When you’re traveling with kiddos in tow, keeping them happy is a no-brainer if you want to enjoy your vacation. You need activities and attractions they enjoy, but be honest — the real jackpot is finding kid-friendly activities you’ll be excited about too. If you’re heading to Charlotte, North Carolina, you’re in luck. Sure, it’s known as a hub for banking, but the city isn’t all about money and big buildings. Pencil some of these fun family stops into your day to enjoy a vacay where everyone’s happy.
Do your kids love Legos? Getting wet? Exploring nature? Doing science experiments? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” — and it probably is — then the Discovery Place museum is a must-visit. It makes science fun for all ages, with interactive displays and cool, hands-on activities. When you need a break from the action, head to the IMAX theatre, the largest in the Carolinas, and get lost in a show. Plan to spend several hours at this museum, and be prepared to have so much fun that your little ones (and your big ones) won’t want to leave.
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
A trip to the library isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of vacation, but ImaginOn isn’t any ordinary library. This innovative center is home to the Spangler Children’s Library and The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. It feels instantly welcoming and offers an early literacy space with iPads, educational video games, comfy seats, and bright colors. Stop in for story time, and then make plans to see a show at the theater, home to award-winning productions for all ages.
Have teens with you? Never fear. ImaginOn’s Loft is an area just for teens, with programs, activities, and other resources geared toward this age group. The icing on the cake? You can visit ImaginOn with the whole family without once hearing the dreaded, “I’m bored.”
Sea Life Aquarium
You might be in the middle of North Carolina, but that’s no reason you can’t explore the wonders of the ocean. Charlotte’s Sea Life Aquarium isn’t big — expect to spend one to two hours there — but it has more than 250 sea creatures, including an octopus, sharks, and stingrays. Several exhibits are especially fun for young kids, such as the touch tank and the jellyfish displays. The aquarium is located right inside Concord Mills Mall, so when you’re ready for a bite to eat, just head over to the food court or one of the mall’s restaurants.
Don’t be nervous about bringing the kids to an art museum. Charlotte’s Mint Museum has all the variety you’d expect in a typical art museum, but it also goes out of its way to be kid and family friendly. Visit the Lewis Family Gallery on the first floor to let kids participate in hands-on activities like art and puzzles. Then take part in an ARTVentures scavenger hunt, a self-guided tour where kids search for things throughout the museum. You can even find special drop-in programs and art classes for families and kids.
At the start of your visit, grab a copy of the “Visiting the Mint as a Family” brochure to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun. This is one art museum that makes it easy for even the youngest children to explore and appreciate art.
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