I would just need to "breathe through" my day, learning ways to increase my own patience with the dichotomy of his slower body pacing and lightning fast speech. You see, instead of the delay and regressions of speech that is typically accompanied with kids on the spectrum, Andrew experienced a delay and regressions of his motor skills. Along with his Asperger's, I was told that my son had low muscle tone, or hypotonia, and, though he was over three years old at the time of his diagnosis, had the motor skills of an eighteen month old baby. At the time of diagnosis, he had actually regressed to fisting his food like an infant, whereas just before his third birthday, he was using a knife and fork. However, his speech was that of a 12-year-old and had been advanced since he was less than 1. This asynchronous development made daily tasks, like just getting dressed or potty training, seem impossible.

Because of my Asperger's, I was forced to manage my own sensory symptoms at a time when I was trying to help Andrew navigate his own. I found that my diet markedly increased or decreased my symptoms. Gluten and sugar affected my mood, inflammation and sensitivity to noise and light. Caffeine affected my obsessive compulsive tendencies. Lack of citrus and protein affected my iron and level of fatigue. Lack of complex carbohydrates affected my tryptophan and therefore, my depressive tendencies. Certain food and medicines worsened my rigidity and black and white thinking.  Exercise made me more flexible in my body and mind. I learned that eating gluten and sugar would actually physically cause my brain to swell, along with everything else in my body. 

This was a life-changing analysis through self experiment that trickled to Andrew, then to the rest of my family. I become deeply interested in food and its function in the body. I actually never understood what it was like to be without daily severe sensory issues for the first 35 years of my life. They were so common, I thought they were symptoms of my physical diseases. What I hadn't known is that it was a lack of exercise and food that had actually triggered some of my diseases to begin with. After I changed my eating habits slightly, my RSD calmed. Going plant based almost eliminated it. Over time, my husband and I learned to release the intense feelings we felt, like guilt and overwhelm, in healthy ways, so that the atmosphere of the home was calm and conducive to other healthy habits. 

Don't Make it Too Easy

To this day, the best advice I have received about encouraging healthy habits came from my child's diagnosing doctor in Colorado. She said it would fly in the face of most of the popular advice I would hear about autism, and it sure did! "Never keep anything the same. Don't make it easy for Andrew," she said. As I formed groups, connected with professionals and read literature on autism, the message of strict consistency was so loud, but when we moved to North Carolina, his amazing play therapist echoed his diagnosing doctor, saying, "If he wants a spoon, give him a fork. Let him figure it out." So my theme became: "The world can't adapt to my son. He will have to adapt to the world.

I credit this methodology with Andrew's advanced fluid reasoning skills. His fluid intelligence is strong, because he is used to critically think to solve problems. 
There are so many other methods I have used to encourage our children to adopt healthy habits, from using apps to story prompts, to drumming up a series of extemporaneous ongoing stories like "Penguin Man" and "Cooking Train" to tracking down and purchasing specific postural supports for the table and restroom. We began using whole-plant concentrates, and enrolled the kids in karate and Cub Scouts.

Keith and I get the kids involved in cooking, let them decide their own recipes and meal plans, and use fun subscription services like Little Passports to spark their imaginations. We hold our breath (and sometimes our noses) and give up our need for cleanliness to allow them control and independence in the kitchen. We never give up on introducing more vegetables and fruits into their diets. We are always striving for progress, not perfection, and we still eat fast food, but I now pack bananas and peppers for lunch and make my own vegan, gluten-free snack cakes. ;)

If you would like to begin a journey to health with your family with special needs, know that you are not alone. E-mail me at jama@jamafleming.com.

Jama Fleming, M.B.A., C.P.T., C.H.C. is the owner of a private practice that specializes in helping women and their families find freedom around food. She is a graduate of King University and has resided in Charlotte for six years. She serves in her spare time on the boards of several local organizations and is active at her church. Follow her on Instagram or Facebook.

For support and to make more connections within the Charlotte area, consider joining this private Facebook group Special Friends Connection - Charlotte Area.

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January 2020

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord is ringing in the New Year with its third annual Healthcare Professionals Appreciation Month! Healthcare Professionals will receive free admission and 50 percent off for...

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Poisoned Dwarf will perform Celtic music. Arrive early for the young artists performance at 2:20pm.  The concert will be followed by a “meet the artist” reception.

