14 Best Things to do in Charlotte with a Family

Charlotte NC manages to be both cool and family-friendly, hip and old fashioned, fun, artistic and ensures you feel welcome. Whether you are visiting Charlotte for a weekend or are spending an entire week, you will not run out of things to do. Here are the best things to do in Charlotte, NC with a family.

Where to Stay:

The Ballantyne, a high-end resort and spa, great golfing and dining options are available here. For even more hotel options, check out: The Best Hotels in Every Price Range, Charlotte.

How to get around Charlotte, NC:

A car is your best option. You can rent a car inexpensively at the airport, make advanced arrangements.

What to Eat: 

For high-quality dining hit the Ballantyne and try the duck.  Be sure to hit up a local bar for down-home southern beer and live music.

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The skyline of Charlotte NC.  Picture is taken after dark.  Many lit up high rises and tall buildings appear in the shot, as well as roads and a few trees.  Things to do in Charlotte, NC.

To explore even more of North Carolina, take a look at: “20 Best Resorts in North Carolina

1. Discovery Place – Things to do in Charlotte

If you are looking for something fun to do in Charlotte with kids, be sure to check out the Discovery Place in Charlotte. 

This is the quintessential children’s science museum.

There is a man-made rainforest to explore, experiments to conduct and structures to build. Of particular interest are their jellyfish breeding facilities and coral growing program.

Before your visit, check out the website for a list of special programs. 

A close up picture of 5 or 6 large jelly fish swimming in water.   Things to do in Charlotte, NC - Discovery Place Science
Discovery Place Science

Looking for even more United States family-friendly vacation ideas? Check out Things To do in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

2. Charlotte Funny Bus

One of the best new things to do in Charlotte NC, The Charlotte Funny Bus tour .

The bus tour takes roughly 90 minutes and covers uptown and the surrounding areas.

The tour is so good even many locals rave about it.

Jokes tend to be on the politically incorrect side and you can bring wine and beer aboard.

On Thursdays, the funny bus offers a raunchy R rated version of the tour.

The R rated tours are very popular and sell out quickly so be sure to book in advance.

The image shows a large remodeled school bus. The words funny bus and the phone number 704 659 3186 are printed on the front.  Several people are leaning out of the window, one i standing at the door opening, and one is laying on top of the bus.  Every individual is wearing a tee-shirt with a company logo.  Things to do in Charlotte, NC - Funny Bus tour.
Charlotte Funny Bus Tour – one of Charlotte’s most popular new attractions

Explore further with your family. Check out: A vacation in Ecuador – An affordable family holiday guide.

3. Wing Haven Garden

Wing Haven, is a four-acre meandering garden located in a tony Charlotte suburb.

If you are looking for the best thing to do in this is a must.

Bring your camera as you are likely to see birds and flowers in season.

Wing haven features a cute children’s garden area complete with some resident animals and a sister garden, called Elizabeth Lawrence House and Garden just a few houses away.

As many things in Charlotte, admission to this garden is very reasonable at $10 per person.

A woman (me) sits in a garden on an elaborate bench wrapped around a large tree.  Leafed trees and bushes surround her.  She is wearing a riding outfit and boots. 
Things to do In Charlotte, NC - Visit the Wing Haven Garden
Just a short drive from Charlotte you’ll find Wing Haven garden.

4. The Mint Musem

Featuring a wide variety of American and European art, the Mint Museum is a great place to visit and one of the most famous art institutions in Charlotte.

The museum offers two locations – uptown and downtown.

Mint Museum Uptown features the American Art collection including the famous American impressionists, the craft and design collection, and the Modern and Contemporary Art. The Uptown Mint Museum is located close to the Bechtler Museum.

The Mint Museum Randolph is located only a ten-minute drive towards downtown Charlotte.

A painting featuring a woman and a child in the foreground and a man and a boy in the background.  A few other figures are seen in the background.  A bright and sunny day, all figures are sitting on a green field with roses.  The painting is done in an impressionist style although the faces are clear.
Mint Museum Randolph Collection – Henry Siddons – Rose Harvest

Want more east coast travel ideas? Don’t forget to check out East Coast USA bucket list.

5. The Bechtler Museum

If you appreciate art, there is no shortage of great things to do in Charlotte.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has an amazing collection of modern and contemporary artists, fitting for this landmark city of the new south.

This Charlotte museum welcomes you with large, airy, galleries. These are packed to the brim with priceless artwork.  Here you will find the likes of Andy Warhol, Picasso, Degas plus a dozen more.

A large painting hangs on a white wall, to its left a woman (me) stands looking at a small modern sculpture.  To her left, two smaller paintings appear.  The room is otherwise empty.  Things to do in Charlotte NC - Visit the Bechtler Museum.
The Bechtler Museum – Charlotte, NC

6. Nascar Hall of Fame

One of the most fun things to do in Charlotte, NC for the kid – and the kid at heart, is the Nascar Hall of Fame.

Four floors of interactive exhibits await you in this famous landmark of the new south.

Perhaps the most popular attraction at the Nascar Hall of Fame is the racing simulator.

Visitors describe the experience as “as heart-pounding” and “crazy fun.”

Many who come to the Hall of Fame aren’t Nascar fans, but few people leave disappointed.

Nascar Hall of Fame large and takes several hours to explore, but the experience is worth it.

The Nascar Hall of Fame is located within close walking proximity to the Discovery Science Center.

An image of a classic car decorated with various company logos, including good year and penner.  The number 43 on the side.  The car is standing in a glass showroom and in bright daylight.
Nascar Hall of Fame – Creative Commons – David Berkowitz via Flickr

7. Sea Life Concord Aquarium

A bit out of the way of downtown, the aquarium is located in a huge mall and is another great place to visit.

