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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Daily Calendar

June 2020

Join Hemophilia of North Carolina for the Virtual Family Festival and Walk for Bleeding Disorders. There will be fun activities throughout the month of June, culminating with a streaming event...

Cost: $10, children free

Where:
Charlotte, NC


Sponsor: Hemophilia of North Carolina
Website »

More information

Explore the Graham Cabin, home of Billy Graham’s grandfather. Learn about the Graham family history and their participation in the Civil War.

Cost: Free, $6 admission

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


Website »

More information

Come to the ballpark for Faith and Family Night, and kids can also run the bases.

Cost: $13+

Where:
BB&T Stadium
324 S. Mint St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Classes for adaptive learning and sensory needs meet at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sun Valley High School
5211 Old Charlotte Hwy.
Monroe, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Church of the Redeemer
Website »

More information

Experience age-level appropriate Sunday school classes at 9:30 and 11 a.m. that connect families with larger church programs and ministries while creating a welcoming environment for all families.

Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews United Methodist Church
801 S. Trade St.
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy arts, crafts, music and family entertainment at this spring event, which will be held along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, a reclaimed natural waterway between East Morehead Street and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Little Sugar Creek Greenway
600 S. Kings Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Festival in the Park
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
View map »


Telephone: 980-430-4587
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

Through this new exhibit, the NASCAR Hall of Fame pays tribute to the trucks and racers who made the Truck Series such a success. Haulin': 25 Years of NASCAR Trucks features eight race trucks,...

Cost: $18-$25, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Watch the overlapping stories of high-roller Sky Masterson, who falls in love with mission worker Sarah Brown, and lovable rapscallion Nathan Detroit, engaged for 14 years to Miss Adelaide, a...

Cost: $19-$22

Where:
Matthews Playhouse
100 McDowell Street E.
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

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

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


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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

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


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

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

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

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

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Try these summer fun activities at home to keep kids busy during summer. Fee includes one live small group lesson per week with a certfied teacher, daily activities, virtual field trips and more!

Cost: $10 per week per child or $50 for all 6 weeks

Where:
712 Circle Trace Road
Monroe, NC  28110
View map »


Sponsor: Authentic Teaching
Website »

More information

Drop off your little ones to explore, play and learn during Music Mondays, Theater Thursdays and Food Fridays. A small snack is provided. Register online.

Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
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

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

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

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

Through this new exhibit, the NASCAR Hall of Fame pays tribute to the trucks and racers who made the Truck Series such a success. Haulin': 25 Years of NASCAR Trucks features eight race trucks,...

Cost: $18-$25, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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

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


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

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

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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

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

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

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

The Bojangles’ Summer Shootout provides up-and-coming drivers with valuable experience in Legend Cars and Bandoleros on Charlotte’s frontstretch quarter-mile oval. Gates open at 5...

Cost: $8; free for children 13 and younger

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


Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

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

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


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

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

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join the Grizzlies for Night at the Circus!

Cost: $10-$15, children 3 and younger free

Where:
Sims Park
1001 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way
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

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

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

On the first Sunday of the month from April through December, explore food trucks, mobile shops and live music at Sycamore Brewing. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the Mint Museum's exhibitions without charge.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road
Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

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

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


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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

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


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

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

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

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

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Drop off your little ones to explore, play and learn during Music Mondays, Theater Thursdays and Food Fridays. A small snack is provided. Register online.

Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
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

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

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

Hear live music every Thursday, June 4 through August 13. Bring chairs, blankets, and money for food trucks, beer, wine and sodas. See website for lineup.

Cost: $5 per person (free for members); $5 per car for parking

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


Website »

More information

River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

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


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

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

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


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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

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


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

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

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

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

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join the Grizzlies for their Independence Day fireworks extravaganza.

Cost: $10-$15, children 3 and younger free

Where:
Sims Park
1001 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come to the ballpark for Friday Fireworks!

Cost: $13+

Where:
BB&T Stadium
324 S. Mint St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Run the 5K through the Olde Providence neighborhood or complete the Family Fun Run. Enjoy the post-race party at the Windyrush Country Club pool.

Cost: $15-$45

Where:
Olde Providence Elementary School
3800 Rea Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy this community fireworks display at the lake. Viewing locations include Buster Boyd Bridge Boat Landing, Papa Doc's outside deck, Rey Azteca deck at Lake Wylie Plaza, Lake Wylie...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Buster Boyd Bridge Boat Landing
185 Blucher Cir.
Clover, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drop off your little ones to explore, play and learn during Music Mondays, Theater Thursdays and Food Fridays. A small snack is provided. Register online.

Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
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

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

In addition to pass activities, the festival will feature live music, yoga, Battle Royale SUP Sprint and two days of fireworks. 

Cost: $6 for parking, activities and food available for purchase

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


Sponsor: USNWC
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
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Website »

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Caregivers and their littles learn new yoga poses with songs and games. Multiple class rates available.

Cost: $20

Where:
Tiny Blooms Yoga
15905 Brookway Drive
Suite 4106
Huntersville, NC
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Website »

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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
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Website »

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Visit Harrisburg or two days of fun, including amusements, food, entertainment and two nights of fireworks!

Cost: Free

Where:
Harrisburg Park
191 Sims Pkwy.
Harrisburg, NC
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Website »

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rab dinner from a variety of local food trucks at this weekly rally. Visit the website for a list of participating trucks.

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Resident Culture Brewing Company
2101 Central Ave.
, NC
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Website »

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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
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Website »

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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
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Website »

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The businesses at the Warehouses on White are pleased to host each first Friday for a night of fun and food!

Cost: Free

Where:
Warehouse on White
130 W. White St.
Rock Hill, SC
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Website »

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Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


Website »

More information

River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

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


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 4th of July at the annual fireworks show, which will occur on both July 3 and July 4.

Cost: $45+, children 3-5 receive free admission with Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

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

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


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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

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


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

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

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

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


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

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

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

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

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Kick off Independence Day with a 4-mile race and 1-mile kids’ run. There will be no race-day registration. The event starts in Midtown with a family friendly finish line festival at Park...

Cost: $7-$42+

Where:
Metropolitan
1111 Metropolitan Ave.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Sponsor: New Dominion
Website »

More information

Bring the kids, strollers or dogs to complete 7.4 miles, 7.4 kilometers or 1.7 miles.

Cost: $25+

Where:
The Huntersville Business Park
13420 Reese Blvd. W.
Huntersville, NC
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Website »

More information

Before the afternoon and evening festivities, enjoy a morning parade. The parade will travel down Highway 49 beginning at Captain Steve’s Restaurant and ending at Robinson Ave. off...

Cost: Free

Where:
Highway 49
Harrisburg, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Welcome new citizens to the Charlotte community at a U.S. Oath and Naturalization ceremony. Learn more about the meaning of citizenship, democracy, immigration and freedom, and participate in...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Parade will feature vehicles, walkers, trucks, military equipment, horses and fire trucks.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Indian Trail
Indian Trail, NC


Website »

More information

Decorate your bikes and wagons at the Town Hall Green at 5:15pm for the People's Parade, which will begin at 6:15pm. Decorations will be provided. Picnic in Stumptown Park, beginning at 6pm,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stumptown Park
120 S. Trade St.
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Stars versus Stripes will feature some of the best collegiate players in the nation with fireworks to follow.

Cost: $19+

Where:
BB&T Stadium
324 S. Mint St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy music outdoors with the family. Dates: April 28, May 3, May 17, June 7, June 14, July 4, Aug. 2, Aug. 23, Sept. 6 and Sept. 20.

Cost: Free

Where:
Davidson Village Green
Intersection of Main Street and Concord Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Watch Kannapolis take on West Virginia!

Cost: TBA

Where:
Atrium Health Ballpark
1 Cannon Baller Way
Kannapolis, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The DJ and beverage garden will kick off at 6pm, and featured bands will start at 7pm. Food will be available for purchase.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Belmont
Main Street
Belmont, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

All Kids Workshop attendees must be accompanied by a parent or adult at all times. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a free certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a commemorative...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Home Depot
4750 South Blvd.
, 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

In addition to pass activities, the festival will feature live music, yoga, Battle Royale SUP Sprint and two days of fireworks. 

Cost: $6 for parking, activities and food available for purchase

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


Sponsor: USNWC
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
View map »


Telephone: 980-430-4587
Website »

More information

Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


Website »

More information

Visit Harrisburg or two days of fun, including amusements, food, entertainment and two nights of fireworks!

Cost: Free

Where:
Harrisburg Park
191 Sims Pkwy.
Harrisburg, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

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


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 4th of July at the annual fireworks show, which will occur on both July 3 and July 4.

Cost: $45+, children 3-5 receive free admission with Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

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

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


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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

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


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

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

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

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


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

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

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

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
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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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