Unexpected Adventure: Things to Do With Kids in Charlotte North Carolina

If you are one of the many people with a coveted travel bucket list, I will bet that Charlotte, North Carolina is not on that list. In a city where we lived and worked for so many years, we never realized that there are many things to do with kids in Charlotte.

Charlotte holds a special place in my heart. My first ‘real’ job was in Charlotte, where I met my husband, and where two of our 3 of our kids were born. Still, it took moving all the way to Boulder, Colorado, to truly appreciate what the Queen City has to offer. And with so many things to do with kids in Charlotte, NC, I now find myself planning a weekend to all our favorite spots when we go back to visit friends and family.

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If you’ve never really given much thought to family things to do in Charlotte NC, here are the spots to add to your itinerary. These are our top adventure spots and favorite family-friendly activities for this southeastern city:

charlotte skyline
There are plenty of activities and sights for a weekend in Charlotte, NC.

Things to Do With Kids in Charlotte: Uptown


There are a surprising number of museums in Charlotte that cover history, art, science, and sports. These are some of our favorite ones to visit during a weekend in Charlotte:

Discovery Place

Discovery Place has hands-on entertainment full of science- and nature-based lessons. For a more unique and unexpected experience, check the schedule for special events.

The Mint Museum

Find works of art at both locations of The Mint Museum (one right in uptown and one just a short drive away). With so many family- and kid-friendly activities, the Mint Museum is a great place for the kids to experience their first art museum.

Levine Museum of the New South

Levine Museum of the New South is one of my favorite museums and should be on every list of things to do in Charlotte. Walk this museum to learn about the rich history of the area.


Think you have what it takes to be a NASCAR tire changer? Test your skills at the NASCAR Hall of Fame! See race cars up close and learn about the history of the sport.

nascar museum in uptown charlotte nc
Test your tire-changing skills at the NASCAR Hall of Fame!

Historic Neighborhoods and Afternoons in the Park

Grab a picnic lunch, then head to Romare Bearden or Marshall Park. Or walk along the tree-lined streets of historic Fourth Ward, Elizabeth, NoDa, or Dilworth and stop at one of the many local eateries along the way. Our favorites are Alexander Michael’s in Fourth Ward and Amelie’s in NoDa (we have a weak spot for the salted caramel brownie at Amelie’s!).

Ride the Light Rail or the Trolleys

Quickly get around town on the trolleys or on the Lynx Light Rail. The trolley is a great way to get around the streets of uptown – and is super fun for the kids. The light rail is an inexpensive option to get you across town quickly. We love to start off at 7th St. Station and head down to the shops and restaurants of South End.

Catch a Game, Or a Race

There is no shortage of sports in Charlotte, North Carolina! Home to the Charlotte Hornets (NBA), Carolina Panthers (NFL), and the Charlotte Knights (minor league baseball). It always seems to be gameday in uptown Charlotte.

two kids are ready for game day at BB&T BallPark over a weekend in Charlotte NC
I love the city views from the ballpark (and even though that smile is a little forced, I promise he had fun!)

The Knights aren’t the only local team in town – we also love to watch Charlotte Checkers play minor league hockey.

Or, head a little farther out of town to find the hub of NASCAR in Concord and Mooresville (Race City USA). These two cities are headquarters for many race teams. The big race weekends are in May and October, but there are year-round racing events in Concord, NC. The zMax Dragway and the Dirt Track at Charlotte both hold some really fun races, especially the World of Outlaws series.

…or a Broadway show

The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center has everything from Broadway shows to music and comedy. The Lion King, Wicked, and other Broadway favorites have all stopped at the Blumenthal. Check the schedule for the many family-friendly events.

Things to Do with Kids in Charlotte NC: Beyond Uptown

Spend a Day at the US National Whitewater Center

If you need more ideas for what to do in Charlotte NC, the Whitewater Center just might be your answer. Raft on the man-made whitewater course or hop on for a ride on the zip line. Bike the trails or challenge yourself on the ropes course. There are so many outdoor activities at the Whitewater Center, that it’s easy to spend an entire day there. End the day with dinner at the on-site restaurant.

national whitewater center in charlotte nc
The man-made white water course at the National White Water Center is one of the best family things to do in Charlotte NC.