This just might just be your ticket to get the kids to agree to a couple of hours shopping in Charlotte.

I loved the kid-friendly touch tank featuring sea stars. 

Also worth seeing is the octopus (you can watch octopus enrichment activities, just check the site for schedule). The highlight is definitely a cool walk through the tunnel with sharks, Rays, and a school of fish swimming over and all around you.

A walk through glass tunnel inside an enormous aquarium.  A large manta ray swims over head and corals surround the walls.  Small fish on the sides of the tunnel. 
Things to do in Charlotte, NC - Sea Life Concord Aquarium.
Sea life Concord Aquarium

8. The Haunted History tour, Charlotte, NC

The Haunted history tour is probably one of the most spooky things to do in Charlotte, NC.

While on this ninety-minute walking tour you will visit the fourth ward – and its most infamous landmarks.

Discover a whole new side to Charlotte as your host (dressed in Victorian costume) shares with you the grizzly history of the city.

Murders, ghosts, and gowls await you as you eventually make your way into to the graveyard.

More than just ghost stories, the tour is designed to both educate and entertain. For the best effect, most tours start at dusk – 8 pm.

9. Metalmorphosis Statue

The Metalmorphosis Statue was commissioned by the American Assets Corporation and created by the world-renowned Czech Sculptor, David Cerny.

You can find the statue in the American Asset’s Corporation office park development.

More than just a work of art, the fountain incorporates complicated technical infrastructure.

The water comes out of the statue in choreographed movements.

Update: As of 2020, the statue appears to have been removed.

Ready for your trip to North Carolina? Check out the best Charlotte hotels for every budget.

10. Get Soaked at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

The US. National Whitewater Center is the world’s largest and most complex artificial whitewater river.

The most famous feature of the center is the world’s largest and most complex recirculating man-made whitewater river. The rapids here are class II to IV, and can be navigated in a canoe, kayak, or a guided raft.

With over 11,300 acres of land and more than 45 miles of developed trail, the possibilities here are endless.

Other popular activities at the National Whitewater Center include hiking, yoga, ziplines, and an awesome rope course!

The National Whitewater Center also has bikes available for rent, and food and drink on site.

11. Spend a day in the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden offers 380 acres of rolling meadows, woodlands, and lakefront property.

The botanical garden has large manicured gardens, natural surrounding areas, including a woodland trail, sparkling fountains, and an Orchid Conservatory.

It’s also covered by mature deciduous woodlands and a pine forest. When you visit, be sure to e wear bug spray and bring bottled water with you as it can get hot during the summer season.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is located in Belmont, North Carolina.

12. Walk around the Freedom Park

The 93 acres Freedom Park is situated around a 7-acre lake, about 3 miles from the heart of Charlotte’s downtown area.

The park features 4 baseball fields, batting cages, 12 tennis courts, 4 soccer fields.

Here you’ll find countless walking trails and 5 outdoor picnic spots with grills.

If you’re tired from walking around, the park also has shade and sun garden beds with wide grass paths where you can rest and relax.

This 93-acre park located in Charlotte, North Carolina showcases free films and musical performances in the park pavilion during the summer season. Meanwhile, every September, the Freedom park hosts a five-day-long festival.

13. Check out the Billy Graham Library

The large Bill Graham library s another awesome place to visit in Charlotte with the entire family. Discover the beautiful grounds where the Reverand lived. The 40,000 square foot facility is home to beautifully manicured grounds, buildings and plenty of kid-friendly fun. Admission is free, and you should budget about 2 hours for your trip to the Billy Graham Library.

14. Get wild at U.S. National Whitewater Center

Amazing things to do in Charlotte, NC.  Plan on travel to North Carolina soon?  Explore some famous attractions including the Nascar Hall of Fame, the Mint Museum and the Discover place.  Discover off the beaten path attractions such as the Wing Garden and the Haunted History Tour.  Plan a great trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, USA with these helpful travel tips and hotel suggestions.
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An infographic for vacation in Charlotte, NC summarizes the article.  Features suggestions for vacation in Charlotte nc.  Including  Charlotte North Carolina, What to do in Charlotte, Travel tips Charlotte - where to stay in Charlotte and outdoor activities.

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6 Responses

  1. I want to start by saying the aviation museum closed a while back and won’t be open until 2022 (or so).
    But you are missing out on so much that Charlotte has to offer!
    Freedom park, the white water center, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, discovery place kids (huntersville) the regional farmers market (go on Saturday for the most vendors), reed’s gold mine, lake Norman state park, the airport overlook. The Schiele museum (Gastonia), the Overstreet mall uptown, imaginon library!
    And the food!!! You are missing out if all you do is eat at the Ballantyne. Head to noda or South end and just eat a little bit at a bunch of places. Good luck not finding something for everyone.
    Also, don’t forget the craft brew scene. I’m pretty sure that we have more breweries than churches now (kidding, but it might be close). A lot of these also serve food.
    Also, you speak about concord mills mall and the Nascar hall of fame, but left out the actual race track that’s a couple miles from the mall. You don’t realize just how big it is until you tour it, or how steep the curves are until you’re on it.
    Also… If you ask anyone where downtown is, they are going to be really confused. We don’t have a downtown. Each neighborhood has a name, and none are downtown. But if you ask for the mint Randolph, folks can help you out. That’s the original, and it’s named so as the building used to be a federal mint.
    Welcome to Charlotte! We’re a young city with a lot to do, eat, drink, and see!

    1. I visited Charlotte in 2009 for a business conference. While walking downtown I took pictures of four remarkable statues, one on each corner facing in that direction. At one time I had information that told what each one stood for, but now cannot locate that. Can you help? Would be glad to post. Tell me where.

    1. Thanks so much for reading John! I just updated the article and realized I never responded. Hope you guys had a great trip!

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