How to Enjoy the Rail Trail with Your Kids This Summer, from Uptown to South End
From Uptown to South End, Charlotte's Rail Trail has fun for the whole family at every bend. Here's how to make the most of your Rail Trail adventures this summer.
You've likely seen the Magic Carpet Murals of Charlotte's Rail Trail peppering your social media feeds, but did you realize this sidewalk is the pathway to a summer of fun in Charlotte with the children?
Stretching 3-and-a-half miles from neighborhood to neighborhood along the Light Rail's Blue Line, the Rail Trail is the ultimate activity for families wanting to explore Charlotte's most interesting places.
Knitting together Sedgefield, Southside Park, Brookhill, Dilworth, Wilmore, South End, and Uptown, the Rail Trail features excitement at every bend. This summer, stroll the Rail Trail (map) with the family. You're bound to stumble into some of the city's best and most interesting spots from Uptown to South End.
Are you ready for the kids to fall in love with Charlotte forever? Each point of interest listed below is only a few blocks from the Rail Trail, so there's no need to stray too far from the path. (Unless you've got your Uptown map!)
Uptown Rail Trail Activities to Try With Kids
Start your day in Uptown and continue south along the Rail Trail as you hit these spots along the way.
Attend Terrific Tuesdays at ImaginOn
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
A shared program with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Terrific Tuesdays at ImaginOn feature a fantastic lineup of performers each Tuesday beginning June 18. From a Soap Bubble Circus performance to Raptors Inspire by Carolina Raptor Center, the summer 2019 schedule is looking extra fun, especially considering tickets are free. Click here to see the 2019 lineup.
Pro Tip: Tickets are free, but they are required for all adults and children (including infants and toddlers) for entry. There is a limit of six tickets per family for each event.
Browse the 7th Street Public Market
The 7th Street Public Market is located—you guessed it—on 7th Street in Uptown. You'll find the Rail Trail and Light Rail extending next to this quirky market which houses vendors offering sushi, pizza, Charlotte gear, coffee, acaí bowls, and more. The kids can chomp into crepes while you enjoy an ice-cold beer at the market. Everybody wins.
Pro Tip: The first 90 minutes of parking are free for market patrons—just make sure you get your ticket validated by one of the vendors.
Visit Discovery Place Science (for a discount!)
Discovery Place Science in Uptown is home to unique educational experiences where kids of all ages can interact with hands-on activities that spark imagination and nurture curiosity. OK, so you knew that already. But did you know that you can visit the museum for cheaper if you take advantage of their discounts, partnerships, promotions, or Membership benefits? Whether you're a AAA member or you're an educator in the Carolinas, there are discounts available for you. Make sure to ask about these when you visit to ensure you get the best price! Click here to see the daily schedule of shows and events.
Pro Tip: Go to Discovery Place a lot? Consider getting a family membership. Learn more here.
Enjoy free Sounds of Summer concerts at First Ward Park
What's better than a summer concert smack dab in the city at a gorgeous park with food trucks, beer, and wine at your fingertips? If that concert were also free, of course. Well, lucky Charlottean: Such is the case with the Sounds of Summer concert series that takes place at First Ward Park during the season. Enjoy free Roots and Americana music at these quaint concerts in First Ward Park all summer long—the first one is scheduled for June 14.
Pro Tip: First Ward Park has a splash pad, so either arrive with the kids in swimsuits or bring some dry clothes and towels for the aftermath.
South End Rail Trail Activities to Try With Kids
You made it to South End! The fun doesn't stop here—see below for all the family-friendly activities you'll stumble upon while strolling the Rail Trail in South End.
Do a public art scavenger hunt
Ignite an appreciation for the arts in your child at a young age. All along the Rail Trail you'll find public artwork to snap selfies with and smile at. Make your own public art scavenger hunt using the South End map of public art. See how many pieces you can find during one excursion!
Pro Tip: Print out the Uptown map for a full directory of public art to find around Charlotte.
Stop by Suffolk Punch
All that adventure make you work up an appetite (or a thirst)? Stop along the way at Suffolk Punch, a bright and beautiful brewery, culinary café, taphouse, and coffee bar. The massive indoor-outdoor space leaves plenty of room for your family to choose a vibe that feels just right.
Pro Tip: Suffolk Punch is dog-friendly (outside), so this is a great place for a full family outing, including the fur-children.
Experience Rail Trail Symphony
Think you've got a budding musician on your hands? Bring your young ones to the Blue Line's New Bern Station, next to the BCycle. There, you'll see a patch of grass that has been transformed into a lively area for self-expression and exercise for the mind and body: Rail Trail Symphony. This installation of colorful musical instruments offers an exciting interlude in your Rail Trail adventure.
Pro Tip: Tell the kids you're starting a "family band" for the day and show-off your family's newfound sound to passersby. They'll love bragging about the time they rocked out with their parents.
Grab a treat at Two Scoops, Golden Cow, or Pepperbox Donuts
Spending even a few minutes outside in the Charlotte summer heat is enough of an excuse to indulge in a sweet treat. Plus, the kids will love you for it. Take your pick of South End's local treateries right near the Rail Trail – among Two Scoops Creamery (a Charlotte magazine BOB Award Winner), Golden Cow Creamery, and Pepperbox Donuts, you're sure to find something for everyone (even the picky eaters).
Pro Tip: Two Scoops has doggie ice cream on offer, and Pepperbox Donuts serves vegan options.
Write your dreams on the "Before I Die" chalkboard wall
Located on the Trail at East Kingston Avenue, the Rail Trail Chalkboard asks Charlotteans to complete the sentence, “Before I die I want to…” The board attracts people of all ages to complete the prompt when they find this hidden piece of guerilla art on the Trail.
Pro Tip: Posting the moment on Instagram? Tag #RailTrailChalkboard for your chance to be featured on the Rail Trail's official Instagram feed.
Reach new heights at Inner Peaks Climbing
For the more adventurous (or more rambunctious) families, Inner Peaks Climbing invites the whole clan to try its hands at indoor rock climbing. And, yes, there are kids climbing offerings—check out all the options for kids here.
Pro Tip: Inner Peaks has parking, so consider using this tip to your advantage if you need somewhere to park and begin the Rail Trail.
The Charlotte Rail Trail is a 3-and-a-half-mile trail that connects communities and knits together neighborhoods from Sedgefield, Southside Park, Brookhill, Dilworth, Wilmore, and South End to Uptown, but it belongs to everyone in the Queen City. The Rail Trail is the place to discover cafés and bars, explore galleries, see artists at work, stumble upon an impromptu concert, stroll with your family, or relax on a bench and watch the city come alive around you.
The walkway alongside the Blue Line already exists, but it could be so much more. With the help of passionate supporters, today’s trail will be transformed into a network of gardens, public art, unique spaces and activities, and an endless string of places to sit, eat and play. The hardest part of building a trail—acquiring the land—is already done, and a foundation has been laid. Let’s turn it into something extraordinary. Learn more about the Charlotte Rail Trail here.