When is it OK to Leave Your Child Home Alone?


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There’s something about hearing those words — home alone — that immediately conjures up the image of a young Macauley Culkin with his hands slapped up against his cheeks and his mouth open in a big scream in the movie “Home Alone.” As a new school year kicks off, parents may be toying with the reality of letting their child be home alone for a few hours after school. But when is it OK to leave a child home alone?

Some states have laws regarding a minimum age for leaving children home alone: Illinois law requires children to be 14 years old before being left alone; in Maryland, the minimum age is 8, while in Oregon, children must be 10 before being left home alone.

In North Carolina, there are no hard and fast rules. The Department of Health and Human Services follows the state fire code, which says children under the age of 8 must be supervised due to the risk of fire. After that, it’s up to the parent’s discretion.

Are They Ready?

“When deciding whether to leave kids home alone, parents have to use [their] own judgment, because every child is different,” says Leslie Petruk, director of The Stone Center for Counseling and Leadership in Charlotte and licensed family counselor. “Think about their maturity level and whether they’ve got good impulse control.”

You might already have a good handle on those things, but it can help to observe their behavior when they aren’t being directly watched. Remember too, it’s not as much about following rules, but more about staying safe.

“Kids will always test limits,” Petruk says, “but the question of whether or not they are ready to stay home alone isn’t so much about whether they try to sneak in an extra TV show or eat a few cookies for dinner.”

Ask yourself these questions about your children to help gauge readiness:

  • Do they tend to obey the house rules?
  • Do they tend to make good decisions?
  • Do they have good impulse control?
  • Do they understand the difference between dangerous situations and safe situations?
  • Do they know how to respond in an emergency, if one did arise?

“When we began observing how our children acted when we weren’t in the same room with them, it really gave us a sense of their behaviors and typical responses,” says Robin Brooks, a mother of three children, ages 13, 11 and 6, in Rock Hill, S.C. “Within the past couple of years we’ve left all three kids at home for short periods of time only during the day. I’m pretty sure the kids sneak candy and watch extra TV when we’re gone, but I trust them on bigger issues like not answering the door and what to do in an emergency. We lay some basic ground rules, and then trust them until they demonstrate poor judgment.”

Talk About It

Talk with your children to see how they feel about staying home alone. Some children may be ready for it before you are, realizing it’s a new step toward independence, while other children may show hesitation.

“If your child seems anxious or worried, it’s a good indicator they’re not ready,” Petruk says.

Talking with siblings about what is expected is also important. “It’s good to have a conversation with the kids to let the younger one know the older one is in charge, but also let the older one know they can’t abuse their power,” she says.

Safety First

Laying a few ground rules and going over safety procedures can go a long way in easing anxieties for kids and parents. If your child doesn’t have a cell phone, be sure that a phone is in the house that they can use to call in case of an emergency, and have your child text you once they are home safe if arriving home alone after school.

Other safety basics and expectations to address:

  • Know how to use the stove and the microwave, if this is allowed.
  • Set expectations for answering the door or the phone.
  • Make sure they know how to lock and unlock doors.
  • Leave a list of emergency numbers, including neighbors and family.
  • Make sure they know how to get in touch with you.
  • Create rules around posting on social media about being home alone.
  • Make sure you have parental controls set on digital devices so no one stumbles onto something they shouldn’t.
  • Set guidelines for whether friends are allowed over and are they allowed to leave the house to go to a friend’s house.
  • Designate a neighbor’s house as a “safe house” for your child to run to if he or she feels in danger.
  • Go over how and when to call 911.

“Role play is a great way to teach kids how to handle different situations and help you both feel comfortable in their ability,” Petruk says. “For example, ask them what they would do if someone came to the door, or what they would say when they answer the phone.”

Taking the Plunge

Once you’ve decided it’s time to venture out on your own, start out with a short amount of time, such as half an hour, and gradually increase the time away. While it’s hard not to worry a little bit, enjoy this newfound freedom, and understand it’s good for your kids too.