… or a day at Carowinds

This is the one we probably miss the most. It was one of our favorite things to do with kids in Charlotte when we lived there.

This amusement park sits right on the NC and SC state line. It’s big enough to pack in many rides and activities, yet small enough to cover it all in a day. The Fury 325 is a can’t miss ride for the bigger kids since it has one of the biggest roller coaster drops in the US. Ride this roller coaster, and you’ll cross state lines along your ride.

For younger ones, there is an entire Peanuts-themed area. Then take a break from the heat and head over to the water park! Everyone will love the variety at the water park, which has everything from shallow wading pools to belly-dropping water slides.

getting ready to ride The Fury at Carowinds, one of the top things to do with kids in Charlotte NC
The belly-dropping Fury 325 was the highlight of their day

Finding adventure in those not-so-obvious spots can be a welcome change from the typical tourist areas. We’d love to add more of these off-the-radar areas to our bucket list. Let us know your suggestions in the comments! 

Have you done a weekend in Charlotte NC? Let us know your favorite things to do with kids in Charlotte in the comments!

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28 thoughts on “Unexpected Adventure: Things to Do With Kids in Charlotte North Carolina”

  1. Shockingly, I have always wanted to visit both North Carolina and South Carolina. I read an amazing book called Beach Music set in South Carolina, and I actually toyed with attending Chapel Hill for my PhD. I think it’s one of those California big city girl fantasies. What would it be like to live in the south? Great piece!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! The southest really is an amazing area and a great place to visit. I went to grad school not too far from Chapel Hill and fell in love with that area of NC too!

    1. I never paid much attention to NASCAR before living in that area, but the culture is so much fun! The Hall of Fame is definitely worth a visit!

  2. Looks like the kids had an amazing time – great pictures! I would never have known that these types of adventures were in Charlotte – thanks so much for sharing!

  3. We haven’t spent a lot of time in North Carolina yet, but I hope to see more soon. Charlotte looks like such a fun place. Carowinds sounds like a lot of fun, and it looks like there are a lot of family-friendly activities. I’ll keep Charlotte in mind for sure!

    1. The perfect North Carolina vacation would be making your way across the state – from the beaches to the mountains, with a little time in Charlotte in between!

  4. I need to do this more often….we often are passing through cities and towns that have little adventures that can be done in minimal time.

  5. I have heard a lot of people like Charlotte. Good to know there are some good museums. It’s one thing I always look out for. 🙂

    1. There is a little bit of everything in Charlotte 🙂 With so many people moving to that area, we started to see more and more things to do there.

    1. I’m so jealous – I’d love to travel full time! I’d definitely recommend stopping through there. It’s also not too far from the mountains (Asheville) and beaches (the Outer Banks), so that area in general is worth an extended stay 🙂

  6. I have never been to Charlotte (or much of anywhere in the South actually) but my sister has been begging for us to take a family vacation there. I will have to consider now!

    1. I really am more of a northern girl at heart, but I do love the culture of the south. It’s definitely worth a trip there to experience it!

  7. I haven’t been to North Carolina other than for a flight layover, but glad to know about some opportunities should I get there for a longer stay!

    1. It’s one of those cities where the airport isn’t too far from the heart of the city, which makes it a great place to do an extended layover!

  8. The US National Whitewater Center sounds amazing! This trip sounds like there was something for everyone. I also love the “forced smile” photo! Too cute! =)

    1. Yes, the Whitewater Center is so much more than just whitewater rafting – it’s a pretty amazing place! (Yeah, I really wish I could remember what was going on with him that day – or maybe I just caught it at the wrong time! 🙂 )

  9. You’re right, I had never considered Charlotte before, but I might just have to check it out. It looks fun, and I especially love museums and historic architecture.

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