The Virtual Playground


Published:

Webkinz. Whyville. Club Penguin. Poptropica. These virtual worlds, and many others like them, create simulated environments for kids to interact with other online kid users or to create imaginative worlds of their own online. Many are based around toys or connected to educational concepts, each suited to different age groups. It's a modern version of playing house or school in front of computer rather than in the backyard or on the playground. These sites encourage elementary-school aged children to engage in their own forms of social networking. Inherent to these sites are pros and cons, but how much is too much?

Savvy Students

Virtual worlds and interactive websites are colorful, hip and engaging places that spark kids' curiosity. More often than not, kids venture into the online worlds created by toy manufacturers and become curious about other sites they can easily navigate. Children are savvy when it comes to learning how to navigate computers, and some parents fear that playing on some of the safer sites for young children, such as Club Penguin or Fantage, will lead to an unhealthy curiosity with more grown-up social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. It is the role of parents to lead children to safe sites that offer quality content and educational value.

Mandeep Dhillon, a father of three, founded Togetherville, a social networking site for kids ages 6 to 10. Although kids under the age of 13 aren't allowed on Facebook, many set up accounts on the site anyway by either lying about their age or getting their parents to sign them up. With Togetherville, children's accounts must be created by parents using their own Facebook logins. Because of this, parents can approve or reject their children's online friends. Kids have separate logins to Togetherville, their version of the site contains safe games, and prescreened YouTube videos.

Potential for Predators?

Regardless of how much a parent thinks his or her child knows (or doesn't know) about the inner workings of the Internet, it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent to educate his or her children about the dangers of spending too much time online. While some of these toy-based virtual worlds may seem harmless at first glance, others may include opportunities for players to chat online with each other, which can open doors for predators to invade a child's life.

"The kids know more about the computers than the parents do," says Dallas Stout, a clinical psychologist and professor of child and adolescent studies at California State University Fullerton. "They can often figure out passwords and be doing things online that they are not supposed to be doing. Some often do it right while their parent is in the same room."

Cody Mills, a Mooresville mom of three, allows her kids to play on websites like Starfall.com and Barbie.com where they aren't exposed to other players in a virtual reality, but doesn't feel they should engage in social networking until age 12 or older.

"When the time comes and they are on (adult) social networking sites it will be monitored by my husband and myself, with surprise inspections often," says Mills.

Nix Naiveté

Leslie Petruk, a family therapist and director of Stepping Stones Counseling and Consulting in Charlotte, advises parents to use common sense when it comes to a young child's online habits, just as you would with other aspects of his or her life.

"Have open conversations with your child," she says. "Talk to them about how people can be deceitful. Let them know that if someone knows you, there's no reason to give out personal information on the computer," she says. She advises parents to keep the conversation lighthearted, so it's not scary to children. Petruk is also a fan of role-playing with children. She suggests asking what they would do during a gaming session where someone they were chatting with asked for a home address or phone number.

Technology, and plugging into the fantasy and fun of virtual worlds, is a reality in kids' lives today. Experts agree, however, that playing with animals and creating avatars should not outweigh indoor and outdoor games with real-world friends.

Renee Roberson is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and pop culture. She lives in Huntersville with her husband and two children.

 

Top Virtual Worlds for Kids

Following are some of the top online playgrounds as reviewed by Common Sense Media.

• Littlest Pet Shop VIPs (www.hasbro.com/littlestpetshop) — A virtual world created to support Hasbro's Littlest Pet stuffed animals, kids are required to use the code from a purchased "VIP" at $15 in order to enter the site. Access is then granted for one year.

Chat feature: None.

A word of caution: Promotes consumerism; must purchase a product to participate in site.

• BuildaBearville.com — Created by the retail store, Build-A-Bear Workshop, this virtual world requires the purchase of some stuffed animals in order to access certain parts of the site. Many of the games on the site test children's abilities in math, problem solving and social studies.

Chat feature: Safe, but open filtered chat.

A word of caution: Promotes consumerism; must purchase a product to participate in site. Also has open chat feature.

• WebKinz.com — This site allows kids to "adopt" their plush animals and care for it online for a year. This site can be especially addictive because daily and hourly events can cause kids to feel they might miss out on something if they aren't online constantly.

Chat feature: Yes; pre-scripted chat that prevents kids from sharing personal information.

A word of caution: Promotes consumerism; must purchase a product to participate in site.

• ClubPenguin.com — This site, owned by Disney, is a virtual world where children ages 6 to 14 can play games and interact with friends disguised as colorful penguin avatars. Parents are also able to set up a special Club Penguin Timer that can limit the total amount of time a child plays on the site. Membership is free, but you can upgrade your child's account and enable additional perks for varying monthly fees.

Chat feature: Yes; monitored by Club Penguin employees.

A word of caution: Children are motivated to upgrade to a paid membership in order to have access to more clothes and accessories for their avatars. Also has open chat feature.

• Fantage.com — Another site geared to younger computer users, Fantage.com gives players a chance to earn "virtual bucks" through game play, or upgrade to a paid membership starting at $5.99 a month. Avatars wearing distinctive clothing and hairstyles explore the island on hoverboards in a 3D world.