“We don’t want to teach our kids that the world is to be feared,” Petruk says. “Giving them independence communicates to them that we trust they can handle the situation and make good decisions, helping grow their self esteem.”


Karen Alley is a freelancer and also mom to a 12-year-old.

 

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More information

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Cost: $6-$7

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View map »


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Telephone: 704-353-9200
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More information

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Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: Cost of Carowinds admission

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View map »


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

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Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
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View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

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Cost: $7-$9

Where:
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551 South Tryon St.
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View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

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Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
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View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

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View map »


Sponsor: McDowell Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1128
Website »

More information

Enjoy two great mini programs in the science theater. First explore the constellations of summer in a seasonal stargazing tour of the night sky. Then, encounter the beautiful Northern Lights in a...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Young mates set sail on a self-guided pirate voyage aboard our miniature pirate ship, the Adventure, at anchor in the Explorer's Outpost.  Children can dress-up, learn and play at their...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Sponsor: The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Telephone: 704-866-6923
Contact Name: Philip McGinnis
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Created in collaboration with Playskool and GE, kids can design, build and work together to make amazing Tinkertoy structures using GE Technology as their guide. Experiment with renewable energy...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-416-4600
Website »

More information

Did An Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs? Sixty five (65) million years ago the last of the non-avian dinosaurs vanished from the fossil record.  Scientists have discovered evidence that...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Created by Betty Brin Children's Museum in collaboration with the US Forest Service, this interactive nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun activities that highlight ways that kids and...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
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

Show More...
Show Less...

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

The 2017/2018 season is right around the corner and Carolina Voices is looking for talents that are both vocal and local. For those who love to perform, Carolina Voices’ is where you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Myers Park Baptist Church
1900 Queens Road
Charlotte, NC  28207
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1564
Website »

More information

Enjoy a fascinating look at all the wonders of eclipses, when one celestial object blocks the view of another. Discover what eclipses are, how and when they occur, a perfect lead-in to our...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

The Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not! presents an extraordinary collection of intriguing objects and astonishing artifacts from Ripley's Believe It or Not! Go places you've never...

Cost: $10-$25

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


Telephone: 704-373-6261
Website »

More information

This survey includes more than 150 works of art, including five original kinetic sculptures, spanning the forty-year career of the revolutionary Swiss kinetic artist. Mon., Wed., Thurs., and Sat.,...

Cost: $4-$8

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


Telephone: 704-353-9200
Website »

More information

The work of artists on display includes that of Romare Bearden, Rockwell Kent, and Salvador Dali among others. "Art in the Book" provides a glimpse into the wide variety of illustrative...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibition, featuring 12 important paintings, drawings and prints, as well as a rare example of the artist's sculpture, will give them the opportunity to do so. Through the use of a rich...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews Police Department
1201 Crews Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department
Freedom Division
4150 Wilkinson Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Currently the only Egyptian mummy in North Carolina. Families can explore the culture and history of the 22nd Dynasty, uncover the mystery of mummification in the hands-on CSI Lab, and meet...

Cost: $6

Where:
Iredell Museums
134 Court St.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-873-7347
Website »

More information

K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace is a community-created exhibit about police-involved shootings throughout the nation and here in Charlotte. Co-created with activists and law enforcement, the media,...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 704-333-1887
Website »

More information

In the 1920s, Cleveland County experienced an economic boom and bust, the heyday of the textile mills, the birth of the political engine known as the Shelby Dynasty, and improved education,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 East Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Swim in the cool, deep water at Carrigan Farms Quarry. The quarry is only open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 13-Aug. 24 from 10am-3pm. Ages 11 and under must wear a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Carrigan Farms Quarry
West Entrance
1213 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy.
Mooresville, NC  28115
View map »


Website »

More information

Monkey Joe’s North Carolina locations are celebrating summer with special offers for each weekday: Monday: 20% off meal packages Tuesday: Toddler Tuesday, children 4 and younger will...