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Carolina Raptor Center
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This exhibition spotlights 50 original works by Maurice Sendak, who is most widely recognized for "Where the Wild Things Are." The exhibition will be on display at the Main Branch of the...

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Is it possible that an asteroid collided with the Earth and wiped-out the dinosaurs? Shows are daily at 1 and 3pm.

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SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord is ringing in the New Year with its third annual Healthcare Professionals Appreciation Month! Healthcare Professionals will receive free admission and 50 percent off for...

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SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium
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Levine Museum of the New South
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The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
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Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

Cost: $5 per nonmember

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Goldfish Swim School
13403 S. Ridge Drive
, NC
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Enjoy a musically-inspired story time featuring musical and movement based activities with exposure to live instruments.

Cost: Free

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Barnes and Noble: Birkdale Village
8725 Townley Road
Huntersville, NC
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Visit the Town Hall Stage at 11:15 a.m. for a special story and activities to celebrate this hero.

Cost: $11, included in admission, free for children younger than 1

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Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville
105 Gilead Road
Huntersville, NC
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Cost: $25

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American Girl Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
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Watch the Charlotte Hornets take on the Orlando Magic.

Cost: $10+

Where:
Spectrum Center
333 E. Trade St.
, NC
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Explore rare and extremely devastating volcanic eruptions, and discover the impact of gigantic volcanic episodes around the Solar System. Dive into the super volcano now gathering force beneath...

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Website »

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Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

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DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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Play a variety of games and sports, create art and adventure to the playground. Bring a bagged lunch.

Cost: $25

Where:
Berewick Recreation Center
5910 Dixie River Road
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Let your little one jump for less during toddler time!

Cost: $12 per adult and child pair

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Adventure Air Sports
2375 Cherry Road
Suite 101
Rock Hill, SC
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Children gain exposure to life skills by utilizing theatre and art activities. Classes occur on Mondays, but there will be no classes on January 20 or February 17.

Cost: Free

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Tuckaseegee Recreation Center
4820 Tuskaseegee Road
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Sponsor: Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
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George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
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Young children can jump at a discounted rate Monday through Friday, and for an additional $2, parents can jump too. All jumpers need to purchase Altitude Trampoline Socks for $2.

Cost: $7

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Altitude Trampoline Park
3490 E. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

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Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
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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
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Telephone: 704-246-8611
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Visit a Lancaster County librarian at Jumpin Jax Fun Center of Lancaster for story time. Regular admission is applied for children who want to stay to play following the event.

Cost: Free story time

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Jumpin Jax of Lancaster
2650 Charlotte Hwy.
Lancaster, SC
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Website »

More information

Come play in the open gym. All students younger than 3 must have an adult present at all times. Some Mondays are closed due to holidays, so please call to verify playtime.

Cost: $5, cash only

Where:
Carolina Stars
1080 Maxwell Mill Road
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-548-3441
Website »

More information

Play basketball in a structured environment.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This parent-supervised indoor playtime lets kids go wild on colorful, clean, padded equipment.

Cost: $10

Where:
Romp n' Roll Northwest Charlotte
3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
207
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Increase your strength, endurance and agility for sports.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Lower stress and anxiety with yoga. Focus on breathing and poses that are fun.

Cost: $15

Where:
Charlotte Family Yoga
8230 Poplar Tent
Concord, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Charlotte Family Yoga
Website »

More information

Receive assistance with literacy in fun and interactive ways. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free, $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Enjoy stories, songs and movement activities in your pajamas!

Cost: Free

Where:
Plaza Midwood Library
1623 Central Ave.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants of all ages will learn proper Jazz dance technique. No previous dance experience required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-414-2774
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 invaders....

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 exhibit explores the rise and demise of Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood, once the most vibrant black community in the Carolinas.

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

Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will launch an exhibit to honor the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing using artifacts, race cars, images and audio/video displays.

Cost: $12-$25, children 2 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 East Martin Luther King Blvd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition spotlights 50 original works by Maurice Sendak, who is most widely recognized for "Where the Wild Things Are." The exhibition will be on display at the Main Branch of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Public Library
1555 East Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Gaston County Public Library
Website »

More information

Skate on the 5,000 square-foot ice rink. Guests can also enjoy holiday lights and decor; Santa’s Pub, a coffee shop, live music, surprise guests and festive activities.

