Superfoods to the Rescue

Uncovering the real meaning behind 'superfoods'


Published:

Experts agree there are hundreds of “super-good-for-you” foods, and making them a part of your everyday life may be easier than you think.

Bad news first: “Superfood” is a marketing term. There is no panacea food that can prevent cancer and heart disease, undo the damage caused by unhealthy foods, give you boundless energy and keep you trim.

But here’s the good news: Experts agree there are hundreds of “super-good-for-you” foods, and making them a part of your everyday life may be easier — and more delicious — than you think.

Defining Super-Good-for-You

Before the term “superfood” became a marketing mantra, the 2003 bestseller, “SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life” by Dr. Steven G. Pratt,  brought public attention to the term. Pratt identified 14 foods that “can stop the incremental deteriorations that lead to common ailments and diseases,” including beans, blueberries, broccoli, goat yogurt, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey and walnuts.

Since then, many self-proclaimed experts and food companies have turned the concept of “superfoods” into a multimillion-dollar industry, touting the magical properties of exotic and expensive foods such as hempseed, cacao beans (raw chocolate), maca, spirulina and bee products. There are superfood cookbooks, supplements, juices and cafes.

While the European Union forbids use of the term “superfood” in food marketing unless it’s supported by specific scientific claims, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration neither defines nor regulates use of the term. A marketer could slap “superfood” onto a juice label even if it contains only highly processed fruits and vegetables — and as much added sugar as a can of soda.

Proof is in the Pudding

Proving one food is more nutritious than another can be difficult. Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Dietary Guidelines have come under fire. This year, for the first time, the National Academy of Medicine will independently review the guidelines.

If scientists disagree on what “superfoods” are, no wonder there is so much flip-flopping dietary advice out there. Dr. Martin Kohlmeier, a primary investigator at the University of North Carolina’s Nutrigenetics Laboratory in Kannapolis, calls nutrition research an “integrative process.” His research focuses on nutrition for an individual’s genetic needs. Nonetheless, he says there are certain foods that are healthy for everyone.

While he says he prefers to “avoid the media hype” surrounding the term “superfoods,” he also says he has no problem with individuals assigning that term to nutrient-rich foods. “If you want to call kale or spinach or broccoli a superfood, I’m with you,” he says, noting that many dark green vegetables contain vitamin K, which is vital to blood coagulation and activates proteins that protect against osteoporosis and calcification of arteries and heart valves. These vegetables also have large amounts of dietary fiber, potassium and magnesium.

Diversifying Your Diet

Despite the brilliance of foods like kale, Kohlmeier warns that it is impossible to get all the nutrients you need from just one food. “As a practical matter, people eat without expertise,” he says. “It is safer to eat a wide variety. Lots of fruits and vegetables. Some whole grains. There are ‘super-villains’ out there, too. Limit animal foods and processed meat.”

Kohlmeier recommends a diverse diet because nutritional needs vary according to genetic makeup. They also differ dramatically depending on lifestyle.

No one knows this better than Jennifer Brunelli, whose clients often require more than 6,000 calories a day. A registered dietician and founder of RDPro, Brunelli has spent the last two years whipping the Carolina Panthers football team into the fantastic physical shape that powered them to the 2016 Super Bowl. She had two requirements when she started her job with the Panthers: A new kitchen for the Panthers’ stadium, and the chance to get to know each player as an individual.

Brunelli, like Kohlmeier, does not use the word “superfood,” but says she’s always looking to incorporate nutrient-rich, energizing foods into her athletes’ diets, starting with breakfast, which may consist of salmon cakes with red bell pepper sauce, grits, sweet potato hash brown, eggs and fruit.

“The athletes love seafood,” she says. “We offer some kind of fish or shellfish every day.”

She’s also a big believer in using spices to add substance and flavor. Her recipes include a lot of turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, cilantro and ginger.

Brunelli also works with high school athletes and encourages them to choose real, whole foods rather than experiment with trendy diets and supplements.