Cost: See website for prices

Where:
Monkey Joe's University, Pineville, Gastonia and Matthews locations
, NC


Website »

More information

Back by popular demand, the high-flying acrobats from Cirque Imagine return to Carowinds Theatre. Moms, dads and kids can watch spectacular stunts and acrobatics right before their very eyes....

Cost: Cost of Carowinds admission

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Learn how meaningful art activities support brain development. Read the story "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!" by Karen Beaumont and then create some silly art of your own. Also at...

Cost: $10

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Enjoy two great mini programs in the science theater. First explore the constellations of summer in a seasonal stargazing tour of the night sky. Then, encounter the beautiful Northern Lights in a...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Explore the Mint Museum's exhibitions.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph | 2730 Randolph Road
Mint Museum Uptown | 500 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2018
Website »

More information

Bring your lawn chairs, drinks and snacks, and be prepared to dance at this weekly event that features the music of local bands.

Cost: Free

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
301 S. Mint St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Young mates set sail on a self-guided pirate voyage aboard our miniature pirate ship, the Adventure, at anchor in the Explorer's Outpost.  Children can dress-up, learn and play at their...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Sponsor: The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Telephone: 704-866-6923
Contact Name: Philip McGinnis
Website »

More information

Discover 400 years of Catawba Indian history as you explore replicated structures that reflect the life and culture of the Carolina Woodlands. Weather permitting;...

Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission.

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Sponsor: The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Telephone: 704-866-6923
Contact Name: Philip McGinnis
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Created in collaboration with Playskool and GE, kids can design, build and work together to make amazing Tinkertoy structures using GE Technology as their guide. Experiment with renewable energy...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-416-4600
Website »

More information

Did An Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs? Sixty five (65) million years ago the last of the non-avian dinosaurs vanished from the fossil record.  Scientists have discovered evidence that...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Created by Betty Brin Children's Museum in collaboration with the US Forest Service, this interactive nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun activities that highlight ways that kids and...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
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

Show More...
Show Less...

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

The 2017/2018 season is right around the corner and Carolina Voices is looking for talents that are both vocal and local. For those who love to perform, Carolina Voices’ is where you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Myers Park Baptist Church
1900 Queens Road
Charlotte, NC  28207
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1564
Website »

More information

Enjoy a fascinating look at all the wonders of eclipses, when one celestial object blocks the view of another. Discover what eclipses are, how and when they occur, a perfect lead-in to our...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

The Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not! presents an extraordinary collection of intriguing objects and astonishing artifacts from Ripley's Believe It or Not! Go places you've never...

Cost: $10-$25

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


Telephone: 704-373-6261
Website »

More information

This survey includes more than 150 works of art, including five original kinetic sculptures, spanning the forty-year career of the revolutionary Swiss kinetic artist. Mon., Wed., Thurs., and Sat.,...

Cost: $4-$8

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


Telephone: 704-353-9200
Website »

More information

The work of artists on display includes that of Romare Bearden, Rockwell Kent, and Salvador Dali among others. "Art in the Book" provides a glimpse into the wide variety of illustrative...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibition, featuring 12 important paintings, drawings and prints, as well as a rare example of the artist's sculpture, will give them the opportunity to do so. Through the use of a rich...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Currently the only Egyptian mummy in North Carolina. Families can explore the culture and history of the 22nd Dynasty, uncover the mystery of mummification in the hands-on CSI Lab, and meet...

Cost: $6

Where:
Iredell Museums
134 Court St.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-873-7347
Website »

More information

K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace is a community-created exhibit about police-involved shootings throughout the nation and here in Charlotte. Co-created with activists and law enforcement, the media,...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 704-333-1887
Website »

More information

In the 1920s, Cleveland County experienced an economic boom and bust, the heyday of the textile mills, the birth of the political engine known as the Shelby Dynasty, and improved education,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 East Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Swim in the cool, deep water at Carrigan Farms Quarry. The quarry is only open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 13-Aug. 24 from 10am-3pm. Ages 11 and under must wear a...

