Family and Kids Activities Guide to Charlotte
Playgrounds, museums, outdoor adventures, and day trips in and around Charlotte
Sticking around Charlotte for spring break? Or just looking for a way to spend the day with your family? Here’s a list of the best Charlotte has to offer for kids and families. It’s not everything, but it’s a great snapshot of the spots worth visiting.
Crooked Creek Park
5900 Oakwood Ln., Indian Trail
This woodland-themed playground stands out in its design. The nature vibe play spot includes a zipline and a lot of room to explore.
1908 East Blvd
Charlotte’s most well-known park, it features two sizable playgrounds, access to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, and the NFL Play 60 KidZone.
Hornets Nest Park
6301 Beatties Ford Rd
The park has two playground areas, a softball field, two sand volleyball spots, rows of horseshoe pits, a BMX track to ride, frisbee golf, and basketball courts. Bring the sunscreen – there’s not much shade.
601 East Park Ave.
If Freedom Park is too packed for your liking, Latta is just around the corner and has spraygrounds, playgrounds and trails.
Park Road Park
6220 Park Rd
With three playgrounds for all ages and abilities, kids will enjoy tunnels, rock walls, spinning monkey bars, and a wide selection of ninja warrior-like challenges.
7714 Tega Cay Dr, Tega Cay
This brightly colored playground is enjoyable for all children, but is designed for those with sensory, physical, cognitive or social development limitations. Kids of all ages will also enjoy the musical instruments and a zipline.
William Davie Park
4635 Pineville-Matthews Rd.
This South Charlotte park has a large, fenced-in play area, with three playground structures for different ages and abilities. The park also has soccer fields and a dog park. Drowning in Amazon boxes? The park is also a Charlotte recycling center situated in the parking area of the playground.
Ray’s Splash Planet
215 North Sycamore Street
With an array of slides, spilling overhead buckets, water basketball, a lazy river, special “Saturation Station” for children under 48 inches tall, and more, you’ll understand how Ray’s has been ranked on the city’s best-of lists since opening in 2002. Entry is $8 to $10 for residents and $10 to $15 for non-residents. See hours here.
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
This hands-on museum will intrigue kids of all ages with aquariums, design labs, indoor rainforest, IMAX theater, interactive science experiences and exhibits. This uptown spot is now open 7 days a week. Save on ticket price and parking, by prepaying online.
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
Geared toward younger children, but enjoyable for all ages, the hands-on nature facility lets kids get up close with animals and insects. The nature museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibitions, including “Creature Craven” and “Insect Alley,” where kids can go nose-to-nose with a variety of creatures and bugs. Discovery Place Nature is open Tuesday through Sunday, at $8 per person. Children under 2 are free. Purchase tickets in advance online.
Discovery Place Kids
105 Gilead Road, Huntersville
Suited for children 7 and under, the museum and its extensive play exhibitions are themed around a small town, allowing children to learn through play. Discovery Place Kids is open Tuesday – Sunday, and tickets ($14 per person on weekdays, $15 per person on weekends) must be purchased online in advance.
1500 East Garrison Blvd, Gastonia
Known for its amazing planetarium, kids will also explore and discover dinosaurs, animals, habitats, fossils, and minerals in this science and natural world museum. Open 7 days a week, visit here for hours, pricing, and directions.
Museum of Illusions
601 S. Tryon St.
Adults and kids will enjoy the mind-bending hijinks created by mirrors, lights, and depth perception challenges. We’ve got everything to know before you go, here. Be sure to buy tickets in advance, they often sell out.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 E. MLK Blvd
Racing fans can see exhibits and more than 50 interactive experiences, like the iRacing Simulator and Pit Crew Challenge.
8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord
This underwater adventure features 10 interactive zones including an Interactive Touchpool, the Tropical Ocean tunnel with more than 800 creatures inside 117,000 gallons of water, the Sea Turtle Rescue Center, and the Stingray Bay exhibit, among others. The newest exhibit, Doodle Reef, allows you to design your own virtual fish and watch as it swims in the reef. Purchase tickets here.
NC Transportation Museum
1 Samuel Spencer Dr, Spencer
If you have a train lover – this is the spot for you. This family-friendly place is a 57 acre site filled with interesting exhibits, train rides, historic structures, and special events. Don’t miss the Tractors & Trains Festival, April 14 – 15.
Amusement Parks and Outdoor Experiences
300 Carowinds Blvd.
Now open year-round, you can now enjoy this celebrated Carolinas amusement park, no sweltering heat required. With more than 60 rides, a massive waterpark, live entertainment, and Camp Snoopy for the tiniest adventure-seekers, Carowinds packs a fun-filled day. Opening in April 2023, the new Aeronautica Landing celebrates aviation and innovation with rides, immersive experiences, Game Zone, and even aviation-themed food and beverages.
