98 Things To Do in Charlotte, NC with Kids

Experience the Spectacle of Color Parade at Grand Carnivale, Carowinds' newest celebration. Photo courtesy of Carowinds.
Experience the Spectacle of Color Parade at Grand Carnivale, Carowinds' newest celebration. Photo courtesy of Carowinds.
8/7/21 - By Pam Hegner

With museums, parks, sports teams, racing, great restaurants, and shopping, there's tons of fun things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina, with kids. Whether you are a native Charlottean, one of the thousands of transplants, or just visiting, we hope you will love exploring the history, diversity, culture, and beauty of the Queen City. It's one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the southeast, so there are often exciting new openings and pop-up experiences, too. 

If you somehow get bored in Charlotte, you can always head to nearby Asheville, North Carolina, or see all our city guides for more family adventures.


Hike the trails of Lake Norman State Park. Photo by Charlotte Blanton

Things To Do in Charlotte, NC with Kids

1. Lake Norman

Ride a boat on Lake Norman or explore the state park.

2. Charlotte Liberty Walk

Learn about the American Revolution on the Charlotte Liberty Walk.

3. Carolina Panthers 

Cheer on the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

4. Camp North End

Explore this unique innovation district with restaurants, shops, and more. It's among our first stops when looking for things to do in Charlotte for all ages.

5. Ballantyne Hotel

Enjoy afternoon tea at the Ballantyne Hotel.

6. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Take in the beauty of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

7. Great Wolf Lodge

Stay the night or get a day pass at this indoor water park resort, AKA Las Vegas for kids!

Tour the speedway. Photo by Charlotte Blanton

8. Charlotte Motor Speedway

Take a speedway tour of this famous raceway.

9. Carolina Raptor Center

Meet new animal friends at Caroline Raptor Center.

10. Carowinds​

Ride all the roller coasters at this Carolina theme park.

11. The Ritz-Carlton's Bar Cocoa

Satisfy your sweet tooth at this uptown chocolate shop.

12. Sullenberger Aviation Museum

See the aircraft from "Miracle on the Hudson" at the Sullenberger Aviation Museum, named after its hero pilot.

13. Diamond Restaurant

Eat fried pickles at this traditional Greek diner.

The Discovery Place Science Museum is full of wonder. Photo courtesy of the museum

14. Discovery Place Science Museum

Get lost in science at the interactive Discovery Place Science Museum.

15. NoDa 

Have brunch and stroll the shops and galleries in Charlotte’s historic arts and entertainment district.

16. Discovery Place Nature

Explore the nature trails and animal exhibits at this nature museum.

17. Matthews Community Farmers' Market

More than a market, enjoy live music, cooking demos and family activities.

18.  American Girl Store

Get your girly on at the American Girl Store at SouthPark Mall.

19. Levine Museum of the New South

Learn regional history at the Levine Museum of the New South.

RELATED: 25 Things To Do in Raleigh, North Carolina, with Kids

Test your driving skills at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Photo by Charlotte Blanton

20. NASCAR Hall of Fame

Spend some time learning about the history and legends of NASCAR.

21. Speed Street 600 Festival

Party at this popular annual event with entertainment and activities for the whole family.

22. CLT New Year's Eve

Ring in the New Year in uptown Charlotte.

23. Charlotte Center City Carriage Tours

Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through uptown and then have a meal or snack at 7th Street Public Market.

24. ImaginOn

Watch a performance and explore this modern children’s library.

25. Charlotte Hornets

Root on the local NBA team at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena.

26. Timed Out Escape

See if you can make it out in time at this escape-room experience.

27. Epicentre NC

Park at South Blvd. and take the Lynx Rail uptown to visit this dining and entertainment hub.

28. Tupelo Honey Cafe

Sample made from scratch sweet potato pancakes at Tupelo Honey Café.

29. Blumenthal Performing Arts

Book tickets to a Broadway show at Blumenthal Performing Arts.

RELATED: 10 Amazing North Carolina Beaches to Visit

The trails at Congaree National Park are perfect for the young hiker. Photo by Charlotte Blanton

30. Congaree National Park

Take a day trip to the closest national park to Charlotte.

31. Blakeney 

Spend the day shopping at Blakeney Shopping Center, and then let the kids enjoy the splash pad and playground.

32. James K. Polk Historic Site

Explore the birthplace of James K. Polk, the nation's 11th president.

33. Main Library Idea Box & Makerspace

Get “creatively messy” at this fun learning environment located inside the Main Library branch. (Note: Temporarily closed due to COVID.)

34. Charlotte Thanksgiving Day Parade

Watch the floats and bands at the annual Charlotte Thanksgiving Day Parade. 

35. Mint Museum

Participate in a kids program at the Mint Museum.

36. Tiger World

See lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) at this educational wildlife preserve.

37. The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar 

Order a kid’s Bento box at this popular restaurant.

Learn a little marine biology at the Sea Life Aquarium. Photo by Charlotte Blanton

38. Sea Life Aquarium

Meet some underwater friends at this interactive indoor aquarium.

39. Mert's Heart and Soul

Snack on shrimp & grits at Mert’s.

40. Mac's Speed Shop

Enjoy live music & BBQ at Mac’s Speed Shop.

41. Lazy 5 Ranch

Drive-thru this safari park and feed exotic animals.

42. Yiasou Greek Festival

Celebrate diversity at the Yiasou Greek Festival in Dilworth.

43. Matthews Playhouse 

Take in a show by kids for kids at Matthews Playhouse.

44. Fan Fest

Visit Fan Fest at this College Football Bowl game, even if you don't attend the game.

45. Mecklenburg County Greenways

Get some exercise at one of Mecklenburg County's many greenways for a fun outdoor activity with the kids.