“Diet is absolutely different for serious teen athletes,” she says. “There’s more awareness on what’s fueling you when you’re an athlete. The better your diet, the better you play, and the longer you’ll last in your sport.”

No Silver Bullet

Cindy Silver, a registered dietician in Winston-Salem who has 25 years of experience, specializes in lifestyle planning and education.

“People are always looking for the silver bullet,” she says, regarding “superfoods.” “Eat some of those foods popular in media and advertisements, but realize that they are a subset of all the thousands of good choices out there. Food is a pleasure of life. Don’t restrict yourself to four or five ‘superfoods.’”

When Silver sits down with a client, she, like Brunelli, discusses lifestyle and goals. Then together they create a meal plan and, with meal plan in hand, Silver takes her client on a grocery store “tour.”

“Purchases should come directly from the meal plan,” Silver says. “Fill up the cart with fruits and veggies every shopping trip. Fresh, frozen or dried — it’s all good.”

Silver also suggests avoiding processed foods, or foods with added salt or sugar. Processing, she says, is often the biggest danger with any so-called “superfood.” Instant whole grain oats, for example, are as unhealthy as overly processed white bread. A recent Harvard health study found that instant oats spike sugar levels in the bloodstream and promote insulin-resistance, obesity and diabetes.

Silver includes protein bars and protein shakes among her list of processed foods to avoid for kids. She notes that a pediatrician may recommend supplements with added protein for kids who are failing to thrive in terms of height and weight charts, and Brunelli says supplements might make sense for a professional-level athlete, but both agree that they are unnecessary for healthy children.

A typical child doesn’t need the added protein, not to mention the sugar, transfats and caffeine that can be found in many protein bars and powders. And, Brunelli warns, if you’re replacing a meal with these products, you’re probably missing out on a variety of nutrients. 

The experts’ best advice? Lead by example. “Healthy eaters raise healthy eaters,” Silver says.

Caitlin Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Durham.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Brunelli, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

.Super-Healthy-Eating Tips

• When you’re in the mood for shakes or bars, both Jennifer Brunelli, a registered dietician and founder of RDPro in Charlotte, and Cindy Silver, a registered dietician in Winston-Salem, recommend a homemade version. Silver makes a simple smoothie with banana and milk and peanut butter, while Brunelli adds a little spinach, vanilla yogurt, and berries to her morning shake.

• Silver encourages parents to get their kids involved in menu planning. “A well-fed three-year-old is often a delight to take to the grocery store,” she says. “Encourage them to pick a new fruit or vegetable each week. An older child can help by reading nutrition labels.”

• “Add spices and other extras at home” to make healthy foods more appealing, Silver recommends.

Be Super Practical

Caroline Bretherton of Durham, who ran a catering company and a café in London’s Notting Hill, has already appeared on the U.S.’s Food Network and the U.K.’s Taste Network. She has written six cookbooks — four since moving to Durham in 2012. She doesn’t mind the term “superfood” if it’s defined loosely to mean a broad range of nutrient-dense “real” foods.

The mother of two teenage boys, Bretherton takes a practical approach to providing healthy food for her family. She found it fairly easy to get her children to eat whatever she gave them when they were toddlers. But she notes that most parents hit a “dead spot” between the ages 3 and 10, when all a child wants is chicken tenders and pizza. “You have to work the good stuff back in,” she says.

While Bretherton says it’s easy to find “superfood” recipes on the Internet, they are usually wildly impractical for a busy parent. “All these cute blogs by single, twenty-somethings … ” she laments. “They go to exhaustive lengths to replace every ingredient with an exotic alternative — then it takes hours and costs 20 dollars to make a batch of brownies. Really? Who has time for that?”

Bretherton prefers incorporating healthy choices where it makes the most sense. She throws a little kale into the shrimp curry her boys love, and makes granola with her boys’ favorite nuts and dried fruit.