Cost: $12-$17

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


Website »

More information

Take a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs by exploring their eggs, nests, and young. This colorful and interactive exhibit features an amazing collection of real dinosaur eggs and...

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 square feet of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three areas and an on-ice Airstream...

Cost: $20

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


Website »

More information

Is it possible that an asteroid collided with the Earth and wiped-out the dinosaurs? Shows are daily at 1 and 3pm.

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

TEN features a selection of works from sixteen past fourth-floor exhibitions to showcase the excellence of the Bechtler collection in celebration of the museum's ten-year anniversary.

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

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


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord is ringing in the New Year with its third annual Healthcare Professionals Appreciation Month! Healthcare Professionals will receive free admission and 50 percent off for...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Learn how to build a fire and keep it going using different fire-starting techniques. Make a tasty treat! Register online.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Teens will learn to take the mundane to a new dimension at the Monroe Library STEAM Lab. No registration is necessary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Union County Public Library
316 E. Windsor St.
Monroe, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the story brought to life on screen! This movie is rated PG.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hickory Grove Library
5935 Hickory Grove Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore rare and extremely devastating volcanic eruptions, and discover the impact of gigantic volcanic episodes around the Solar System. Dive into the super volcano now gathering force beneath...

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Let your little one jump for less during toddler time!

Cost: $12 per adult and child pair

Where:
Adventure Air Sports
2375 Cherry Road
Suite 101
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

This weekly story time includes classic tales and new favorites.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble: Arboretum
3327 Pineville-Matthews Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Come paint pottery with your toddler for just $3/hour.

Cost: $3 per hour

Where:
Dish It Out
7828 Rea Road
#C
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ones bounce under the supervision of their parents and without interference from bigger kids. Jumpers need Sky Socks, which are available for purchase, and a signed waiver.

Cost: $8

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


Website »

More information

Young children can jump at a discounted rate Monday through Friday, and for an additional $2, parents can jump too. All jumpers need to purchase Altitude Trampoline Socks for $2.

Cost: $7

Where:
Altitude Trampoline Park
3490 E. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy two stories and and two craft activities. After the program, romp and play in the SEED Wildlife Garden and Children's Garden, or stroll the historic Wing Haven Garden and Bird Sanctuary.

Cost: $10 per non-member family

Where:
SEED Wildlife Garden at Wing Haven
260 Ridgewood Ave.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, 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

Preschoolers hear stories and sing songs without a parent or caregiver present in order to foster independence and growth every Tuesday.

Cost: Free

Where:
North County Regional Library
16500 Holly Crest Lane
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

Cost: $5 per swimmer, max $15 per family

Where:
Goldfish Swim School
13403 S. Ridge Drive
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This workshop is open to all ages. No previous dance experience is required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School Recreation Site
500 Bilmark Ave.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This parent-supervised indoor playtime lets kids go wild on colorful, clean, padded equipment.

Cost: $10

Where:
Romp n' Roll Northwest Charlotte
3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
207
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Need a reason to get outside this winter?  Take part in Latta Quest!  This weekly activity is designed to engage families in all that Latta Nature Preserve has to offer.  There will be a...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1129
Contact Name: Kerri Hable
Website »

More information

"My Fair Lady" tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2900 E. Independence Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come discuss an assigned book. New members welcome. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews Library
230 Matthews Station St.
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Teens will come out and play competitive video games.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Play interactive games geared towards social development that involve physical activities every Tuesday in January.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Come for assistance with literacy in fun and interactive ways.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal Street
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Latin Dance explores the Caribbean dance styles of Salsa, Bachata and Merengue in a fun and energetic dance environment. The class is open to all ages and no previous dance experience is required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Belle Johnston Community Center
1000 Johnston Drive
Pineville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free, $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Come enjoy a safe place to walk or run on your own or with family and friends. The lights are left on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bailey Road Park
11536 Bailey Road
Cornelius, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Latin Dance explores the Caribbean dance styles of Salsa, Bachata and Merengue in a fun and energetic dance environment.

Cost: Free

Where:
Albemarle Road Recreation Center
5027 North Idlewild Road
, NC
View map »


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 invaders....

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 exhibit explores the rise and demise of Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood, once the most vibrant black community in the Carolinas.

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

Get one free child ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket on Tuesdays. Each additional child ages 3-12 will cost $5.

