TRAVEL GUIDE: The British Virgin Islands By Boat (In One Day)

A step-by-step guide


Published:

Eric Rubens

If the idea of a slow sail and endless horizon with kids in tow makes you want to throw yourself overboard, rest easy. There’s an easier way to get the Caribbean experience. Your family can experience the highlights of the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) in one day—and make memories that last a lifetime.

Getting There
American Airlines offers a three-and-a-half-hour, nonstop flight from Charlotte to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Other carriers offer flights with a one-stop layover. 

Where to Stay
St. Thomas has a mix of Airbnbs, VRBOs, bed and breakfasts, and smaller resorts, as well as cabins on the Virgin Islands Campground. For major resorts, The Ritz-Carlton is newly remodeled and open. The Marriott Frenchman’s Cove offers two and three bedroom villas. Check out USVIupdate.com for post-hurricane hotel updates.

Finding a Boat
A quick Google search will lead you down a rabbit hole of charter options in St. Thomas, but your best bets are Sonic Charters or Good Day Charters. You’ll want to book this in advance. If you’re staying in St. Thomas, take a taxi to your respective boat dock. With your passports in hand, fill out the necessary customs and immigration paperwork, and be on your way.  

Expenses
A full day charter ranges from $550 to $675 for up to six passengers. Some charters charge a separate captain’s fee, while others incorporate it into the day rate. Fuel costs depend on the distance you travel, but on average it’s around $250. Clearing customs and immigration into the BVIs is $45 per person, and BVI park fees are $6 per person. It’s also customary to tip your boat captain 20 percent. For six people, this trip will cost around $250 per person with tip. All chartered boats provide life jackets and snorkel gear.

What to Bring
Bring your passport, swimsuit, towel, a long sleeve cover-up, and sunscreen. Pack snacks and alcoholic beverages if you want something more than water and soda on the boat, and water shoes and a waterproof case for your phone or camera. Don’t forget Ziploc bags for your passports and important items you don’t want to get soaked. If you wear a hat or sunglasses, make sure they have straps to keep from losing them.

Boating With Kids
Every location on the charter tour is kid-friendly, but eight hours on the water can be a lot for the little ones, so take that into account. All children under the age of 13 must wear a personal flotation device.

Route
From St. Thomas, it’s about 40 minutes to West End, Tortola. This is where your captain handles all customs and immigration paperwork for you, and this required stop could take up to 40 minutes. After that, the adventure begins. 


Brisitsh Virgin Islands Tourism

THE BATHS, VIRGIN GORDA  
60 minutes from West End Tortola
The island’s most famous beach has massive granite boulders that look like marbles tossed into the blue bay. From the boat, it’s a short swim to the shore. Wear water shoes with good grip, and explore rocks through the maze of tunnels. Some parts have steep stairs and fixed ropes to assist hikers. 

CAVES & INDIANS, NORMAN ISLAND
20 minutes from Rhone Marine Park 
If you’re hungry, stop at Pirates Bight and feast on baby back ribs, fish tacos, nachos, and conch fritters. Then explore this uninhabited island, known for buried treasure and caves for snorkeling. Though the water is typically calm, the rocky entrances to the caves can be dangerous if you scrape up against the edge, so use caution. Inside the caves, you’ll find pools of clean, cool water, ferns growing along the cave walls, and a soft, sandy bottom. Bring an underwater flashlight to guide you, and shine it on the ceiling to see bats hanging upside down. Try to plan this visit early in the day though, because this spot gets busy in the afternoons. 

COURTESY

RHONE MARINE PARK, SALT ISLAND 
30 minutes from Virgin Gorda 
The Rhone, which sunk in an 1867 hurricane, is possibly the most impressive shipwreck in the Caribbean. Today it’s a marine park, and part of the BVI National Parks Trust. Although the wreck is a popular diving site, snorkelers enjoy this spot since her decking, rigging, steam engine, and propellers are still visible in the section closest to the shore. 