Cost: $12

Where:
Carrigan Farms Quarry
West Entrance
1213 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy.
Mooresville, NC  28115
View map »


Website »

More information

Monkey Joe’s North Carolina locations are celebrating summer with special offers for each weekday: Monday: 20% off meal packages Tuesday: Toddler Tuesday, children 4 and younger will...

Cost: See website for prices

Where:
Monkey Joe's University, Pineville, Gastonia and Matthews locations
, NC


Website »

More information

Back by popular demand, the high-flying acrobats from Cirque Imagine return to Carowinds Theatre. Moms, dads and kids can watch spectacular stunts and acrobatics right before their very eyes....

Cost: Cost of Carowinds admission

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Enjoy two great mini programs in the science theater. First explore the constellations of summer in a seasonal stargazing tour of the night sky. Then, encounter the beautiful Northern Lights in a...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Bring blankets and lawn chair to this weekly outdoor concert series. Visit website for a list of scheduled performers.

Cost: $5 per person; $5 per car for parking

Where:
Anne Springs Close Greenway
Comporium Ampitheater
291 Dairy Barn Lane
Ft. Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-547-4575
Website »

More information

Enjoy food, beverages, and live music at this weekly summer concert series. 

Cost: $5 parking fee

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


Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Young mates set sail on a self-guided pirate voyage aboard our miniature pirate ship, the Adventure, at anchor in the Explorer's Outpost.  Children can dress-up, learn and play at their...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Sponsor: The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Telephone: 704-866-6923
Contact Name: Philip McGinnis
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Created in collaboration with Playskool and GE, kids can design, build and work together to make amazing Tinkertoy structures using GE Technology as their guide. Experiment with renewable energy...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-416-4600
Website »

More information

Did An Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs? Sixty five (65) million years ago the last of the non-avian dinosaurs vanished from the fossil record.  Scientists have discovered evidence that...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Created by Betty Brin Children's Museum in collaboration with the US Forest Service, this interactive nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun activities that highlight ways that kids and...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
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

Show More...
Show Less...

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

The 2017/2018 season is right around the corner and Carolina Voices is looking for talents that are both vocal and local. For those who love to perform, Carolina Voices’ is where you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Myers Park Baptist Church
1900 Queens Road
Charlotte, NC  28207
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1564
Website »

More information

Games, food vendors, and a showing of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" on an outdoor movie screen. Movie begins at dusk.

Cost: Free

Where:
Chestnut Square Park
299 Chestnut Pkwy.
Indian Trail, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Kick off the evening with family-friendly activities and refreshments and then watch "Sing" on a 30-foot screen.

Cost: Free

Where:
SouthPark Mall
Symphony Park
4400 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC  28211
View map »


Telephone: 704-364-4411
Website »

More information

Cheer on the Charlotte Knights as they cheer on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The theme for the night is "Back to School" and the evening will end with a fireworks show. 

Cost: $8+

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


Website »

More information

Come party like the grown up you are at the first ever Party Like a Mother CLT! Moms along with their friends are invited to enjoy a fun evening out to shop, enjoy a fun drag show (is there a...

Cost: $30

Where:
The Fillmore Charlotte
820 Hamilton St.
Charlotte, NC  28206
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a fascinating look at all the wonders of eclipses, when one celestial object blocks the view of another. Discover what eclipses are, how and when they occur, a perfect lead-in to our...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

The Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not! presents an extraordinary collection of intriguing objects and astonishing artifacts from Ripley's Believe It or Not! Go places you've never...

Cost: $10-$25

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


Telephone: 704-373-6261
Website »

More information

This survey includes more than 150 works of art, including five original kinetic sculptures, spanning the forty-year career of the revolutionary Swiss kinetic artist. Mon., Wed., Thurs., and Sat.,...

Cost: $4-$8

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


Telephone: 704-353-9200
Website »

More information

The work of artists on display includes that of Romare Bearden, Rockwell Kent, and Salvador Dali among others. "Art in the Book" provides a glimpse into the wide variety of illustrative...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibition, featuring 12 important paintings, drawings and prints, as well as a rare example of the artist's sculpture, will give them the opportunity to do so. Through the use of a rich...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Currently the only Egyptian mummy in North Carolina. Families can explore the culture and history of the 22nd Dynasty, uncover the mystery of mummification in the hands-on CSI Lab, and meet...

