The Teen Dating Game

What to love and when to worry


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Today’s teens are navigating a social media-infused world where the only sure thing is change. But one thing remains constant: Teens love being in love. Their relationships are often powered by texting, Snapchat, Twitter and selfies, but they still contain all of the pleasures — and risks — of pre-internet dating. Whether or not your child has gone on a date, now is the time to start a conversation about building healthy relationships.


What is Dating?

Ask teens how many kids they know who date and they are quick to respond. “Everyone,” says Durham eighth-grader Wyatt — though he adds, “Not me.” Mason, an 11th-grader in Charlotte, says “more than half” of his friends date.

How do teens define dating? Brooke, a 10th-grader in Raleigh, says the classic definition still applies: A longer-term relationship between two people who are romantically interested in each other.

“If you’re dating someone but don’t think it’s going anywhere, that’s not dating,” Brooke says. “That’s just ‘a thing’ or a hookup.”

Brooke guesses that around 40 percent of the kids at her school date, but adds that only about 10 percent of those relationships are “more serious.”

Lindsey Copeland, a Durham psychologist who owns Copeland Psychological Services and also works as a counselor for Durham Academy’s Upper School, says she does not see evidence of “real” dating until students are in 11th or 12th grade. While middle schoolers might do some group dating on trips to the mall, or might connect with a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” via daily texts, Copeland says “younger students are still sorting out their own identity and are usually not ready to focus on another person in any serious way.” Such relationships, she says, usually end with an abrupt text or, even more awkwardly, by third-person word of mouth (or text).

Strict definitions aside, all teen relationships are learning experiences — from middle school pairings to high school hookups to watching a friend date his or her true love. The earlier you step in to discuss these interactions with your child, the better.


Benefits and Risks

For some kids, dating can be a wonderful learning experience. At its best, dating provides teens with increased confidence, and the chance to learn how to empathize and practice navigating adult relationships.

Brooke, who has had several in-person relationships and is currently involved in a long-distance relationship with a boy she met through social media, credits her success with looking for the right qualities in a potential boyfriend.

“The most important thing is that your boyfriend is not ashamed to show you off,” she says. “That’s a real relationship — where he says, ‘I appreciate you and I care about you.’ Both sides should be proud of each other.”

Parents can use dating as a teaching tool. “Ask your child what they think is important in a relationship,” says Betsy Thompson, coordinator of Mental Health Services at Teen Health Connection in Charlotte. “If they have a girlfriend or boyfriend, ask them how their partner shows them respect. If there’s a breakup, ask them what they learned.” It’s easier to teach kids who have experience, she says, because kids don’t always learn from peers’ mistakes.

Dating, unfortunately, is not always a positive experience. Parents typically worry most about sex, but there are other issues to watch out for — like emotional and physical abuse, which parents often don’t consider until after their child experiences it. Copeland sees “too many” college students who have suffered from relationship violence. She says the teen years provide the best time to be open with your child — when family members and adults are nearby and able to identify warning signs.

Self-confidence can provide excellent protection against abuse, says Reana Johnson, a UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore and president of the university’s chapter of “Queen in You,” a mentoring program for middle school girls that helps them discover who they are instead of seeing themselves through the eyes of potential boyfriends. She advises teens not to be in a rush to start a relationship.

“You’re your own person before and after this other person, and you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people,” she says.

Talk to your child about what it means to be treated well, and about the signs of a potentially harmful situation. If a teen is not being treated appropriately, he or she needs to know what steps to take in order to stay safe.

“It’s important to recognize when boundaries are being crossed. They especially need help learning to communicate when their needs conflict with their partner’s,” Copeland says. She suggests coaching your child in such a way that he or she knows what to say when a dating partner wants something he or she is not comfortable offering.


Teens and Sex

While dating can lead to sex for some teens, it does not for others. Being in a committed relationship can be safer than being a part of a crowd prone to hooking up. Brooke is careful to separate sex-based relationships from love-based dating. “When you’re just in ‘a thing’ with a person, that’s more about sexual attraction than a real attraction,” she says. “A lot of girls are looking for long-term relationships, while guys just want to mess around.”

Contrary to popular belief, not all boys enter relationships just for sex. Some are looking for a deeper connection. Mason says he can be more relaxed and honest with his girlfriend than he can with his guy friends.

“With my baseball friends, it’s all about competing and playing jokes,” he says. “With my girlfriend, it’s sometimes easier because we can just sort of be nice to each other.”

Whether your teen is in a committed relationship or hanging out with a larger social group, the experts we spoke to advise making your values and preferences on sex clear before it becomes an issue. Educate your child about the dangers of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases — and how to prevent them. If you do not teach your child, he or she will learn from sources you may not agree with or trust. Remind your teen (often) that alcohol and drugs lower a person’s inhibitions to the point where he or she may not have control over his or her decisions. The more your teen hears this, the more likely he or she is to think before acting.


