Explore the Virginia Aquarium & Marine and Science Center

Discover hands-on exhibits, marine life such as sharks and stingrays, a 3D theater, a zip line park, and more


Published:

Photo courtesy of The Virginia Aquarium & Marine and Science Center

With hundreds of hands-on exhibits, marine life such as sharks and stingrays, a 3D theater, and a zip line park, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine and Science Center is a must-visit attraction if you are vacationing in Virginia Beach this summer. I recently explored the aquarium with my 12-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, and we had a fun-filled afternoon learning about aquatic life native to Virginia.

National Geographic 3D Theater

Our first stop was the National Geographic 3D Theater, where we enjoyed “National Parks Adventure 3D,” an inspiring 40-minute documentary narrated by Robert Redford. The film explores our country’s most beautiful sites and history of the National Park Service. Additional films include “Humpback Whales,” “Mysteries of the Unseen World,” “Galapagos” and more. The theater also shows longer family-friendly feature films. See the aquarium website for a complete schedule and fees.

Animals

As we made our way through the aquarium’s two buildings, we enjoyed seeing seals, crabs, sharks and my son’s favorite, the North American river otters. Another highlight of our tour was the Chesapeake Bay Touch Pool, where inquisitive kids can learn and touch a variety of crabs, whelk, feather blennies and other creatures. In the Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium, visitors will see the impressive loggerhead, green and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, as well as an assortment of fish found off of the Virginia coast.

More than 300 species are represented in the aquarium, from the rare tomistoma crocodile to Komodo dragons and sand tiger sharks.

Home Sweet Home

My 7-year-old could have spent hours playing with the interactive activities of the “Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home” exhibit, which will remain at the aquarium through Sept. 18. Little ones learn how people and their daily activities impact animals in the forest through fun stations such as a pretend house, bridge, stream, ranger’s station, lookout tower and more. The exhibit, which encourages families to spend time outdoors, was created by the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service.

Sea Adventures

For an additional fee and the chance to see dolphins, whales and other marine life in their natural habitat, take a boat ride, which departs from the Virginia Aquarium dock. Trained volunteers answer questions about marine life and provide hands-on learning. Fees and times vary according to the length of the trip and type of boat excursion. See virginiaaquarium.com for details.

The Adventure Park

If your family is looking for a bit of excitement, take an aerial escapade through Adventure Park, which is conveniently located in between the aquarium’s two buildings. Ages 5 and older (beginners and experts) can enjoy zip lines, aerial trails, bridges and unique challenges in the trees. My daughter is scared of heights, so we opted not to participate, but we saw several families enjoying the aerial fun of the treetops.

You’ll need at least two or three hours to explore both buildings of the aquarium and, of course, another hour or two for Adventure Park or a Sea Adventures boat ride. The Aquarium Café is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and serves a variety of sandwiches, salads and entrees.

 

Myra Wright is the publisher/editor of Piedmont Parent.


If You Go

Virginia Aquarium & Marine and Science Center

717 General Booth Blvd.
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451
757-385-FISH (3474)

Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission: $15-$22

 

Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium
801 General Booth Boulevard
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451

Hours: Seasonal. See website.

Admission: Three-hour tickets are free for ages 5 and 6 with a paying adult. Ages 7-11, $43; ages 12 and older, $51.

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Daily Calendar

July 2020

Kids can run the bases at the ballpark on Sundays!

Cost: $13+

Where:
BB&T Stadium
324 S. Mint St.
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The Grizzlies will wear special super hero jerseys.

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

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Cost: Free

Where:
Sun Valley High School
5211 Old Charlotte Hwy.
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Cost: Free

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Matthews United Methodist Church
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Cost: $8

Where:
SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC  28027
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Sponsor: Sea Life Charlotte
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Cost: Cost for games

Where:
Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-430-4587
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Cost: $5 per swimmer, max $15 per family

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Goldfish Swim School
13403 S. Ridge Drive
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Website »

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

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Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
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420 S. Tryon St.
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Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

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Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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AerialCLT
801 N Tryon St
Charlotte, NC  28205
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Sponsor: AerialCLT
Telephone: 980-292-1593
Contact Name: AerialCLT
Website »

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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

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712 Circle Trace Road
Monroe, NC  28110
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Sponsor: Authentic Teaching
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Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $11 for one hour

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

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Cost: Free

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The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
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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

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

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
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Cost: 250

Where:
AerialCLT
801 N Tryon St
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View map »


Sponsor: AerialCLT
Telephone: 980-292-1593
Contact Name: AerialCLT
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Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

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
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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 »

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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
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View map »


Website »

More information

Get free entry to The Schiele Museum every second Tuesday of the month from 4-8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 East Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Sponsor: Duke Energy
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Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC
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Grier Heights Community Center
3100 Leroy St.
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Sponsor: La Leche League of Grier Heights
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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

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:
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Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
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Cost: 250

Where:
AerialCLT
801 N Tryon St
Charlotte, NC  28205
View map »


Sponsor: AerialCLT
Telephone: 980-292-1593
Contact Name: AerialCLT
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

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

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

Tiny Tots will offer art, science, cooking, movement, music and dance activities for toddlers. Classes are held the third Thursday of every month, March through November.

Cost: $5

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


Website »

More information

Kids, are you ready to run off with the circus... for a week? Whether your child is ready to join the circus for the first time, or wants to push their circus skills to the next level. Our Aerial &...

Cost: 250

Where:
AerialCLT
801 N Tryon St
Charlotte, NC  28205
View map »


Sponsor: AerialCLT
Telephone: 980-292-1593
Contact Name: AerialCLT
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

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Cost: Free

Where:
Veterans Park
201 Huntersville-Concord Road
Huntersville, 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

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

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

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Cost: $20

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


Website »

More information

Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

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

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


Website »

More information

Kids, are you ready to run off with the circus... for a week? Whether your child is ready to join the circus for the first time, or wants to push their circus skills to the next level. Our Aerial &...

Cost: 250

Where:
AerialCLT
801 N Tryon St
Charlotte, NC  28205
View map »


Sponsor: AerialCLT
Telephone: 980-292-1593
Contact Name: AerialCLT
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free admission

Where:
Resident Culture Brewing Company
2101 Central Ave.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $25

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


Website »

More information

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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

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

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...
Show Less...

Adults and kids ages 10 years and older can swim, bike and run. A Kids' Tri and a Preschool Tri are offered as well. All finishers will receive a medal after crossing the bubble-filled finish...

Cost: $25-$55

Where:
Morrison Family YMCA
9405 Bryant Farms Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

Various living history displays and reenactors will be present to interact with the museum guests telling of the US military involvement in the European Theater of Operations.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Car owners and enthusiasts gather to celebrate their passion for cars and showcase their prized classics, customs and hot rods. Occurs the third Saturday of the month, excluding May and October.

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, 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

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
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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
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Bring the family to hear live music in Davidson this summer! Dates: April 18, May 16, June 20, July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 19 and Oct. 17.

Cost: Free

Where:
Circles at 30
Jetton Street
Davidson, NC
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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
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Sponsor: USNWC
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
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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
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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
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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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