Cost: $6

Where:
Iredell Museums
134 Court St.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-873-7347
Website »

More information

K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace is a community-created exhibit about police-involved shootings throughout the nation and here in Charlotte. Co-created with activists and law enforcement, the media,...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 704-333-1887
Website »

More information

In the 1920s, Cleveland County experienced an economic boom and bust, the heyday of the textile mills, the birth of the political engine known as the Shelby Dynasty, and improved education,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 East Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Monkey Joe’s North Carolina locations are celebrating summer with special offers for each weekday: Monday: 20% off meal packages Tuesday: Toddler Tuesday, children 4 and younger will...

Cost: See website for prices

Where:
Monkey Joe's University, Pineville, Gastonia and Matthews locations
, NC


Website »

More information

Back by popular demand, the high-flying acrobats from Cirque Imagine return to Carowinds Theatre. Moms, dads and kids can watch spectacular stunts and acrobatics right before their very eyes....

Cost: Cost of Carowinds admission

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Learn how meaningful art activities support brain development. Read the story "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!" by Karen Beaumont and then create some silly art of your own. Also at...

Cost: $10

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


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Enjoy two great mini programs in the science theater. First explore the constellations of summer in a seasonal stargazing tour of the night sky. Then, encounter the beautiful Northern Lights in a...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
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Telephone: 704-866-6900
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
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Sponsor: Sycamore Brewing
Contact Name: Katelyn Carpenter
Website »

More information

This food truck rally is family and dog-friendly and features 10-15 area food trucks, live music, and a gated kids' playground. 

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Trinity Presbyterian Church
3115 Providence Road
, NC
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Website »

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Sample food and beverages from a variety of food trucks and enjoy live entertainment at this weekly event. 

Cost: Free

Where:
329 McGill Ave. NW
Concord, NC
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Website »

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Join Dilworth neighbors in this family and pet-friendly food truck fest each week. 

Cost: Free admission

Where:
1324 E. Blvd.
, NC
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Website »

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Featuring live music, free kids' activities and 25+ of the area's best food trucks.   

Cost: Free

Where:
Old Town Rock Hill
300 E. Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
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Website »

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Spirit Square will host weekly free outdoor concerts or movies, with concessions available for purchase. Movie line-up will be announced later this summer. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Spirit Square
345 N. College St.
, NC
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Website »

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Unwind with Bluegrass and Americana music, food trucks, beverages, and more. 

Cost: Free admission

Where:
First Ward Park
301 E. 7th St.
, NC
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Website »

More information

Young mates set sail on a self-guided pirate voyage aboard our miniature pirate ship, the Adventure, at anchor in the Explorer's Outpost.  Children can dress-up, learn and play at their...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Sponsor: The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Telephone: 704-866-6923
Contact Name: Philip McGinnis
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Created in collaboration with Playskool and GE, kids can design, build and work together to make amazing Tinkertoy structures using GE Technology as their guide. Experiment with renewable energy...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-416-4600
Website »

More information

Did An Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs? Sixty five (65) million years ago the last of the non-avian dinosaurs vanished from the fossil record.  Scientists have discovered evidence that...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Fri., 3-8pm; Sat., 8-10:30am. 

Cost: Free

Where:
First Presbyterian Church Gastonia
1621 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-864-2651
Website »

More information

Created by Betty Brin Children's Museum in collaboration with the US Forest Service, this interactive nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun activities that highlight ways that kids and...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
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
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Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

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In honor of National Honey Bee Awareness Day, beekeepers at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market will be passing out free honey recipes and answering all your bee related questions.  Honey...

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Regional Farmers Market
1801 Yorkmont Road
Charlotte, NC  28217
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Telephone: 704-357-1269
Website »

More information

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
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Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of this annual festival. Watch hummingbird banding, play games, go on a nature hikes, plus face painting, local vendors, and a nature-themed art show and coloring...