Her advice to busy parents: “Don’t beat yourself up.”

Bretherton teaches cooking classes at Southern Season in Chapel Hill. Her books include “Family Cookbook” and “Desserts”.

Spicy Turkey Burgers With Avocado Cream

Recipe provided by Carolina Bretherton, author of “Family Cookbook” and “Desserts”

These Mexican-inspired burgers are a low-fat alternative to the usual beef burgers. The avocado cream makes a tasty replacement for commercially made ketchup or mayonnaise.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes plus 30 minutes of chilling

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

For the burgers:

1½ pound of minced turkey, dark meat for preference

½ cup of fresh white breadcrumbs

1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped

4 tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped

4 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped

Zest of 1 lime

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons of light oil, such as sunflower or canola

For the avocado cream:

1 very ripe avocado

1 teaspoon of lime juice

2 heaped tablespoons of low-fat sour cream

Salt and pepper

To serve:

4 burger buns

Lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, etc.

Method:

1. Place all ingredients for the burgers together in a large bowl, season well with salt and pepper, and mix to combine. You may have to use your hands to make sure the mixture is thoroughly combined.

1. Use damp hands to form four equally sized balls of burger mixture. Place them onto a chopping board and pat them down on top and around the edges to create four patties. Do not compress the mixture too much or the burgers will be tough when cooked. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes to allow them to firm up.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan and fry the burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are well-browned and cooked through.

3. While they are cooking, mash the avocado with the lime juice. When the mixture is completely smooth. mix in the sour cream and season well.

4. When the burgers are cooked, assemble them on the buns with lettuce and tomato, if you’d like, then add a spoonful of the avocado cream on top.

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The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
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Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

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The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
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Concord, NC  28027
View map »


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More information

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Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

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

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


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

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

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


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Clayworks offer hands on clay workshops. Projects created during a workshop will be brought back to Clayworks to be fired and glazed before being returned to the workshop location for pickup.

Cost: Free

Where:
Independence Regional Library
6000 Conference Drive
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Floats, marching bands, dance and tumbling troupes, vintage and modern modes of transport, plus plenty of fun and entertainment for the family, and of course Santa.

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Street
Beginning at Statesville Ave.
Mooresville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This annual event includes visits from Sir Purr, the TopCats, PurrCussion and photos with Santa.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bank of America Stadium
Corner of Mint and Graham streets
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover the secrets to navigating success at after graduation. Learn from undergraduate, graduate and professionals on how to make the most of any college experience.

Cost: Free

Where:
West Boulevard Library
2157 West Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

More than 200 talented student musicians from all over the greater Charlotte area will take the stage as the Youth Orchestras of Charlotte presents their Family Concert.

Cost: $6-$10

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


Website »

More information

Let your kids discover the details of the museums galleries in a fun and challenging way. With two levels of difficulty this gallery activity invites participants of all ages to examine art work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabarrus Arts Council
65 Union St. S.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Participants engage in arts and crafts, story time theater and music with their moms.

Cost: Free

Where:
Tuckaseegee Recreation Center
4820 Tuckaseegee Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. Let your little ones to discover the joy of being active while bouncing under the supervision of their parents and without...

Cost: $8

Where:
Sky Zone
10200 Centrum Pkwy.
Pineville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Rutherford Rabbit to enjoy a seasonally themed story and craft activity in the Children’s Garden. Children can water vegetable plants, dig for worms, and explore the sensory and...

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members

Where:
Children's Garden at Wing Haven
260 Ridgewood Ave.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Big Air Trampoline Park opens its doors for little ones to jump at their own speed and comfort level. Without the older kids around, the toddlers feel right at home on all the attractions. Big...

Cost: $8

Where:
Big Air Trampoline Park
2408 Sardis Road N.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Play time is for children just starting to walk through age 5 who are not yet in...

