2018 Readers' Favorites: Family Outings

Discovery Place Kids 348
Photo courtesy of Discovery Place
Young visitors can have hands-on fun at Discovery Place Kids.

Place to Play With a Toddler: Discovery Place Kids. Discovery Place Kids is a world of imagination for young visitors. From water tables to a real fire truck and its “I Can” theme rooms, including a doctor’s office and engineering lab, children can play, climb and pretend the day away. Huntersville. kids.discoveryplace.org.

Day Trip + Animal Attraction: North Carolina Zoo. Just an hour-and-a-half drive from Charlotte to Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo sits on a 2,200-acre tract of land with 500 acres developed into the largest “natural habitat” zoo in the United States. Animals, including elephants, zebras, giraffes, bison, polar bears, sea lions and cougars, live in areas that mimic natural habitats. There’s also an education center, kid zone and playground. nczoo.org.

Live Theater for Kids: Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Seventy seasons and going strong, the professional production company showcases stage performances with dazzling costumes and stage props. Recent shows include “Mary Poppins” and “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure.”  ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center, 300 E. Seventh St., Charlotte. ctcharlotte.org.

Children’s Museum: Discovery Place Science. Think it up in the “thought studio,” take engineering to a new level at Project Build, hold a sea creature, lie on a bed of nails in the Cool Stuff area, and learn about what’s around you in World Alive. It’s also home to Charlotte’s IMAX dome theatre. 301 N. Tryon St. 704-372-6261. science.discoveryplace.org.

Kid-Friendly Festival: Renaissance Festival. An eclectic mix of performance stages, medieval-themed games, jousting tournaments, and costumed characters make Ren Fest a favorite. Kids love the rides, climbing tower, fairies and overall magical atmosphere. Huntersville. carolinarenfestinfo.com.

Outdoors Destinations

Greenway: Anne Springs Close Greenway | ascgreenway.org

Playground/Park: Freedom Park and Park Road Park (tie)  | parksandrec.com

Place to go Fishing With Kids: Lake Norman State Park | ncparks.gov/lake-norman-state-park

Place to Take Out-of-Town Visitors: US National Whitewater Center | usnwc.org