Cost: Free

Where:
Reedy Creek Nature Preserve
2900 Rocky River Road
, NC
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Telephone: 980-314-1119
Website »

More information

Gather your beloved pets for a blessing of  animals, which acknowledges that God's love for humanity is revealed through them. All are welcome.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sardis Presbyterian Church
6100 Sardis Road
Charlotte, NC  28270
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Telephone: 704-366-1854
Website »

More information

Our 2017/2018 season is right around the corner and Carolina Voices is looking for talents that are both vocal and local! For those who love to perform, Carolina Voices’ is where you want to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Myers Park Baptist Church
1900 Queens Road
Charlotte, NC  28207
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1564
Website »

More information

Celebrate Orville Wright's birthday with a day of events at the museum, including bottle rockets, simulators, and a passenger from Flight 1549 who will share his personal experience. 

Cost: $8-$12

Where:
Carolinas Aviation Museum
4672 First Flight Drive
, NC
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Telephone: 704-997-3770
Website »

More information

Join the Rail Trail Symphony this summer for Symphony Saturdays featuring children's musical sessions led by The Jolly Lollies. The Rail Trail Symphony site is along the Rail Trail next to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rail Trail Symphony
129 New Bern St.
Charlotte, NC
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Website »

More information

K-5 musical theatre students will present the stories of Horton, the Cat in the Hat, Circus McGurkus and other favorite Dr. Seuss characters in this fantastical musical. 

Cost: $10

Where:
Halton Theater
CPCC
1206 Elizabeth Ave.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-330-6534
Website »

More information

The 2017/2018 season is right around the corner and Carolina Voices is looking for talents that are both vocal and local. For those who love to perform, Carolina Voices’ is where you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Myers Park Baptist Church
1900 Queens Road
Charlotte, NC  28207
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1564
Website »

More information

Monster trucks with names like "Stone Crusher" and "Avenger" hit the dirt track for a night of high-flying action. Fans can arrive early for photos with some of the...

Cost: $10-$30

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


Telephone: 800-455-FANS
Website »

More information

Enjoy a special outdoor storytime with the help of Jason Frame. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Kannapolis Library
850 Mountain St.
Kannapolis, NC
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Telephone: 704-920-1180
Website »

More information

Children and families can go on a scavenger hunt for Dory around the shopping center, and then stay for a showing of "Finding Dory." The movie begins at 8:30pm.

Cost: Free

Where:
Northcross Shopping Center
9709 Sam Furr Road
Huntersville, NC
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Website »

More information

Join Independence High School faculty, staff, marching band, boosters, athletes and other families and help kick off the school year. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Town of Mint Hill
4430 Mint Hill Village Lane
Mint Hill, NC
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Telephone: 704-545-9726
Website »

More information

Enjoy a fascinating look at all the wonders of eclipses, when one celestial object blocks the view of another. Discover what eclipses are, how and when they occur, a perfect lead-in to our...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

The Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not! presents an extraordinary collection of intriguing objects and astonishing artifacts from Ripley's Believe It or Not! Go places you've never...

Cost: $10-$25

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


Telephone: 704-373-6261
Website »

More information

This survey includes more than 150 works of art, including five original kinetic sculptures, spanning the forty-year career of the revolutionary Swiss kinetic artist. Mon., Wed., Thurs., and Sat.,...

Cost: $4-$8

Where:
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-353-9200
Website »

More information

The work of artists on display includes that of Romare Bearden, Rockwell Kent, and Salvador Dali among others. "Art in the Book" provides a glimpse into the wide variety of illustrative...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibition, featuring 12 important paintings, drawings and prints, as well as a rare example of the artist's sculpture, will give them the opportunity to do so. Through the use of a rich...