Cost: $15 for adult

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


Website »

More information

This exhibition spotlights 50 original works by Maurice Sendak, who is most widely recognized for "Where the Wild Things Are." The exhibition will be on display at the Main Branch of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Public Library
1555 East Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Gaston County Public Library
Website »

More information

The title, "Coined in the South," refers not only to The Mint Museum’s origins as the first branch of the United States Mint, but also to the acts of inventing and devising....

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


Website »

More information

Take a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs by exploring their eggs, nests, and young. This colorful and interactive exhibit features an amazing collection of real dinosaur eggs and...

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 square feet of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three areas and an on-ice Airstream...

Cost: $20

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


Website »

More information

Is it possible that an asteroid collided with the Earth and wiped-out the dinosaurs? Shows are daily at 1 and 3pm.

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord is ringing in the New Year with its third annual Healthcare Professionals Appreciation Month! Healthcare Professionals will receive free admission and 50 percent off for...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Let your little one jump for less during toddler time!

Cost: $12 per adult and child pair

Where:
Adventure Air Sports
2375 Cherry Road
Suite 101
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Young children can jump at a discounted rate Monday through Friday, and for an additional $2, parents can jump too. All jumpers need to purchase Altitude Trampoline Socks for $2.

Cost: $7

Where:
Altitude Trampoline Park
3490 E. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers can bounce with their parents in a safe, climate-controlled facility. 

Cost: $8

Where:
BounceU Charlotte
10624 Metromont Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, 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

Homeschool students receive discounted admission at Jumpin Jax Fun Center of Lancaster.

Cost: $8

Where:
Jumpin Jax of Lancaster
2650 Charlotte Hwy.
Lancaster, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come join story time with other families. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble: Morrison Place
4020 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come play all arcade games for half the price all day on Wednesday.

Cost: Price per game varies

Where:
Bowlero
210 E. Trade St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Program will bring girls together through games and activities, guest speakers, and field trips.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Students will learn the movement of the pieces and basic chess strategy.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free, $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Learn a fusion of Zimbabwe dance styles using traditional Zimbabwe vocabulary mixed with contemporary movement.

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: ASC Culture Blocks
Telephone: 704-414-2774
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 invaders....

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 exhibit explores the rise and demise of Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood, once the most vibrant black community in the Carolinas.

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

Studio Drift, founded by Dutch artists Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, creates breathtaking sculptures that explore the relationship between humanity, nature and technology

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Need a reason to get outside this winter?  Take part in Latta Quest!  This weekly activity is designed to engage families in all that Latta Nature Preserve has to offer.  There will be a...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1129
Contact Name: Kerri Hable
Website »

More information

"My Fair Lady" tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2900 E. Independence Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore rare and extremely devastating volcanic eruptions, and discover the impact of gigantic volcanic episodes around the Solar System. Dive into the super volcano now gathering force beneath...

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will launch an exhibit to honor the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing using artifacts, race cars, images and audio/video displays.

Cost: $12-$25, children 2 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 East Martin Luther King Blvd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition spotlights 50 original works by Maurice Sendak, who is most widely recognized for "Where the Wild Things Are." The exhibition will be on display at the Main Branch of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Public Library
1555 East Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Gaston County Public Library
Website »

More information

The title, "Coined in the South," refers not only to The Mint Museum’s origins as the first branch of the United States Mint, but also to the acts of inventing and devising....

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


Website »

More information

Take a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs by exploring their eggs, nests, and young. This colorful and interactive exhibit features an amazing collection of real dinosaur eggs and...

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

What is a microcosm? Delve deep into conservation by studying tiny worlds within our ecosystem. We’ll conduct field research, document our findings, and create a capstone project that combines...

Cost: $60

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1129
Contact Name: Corine Rizzo
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 square feet of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three areas and an on-ice Airstream...

Cost: $20

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


Website »

More information

Is it possible that an asteroid collided with the Earth and wiped-out the dinosaurs? Shows are daily at 1 and 3pm.

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

TEN features a selection of works from sixteen past fourth-floor exhibitions to showcase the excellence of the Bechtler collection in celebration of the museum's ten-year anniversary.

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

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


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord is ringing in the New Year with its third annual Healthcare Professionals Appreciation Month! Healthcare Professionals will receive free admission and 50 percent off for...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Bring your family out to enjoy stories coupled with fun and easy yoga moves.

