5 Fun & Family-Friendly Things To Do in Charlotte, North Carolina

things to do with family in charlotte

Charlotte is a young, vibrant town with an energetic nightlife. When I was a young single, I was easily wrapped up in the nightclubs and bars that populate the Uptown entertainment district. How times have changed now that I have a family! Instead of researching ways to keep myself entertained, I’m researching how to keep my son occupied.

Thankfully, Charlotte has a TON of family-friendly activities. Below are five of my favorites:

1. Discovery Place

Body Worlds @ Discovery Place
Source: Photo by user Justin Ruckman used under CC BY 2.0

Get your science geek on at Discovery Place! The science education center offers hands-on, interactive exhibits that children of all ages (including you, parents) will enjoy so much that they’ll forget they’re learning! Besides regular exhibition, Discovery Place also hosts rotating exhibits like Body Works. Also, don’t forget to check out what’s playing at the IMAX.

Tickets for Discovery Place are 12 USD for children and 15 USD for adults.

2. Carowinds

Up Up and Away
Source: Photo by user Kreg Steppe used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Are you ready for some adrenaline-filled adventure? Then look no further than Carowinds amusement park, home to the world’s tallest roller coaster. The park is filled with everything from Planet Snoopy children’s center to a waterslide park and freaky fast and tall roller coasters! One of the best times of the year to visit Carowinds is in the fall during Scarowinds. At night, the park converts into a haunted amusement. Tickets are 39 USD.

3. U.S. National Whitewater Center

things to do with family in charlotte | u.s. national whitewater center

Don’t let the fact that the U.S. Olympic Whitewater Team trains at the US National Whitewater Center scares your family away. The Whitewater Center is a great place to spend a day with your family, as it’s so much more than just the manmade whitewater course (which has an option for family-friendly rapids). It’s an amusement park for the outdoor enthusiasts with not only the rapids but also ropes courses, hiking, mountain biking, and zip-lines. There are also calmer water activities on the lake like kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up-paddle boards.

Day passes start at 49 USD for children under 9 and 59 USD for adults and children 10 and up.

4. Lazy 5 Ranch

Lazy 5 Ranch
Source: Photo by user Aaron Alexander used under CC BY 2.0

The Lazy 5 Ranch is located slightly north of Charlotte in Mooresville (about 15 minutes by car), but so worth the drive. The drive-through animal safari is filled with everything from emus to ostriches, zebras, and giraffes. Guests have the option to drive their own car through the ranch for 9 USD for children under 11 and 11 USD for adults and children ages 12 and up or take a horse-drawn carriage tour for 5 USD more per person. While little ones may prefer viewing the animals from the comfort of their enclosed vehicles, parents prefer not maneuvering around the animals and often opt for the carriage ride.

5. NASCAR Hall of Fame

Source: Photo by user jason goulding used under CC BY 2.0

One can’t talk about Charlotte without mentioning NASCAR. Charlotte is the motorsport’s capital city after all with the majority of drivers and teams based up in Mooresville. You don’t have to drive up to Mooresville to experience NASCAR though since the sport’s hall of fame is conveniently located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is worthy of a visit even if your family aren’t racing fans. The interactive exhibits that simulate what it’s like on race day lend appreciate to the nuances of the sport, and the racing simulators let you know how it feels to drive the high-octane beasts. Tickets cost 12.95 USD for children under 12 and 19.95 USD for adults and children 13 and up.

Charlotte has so much to offer for families

These five activities are a great jumping off point for exploring Charlotte with your family in tow. There are still so many more items that I couldn’t fit on this list that Charlotte definitely has enough activities to fill a weekend away, if not an entire week.

Oh, and when you’re done doing family activities, most of the Queen City’s many breweries are family-friendly. #JustSayin

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Bryan Richards is a travel, food, and craft beer writer. In the past eight years, he’s traveled to five continents, 20 countries, and 71 cities. He has a passion for exploring regional foods and...Read more

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