Known as one of the most popular cities in North Carolina, Charlotte is an exciting, modern hub to visit with the family. Being residents ourselves, we’re proud to call this city our home and more than happy to show you around.
That being said, welcome to the ultimate family friendly travel itinerary in Charlotte! In this guide, you’ll find the best areas of the city to stay in, the must-try food, and of course our selection of best attractions to visit.
Let’s get to it…
Best time to visit Charlotte
Spring (March, April, May)
Spring in Charlotte is overwhelmed by good weather, perfect for festivals and events to attend to with the family. In spring, you may start seeing vacationers start to travel towards the city but it’s nothing to worry about – It doesn’t get nearly as crowded as the summer, and you will be able to find accomodation easily. Because of the weather and festivals, we strongly suggest you come visit Charlotte in the spring. Talking about festivals, our favourites are The Kings Drive Art Walk under the warm sunshine in May, and to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
During the summer, Charlotte gets pretty crowded with people travelling from all over the country. This means prices of accomodation are likely to shoot up, as well as the temperature…you may find quite a challenge to navigate around the city comfortably, especially with kids. However, summer is the time Charlotte hosts the most summer events and attractions such as Taste of Charlotte and Charlotte Pride. If these are of interest to you, you might be able to look beyond the crowds.
Fall is also one of the best times to visit Charlotte with kids. Crowds tend to go down quite drastically, as well as accomodation prices. Temperatures still remain warm, much more bearable than those of the summer. To see the most beautiful colors of tree leaves, make sure to visit Asheville in late October – it’s one of our favourite places to visit in the fall! When in the city though, don’t miss out on festivals like The Great Pumpkin Fest or Festival in the Park – perfect for kids.
In winter, Charlotte becomes a little quieter. As temperatures go down, events and festivals tend to decrease. On the bright side, accomodation and airfare is at its cheapest, so it may be worth considering if you’re thinking of visiting family for the holidays.
Where To Stay In Charlotte With Kids
When visiting Charlotte with kids, you definitely want to stay in the Uptown area. Located at the heart of the city, you’ll find many museums, cinemas, theaters, restaurants and top attractions within a few minutes walk, or on a short ride on the Lynx light-rail. Uptown is also known for its gorgeous green areas and art centers – which are great to have closeby when travelling with kids.
South End is known for its collection of creative businesses, streets and culture. At every corner, you can be easily (and positively) surprised by the urban designs, creative local shops, breweries and restaurants. Staying in this area will let you into the artistic core of Charlotte, one of which we hold very closely. We’re truly lucky to live in this area too, so you can be sure we speak from the heart!
South Park is not just a shopping mall. It’s one of the more upscale residential areas of Charlotte, where you can find great restaurants and shops. If you’re into spending quite some time indoors, it’s probably the place for you.
How To Get Around Charlotte With Kids
Rent a Car
As residents, we have to admit that renting a car is the best way to get around Charlotte.The benefits of renting a car are pretty spot on when travelling with kids, especially if you need to carry strollers, large bags, lunches and toys for them. With a car of your own, you are free to move to and from attractions whenever you need, and is a lot more comfortable than public transport.
Light Rail/Street Car – LYNX
The LYNX light rail line connects South Charlotte and Center City perfectly. During the week, you’ll have a train every 7.5 minutes during rush hours, and one every 15 minutes on off-peak hours. On weekends, there are trains every 20 minutes. Tickets cost around $2.20 one way, and are purchasable with your smartphone using the CATPass app.
If you need to travel east to west, the streetcar is your best choice. Running every 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll be able to access all the main neighbourhoods and businesses. On Sundays, rides are free!
Cabs and Private Hire Cars
Cabs are pretty common in Charlotte, Crown Cab, Royal Cab and Yellow Cab are pretty reliable. There is a $25 flat fee to and from the airport, but within the city, fares start at $2.50.
Uber and Lyft are the most common private car hire in the city. However, keep in mind that pick-ups and drop-offs at the airport are only possible at the arrivals and baggage claim area outside zone E.
How long to stay in Charlotte
To see the top attractions in Charlotte plus some extra time to relax and take in the city, around two to three days should be enough. When travelling with kids, Charlotte makes a perfect getaway city trip idea.
Things To Do in Charlotte with Kids
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
Interestingly, kids tend to have an inclination for natural history – making the The Schiele Museum of Natural History one of the best places to visit in Charlotte with kids. The museum has rich, engaging exhibits about all kinds of things; from dinosaur skeletons, to a planetarium. Anything that lives (or has lived) on the planet, is here! Besides the permanent exhibitions that they have, they have a range of exciting temporary exhibits that they feature. Overall, the museum is a must place to visit to both learn about our world, and also to keep the kids entertained for a few hours!
Website: The Schiele Museum of Natural History Address: 1500 East Garrison Boulevard • Gastonia, NC 28054 Hours: Mon - Sat 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM Sun 1:00 AM- 4:00 PM Cost: Adults (from 18 years old) $7 Child (4-17 years old) $6 Children (3 and younger) Free
Walk Around South End
As we described above, South End isn’t only an area we hold closely to our hearts, but it happens to be a neighbourhood the entire city considers to be quite extraordinary. We recommend you to take an entire Saturday afternoon to wander around the city – taking in the Magic Carpet Murals, the Color Forest Installation, and visiting the Design District. There are tons of clothing, handmade candles, ice cream shops to discover, as well as great indoor climbing gyms and yoga studios.
On Saturdays, the South End Market is one of the best places to eat in. It’s a wonderful farmer’s market that serves locally grown produce and artisanal dishes. As locals, it’s one of our favourite places to come to, we couldn’t recommend it more!