Cost: Free

Where:
Beatties Ford Road Regional Library
2412 Beatties Ford Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Older children can come for Pokemon crafts, games and snacks. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fort Mill Public Library
1818 2nd Baxter Crossing
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Participate in a variety of engineering projects. Innovate, experiment and explore the arts. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews Library
230 Matthews Station St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Help your pet stay cozy this winter in a DIY bed. Choose from our three size options, then sand, build and stain the bed frame. Choose a flannel pattern, and sew a comfy pillow. Top it all off with...

Cost: $15-$19, free for children younger than 2, included with admission

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


Sponsor: Discovery Place Science
Website »

More information

Take a hike in the preserve with guides and experience the preserve using only your night vision. Registration is required.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Dr. Bill McDonald, Dean of Students at the University of Georgia, will bring his expertise to present and answer questions to high school students and their families on transitioning to college.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mooresville Public Library
304 S. Main St.
Mooresville, NC  28115
View map »


Sponsor: Mooresville Public Library
Website »

More information

"My Fair Lady" tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2900 E. Independence Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Let your little one jump for less during toddler time!

Cost: $12 per adult and child pair

Where:
Adventure Air Sports
2375 Cherry Road
Suite 101
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Need a reason to get outside this winter?  Take part in Latta Quest!  This weekly activity is designed to engage families in all that Latta Nature Preserve has to offer.  There will be a...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1129
Contact Name: Kerri Hable
Website »

More information

Explore rare and extremely devastating volcanic eruptions, and discover the impact of gigantic volcanic episodes around the Solar System. Dive into the super volcano now gathering force beneath...

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Little ones bounce under the supervision of their parents and without interference from bigger kids. Jumpers need Sky Socks, which are available for purchase, and a signed waiver.

Cost: $8

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


Website »

More information

Young children can jump at a discounted rate Monday through Friday, and for an additional $2, parents can jump too. All jumpers need to purchase Altitude Trampoline Socks for $2.

Cost: $7

Where:
Altitude Trampoline Park
3490 E. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers can bounce with their parents in a safe, climate-controlled facility. 

Cost: $8

Where:
BounceU Charlotte
10624 Metromont Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, 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

Watch a King Vulture play on a playground in the Vulture Culture exhibit.

Cost: $8-$12, children 3 and younger free, included with admission to Raptor Trail

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


Sponsor: Carolina Raptor Center
Website »

More information

Play basketball in a structured environment.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Teens will come out and play competitive video games.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free, $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Come enjoy a safe place to walk or run on your own or with family and friends. The lights are left on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bailey Road Park
11536 Bailey Road
Cornelius, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Afrobics is a full body, fun experience—a dance fitness class combining Afrofusion movement to an African beat.

Cost: Free

Where:
Naomi Drenan Recreation Center
750 Beal St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn cheers, chants and stunts with an experienced cheer coach.

Cost: Free

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


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 invaders....

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 exhibit explores the rise and demise of Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood, once the most vibrant black community in the Carolinas.

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

Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will launch an exhibit to honor the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing using artifacts, race cars, images and audio/video displays.

Cost: $12-$25, children 2 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 East Martin Luther King Blvd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"La Bohème" offers a sympathetic, sentimental portrait of youthful optimism, even in the face of true tragedy. In the realm of love stories, nothing holds a candle to "La...

Cost: $56-$194

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


Sponsor: Opera Carolina
Website »

More information

Studio Drift, founded by Dutch artists Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, creates breathtaking sculptures that explore the relationship between humanity, nature and technology

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

This exhibition spotlights 50 original works by Maurice Sendak, who is most widely recognized for "Where the Wild Things Are." The exhibition will be on display at the Main Branch of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Public Library
1555 East Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Gaston County Public Library
Website »

More information

The title, "Coined in the South," refers not only to The Mint Museum’s origins as the first branch of the United States Mint, but also to the acts of inventing and devising....

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


Website »

More information

Take a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs by exploring their eggs, nests, and young. This colorful and interactive exhibit features an amazing collection of real dinosaur eggs and...

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 square feet of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three areas and an on-ice Airstream...

Cost: $20

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


Website »

More information

Is it possible that an asteroid collided with the Earth and wiped-out the dinosaurs? Shows are daily at 1 and 3pm.

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

TEN features a selection of works from sixteen past fourth-floor exhibitions to showcase the excellence of the Bechtler collection in celebration of the museum's ten-year anniversary.