Chat feature: Yes; monitored by Fantage employees. Parents can choose "no chat" setting.

A word of caution: Children are motivated to upgrade to a paid membership in order to access extra features. Chat, e-mail and instant messaging are available.

• Poptropica.com — Poptropica is a virtual world where kids can travel, play games, collect objects and compete with other players in head-to-head competition. They use their avatar to explore Poptropica, a safe environment where visitors are never asked to provide or share any personal information. Kids can play for free but upgrade to a paid membership for additional access to games and Poptropica store items.

Chat feature: Yes; pre-scripted chat.

A word of caution: Children are motivated to upgrade to a paid membership in order to access extra features.

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January 2018

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Telephone: 704-922-7681
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Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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Telephone: 803-329-2121
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Cost: $7-$10

Where:
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More information

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Cost: Free

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Telephone: 704-364-0626
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More information

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View map »


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More information

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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
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View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
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View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10-$15

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Though he is mostly known for his art, Leonardo da Vinci was a creator in more than one way. He designed machines such as the assault tank, submarine, parachute, scuba-diving tank and even a robot....

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
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Telephone: 704-416-4630
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More information

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Telephone: 980-314-1129
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More information

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View map »


Telephone: 704-366-5657
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $7-$10

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


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

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

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

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

This exhibition explores Mars and mankind's fascination with this world through mythology, history, literature, movies, TV and science. We also look ahead to see what Mars may hold for...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


Website »

More information

A fabulously fun, award-winning musical based on the movie, "Legally Blonde the Musical" follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her...

Cost: $15-$17

Where:
Central Piedmont Community College, Pease Auditorium
1201 Elizabeth Ave,
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $13-$17

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $10-$15

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Though he is mostly known for his art, Leonardo da Vinci was a creator in more than one way. He designed machines such as the assault tank, submarine, parachute, scuba-diving tank and even a robot....

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

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Toddlers and preschoolers can join Holly Johnson in a music and movement program that features listening to songs and playing a variety of instruments. 

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-4600
Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

Explore nature through arts and crafts. Each session will have a different theme and participants can take home a craft. Dress for mess. Registration required. 

Cost: $3

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


Telephone: 704-875-1391
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $7-$10

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


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

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

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

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

This exhibition explores Mars and mankind's fascination with this world through mythology, history, literature, movies, TV and science. We also look ahead to see what Mars may hold for...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


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

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

A fabulously fun, award-winning musical based on the movie, "Legally Blonde the Musical" follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her...

Cost: $15-$17

Where:
Central Piedmont Community College, Pease Auditorium
1201 Elizabeth Ave,
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $13-$17

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This comedic play centers around a young architect who is visited by a man he's never met but who saved his life in Vietnam. The visitor turns out to be an incredibility inept, hopeless stupid...

Cost: $28

Where:
Theatre Charlotte, The Eloise Macdonald Playhouse
501 Queens Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $10-$15

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Though he is mostly known for his art, Leonardo da Vinci was a creator in more than one way. He designed machines such as the assault tank, submarine, parachute, scuba-diving tank and even a robot....

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

When a brother and sister move to a new town, the sister refuses to play with her brother fearing the kids in her new school will make fun of her. Then they meet an inventive girl next door...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

This is one of Charlotte Ballet’s most popular performances. It showcases contemporary ballet in an intimate setting, and for an added bonus, tickets include a dessert reception...

Cost: $25-$80

Where:
Charlotte Ballet Academy, Center for Dance
701 N. Tryon Street
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-3900
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Armour Street Theatre presents: Snow White. Come watch the dwarves take the stage. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10 plus NC sales tax

Where:
Armour Street Theatre
307 Armour Street
Davidson, NC  28036
View map »


Telephone: 704-892-7953
Website »

More information

Laugh and cry with America's greatest generation and remember the days of World War II. From an exciting collection of 40's favorites to a stirring patriotic medley, this dinner show is...

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


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

More information

Your family will have free access to arts, science, and history experiences across Charlotte-Mecklenburg this weekend. Check the online schedule to find out about experiences and opportunities to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Locations vary.
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

During these ongoing nature programs you may get a tour, see a demonstration or participate in an activity. The program is designed to inspire children and adults to explore the...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

n coordination with Independence Mazda, The Humane Society of York County and South Charlotte Dog Rescue, the Puppy Bowl is bringing you tons of adorable, adoptable dogs of all ages and sizes who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Independence Mazda
6735 E. Independence Blvd
Charlotte, NC  28212
View map »


Telephone: 704-839-0287
Website »

More information

Attend this free storytime as part of ASC Connect with Culture Day. 

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

During this festival, you can explore current exhibitions, make your own masterpieces and enjoy live music all for free. 

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

In a powerful musically driven story of giving, three hungry travelers create a magnificent feast from scratch.

Cost: $14+

Where:
Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts
430 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

This popular fairytale of empowerment, determination, and triumph is brought to life with traditional marionettes and classical music.