Cost: $3-$5

Where:
Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading
11011 Monroe Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-8611
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $5-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Families are invited to an afternoon of code on Tuesdays during this free four-week Family Code Program. Each class builds on the previous week. Bring a laptop or Chromebook. Tues., November 6:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Advent Coworking
933 Louise Ave.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Tech Talent South
Website »

More information

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

The Happy Hearts Girls program is designed to provide girls the opportunity to express themselves, gain an experience on a variety of different activities and assist in their developmental growth...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hickory Grove Recreation Center
6709 Pence Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1122
Website »

More information

Get one free child ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket on Tuesdays. Each additional child (ages 3-12) receives a discount as well, costing only $5 each. 

Cost: $15 for adult

Where:
Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 866-229-1573
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

Creepy Nature is designed to share the actual science of weird and unusual plants and animals. This exhibit features horror fiction concepts like vampires, zombies, mummies, and alien...

Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Particpants will enjoy many different activities, such as arts and crafts, nature hikes, science, sports and more while out of school for the day.

Cost: $15

Where:
Bette Rae Thomas Recreation Center
2921 Tuckaseegee Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1111
Website »

More information

Thanksgiving is almost here! Come make mac and cheese, crescent roll-ups, green bean casserole, and mini pumpkin pies. Participants can also make fun arts and crafts.

Cost: $84

Where:
Flour Power Kids Cooking Studio
9826 Sandy Rock Place
Suite E
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-6069
Website »

More information

Children will participate in a variety of activities, such as arts and crafts, sports and games while CMS schools are out of session.

Cost: Free

Where:
Arbor Glen Outreach Center
1520 Clanton Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1110
Website »

More information

Let the kids come play the day away! Kids will play a variety of games and sports, explore arts and crafts, and adventure to the playground and gym.

Cost: $25

Where:
Berewick Recreation Center
5910 Dixie River Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1102
Website »

More information

Come and join the staff at Tom Sykes to spend the day playing games, doing arts and crafts and just having fun. Field trips, which are included in price, may occur during this event.

Cost: $30

Where:
Tom Sykes Recreation Center
1501 Euclid Ave.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Develop literacy and critical thinking skills through reading and hands-on activities. Join us for our special outdoor scavenger hunt where participants will look around the exterior of the library...

Cost: Free

Where:
Myers Park Library
1361 Queens Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-5800
Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, 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:
Matthews Police Department
1201 Crews Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Let your kids discover the details of the museums galleries in a fun and challenging way. With two levels of difficulty this gallery activity invites participants of all ages to examine art work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabarrus Arts Council
65 Union St. S.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

A technician will help you learn how to install your seat correctly in your vehicle. Bring your child, seat, and vehicle and plan to spend at least 20 minutes. No appointment required.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Freedom Division office of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police
4150 Wilkinson Blvd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

This drop off program for children presents an engineering challenge based on a popular nursery rhyme. After their engineering challenge, participants meet the animals and participate in humane...

Cost: $20

Where:
Rescue Ranch
1424 Turnersburg Hwy.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Play time is for children just starting to walk through age 5 who are not yet in...

Cost: $3-$5

Where:
Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading
11011 Monroe Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-8611
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $5-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Huntersville Fire Station 1
110 S. Old Statesville Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the Mint Museum's exhibitions.

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

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

Instructors will provide assistance to students in grades K-12 in reading and math. The instructions will be primarily facilitated by NC Educator licensed teachers.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Revolution Park Sports Academy
1225 Remount Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Revolution Park Sports Academy

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

Creepy Nature is designed to share the actual science of weird and unusual plants and animals. This exhibit features horror fiction concepts like vampires, zombies, mummies, and alien...

Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

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

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


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

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

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Purchase a ticket for Breakfast with Santa at Coco and the Director, and receive a VIP Bleacher Ticket to the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. Breakfast in Coco includes choice of a...