Cost: $6-$12; children under 4 free

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Celebrate the celestial event of the year at the Schiele. Come view the sun through solar telescope, discover the astronomy behind an eclipse and make a sun print. On Monday, watch a live...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Thanks to the launch of a new scholarship fund, Lil Miss Fits Dance Studio will offer free dance classes Saturday mornings in July and August. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Lil Miss Fits Dance Studio
2925 E. Independence Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28205
View map »


Telephone: 315-383-2462
Contact Name: Jiya Williams
Website »

More information

Currently the only Egyptian mummy in North Carolina. Families can explore the culture and history of the 22nd Dynasty, uncover the mystery of mummification in the hands-on CSI Lab, and meet...

Cost: $6

Where:
Iredell Museums
134 Court St.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-873-7347
Website »

More information

K(NO)W Justice K(NO)W Peace is a community-created exhibit about police-involved shootings throughout the nation and here in Charlotte. Co-created with activists and law enforcement, the media,...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 704-333-1887
Website »

More information

In the 1920s, Cleveland County experienced an economic boom and bust, the heyday of the textile mills, the birth of the political engine known as the Shelby Dynasty, and improved education,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 East Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Monkey Joe’s North Carolina locations are celebrating summer with special offers for each weekday: Monday: 20% off meal packages Tuesday: Toddler Tuesday, children 4 and younger will...

Cost: See website for prices

Where:
Monkey Joe's University, Pineville, Gastonia and Matthews locations
, NC


Website »

More information

Back by popular demand, the high-flying acrobats from Cirque Imagine return to Carowinds Theatre. Moms, dads and kids can watch spectacular stunts and acrobatics right before their very eyes....

Cost: Cost of Carowinds admission

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Lakeshore Learning Stores provide fun, free crafts every Saturday from 11am to 3pm. Visit Bit.ly/freecraftsforkids for the featured craft of the week or call your local Lakeshore Learning store for...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Lakeshore Learning Store
Telephone: 704-849-2450
Website »

More information

Geared towards children ages 3 and younger, this class will focus on movement and energy release. Parent participation required.  

Cost: $6 per class

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


Telephone: 704-825-4490
Website »

More information

Carolina Raptor Center's high flying, gravity defying summer flight show features CRC’s trainers putting our native and exotic birds through their paces in free flight. Experience the...

Cost: $8-$12; free for ages 3 and under

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy two great mini programs in the science theater. First explore the constellations of summer in a seasonal stargazing tour of the night sky. Then, encounter the beautiful Northern Lights in a...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Enjoy food, beverages, and live music at this weekly summer concert series. 

Cost: $5 parking fee

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


Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Young mates set sail on a self-guided pirate voyage aboard our miniature pirate ship, the Adventure, at anchor in the Explorer's Outpost.  Children can dress-up, learn and play at their...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Sponsor: The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Telephone: 704-866-6923
Contact Name: Philip McGinnis
Website »

More information

Created in collaboration with Playskool and GE, kids can design, build and work together to make amazing Tinkertoy structures using GE Technology as their guide. Experiment with renewable energy...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-416-4600
Website »

More information

Did An Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs? Sixty five (65) million years ago the last of the non-avian dinosaurs vanished from the fossil record.  Scientists have discovered evidence that...

Cost: $9-$10

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Fri., 3-8pm; Sat., 8-10:30am. 

Cost: Free

Where:
First Presbyterian Church Gastonia
1621 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-864-2651
Website »

More information

Created by Betty Brin Children's Museum in collaboration with the US Forest Service, this interactive nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun activities that highlight ways that kids and...

Cost: $5-$8

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


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Theatre Street's teen cast will present this musical, set in a Western territory just after the turn of the century. Featuring the high-spirited rivalry between the local farmers and cowboys...

Cost: $10 in advance; $15 at the door

Where:
Halton Theater
CPCC
1206 Elizabeth Ave.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-330-6534
Website »

More information

Get ready for the upcoming solar eclipse. Read the story "The Big Eclipse" and participate in educational activities to learn why the sky will turn dark Aug. 21. Sat., 11:15am and 1:45pm;...

Cost: $8

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


Telephone: 704-373-6261
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

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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.