10 Activities Under $10

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The kids are on vacation, the insects are buzzing and the sun is testing your lotion’s SPF. This can only mean one thing; summertime is in full swing! But, keeping them busy can take a hefty toll on your pocket. Whether going downtown, participating in community events or just enjoying your family in the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat on a budget. Here are 10 ideas costing less than $10 per person to help kick-start your summer season.

1. Fishing – Regional
Blow the dust off that old fishing pole, dig up some earthworms and load up the kids; it’s time for family fishing. From Lake Norman to Lake Wylie, Charlotte and surrounding areas offer great North Carolina fishing for the entire family. Even if you’re not the best fisherman, relaxing by the lake is a great way to spend those hot summer days. So cast out a line and see what you can reel in. A short-term fishing license in N.C. costs $5. For local tips, go to www.wcnc.com/sports/fishing before you head out on the lake.

2. North Carolina Zoo – Asheboro
Swing with the monkeys, slither with the snakes or fly with the birds, the North Carolina Zoo offers your children a chance to experience the wild kingdom like nowhere else. The zoo can allow your child’s imagination to run wild with cheetahs, and maybe even bring out the kid in you. A family trip to the zoo is a great way to educate while having a blast.
Ticket prices range from $6-$10. Every day 9 a.m.-5 p.m. www.nczoo.org. 1-800-484-0444.

3. Camp out! – Charlotte
Pack up the tent, grab the sleeping bag and head to the McDowell Nature Preserve campgrounds. With 56 campsites available, it’s the perfect urban escape. A family of four can rent one of the “drive to” sites including a picnic table, fire ring, water and electricity for just $12. 704-583-1284 for reservations.

4. The Schiele Museum – Gastonia
Gastonia’s got a swamp! A winding boardwalk leads you through a swampy world of live American alligators, a bobcat, baby raccoons, a 15-foot albino Burmese python, snapping turtles, frogs, lizards and more at The Schiele Museum. They’re all a part of the dark, still water and black, smelly mud of Southeastern swamps exhibit. Admission is $6-7. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 1-5 p.m. www.schielemuseum.org. 704-866-6900.

5. AMC Summer Movie Camp – Charlotte and Concord
This annual program features movies every Wednesday at 10 a.m. at participating AMC Theaters. And as an added bonus, you’re doing something good. All proceeds will benefit Variety: The Children’s Charity and The Will Roger’s Institute. With shows like “The Water Horse,” “Alvin & The Chipmunks” and “Surf’s Up,” there’s no reason to wait. AMC theater locations are listed in our summer entertainment guide. $1.

6. Wing Haven Gardens – Charlotte
A secret garden hidden in Charlotte? Yes!! Grab the kids and explore the flora and fauna of this unique bird sanctuary tucked away in the historic and enchanting Myers Park neighborhood. Admission is free for children, and a $5 donation is suggested for adults. Tues., 3-5 p.m.; Weds., 10 a.m.-noon.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. www.winghavengardens.com. 704-331-0664. Find out more on page 59.

7. Community Sports
For the sports lover, summertime is the ideal time to dust off the old baseball mitt or work on that fading jump shot. Sports in the summer allow families to spend fun time together while helping the younger ones to experience competitiveness and good sportsmanship. Whether you’re just looking for a small pickup game or interested in joining a small community league, the summertime is perfect for the sporting family. Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation offers public sports facilities at many local parks, so grab your family and play ball this summer!

8. Summerberry Farm – Concord
Pick your own blackberries for delicious outdoor family fun. Thorn-less berry picking begins in late June and continues through August. Picking containers are provided by the farm. No restrooms or concessions on site. Prices starting from $2.50 a quart. Beginning July 1. Mon., Tues., Thurs.-Sat., 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Weds., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 704-721-0670.

9. Ice Cream
July is national ice cream month, so now is a perfect time for you to indulge in some rocky road or mint chocolate chip. You can either visit your favorite ice cream shop for a tasty treat or try your hand at creating your own homemade ice cream. Visit www.makeicecream.com, for fun and kid-friendly ice cream recipes.

10. Summer Stage Fest – Charlotte
Stageworks Theatre presents Summer Stage Fest featuring three comical, family-friendly plays in July at Providence Day School. Performances include “Willy Wonka Jr.” Friday, July 11, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., July 12, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sun., July 13, 2 p.m. “Robin Hood” Friday, July 18, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 19, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. “The Three Little Pigs and Other Silly Tales” Friday, July 25, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 26, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $6. www.stageworkstheatre.biz. Find out more at Carolina Tickets, 704-372-1000.
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Kenneth Brown is an intern with Charlotte Parent magazine.