Cost: $30

Where:
Coco and the Director
100 W. Trade St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a four-mile run, walk or trot throughout the streets of MillBridge. All proceeds will benefit Relay for Life. Children ages 10 and younger can run in the Kids’ Turkey Dash across...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
MillBridge Neighborhood
Waxhaw, NC


Website »

More information

The University City Turkey Trot includes a 5K and Fun Run. Costumes are encouraged! Prizes will be awarded for the top three age category winners of the race and for the top three costumes.

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
3024 Prosperity Church Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Do not miss the 30th Annual Southpark Turkey Trot! This family-friendly event features a Fun Run, 8K run, 5K run and Tot Trot.

Cost: $10-$45

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Discover a world of science through books, hands-on educational activities and experiments.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Let your kids discover the details of the museums galleries in a fun and challenging way. With two levels of difficulty this gallery activity invites participants of all ages to examine art work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabarrus Arts Council
65 Union St. S.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. Let your little ones to discover the joy of being active while bouncing under the supervision of their parents and without...

Cost: $8

Where:
Sky Zone
10200 Centrum Pkwy.
Pineville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Big Air Trampoline Park opens its doors for little ones to jump at their own speed and comfort level. Without the older kids around, the toddlers feel right at home on all the attractions. Big...

Cost: $8

Where:
Big Air Trampoline Park
2408 Sardis Road N.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Play time is for children just starting to walk through age 5 who are not yet in...

Cost: $3-$5

Where:
Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading
11011 Monroe Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-8611
Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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

Cost: $5-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

Creepy Nature is designed to share the actual science of weird and unusual plants and animals. This exhibit features horror fiction concepts like vampires, zombies, mummies, and alien...

Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

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

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


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

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

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Food trucks will be at Blakeney Shopping Center on Black Friday. As select retailers open their doors at 6 a.m., The Breakfast Catering Company and Food Truck will be available to dish...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blakeney Shopping Centers
9839 Rea Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Look, See the Bird!" is a hand-drawn, beautifully illustrated children's book that promotes curiosity in children and values connection with nature.

Cost: Included with admission, $8-$12 and free for children 3 and younger

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


Sponsor: Carolina Raptor Center
Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Instead of spending the day in crowded shops, come learn tips and tricks for fire building to keep warm all winter. Roast marshmallows, bring a picnic or snacks, and enjoy activities. Meet at the...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 980-314-1129

More information

Feeling a little stuffed? Take a 2-3 mile leisure hike through McDowell Nature Preserve. Discover our native flora and fauna along the way. Preregistration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
McDowell Nature Preserve
15222 York Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience new features, including a musically-orchestrated topiary display in the Four Seasons Garden, illuminated prairie garden, extended lights of fire and ice in the perennial gardens and an...

Cost: $8-$17, children younger than 2 free

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


Website »

More information

Let your kids discover the details of the museums galleries in a fun and challenging way. With two levels of difficulty this gallery activity invites participants of all ages to examine art work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabarrus Arts Council
65 Union St. S.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-2787
Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

This annual exhibit fills Kings Mountain Historical Museum with model train displays, as well as railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted!

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Step into an 1860s Christmas as you stroll through the plantation house, grounds, and outbuildings. Live Christmas music and local artisans with items for sale will be in the carriage barn. Stay...

Cost: $9-$10; children 5 and younger free

Where:
Historic Latta Plantation
5225 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-875-2312
Website »

More information

Stretch out your wiggles at children's yoga story time, hosted by yoga instructor, Stefanie Ezratty from Bellies and Blooms. She will instruct kids on some basic yoga positions that go along...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble - Birkdale Village
8725 Townley Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

With parental guidance, toddlers can jump on the trampoline, play in the foam pit and craw through obstacles. Play time is for children just starting to walk through age 5 who are not yet in...

Cost: $3-$5

Where:
Charlotte Allstar Gymnastics and Cheerleading
11011 Monroe Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-246-8611
Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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

Cost: $5-$6

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


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

This family-friendly event features craft brews, wine, cider, live music and the best food trucks in Charlotte. Bring the whole family, including your dogs. Along...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
Charlotte, NC  28203
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the wonder of the park dazzlingly lit for the holidays, with a nighttime train and more. Advance tickets required.

