A highlight list of the most fun things to do in Charlotte with kids, whether they are young or if you are looking for something to entertain the bigger kid crowd!
David and I have lived in the Lake Norman area (a suburb just north of Charlotte) for 8 1/2 years now. Prior to that we lived right near the city, in Plaza Midwood, only a mile or two from the city center, for 3 years. It’s crazy to me that we now have 12+ years of Charlotte experience under our belts.
I often get emails asking for the best restaurants to try and things to do, and while I certainly have some suggestions there, my specialty has really become things to do in Charlotte with kids. We don’t do a lot of date nights in the city, but if you’re visiting as a family and looking for some fun, Charlotte’s got a lot! Here is a rundown of some of our family’s favorites!
Things to do in Charlotte with kids 5 and under
Discovery Place Kids: File this under one of the biggest blessings we’ve had near us. It’s an indoor wonderland for toddlers through young children. I would say the fun would start to max out around age 6, but Hailey (7) still loves to go!
Discovery Place Nature: I put this in the younger kid category because it is small and simple, but still has a lot to offer children under 5. From a butterfly house, to creatures like snakes and spiders, to a cute planetarium, young kids will find this to be a a lot of fun, and parents will love it because there is plenty of hands-on fun and things to climb on.
Imaginon: A unique spot right in Charlotte (next to 7th Street Market which is a big plus!), that is a combination of a library, a theater, and other small activities for kids to touch and play with.
SeaLife Aquarium: Located at Concord Mills, to the north-east of Charlotte, SeaLife Aquarium is impressive for its size. It offers a winding journey through the creatures and fish of rivers, lakes, and oceans with stamp stations and lots of twists and turns that really make it feel magical to young children. My girls have enjoyed multiple trips to this aquarium!
Freedom Park: Freedom park is massive, offering a ton of room to run and play, a giant playground, paved walking paths, and more. It’s a great spot to let kids stretch their legs and burn off energy in a beautiful setting.
Wise Acre Farms: An organic pick-your-own farm just outside of Charlotte in Indian Trail, Wise Acres offers seasonal fun like corn pits, wagon rides, pick-your-own, playgrounds, and pizza. Call ahead to find out hours and offerings.
Patterson Farms: And a fun farm option on the north side of Charlotte, Patterson Farms offers a great family farm experience for kids. They have a large play area, often times with seasonal fun added in, hay rides, pick-your-own, farm animals, and so much more. If you can hit this up during fall, you’re in for a treat!
Concord Mills: I can’t believe I’m including a mall on this list, but if you happen to be visiting Charlotte with young kids during stormy weather, it’s worth considering. The giant indoor outlet mall has a carousel in the food court, a Disney store, a play area for kids, a movie theater, a Bass Pro Shop with a giant tank full of fish, and more. Yes, it’s a mall, but my kids really love visiting. If you want to make an overnight trip out of it, Great Wolf Lodge is right across the street and that will guarantee fun for all! (Read about our experience at Great Wolf Lodge here).
Things to do in Charlotte with kids 6 and older
Carowinds: South of the city, Carowinds is a full-fledged amusement park with monster roller coasters, family rides, and a new area for younger kids, called Camp Snoopy. Confession: my girls have never been. It’s been on my list for a while, but we have yet to make it as a family. David and I last went for Scaro-winds, their spooky Halloween themed event before Hailey was born and I am so ready to go back!
Charlotte Knights: The Knight’s are Charlotte’s minor league baseball team and the stadium is right in the heart of uptown. It’s an incredible location and view, the stadium serves quality craft beer, and an afternoon at the ballpark as a family is guaranteed to be a blast. Also, after the last play of the game, kids 12 and under are invited to take to the field to follow in the footsteps of their favorite players around the bases!
Discovery Place Science: One of our favorite places to visit, Discovery Place is in the heart of uptown and is a large children’s museum with a ton to offer. It has an IMAX theater, a small aquarium, a few exotic animals, a toddler exploration zone, tons of hands-on science fun, captivating science shows, and so much more.
US White Water Center: One of the most unique-to-Charlotte spots, the White Water Center is a great spot to fill up an entire day. From rafting to ropes courses, to ziplines and concerts, there is fun for kids and adults alike. There are miles of trails to explore and their food and drinks are good too. It is definitely one of our favorite spots!
Historic Latta Plantation: Latta Plantation is a circa 1800 cotton plantation and living history farm located within the 1,343 acre Latta Nature Preserve in Huntersville, just north of Charlotte. They offer guided tours of the plantation home, and also have eleven outbuildings that give visitors a glimpse of life in North Carolina from 1800 to 1865 during self-guided grounds tours. They also hold educational events throughout the year so check their calendar for more info!
Lazy 5 Ranch: An exotic animal zoo north of Charlotte in Mooresville, Lazy 5 is a really unique place. You can drive your own car through the free-range zoo, but I recommend taking the wagon ride instead to spare your car dents and scratches because the animals come right up to you. They have giraffes, zebras, deer, pigs, camels, llamas, and more- the kids love it!
Crowders Mountain State Park: The closest mountain hike to Charlotte, Crowders offers challenging hikes, towering cliffs and a 25-mile views of the surrounding piedmont. There is also a lake for fishing or canoeing, and 11 trails ranging from easy to challenging.
Theater Productions: We recently took the girls to see Matilda at the Children’s Theater of Charlotte, which was fantastic. We’ve gone on several date nights to see shows at the Belk Theater, from Jersey Boys to Once. Hailey and David went to see the Nutcracker ballet last year and had a ball! Charlotte gets a lot of the hottest shows (Hamilton is currently at the Belk Theater!), so it’s worth checking out to see what’s playing while you’re in town!
This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what Charlotte has to offer and it doesn’t even touch on all the great food the city has to offer. However, I hope if you’re looking to visit for the weekend, or maybe a local looking to discover something new, that this is helpful! If you have any questions about any of these or looking for something specific, leave a comment and I’d gladly talk all things Charlotte with you!
Local friends- what is your favorite thing to do in Charlotte with kids?