What About Social Media?

Social media apps have become an integral part of teen culture. “Teens use social media to communicate and connect with romantic partners in ways that may be both healthy and normative, as well as in ways that may be more problematic,” says Jacqueline Nesi, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill and lead author of a study on social media’s effect on teens’ long-term relationship skills.

Her research suggests that teens may use text messaging for riskier behaviors like “sexting,” but are also to have necessary conversations about things like sexual health decisions with partners. For some kids, the chance to sexually express themselves online might lead to less sex and less physical contact, whereas other kids might be more curious about the actual act of sex after seeing or reading something about it online.

“For some kids, it is a slippery slope,” Thompson says. “For others, seeing nude pictures and sex online may desensitize them to risky behavior.”

Social media usage has changed relationship norms. Copeland hears from a lot of teens who are frustrated by their dating peers’ online showboating.

“Some teens go out of their way to post how much they love each other and how happy they are — lots of heart emojis, happy couple photos and ‘Look, I’ve got a boyfriend,’” she says. “There’s definitely a social leverage component to some of these social media-style PDAs.” Copeland suggests talking with teens about these public displays of affection, and asking them what role online grandstanding might play in nurturing or harming a relationship.

Brooke believes girls’ reputations are more at stake online than boys’. Male and female teens often take a negative view of girls who are involved in hookups or who share nude photos. “Guys — or even other girls — will call them sluts or hoes,” Brooke says. “That can really hurt a girl’s self-esteem, especially when it gets out there on social media. My friends and I would never do nudes, but it’s pretty unfair. Guys can do whatever they want and don’t get any negative feedback.”

Mason agrees. “Girls get it pretty harsh online,” he says. “My friends try to stay out of all that.”

Warn your teen about the consequences of posting compromising photos — even in the see-it-and-it’s-gone world of Snapchat. It’s easy to take a screenshot of any image and post it for a broader audience.


Strategies for Starting a Conversation

The most natural way to teach your child about healthy partnerships is to model mutually respectful relationships at home. Single parents can teach their children by drawing on what they have learned from good and bad experiences.

Organizations like “Queen in You” can offer resources for teens who are shy and might respond more comfortably to mentors closer in age. You might also consider watching a TV show or movie together to jumpstart a conversation about relationships. Ask your child what he or she thought of a character’s actions, and whether there were alternative avenues he or she could have pursued.

Still don’t know where to start? Copeland recommends the website loveisrespect.org as a resource for learning about how to maintain healthy teen relationships.

Experts say keeping the lines of communication open with your child is key.

“Research shows that communicating with kids — even more so than monitoring their online activity — is effective in promoting healthy social media use,” Nesi says.

Know what social media platforms they are using and who they connect with, and make sure they understand how to safely present themselves online.


Preventing Digital Relationship Abuse

The constant availability of social media can lead to possessive and predatory behavior. Teens should be aware that it is not normal for a partner to want to know where they are all the time, or for a partner to demand instant responses to messages.

Reana Johnson, a UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore and president of the university’s chapter of “Queen in You,” a mentoring program for middle school girls, suggests using social media to fight social media. The “mute” option is her favorite feature on Twitter.

“It can be great to just block someone out sometimes, especially if you’re going through a breakup,” she says. “You can always un-mute them later on.”

If muting one person is not enough, Johnson encourages teens to “mute” social media altogether. “On social media, the pressures are constant,” Johnson says. “You have to realize there are other things to do with your time. Paint. Keep a journal. Go outside. Otherwise, you’ll get trapped in this virtual reality. Just remember it is not real life.”


Teen Texting Acronyms and Phrases

Keeping up with your teen’s social life means understanding his or her language. Here’s a cheat sheet for some of the more popular terms or phrases you might discover — and some you hope you won’t — when you scroll through one of your teen’s text threads.

Bae: Baby or sweetie

Catfishing: Fabricating an online persona in order to lure a potential partner

Ghosting: Cutting off all communication as a means to end a relationship

IRL: “In real life” — a relationship that moves from online to face-to-face

Netflix and chill: Code for going to each other’s house in order to make out

Swerve: To avoid

Talking: Casual dating

A Thing: Not quite dating, but almost

Thirsty: Need lots of attention (sometimes sexual); desperate

GNOC: “Get naked on camera”

Smash: To have casual sex

NIFOC: “Naked in front of computer”

CU46: “See you for sex”

 

Source: Urban Dictionary, a crowd-sourced online dictionary of slang words and phrases


Caitlin Wheeler is a freelance writer in Durham.

* Names of teens were changed for privacy.

 

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View map »


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Website »

More information

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View map »


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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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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

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

Show More...
Show Less...

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

Show More...
Show Less...

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

Kids will learn some basic yoga positions that go along with the story. Come every second and fourth Friday of the month!

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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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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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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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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