Piedmont Crowd Pleasers
Kids and teens need vacation experiences all their own and the Piedmont has plenty to offer. Hands-on museums, animals that come right up to your car and giant dinosaur skeletons will wow the younger crowd while roller coasters, whitewater rafting and laser tag will please teens.
Children 2 – 12
Discovery Place – Charlotte, NC
Discovery Place has activities for the whole family to enjoy but elementary-aged children will especially like the hands-on displays. The Cool Stuff exhibit lets kids launch objects into the air, climb a rope and lie on a bed of nails – all in the name of science. KidScience, which is especially made for 1-7 year olds, invites kids to build with foam bricks or Duplo blocks, race Kids K’Nex cars, launch a rocket or play with a water table. There is even a special area for toddlers. Featured exhibits change throughout the year.
Lazy 5 Ranch – Mooresville, NC
Drive through the ranch and view over 750 animals from six different continents from your car or call for a reservation on their horse-drawn wagons. A walk-through petting area allows you to interact with and feed camels, llamas, goats, lemurs, porcupines and more.
Marbles Kids Museum – Raleigh, NC
This extremely child-friendly museum offers many opportunities for kids to play, explore and create, all while they learn. The Around Town exhibit is a kid-size version of a community complete with a bus, fire truck, ambulance, farm, grocery store, kitchen, and post office for kids to play on, in and around. The fun can’t be contained inside – “Splash” is an indoor/ outdoor hands-on water exhibit that combines science with pretend play.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences – Raleigh, NC
Four floors of exhibits, live animals, and hands-on activities make this museum a hit with kids. Features such as a 20-foot waterfall and “bioramas”, which house live animals in a recreation of their natural environment, let kids explore NC’s natural wonders. Giant skeletons of dinosaurs in the Terror of the South exhibit will awe while fluttering live butterflies in the Living Conservatory will enchant.
Dan Nicholas Park – Salisbury, NC
This park is packed with kid-friendly fun. A carousel, petting zoo, gem mine, two 18-hole mini golf courses, paddleboats and more are sure to fill an afternoon. In the summer, kids can cool off by visiting the Nature Center and meeting live snakes, lizards, alligators and fish or by being sprayed and splashed at the sprayground. Slow things down with a train ride around the park. Campgrounds and cabins are available if you want the fun to continue into the night.
Teens 13 – 18
Carowinds – Charlotte, NC
With 13 roller coasters and dozens of other exhilarating rides, teens are sure to find something that will thrill them. Boomerang Bay, a 20-acre water park inside the 122-acre theme park, offers the perfect escape from the hot summer sun. If little brothers and sisters have to come along, a newly renovated children’s area will keep them entertained while their older siblings tackle the big rides.
US National Whitewater Center – Charlotte, NC
The Center is home to the world’s largest recirculating river, 14 miles of biking, hiking and running trails and one of the world’s largest outdoor climbing facilities. Teens can try whitewater rafting, zip lining or eco trekking, which is similar to a high-tech scavenger hunt. Be sure to check the trail status before you head out – trails close for 24 hours after a rain event.
The Airborne & Special Operations Museum – Fayetteville, NC
This unique museum tells the story of Army airborne and special operations units from 1940 to present. Original newsreel footage, replicas of wartime villages, planes, gliders and helicopters are all on display. A 24-seat theater is equipped with a motion simulator that makes you feel like you are part of the action.
Adventure Landing – Raleigh, NC
Teens will need plenty of energy to make their way through all of the attractions at this amusement center. Kids can race go-karts and watch as their time is posted on the leader board or make their way through mazes as they play laser tag. Nine batting cages and an 18-hole miniature golf course offer additional chances for a little friendly competition. Inside, 100 interactive arcade games give teens a chance to win tickets they can redeem for fun prizes.
Raleigh IcePlex – Raleigh, NC
You don’t have to be an expert on skates to enjoy your time here. The rink is open to the public every night and is a great place to cool off during the summer. Kids 16 and over can participate in pick-up hockey games. Everyone will enjoy a quick snack from the concession stand before taking another twirl around the rink.
added: June 28, 2010
updated: June 30, 2010
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