46. Harvey B. Gantt Center

Enjoy unique cultural experiences at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture.

47. Asian Festival and Dragon Boat Race

Watch a dragon boat race and celebrate the traditions and culture of Asian Americans at this outdoor festival.

48. NFL Play 60 KidZone

Test your agility at this one-of-a-kind play area at Freedom Park.

49. Charlotte Checkers

Attend a Charlotte Checkers hockey game to watch the players zip across the ice.

50. Historic Dilworth

Take a walking tour of this area of the Charlotte Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

51. Front Porch Sunday

Stroll this open-air market in the south end, complete with live music, vendors, chefs, and more.

52.  U.S. National Whitewater Center

Zip-line, kayak, go whitewater rafting, and bike at this premier outdoor center.

53. Birkdale Village

Splash around the sprayground and enjoy weekly Birkdale Buds events for preschoolers.

54. Amelie's French Bakery 

Amuse your bouche at Amelie's French Bakery for one of the tastier kids activities in Charlotte.

55. Zootastic Park

Encounter a wide variety of animals at this drive-thru and walk-thru zoo at Lake Norman.

56. Charlotte Knights

Root for the home team at a Charlotte Knights minor league baseball game.

57. Original Pancake House 

Enjoy a complete pancake breakfast at the Original Pancake House.

Explore the interactive exhibits at Discovery Place Kids. Photo courtesy of the venue

58. Discovery Place Kids 

Learn through play at this popular children’s museum near Charlotte.

59. Taste of Charlotte

A favorite activity in Charlotte is enjoying all the great southern restaurants. This annual festival allows you to sample delicious local food all at once. 

60. Southern Christmas Show 

Celebrate the holiday season in Charlotte at the Southern Christmas Show.

61. UNCC Football Game

Tailgate at a Charlotte 49ers football game.

62. Anne Springs Close Greenway

Explore over 2,100 acres of land at Anne Springs Close Greenway. Bike, hike, or ride horses!

63. Matthews Alive Festival

Celebrate Labor Day weekend at the Matthews Alive Festival.

64. Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Hike over 19 miles of trails at the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

65. Lego Store

Among our kids' favorite things to do is always building...and buying new toys! Satisfy both requests at the Lego store at Concord Mills. 

66. Schiele Museum of Natural History

Explore our planet and beyond at the Schiele Museum of Natural History.

67. Matthews Library

Spend the morning at this train-themed library for a low-key indoor activity in Charlotte.

68. Stallings Park

Choose from among three playgrounds to explore at Stallings Park.

Take your speed fans to see the race cars. Photo by Charlotte Blanton

69. Richard Childress Racing Museum

Learn about the history of one of NASCAR’s most storied organizations.

70. Sky Zone Charlotte

Jump up, jump up, and get down at Sky Zone trampoline park.

71. Whitewater Center Lights

During the winter season, explore a half-mile immersive light display through the forest.

72. Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve

Enjoy many amenities at this 927-acre preserve, including a nature center, athletic fields, hiking trails, playgrounds, and more.

73. The Town of Davidson

Take a day trip to nearby Davidson for small-town fun.

74. Extreme Ice Center

Teach them to skate at Extreme Ice Center.

75. Lake Norman Mini Golf

Challenge your family to a round of putt putt mini golf.

76. Hall Family Farm

Pick strawberries in the spring and pumpkins in the fall at Hall Family Farm near Charlotte.

77. Festival of India

Immerse yourself in Southeast Asian culture at the Festival of India.

78. Fish Fountain

Kids will love splashing in this fish-themed splash pad in Charlotte.

79. The Hunter Farm

Celebrate fall with a hayride at Hunter Farm.

80. Colonel Francis Beatty Park

Hike, boat, play, or picnic at Colonel Francis Beatty Park.

81. Loch Norman Highland Games

Wear a kilt to this Scottish festival.

82. The Speedpark at Concord Mills

Ride go-karts and more at the Speedpark.

83. Reed Gold Mine

Pan for gold at Reed Gold Mine.

84. Just Play

Kids can expel some energy at this indoor playground in Charlotte.

85. Carrigan Farms

Swim in a deep, natural quarry at Carrigan Farms. It's just 30 minutes north.

86. Big Rock Nature Preserve

Hike through this nature preserve with large exposed boulders.

87. GoPro Motorplex

Travel at speeds of up to 55mph at this authentic racing experience.

88. Stonecrest at Piper Glen

See a movie or go shopping at Stonecrest.

89. Sports Connection

Play for hours at this ultimate indoor family fun zone with arcades, games, and sports.

90. Charlotte Ballet

See an on point performance from the Charlotte Ballet.

91. Bowlero

Bowl at game or two at Bowlero.

92. Main Street in Waxhaw

Stroll down the streets of this small town and walk the iconic overhead bridge.

93.  Charlotte Museum of History

Learn about Charlotte’s past at the Charlotte Museum of History, with historic buildings and hands-on experiences.

94. Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Golden Valley

Plan a camping trip at this family-friendly camping resort, complete with water park, pool, mini golf, jumping pillow, and more.

95. Victory Lane Indoor Karting

Challenge your family to a go-kart race at this indoor attraction.

96. Charlotte Rail Trail

Explore this public trail through the heart of Charlotte, complete with Instagram-worthy art murals.

97. SouthTown Wake Park

Kids will love the inflatable water park at SouthTown Wake Park.

98. Aw Shucks Farms

One of our favorite things to do in Charlotte during the fall season is a visit to a nearby farm to enjoy a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and more.

How many can you check off your list?  

This article first published in 2015 but has since been updated and revised. Additional reporting by Charlotte Blanton