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

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


Website »

More information

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Spend this CMS Teacher Workday in the kitchen! Make marinara sauce, pasta, garlic knots and an Italian dessert.

Cost: $84

Where:
Flour Power Kids Cooking Studios Rea Farms
9826 Sandy Rock Pl.
Suite E
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This daily camp will be filled with games, activities and swimming.

Cost: $25

Where:
Ray's Splash Planet
215 N. Sycamore St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hunt for hidden treasure in the woods with your family. Registration is required.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Need a reason to get outside this winter?  Take part in Latta Quest!  This weekly activity is designed to engage families in all that Latta Nature Preserve has to offer.  There will be a...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1129
Contact Name: Kerri Hable
Website »

More information

Kick off your ACT prep with a free practice exam.

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Library Rock Hill
310 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord is ringing in the New Year with its third annual Healthcare Professionals Appreciation Month! Healthcare Professionals will receive free admission and 50 percent off for...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Get your hands dirty learning about nature, and create nature inspired crafts.

Cost: $4

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Website »

More information

The first 1,500 fans receive a free Checkers beanie hat.

Cost: $18.50+

Where:
BoPlex
2700 E. Independence Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"My Fair Lady" tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2900 E. Independence Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore rare and extremely devastating volcanic eruptions, and discover the impact of gigantic volcanic episodes around the Solar System. Dive into the super volcano now gathering force beneath...

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Play a variety of games and sports, create art and adventure to the playground. Bring a bagged lunch.

Cost: $25

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


Website »

More information

Let your little one jump for less during toddler time!

Cost: $12 per adult and child pair

Where:
Adventure Air Sports
2375 Cherry Road
Suite 101
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Young children can jump at a discounted rate Monday through Friday, and for an additional $2, parents can jump too. All jumpers need to purchase Altitude Trampoline Socks for $2.

Cost: $7

Where:
Altitude Trampoline Park
3490 E. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers can bounce with their parents in a safe, climate-controlled facility. 

Cost: $8

Where:
BounceU Charlotte
10624 Metromont Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Young children can jump with other little ones. Parents and caregivers jump free! W8less socks required.

Cost: $10 per hour

Where:
W8Less LKN
10442-A Bailey Road
Cornelius, 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

Visit a Lancaster County librarian at Jumpin Jax Fun Center of Lancaster for movement and yoga through stories. Regular admission is applied for children who want to stay to play following the...

Cost: Free story time

Where:
Jumpin Jax of Lancaster
2650 Charlotte Hwy.
Lancaster, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

Cost: $5 per swimmer, max $15 per family

Where:
Goldfish Swim School
13403 S. Ridge Drive
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Ceramic teaching artists will walk participants through a clay project. Call 980-498-1487 to register.

Cost: Free

Where:
Grier Heights Community Center
3100 Leroy St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-498-1487
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.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy local music every Friday while you eat, drink and shop.

Cost: Free

Where:
7th Street Public Market
224 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free, $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Treat the kids and yourself to a fun night out! Drop kids off to run, play and dance. Pizza dinner is included.

Cost: $25

Where:
Romp n' Roll NW Charlotte
3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
207
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The greatest hits from the raddest decade will be performed live.

Cost: $28+

Where:
Knight Theater
430 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-972-2000
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 invaders....

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 exhibit explores the rise and demise of Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood, once the most vibrant black community in the Carolinas.

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

Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will launch an exhibit to honor the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing using artifacts, race cars, images and audio/video displays.

Cost: $12-$25, children 2 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 East Martin Luther King Blvd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The story of this great Apache leader comes to life and is a triumphant story of hope and healing that transcends time.

Cost: $10-$37

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


Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

Studio Drift, founded by Dutch artists Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, creates breathtaking sculptures that explore the relationship between humanity, nature and technology

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

This exhibition spotlights 50 original works by Maurice Sendak, who is most widely recognized for "Where the Wild Things Are." The exhibition will be on display at the Main Branch of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Public Library
1555 East Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Gaston County Public Library
Website »

More information

The title, "Coined in the South," refers not only to The Mint Museum’s origins as the first branch of the United States Mint, but also to the acts of inventing and devising....

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


Website »

More information

Take a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs by exploring their eggs, nests, and young. This colorful and interactive exhibit features an amazing collection of real dinosaur eggs and...

