So you're traveling to Charlotte with your kids, or moving there, or maybe you've been living there for ages but your kids are just now reaching the age of "WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND LET THEM BURN OFF SOME STEAM" - yeah, you know that age, it begins around the time they learn how to walk and getting into all sorts of mischief!!
In any case, you've come to the right place, I'm about to share with you some of the most awesome facilities and drop-in activities for your little ones. There is TONS to do in Charlotte, so I've narrowed it down to ones geared toward the toddler through elementary schooler set, since those are the ages of my three kiddos and we recently spent 10 days exploring Charlotte with them while visiting family.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it should help you get out with your crew and have some major (exhausting!!) fun! OK, Here we go!
Not just an indoor trampoline park, Sky High also features a ropes course (48"+), lazer tag (10 years and up) and trampoline versions of basketball, dodgeball and a rope swing. This place will give you an amazing workout, and the best part? You won't even realize how many calories you're burning because it is SOOOO much fun!!! I took my sister-in-law, my husband, and our 3 year old son and we all had such a blast. They even have a trampoline area just for younger kids ages 2-6.
If your kids like bounce houses, Monkey Joe's is their dream come true!! It's a franchise with locations throughout the US, and 3 right here in Charlotte (Pineville, University Area, and Matthews). We went to the Pineville location and found it clean, practically empty (2 days before Christmas), and incredibly fun! We spent about 2 hours there and my son pretty much had to be removed kicking and screaming. Well, he would have been kicking and screaming had he not been so exhausted! There were a couple of bounce houses for just bouncing, some with obstacle courses (lots of ladders and slides), and even a few for toddlers where parents were allowed to go inside with them.
While not located in Charlotte proper, this children's museum is so awesome I just had to include it! All 3 of our kids, as well as the accompanying grownups, had a ball! They have a ton of different zones to play in, so whether your child prefers playing with blocks or water toys, pretending to be a doctor, farmer, grocer, or race car driver, they'll certainly find enough to keep them entertained for several hours. They have a large toddler zone for the wee ones, and a huge jungle gym smack dab in the middle of the building (my son's personal favorite, as well as the theater area where he played dress up and put on a puppet show for us after having watched the live performance by Discovery Place staff). The facility was huge and immaculately clean, with a small dining area with a couple of high chairs where you could bring your own snacks or use their surprisingly healthy vending machine.
It's not a huge aquarium, but Sea Life at Concord Mills Mall is pretty spectacular!! With over 50 aquariums around the world, Sea Life sure knows what they're doing in terms of design and experience. I was really impressed with the atmosphere - you felt like you were walking through an underwater paradise, a stroller-friendly one at that! They have 10 interactive zones, including a tunnel you walk through surrounded by fish, a touch tank, and my personal favorite, a huge octopus that you can watch being fed and played with!! Kids get a booklet to stamp along the way and get to collect a prize when completed. They will also be delighted by the jungle gym near the gift shop!
Other very honorable mentions totally worth checking out with your kids:
Adventure Landing - a fun activity center in Pineville with mini golf, go carts, kiddie carts, batting cages, bumper boats, and an arcade. Pay per activity or buy a package.
Bounce U Charlotte & Matthews - a great nationwide bounce house chain with open bounce, parents night out events, toddler time, glow in the dark bounces, and more! Open bounce for about $7.99-10.99.
Carolina Place Mall - yes, great for shopping, but they have a FREE kids' play area on the ground floor just outside of Sear's. Shoes come off and tthere's a height limit, probably maxed out around age 6, though I've never seen it enforced. They also have really cool motorized toys to rent and ride around the mall on - for kids and adults!
Carowinds - a fabulous amusement park with kids' and family rides, exciting roller coasters, a water park, animatronic dinosaurs, live entertainment, and more! Open seasonally (May - September). Tickets from about $40.
Discovery Place Nature - a great place for kids to get hands on and learn about animals and nature both in- and outdoors. $8 per person ages 2 and up.
Discovery Place Science - a science museum in uptown Charlotte built for kids, more for older elementary schoolers and up but plenty of fun for the younger ones and adults, too, with an IMAX theater to boot! $13 for children, $17 for adults, under 2 free. Discount package for museum and IMAX tickets.
ImaginOn - an amazing 102,000-square-foot facility in uptown Charlotte that is a collaberation between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, featuring free story times, great play centers, and more. Check their calendar for story times and other activities!
Lazy 5 Ranch - located 35 miles from uptown Charlotte, it's a bit of a drive but it's a cool place to get up close and personal with exotic animals by taking a wogon ride safari and feeding the animals! $11 per adult, $8 per child or senior, free for under 2.
Pineville Ice House - indoor ice skating rink in Pineville. $7 admission, $3 skate rental (size toddler through 15), $3 helmet rental.
Ray's Spalsh Planet - an indoor water park located in uptown Charlotte. Discount for Mecklenberg County residents. Admission $6/8 for children and seniors/disabled, $8/11 for adults, free under 1 year, $3/5 for dry ticket (non-swimmer).
Sky Zone Trampoline Park - jumping prices are about $13/hour and jumpers are separated by age and size, so jumping with your kids may not be allowed.
The Speedpark - located at Concord Mills, with go carts, mini golf, 110 foot fun slide, bungee jump, ice skating, and more.
So what do you think? Have you been to any of the places I listed? Do you have more to add?? Leave a comment below!!
Disclaimer: I received free admission to some of the above places, however all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!