Cost: $38

Where:
Tweetsie Railroad
300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln.
Blowing Rock, NC  28605
View map »


Sponsor: Tweetsie Railroad
Website »

More information

Carowinds comes alive with holiday spirit during WinterFest. Friends and family are treated to an ultimate holiday celebration as the park magically transforms into a winter wonderland - full of...

Cost: $26-$47

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


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Spend the evening socializing, playing games and participating in friendly competition, all while having a great time with peers!

Cost: Free

Where:
Southview Recreation Center
1720 Vilma St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1105
Website »

More information

The Southpark Mall Microsoft store will be hosting a free ASUS ROG Arena: Fortnite Fridays Tournament! All skill levels are welcome.

Cost: Free

Where:
Microsoft
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Microsoft
Website »

More information

Drop off your children for a night of fun while you hit the town. Activities include laser tag, jump-n-play, rock climbing, mini bowling, ropes courses, bumper cars, and arcade games. Children...

Cost: $25 online, $30 at the door

Where:
Sports Connection - Ballantyne or Northlake Locations
, NC


Website »

More information

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

"Home Alone" is a quintessential holiday favorite. The whole family will delight in John Williams' beloved score performed live, while the full-length film is projected on a big...

Cost: $29+

Where:
Belk Theater
130 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Charlotte Symphony
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Take the train to the North Pole to meet Santa with a live reading of the story, "The Polar Express," complete with songs from the movie. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served....

Cost: $32+

Where:
North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes, and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $9.50-$37

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


Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

Creepy Nature is designed to share the actual science of weird and unusual plants and animals. This exhibit features horror fiction concepts like vampires, zombies, mummies, and alien...

Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

This hilarious and heartfelt holiday comedy, adapted from Barbara Robinson’s classic story, will have your family laughing and crying. In this production, Children’s Theatre of...

Cost: $19+

Where:
McColl Family Theater
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

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

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


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

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

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


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Graham cracker houses will already be formed, so all participants have to do is decorate! SAS Cupcakes will also be reading a fun story!

Cost: $9 per child; parents free

Where:
SAS Cupcakes
9941 Rea Road
Suite C
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-295-1777
Website »

More information

More than 150 artists and crafters from the Charlotte region will offer handmade goods at the Winter Wonderland Craft Fair. Shop for pottery, jewelry, quilts, handbags, children’s clothing,...

Cost: $5 for nonmembers, children under 14 free, $5 special event parking fee

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


Website »

More information

Run, run, run as fast as you can to this hands-on holiday workshop where you and your child can assemble a gingerbread picture frame that doubles as a Christmas ornament. All kids get to keep...

Cost: Free

Where:
Home Depot locations
, NC


Website »

More information

Ray Evernham’s sixth annual AmeriCarna Live car show presented by Ingersoll Rand and MSC Industrial Supply Co. is something car lovers will not want to miss!

Cost: $5; children younger than 10 free

Where:
Ingersoll Rand
800 Beaty St.
Davidson, NC  28036
View map »


Website »

More information

Being involved in the community is a great way to make connections and build your leadership skills. Work with the Odd Sock organization to provide socks to needy families.

Cost: Free

Where:
Scaleybark Library
101 Scaleybark Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-6400
Website »

More information

Shop with Santa to Benefit Charlotte Black Dogs! Enjoy free Santa photos, gift wrapping, in-store specials and a silent auction.

Cost: Free

Where:
Pet in the City
9600 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Charlotte Black Dogs
Website »

More information

Join a Nature Presenter for a fun bird story. Learn about what local birds eat and take home a bird craft.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Join Mooresville author, Marnie Schneider, for a book signing and ice cream event benefiting the Ronald McDonald House! With the purchase of "Football Freddie and Fumble the Dog: Gameday in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Two Scoops Creamery
119 Landings Dr.
Suite 104
Mooresville, NC  28117
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn the survival skill of shelter building with your family! Work together with a McDowell Naturalist, using materials found in the woods to build a sturdy, weather-resistant fort....