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Three choreographers will embark on creations for the company inspired by The Mint Museum’s upcoming exhibition “Immersed in Light: Studio Drift at the Mint.” See website for...

Cost: $25-$85

Where:
Center for Dance
701 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 square feet of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three areas and an on-ice Airstream...

Cost: $20

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


Website »

More information

Is it possible that an asteroid collided with the Earth and wiped-out the dinosaurs? Shows are daily at 1 and 3pm.

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

TEN features a selection of works from sixteen past fourth-floor exhibitions to showcase the excellence of the Bechtler collection in celebration of the museum's ten-year anniversary.

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

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


Website »

More information

Once upon a time in an enchanted kingdom, all gathered to celebrate the birth of the royal princess. Whimsy and fun make the show perfect for all ages. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10

Where:
Armour Street Theatre
307 Armour St.
Davidson, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Davidson Community Players
Website »

More information

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During this interactive and hands-on workshop, Chad Harris and his band, Blue Herons will offer useful tips about how to learn a new song, the importance of listening, solo vs group...

Cost: $20 suggested donation

Where:
Lanti Performing Arts
323 Unionville Indian Trail Road
Indian Trail, NC
View map »

More information

Don’t miss this amazing show of Mike performing some of the best classic rock songs of all time acoustically.

Cost: $30-$35

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


Website »

More information

Don’t miss this amazing show of Mike performing some of the best classic rock songs of all time acoustically.

Cost: $30-$35

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


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

Explore rare and extremely devastating volcanic eruptions, and discover the impact of gigantic volcanic episodes around the Solar System. Dive into the super volcano now gathering force beneath...

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

Little ones bounce under the supervision of their parents and without interference from bigger kids. Jumpers need Sky Socks, which are available for purchase, and a signed waiver.

Cost: $8

Where:
Sky Zone (Pineville and Charlotte locations)
10200 Centrum Pkwy., Pineville
7325 Smith Corners Blvd., Charlotte
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Register for 90 minutes of hands-on Lego Robotics with a certified K-8 public educator. See website for full schedule of dates and locations, including Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne, HurtHub at...

Cost: $35

Where:
Aloft Charlotte Ballantyne
13139 Ballantyne Corporate Pl.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Digi-Bridge
Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Vultures and humans will engage in a fun activity of the trainer's choice.  It could be painting, playground fun or taking a walk with a vulture.

Cost: $8-$12, children 3 and younger free, included with admission to Raptor Trail

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


Sponsor: Carolina Raptor Center
Website »

More information

Our engaging team of raptor keepers will show you some of their favorite bird species. Check in the Visitor’s Center whiteboard to see who you can meet each day.

Cost: $8-$12, children 3 and younger free, included with admission to Raptor Trail

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


Sponsor: Carolina Raptor Center
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free, $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

The greatest hits from the raddest decade will be performed live.

Cost: $28+

Where:
Knight Theater
430 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-972-2000
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 invaders....

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 exhibit explores the rise and demise of Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood, once the most vibrant black community in the Carolinas.

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

It’s the first day of the Year of the Rat! Celebrate the Lunar New Year with some rodent-themed crafts and learn how these little creatures play a vital role in our nature preserve’s ecosystem.

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1129
Contact Name: Shelby Harrison
Website »

More information

A new moon in winter provides a unique opportunity to enjoy twinkling starlight. Leave the Earth behind and fall into the sky this Lunar New Year! We’ll share star stories from around the world...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Latta Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1129
Contact Name: Shelby Harrison
Website »

More information

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord is ringing in the New Year with its third annual Healthcare Professionals Appreciation Month! Healthcare Professionals will receive free admission and 50 percent off for...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Experience winter on an 18th century homestead. Originally located off of North Tryon Street in Charlotte, the restored Ezekiel Alexander cabin provides a glimpse of life in early Charlotte. See...

Cost: Included in admission of $8-$9, children 5 and younger free

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


Website »

More information

The program celebrates the women of one of the largest plantations in the upstate during the early nineteenth century. Learn about Harriet Bratton, her highly skilled cooks and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children ages 3 and younger

Where:
Historic Brattonsville
1444 Brattonsville Road
McConnells, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Ceramic teaching artists will walk participants through a clay project from start to finish. Call 980-314-1115 to register.