CHRISTMAS COVE, GREAT ST. JAMES ISLAND
(U.S.Virgin Islands) 25 minutes from Jost Van Dyke
As your day winds down, have your captain radio in your pizza order and get your snorkel gear ready. Christmas Cove is not in the BVIs, but it’s on nearby St. John and worth a stop. See immaculately clear waters, sea life, and an undeveloped shoreline. Or go snorkeling along a rock ledge covered in coral and see fish, eels, and squid sparkle in the transparent water. Walk the beach and collect shells, sand dollars, and sea anemones, then stop by the “food boat” on the water and grab your pizza on the way back to St. Thomas. 

THE SOGGY DOLLAR, JOST VAN DYK
25 minutes from Norman Island
This beach bar has no dock, so you have to swim to the shore to indulge in their signature drink, “The Painkiller,” made with dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice, and topped with grated nutmeg. Soggy Dollar Bar also serves burgers, fish sandwiches, and wraps. Next door, Hendo’s Hideout has more traditional Caribbean fare like fish tacos, shrimp cocktail, lobster egg rolls, and conch fritters. 


TRAVEL TIPS FOR ST. THOMAS

1. Cruise ships began visiting St. Thomas in November 2017, a month and a half after Hurricane Irma. Delta, JetBlue, and Spirit airlines expanded their services from the U.S. to St. Thomas beginning in May 2018.   

2. USVI is the only place under U.S. jurisdiction where the rule of the road is to drive on the left. But nearly all passenger vehicles are left-handed because they’re U.S. imports. All taxis are 15-passenger vans, and costs are per person, per destination. Rental cars begin at $35 per day and can be rented from the airport.

3. The ferry to St. John is a great way to see more of USVI. Once you arrive, take a taxi to Maho Bay to snorkel and see turtles. 

4. Visit the white sand beaches at Magen’s Bay, and take in views from above at Mountain Top & Drake’s Seat. For dinner, look for restaurants in the East End.  

TONYA MILLER is a Charlotte-based freelance writer, mother, and adventure seeker. Reach her at tonyamiller00@gmail.com.

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July 2020

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Sims Park
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Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St.
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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

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Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
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14523 Carowinds Blvd.
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Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

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Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
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Mint Museum Uptown
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Cost: $21-$31

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New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
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DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
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Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
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View map »


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

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Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
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Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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Cost: $11 for one hour

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DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
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Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

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Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
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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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Defy Gravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

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Mint Museum Randolph
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Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
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Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
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Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
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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
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
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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

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

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


Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

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


Website »

More information

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

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


Website »

More information

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Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
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Cost: $21-$31

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


Website »

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Cost: $11 for one hour

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


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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

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

Where:
Anne Springs Close Greenway
291 Dairy Barn Ln.
Fort Mill, SC
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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
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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Where:
Tiny Blooms Yoga
15905 Brookway Drive
Suite 4106
Huntersville, NC
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Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

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

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


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free admission

Where:
Resident Culture Brewing Company
2101 Central Ave.
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Cost: Free

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Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Stumptown Park
120 S. Trade St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Oak Street Mill
19725 Oak St.
Cornelius, NC
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Where:
Romp n' Roll NW Charlotte
3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
207
, NC
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More information

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Cost: $10-$40

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


Website »

More information

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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

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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...

Learn about women in history who championed the cause of women's suffrage in this country and overseas in the late 19th and early 20th century in this performance by Jessica Michna with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 East Mountain St.
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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
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
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The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library presents monthly story times at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. every second Saturday of the month.

Cost: Free

Where:
Northlake Mall Live 360° Games Court
6801 Northlake Mall Drive
, NC
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Sponsor: Northlake Mall
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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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Bring chairs and blankets to watch movies in the park. Concessions will be available for purchase. The second Saturday of the month, May through September with a Halloween special on Oct. 17. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Stowe Park
24 S. Main St.
Belmont, NC
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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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