Website: South End
Discovery Place is an incredible museum focused on promoting education on the natural world, science and technology. There are three different museums you can choose to visit: one targeting science, another one about nature, and another specifically designed for kids. We suggest visiting either Science or Nature because they are already fitted to the needs and interests of children, and have incredible exhibits. For example, in the Nature museum, you’ll be able to meet face to face with turtles, opossums, snakes, or hang out in their outdoor rainforest. It’s a great activity choice when visiting Charlotte with kids!
Website: Discovery Place Address: 301 N Tryon St Charlotte, NC 28202 Hours: Sat - Sun 9:30 AM - 4:00 PM Cost: Adult $8 Child $8 Child (under 2 years old) Free
Anne Springs Close Greenway
Anne Springs Close Greenway is one of the best natural and outdoor areas to go to in Charlotte with kids. Their mission is to reconnect people with nature through educational activities, but also by offering a safe, beautiful space to spend time away from the stresses of everyday life in the city. To achieve this they offer endless activities and sports; from kayaking, hikes, trail running, paddle boarding to horseback riding. If you’re looking to do something as a group, there are other plenty of group activities going on – designed especially for kids. We also recommend looking into their camping options!
Website: Anne Springs Close Greenway Address:104 Adventure Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29715, United States Hours: Daily 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM Cost: Adults $6 Child (5 - 12 years old) $4
Hall Family Farm
Up and running since 1899, the Hall Family Farm is one of our favourite places to come to when visiting Charlotte with kids. Besides enjoying the surroundings and essence of the farm itself, they offer activities and events crafted specifically for each season. In our experience, fall and spring are the best to come visit….In the fall, the farm comes to life with its corn maze, bonfire and pumpkin picking activities. In the spring, the farm features even more activities like strawberry picking, slushies, and a musical hayride. The best part about the farm is that there are no admission fees. However, activities like the corn maze do have a small price (usually no more than $10) Kids love spending their time here!
Website: Hall Family Farm Address: 10713 Providence Rd W, Charlotte, NC 28277, United States Hours: Tue - Sun 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM Cost: free!
Go To Charlotte Knights Baseball Game
To remember Charlotte on an excited note, there’s not a better way to spend a few hours than attending a Knights baseball game. Hear the stadium roar, eat a few corndogs and buy a few souvenirs to get the full experience. The stadium, Truist Field, is a great one to visit on its own anyway, so you can imagine the vibrant energy as the Knights hit a home run. Make sure to check their website regularly to keep a close eye on their schedules!
Website: Charlotte Knights Address: 2280 Deerfield Drive Fort Mill, SC 29715
Visit Romare Bearden Park (and enjoy free weekly live music!)
Found in downtown Charlotte, Romare Bearden Park is a beautiful green space in the city. Like any other park, you may expect to spend many happy hours running and playing on the grass, playgrounds and with water installations – especially in the summer. What we like the most about the park is the free live music that is played every week. Don’t forget to look around for the statues that decorate the space too! We love spending afternoons here, perfect for admiring the city’s skyline in the background.
Address: 300 S Church St, Charlotte, NC 28202, United States
Visit NoDa and do a street art walk
NoDa, short for North Davidson is one of the most beautiful areas to visit in Charlotte with kids. Described as artsy, playful and eclectic by locals, the area is known for being the core of entertainment and cheer; filled with brights, colorful murals, local artwork, buzzing with live music venues and local, quirky coffee bars. We strongly recommend eating all the three meals of the day (plus snacks) at any of the restaurants in this neighbourhood…we assure you they will never disappoint.
Carolina’s Aviation Museum
Founded in 1992, The Carolinas Aviation Museum is one of the best equipped museums about everything aircraft. From military, civil, commercial aircrafts and helicopters, there’s nothing the museum doesn’t have. Kids love looking in and out of the planes, and imagining themselves riding them. Besides aircrafts, the museum also features objects and items related to aircrafts like motors and other interesting equipment.
Website: The Carolinas Aviation Museum Address: 4672 1st Flight Dr, Charlotte, NC 28208, United States Cost: Adult $12 Child $8
Hodges Family Farm
With agritourism at the heart, the Hodges Family Farm is one of the best places to visit in Charlotte with kids. For 100 years, they’ve been providing the community with education about locally grown produce and memory-worthy events such as pumpkin patches. It’s truly a place of fun and learning about all the different kinds of farm animals, plants and friendly farm owners. Don’t forget to try the hot chocolate and many more of their homemade goodies to try when you’re there.
Website: Hodges Family Farm
What to eat in Charlotte
Sweet Potato Casserole
Coming straight from the south, a sweet potato casserole is one of the best desserts to try in Charlotte with kids. Filled with the delicious touches of cinnamon and pecans (and marshmallows if they’re lucky), they will be very happy for sure.
Another one of our favourite kid-friendly meals to try in Houston is fried chicken. It’s an inevitable staple in Southern food we hold very closely, and never fails to make our kids smile. They devour them in a few seconds! Don’t forget to try them with the adobo sauce!
A great snack or starter for any kid that visits Charlotte. Pimento cheese is a flavoursome dip for crackers or breadsticks made with mayo, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and pimento; a simple, yet unforgettable southern delicacy for anyone.
North Carolina Barbecue
Nothing beats a good North Carolina barbecue – or pulled pork as others may know it. In Charlotte, you can find the best barbecue at places like Ray’s Country Smokehouse-Grill and The Improper Pig. For us, Notrth Carolina BBQs are close to our hearts, and are one of our favourite kid-friendly meals to go for.
There’s nothing more southern than mixing sea and land. Shrimp and bacon is one of the best ways to do it. The best part about this dish is that kids love shrimp and bacon separately – when they come together as one, there’s no way they’ll put them down.
We hope you love Charlotte as much as we do. It’s made us very happy, and hope to continue living here for a long time! Let us know about your experience of Charlotte in the comments below!