Cost: Free

Where:
McDowell Nature Preserve
15222 S. York Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Stop by for refreshments, the annual tree lighting, choir and dance performances, holiday crafts, carriage rides, vendors and a visit from Santa. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cornelius Town Hall
21445 Catawba Ave.
Cornelius, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The NASCAR Hall of Fame brings the holiday season to light with the fourth annual tree lighting on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza in Uptown Charlotte. The community is invited to join Santa Claus,...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Experience new features, including a musically-orchestrated topiary display in the Four Seasons Garden, illuminated prairie garden, extended lights of fire and ice in the perennial gardens and an...

Cost: $8-$17, children younger than 2 free

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


Website »

More information

Join the hotel to light a magnificent tree in the lobby while enjoying caroling, hot chocolate, cider and cookies and visiting with Santa.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Ballantyne
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate the start of the holiday season with live music, entertainment, kids activities, fireworks and the Winterland Express and Carousel.

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. St.
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

Celebrate the kick off of ChristmasTown USA with a festive 5K under the lights.The light show officially begins Nov. 30, but race participants get a sneak peek of the holiday display!

Cost: $30

Where:
Pharr Family YMCA
208 Main St.
McAdenville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Ovens Auditorium will host world famous a cappella group Straight No Chaser for their "One Shot Tour."

Cost: Tickets starting at $39.50

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2700 E. Independence Blvd.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a great shared experience for child and parent. Let your little ones to discover the joy of being active while bouncing under the supervision of their parents and without...

Cost: $8

Where:
Sky Zone
10200 Centrum Pkwy.
Pineville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Come enjoy fascinating photos, memorabilia, and stories during 12 months of rotating special displays at the Billy Graham Library as part of the celebration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

This annual exhibit fills Kings Mountain Historical Museum with model train displays, as well as railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted!

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

Step into an 1860s Christmas as you stroll through the plantation house, grounds, and outbuildings. Live Christmas music and local artisans with items for sale will be in the carriage barn. Stay...

Cost: $9-$10; children 5 and younger free

Where:
Historic Latta Plantation
5225 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-875-2312
Website »

More information

Join one of our naturalists on the fourth Saturday of each month for a stroll around Discovery Place Nature’s Paw Paw Nature Trail. Meet in the Great Hall.

Cost: $8; free for members and children younger than 2, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This bar + arcade hybrid has over 20 pinball machines, 30 arcade games and other games rotating monthly. On Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5pm the bar opens up to all ages with a parent...

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


Telephone: 980-430-4587
Website »

More information

Music and Movement activities for ages one, two and three! All ages are welcome to attend, and infants receive free admission. Come jam to stories and songs!

Cost: $2 per child

Where:
UWI- Kidz Greenhouse Cafe
5237 Albemarle Road
Suites 211-213
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: United World Initiative's
Website »

More information

This ongoing nature program features a tour, demonstration or activity designed to inspire children and adults to explore the natural world of the Carolina Piedmont.

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy the wonder of the park dazzlingly lit for the holidays, with a nighttime train and more. Advance tickets required.

Cost: $38

Where:
Tweetsie Railroad
300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln.
Blowing Rock, NC  28605
View map »


Sponsor: Tweetsie Railroad
Website »

More information

Carowinds comes alive with holiday spirit during WinterFest. Friends and family are treated to an ultimate holiday celebration as the park magically transforms into a winter wonderland - full of...

Cost: $26-$47

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


Telephone: 704-588-2600
Website »

More information

Stroll through the park or take a ride on the Winterland Express to see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. Additional activities will take place each night, such as Santa visits, marshmallow...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. Street
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

One of the world's most spectacular Christmas light displays will illuminate one of the world's most remarkable sporting venues for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas drive-through light...