Anne Springs Close Greenway
2573 Lake Haigler Dr, Fort Mill
With lakes, hardwood forests, plenty of wide-open space, and even an onsite restaurant, this greenway is more than twice the size of Central Park. Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, or camping at this exquisite nature preserve just over the border in Fort Mill. Daily admission for non-members – $12/person, $6 (ages 5 – 12)
5000 Whitewater Center Parkway
Take on roaring rapids, zipline through trees, or scale rock walls. Everyone in the family, from the youngest to oldest, can find an activity to suit their comfort level. Pro tip: The ropes courses can get challenging, but the free obstacle challenge is great for ages 5 and up. It makes the obstacle more doable with cargo nets, rope climbs, and wall traverses.
6345 Sample Road, Huntersville
Located at Latta Nature Preserve, Quest’s 13,000-square foot facility offers endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Walk the Carolina Raptor Trail, hike alongside a naturalist, create a nature craft, kayak, paddleboard, canoe, fish, and more. Check their calendar for special events and programming to plan your visit.
While admission to Quest is free, you must purchase tickets to the Raptor Trail (Adult ticket – $12, Students – $8, Seniors/Military/Teachers – $10, Children 3 and under are free.). Paddle sports also have fees.
7300 Airport Overlook Dr.
For the flight enthusiasts in your crew, pack a picnic and head to “The Overlook” at Charlotte Douglas Airport. Park your car and chill while you watch takeoffs and landings.
448 Pilch Rd, Troutman
This park features a wide variety of exotic animals such as, tigers, lions, leopards, giraffes, monkeys, lemurs and more. Admission costs are $17/adult and $15/children under 12. Admission gives you access to both the walk-around and drive-around sections of the zoo. Closed on Tuesdays.
Lazy 5 Ranch
15100 Mooresville Road
Lazy 5 Ranch is home to more than 750 animals including birds, domestic farm animals, and exotic species. Kids can watch animals roam the ranch and get up close to feed them out of feed buckets right from your own car window! The ranch is open seven days a week and only accept CASH or CHECK. For hours and rates, visit here.
Good Karma Alpaca Ranch
1041 Brevard Place Rd, Iron Station
Head over to this Alpaca Ranch, just 40 mins outside of Charlotte and pet llamas, tour the farm, or even do alpaca yoga. See their events calendar to purchase tickets in advance.
Cotton Beam Goat Farm
29631 Herrin Grove Road, Mount Pleasant
Get your baby goat fix and have a cuddle session at Cotton Bean Goat Farms in Mt. Pleasant. Spend 45 minutes in the goat pasture on a baby goat playdate where you can snuggle and bottle feed the farm’s Mini Nubian milk goats. Call 704-941-7944 to schedule.
4400 Cook Road, Rockwell, NC 28138
Tiger World Endangered Wildlife Preserve is a nonprofit animal conservation and educational center dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of exotic animals. Walk around freely on self-guided tours, or join one of the guided educational tours Monday through Friday, at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. (They encourage you to call and book your tour – 704-279-6363.)
Reed Gold Mine
9621 Reed Mine Road, Midland, NC 28107
Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first documented gold discovery in the United States. Today, kids can pan for gold, take a tour of the historical site, and enjoy trails and outdoor exhibits. Admission is free. Gold Panning is available Tuesday through Saturday, between April 1 through October 31, weather permitting, with a charge of $3 per pan (plus tax).
300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane, Blowing Rock
This family favorite reopens for the season on April 8. Enjoy train rides, live entertainment shows, playgrounds, rides, deer park, and other fun activities. Buy day tickets ($60/adult, $40/child) or season passes, here.
Great Wolf Lodge
10175 Weddington Road, Concord
This indoor water park fun and exciting land attractions offer something for the entire family – kid-friendly activities, dining options, interactive games, 11 waterslides, four pools, and more. Don’t want to go overnight? Purchase a day pass!
Foothills Outdoor Adventures
Take in a beautiful spring day on the water just 90 mins outside of Charlotte. Rent a pontoon boat on W. Scott Kerr Lake, float down Yadkin River in a tube, canoe, kayak, or paddleboard.
Dupont State Forest
Cedar Mountain, NC
From hiking to swimming and canoeing to fishing, an outdoor adventure land awaits in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ DuPont State Recreational Forest near Brevard. This 10,400-acre area offers more than 100 miles of recreational trails in lush forested land that encompasses lakes and waterfalls. It’s open to walkers, mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders. Admission to the park is free and the experience is priceless.
More Fun To-Do Lists
Pack up the tent! We’ve got a list of 7 nearby Family Campgrounds.
Looking for the best spots to hike? Check out our list of Where to Hike with Kids Within an Hour of Charlotte.
Looking for some rainy day fun? We’ve got a list of the Best Indoor Playgrounds and Rainy Day Activities.
Family of cyclists? We’ve got a list of Family-Friendly Bike Paths in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Drop a line in. Check out our list of all the Best Fishing spots for Families in and around Charlotte.