Cost: Free

Where:
Tuckaseegee Recreation Center
4820 Tuskaseegee Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Clayworks
Telephone: 980-314-1115
Website »

More information

Attend this bilingual story-time followed by music inspired arts and crafts. Must RSVP by calling 704-416-4400.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hickory Grove Library
5935 Hickory Grove Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: ASC Culture Blocks
Telephone: 704-416-4400
Website »

More information

Discover how El Nino and La Nina systems influence weather with the museum meteorologist at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Discover how El Nino and La Nina systems influence weather. Events at 11am and 2pm.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Attend this bilingual story time followed by music inspired arts and crafts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hickory Grove Library
5935 Hickory Grove Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Participate in a variety of science experiments, engineering projects or math puzzles. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Hill Library
6840 Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Mint Hill, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come for books and crafts based on dragons. There will be a special guest from Exotic Encounters. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Library Rock Hill
138 E. Black St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join medical professionals from Atrium Health to learn all about radiology technology.

Cost: $15-$19, free for children younger than 2, included with admission

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


Sponsor: Discovery Place Science
Website »

More information

Guo Nian Hao! Or Happy New Year! This year celebrate the year of the rat 11:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. while learning about the traditions associated with the Chinese New Year.

Cost: $11, included in admission, free for children younger than 1

Where:
Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville
105 Gilead Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Discovery Place Kids-Huntersville
Website »

More information

"My Fair Lady" tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2900 E. Independence Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Young children can jump at a discounted rate on Saturday mornings, and for an additional $2, parents can jump too. All jumpers need to purchase Altitude Trampoline Socks for $2.

Cost: $7

Where:
Altitude Trampoline Park
3490 E. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This program will teach photography and videography using point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. Participants will also learn about effective social media interaction as a photographer/journalist. Call...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 980-314-1110
Website »

More information

Meet adoptable animals that are looking for forever homes every Saturday.

Cost: Free

Where:
PetSmart of Blakeney
9911 Rea Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants learn critical reading and writing skills, advocacy, volunteerism, art, videography, public speaking and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
President James K Polk State Historic Site
12031 Lancaster Hwy.
Pineville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

On Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5pm, the arcade bar opens to all ages with a parent or guardian present.

Cost: Cost for games

Where:
Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St.
, NC
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Telephone: 980-430-4587
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Participants will learn about African drumming and get hands-on experience with African instruments.

Cost: Free

Where:
Albemarle Road Recreation Center
5027 Idlewild Road N.
, NC
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Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will launch an exhibit to honor the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing using artifacts, race cars, images and audio/video displays.

Cost: $12-$25, children 2 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 East Martin Luther King Blvd
, NC
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The story of this great Apache leader comes to life and is a triumphant story of hope and healing that transcends time.

Cost: $10-$37

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy. 51
Fort Mill, SC
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Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
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Studio Drift, founded by Dutch artists Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, creates breathtaking sculptures that explore the relationship between humanity, nature and technology

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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This exhibition spotlights 50 original works by Maurice Sendak, who is most widely recognized for "Where the Wild Things Are." The exhibition will be on display at the Main Branch of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Public Library
1555 East Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Sponsor: Gaston County Public Library
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The title, "Coined in the South," refers not only to The Mint Museum’s origins as the first branch of the United States Mint, but also to the acts of inventing and devising....

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Take a rare and exciting look at the life of dinosaurs by exploring their eggs, nests, and young. This colorful and interactive exhibit features an amazing collection of real dinosaur eggs and...

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Three choreographers will embark on creations for the company inspired by The Mint Museum’s upcoming exhibition “Immersed in Light: Studio Drift at the Mint.” See website for...

Cost: $25-$85

Where:
Center for Dance
701 N. Tryon St.
, NC
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Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 square feet of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three areas and an on-ice Airstream...

Cost: $20

Where:
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
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Is it possible that an asteroid collided with the Earth and wiped-out the dinosaurs? Shows are daily at 1 and 3pm.

Cost: Planetarium tickets are $5, children 3 and younger free

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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TEN features a selection of works from sixteen past fourth-floor exhibitions to showcase the excellence of the Bechtler collection in celebration of the museum's ten-year anniversary.

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

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Once upon a time in an enchanted kingdom, all gathered to celebrate the birth of the royal princess. Whimsy and fun make the show perfect for all ages. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10

Where:
Armour Street Theatre
307 Armour St.
Davidson, NC
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Sponsor: Davidson Community Players
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Annual Guides

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

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2019 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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