Cost: Free

Where:
Community House Middle School - Cafeteria
9500 Community House Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

To celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year, visitors are invited to discover the history behind the popular Vietnamese lion dance and create dancers of their own to take home.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Register for one of the followng free classes as part of ASC Connect with Culture Day: Youth Trapeze: Ages: 6 – 17 Learn how to fly on two ropes and a bar! Aerial Silks for Adults:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Caroline Calouche and Co.
9315-E Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn how Mother Nature creates snow, sleet and hail.

Cost: Free

Where:
Reedy Creek Nature Preserve
2900 Rocky River Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1119
Website »

More information

Engage your young readers with books that encourage language and reading skill development, and helps them grow into successful, life-long readers. Ballerina Cara Hansvick of the Charlotte Ballet...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

The Performance Company from Matthews Playhouse will present songs and scenes from their upcoming productions including: Freedom Train, Jungle Book, The Lion King, Jr., Peter Pan and South Pacific.

Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews Community Center
100 McDowell Street East
Matthews, NC  28105
View map »


Telephone: 704-846-8343
Website »

More information

As part of ASC Connect with Culture Day, you can attend this performance for free. Register online. 

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Join us for a free Oyster Roast at Reid's Myers Park. All oysters are first come, first serve, until we run out!

Cost: Free

Where:
Reid's Fine Foods
2823 Selwyn Ave.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

Free performances of Snow White, Stone Soup, The Imaginators, Balloonacy and other nearby performances are available today as part of the ASC Connect with Culture Day. Registration is required...

Cost: Free

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 980-314-1129
Website »

More information

Lakeshore Learning Stores provide fun, free crafts every Saturday. Visit the website to see this week's featured craft of the week. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Lakeshore Learning Store
10005 E. Independence Blvd.
Matthews, NC  28105
View map »


Telephone: 704-849-2450
Website »

More information

Come to family storytime at Barnes & Noble. Activities to follow. 

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-364-0626
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $7-$10

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


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

There is a drum lesson for children ages 3-18 from 11am-noon, followed by a drum circle for all ages from noon-1pm. 

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 914-419-6438
Website »

More information

Fish are one of America’s most popular pets, and one of the most diverse and interesting. Join us for a story and some fun facts about our friends with fins and make a goldfish craft to...

Cost: $8, includes museum admission

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


Telephone: (704) 372-6261
Website »

More information

Check out the fashion gallery and 18th century portraits and draw and collage a fabulous fabric portrait. Children and their adult companions can create, explore and visit the...

Cost: $16; $12 for members

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibition explores Mars and mankind's fascination with this world through mythology, history, literature, movies, TV and science. We also look ahead to see what Mars may hold for...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: $20 per child

Where:
Bounce U, Charlotte and Matthews locations
, NC


Telephone: 704-921-8771
Website »

More information

A fabulously fun, award-winning musical based on the movie, "Legally Blonde the Musical" follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her...

Cost: $15-$17

Where:
Central Piedmont Community College, Pease Auditorium
1201 Elizabeth Ave,
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $13-$17

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This comedic play centers around a young architect who is visited by a man he's never met but who saved his life in Vietnam. The visitor turns out to be an incredibility inept, hopeless stupid...

Cost: $28

Where:
Theatre Charlotte, The Eloise Macdonald Playhouse
501 Queens Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $10-$15

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Though he is mostly known for his art, Leonardo da Vinci was a creator in more than one way. He designed machines such as the assault tank, submarine, parachute, scuba-diving tank and even a robot....

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Come watch this comedic play that explores the power of friendship. A mischievous balloon finds its way into the home of a solitary elderly man, and suddenly his grumpy life is interrupted. ...

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

This 1930s-inspired musical based on the classic book is coming to ImaginOn. Mr. Popper spends his time daydreaming of adventures while Mrs. Popper saves to put beans on the table. When a spirited...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

When a brother and sister move to a new town, the sister refuses to play with her brother fearing the kids in her new school will make fun of her. Then they meet an inventive girl next door...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

This is one of Charlotte Ballet’s most popular performances. It showcases contemporary ballet in an intimate setting, and for an added bonus, tickets include a dessert reception...

Cost: $25-$80

Where:
Charlotte Ballet Academy, Center for Dance
701 N. Tryon Street
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-3900
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Armour Street Theatre presents: Snow White. Come watch the dwarves take the stage. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10 plus NC sales tax

Where:
Armour Street Theatre
307 Armour Street
Davidson, NC  28036
View map »


Telephone: 704-892-7953
Website »

More information

Laugh and cry with America's greatest generation and remember the days of World War II. From an exciting collection of 40's favorites to a stirring patriotic medley, this dinner show is...

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


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

More information

Your family will have free access to arts, science, and history experiences across Charlotte-Mecklenburg this weekend. Check the online schedule to find out about experiences and opportunities to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Locations vary.
, NC


Website »

More information

Join us in Town Center for family story time as we read Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Wind Blows by Marianne Berkes. We’ll learn about some of the animals that...

Cost: $10, includes museum admission

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


Telephone: (704) 372-6261
Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

GPS [Go. Play. See.]

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

Education Guide

This comprehensive guide covers preschool, private, charter and public schools in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York counties.
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