Cost: $20+ per car

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

Instructors will provide assistance to students in grades K-12 in reading and math. The instructions will be primarily facilitated by NC Educator licensed teachers.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Revolution Park Sports Academy
1225 Remount Road
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Revolution Park Sports Academy

More information

"Home Alone" is a quintessential holiday favorite. The whole family will delight in John Williams' beloved score performed live, while the full-length film is projected on a big...

Cost: $29+

Where:
Belk Theater
130 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Charlotte Symphony
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Take the train to the North Pole to meet Santa with a live reading of the story, "The Polar Express," complete with songs from the movie. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served....

Cost: $32+

Where:
North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes, and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $9.50-$37

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


Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

This exhibit tells the story of the coming of railroads after the Civil War and the impact they had on the life, economy, culture, folklore, music and landscape of the mountains. Using videos,...

Cost: $4-$12, includes museum admission

Where:
N.C. Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

Creepy Nature is designed to share the actual science of weird and unusual plants and animals. This exhibit features horror fiction concepts like vampires, zombies, mummies, and alien...

Cost: $6-$7, includes museum admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6908
Website »

More information

This hilarious and heartfelt holiday comedy, adapted from Barbara Robinson’s classic story, will have your family laughing and crying. In this production, Children’s Theatre of...

Cost: $19+

Where:
McColl Family Theater
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers.

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Website »

More information

Visitors explore a dynamic and diverse dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits. See "popular" garments, runway fashions designed by...

Cost: $15-$6; Free for children 4 and younger; Included in admission

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


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Many factors must be weighed when exhibiting a work of art, from framing to installation to critical contextualization. This exhibition examines the different considerations that go into displaying...

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

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


Website »

More information

"Latin Americans in Paris" presents selected Latin American artists who moved to Paris in the mid-20th century to live and work. Their presence in Europe initiated a cultural and...

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

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon St.
, NC
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Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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To further unite the nation, in 2018 For Freedoms launched a 50 State Initiative in which multiple organizations and events embodied an array of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art,...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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"Welcome to Brookhill" is a collection of images that, like poetry, stir emotion. The photographs reveal what this neighborhood, like every other neighborhood, has come to be to its...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Website »

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Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit investigates 20th century protests, reminding museum goers that societal tumult is part of a hard-fought...

Cost: $7-$9, Children 5 and younger free

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Cultur
551 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Website »

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Come get in the holiday spirit with the performance of the renowned Nutcracker Ballet!

Cost: $5-$7

Where:
Matthews Community Center
100 E. W. McDowell St.
Matthews, NC
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Sponsor: Matthews Ballet and Dance
Telephone: 704-321-7275
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See Grant’s favorite subject, Santa Claus, along with his whimsical gnomes and published scenes of winter at the Center for the Arts. The Galleries at the Center for the Arts are open...

Cost: Free

Where:
Center for the Arts
121 E Main St.
Rock Hill, SC
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Families and friends can come by Center Court to capture holiday memories with Santa! For hours and photo package pricing, please visit website.

Cost: Photos available for purchase

Where:
SouthPark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
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Come ice skating at SouthPark Mall! Hours are Mon.-Thurs., 3-11pm; Fri. 3pm-12am; Sat. 11am-12pm; Sun. 11am-11pm.

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
Southpark Mall
4400 Sharon Road
, NC
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This nature-themed exhibit is packed with fun, hands-on activities that highlight ways for kids and families to discover, appreciate and experience the natural world. Colorful, scenic settings and...

Cost: $5-$8, free for children younger than 3, Included with admission

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
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Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s offers guests a free photo with Santa. Families can reserve a virtual spot in line while playing games and making crafts. For the first...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
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The student work featured in this exhibit marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between Levine Museum of the New South and Studio 345, a program of the Arts and Science Council. In...

Cost: $6-$10, children 5 and younger free

Where:
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. 7th St.
, NC
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Annual Guides

G.P.S. [Go.Play.See]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2018 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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