National Parks / Natural World in CHARLOTTE with kids

The world has some incredible natural wonders, and luckily for you, Charlotte has some incredible places to visit with kids right on your doorstep….and you won’t want to forget your camera!

The national and state parks in and around Charlotte, North Carolina offer an incredible variety of experiences for children.  Some parks protect a unique and diverse wilderness, teeming with wildlife which is always a thrill for kids!

Some parks protect incredible fascinating and significant historical sites, where the family can go back in time through American history…who says the learning as to stop on a family day out!

Even the city of Charlotte itself has smaller parks perfect for a quick trip into nature.  You don’t even need to leave the city to have that park experience - and kids LOVE them!

Shut those televisions off and put those computer games away….the great outdoors is calling and it’s calling YOU!

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  • Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve

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    (7 miles) Charlotte

    Over 700 protected acres of nature and forest, with hiking trails, Reedy Creek Park, and a nature center with live animals and exhibits!

  • Lake Norman State Park

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    (31 miles) Troutman

    At Lake Norman State Park, fun is just a matter of scale. On one hand, there's the largest manmade lake in the state, Lake Norman.

  • Dan Nicholas Park

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    (40 miles) Salisbury

    Come for the wildlife park, stay for the aquarium, the mini golf, the boats, the petting barn, the gem mine - a beautiful park in North Carolina for the whole family!

  • Morrow Mountain State Park

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    (43 miles) Albemarle

    Enjoy the gifts of nature surrounded by the remnants of a once mighty range of peaks. Upon first encounter, the Uwharrie Mountains may seem like a mountainous mirage. These steep, rugged hills ...

  • Boones Cave Park

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    (45 miles) Lexington

    Explore the cave and hiking trails spotting wildlife and flowers, visit a 170ft tall tree, plus fish, swim, canoe or kayak.

  • South Mountains State Park

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    (51 miles) Connelly Springs

    Nestled deep in the woods, South Mountains State Park is the perfect place to enjoy nature. Here you can see a majestic mountain range peeking out from the gently rolling landscape of the piedmont.

  • Tanglewood Park

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    (59 miles) Clemmons

    An amazing county park with a fishing lake, gardens, BMX race course, trails, riding stables, a golf course, and MORE!

  • Lake James State Park

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    (70 miles) Nebo

    Tucked away in rolling hills at the base of Linville Gorge is Lake James, a 6,510-acre lake with more than 150 miles of shoreline. This impressive waterway is the centerpiece of Lake James State ...

  • Carolina Children's Garden

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    (75 miles) Columbia

    Kids can explore 2 acres of themed gardens created to inspire creative play!

  • Pilot Mountain State Park

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    (80 miles) Pinnacle

    Fun, from relaxation to exhilaration, is easy to find here. Treat yourself to a horseback ride through the woods or challenge the river from raft or canoe. A seven-mile woodland corridor joins two ...

  • Stone Mountain State Park

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    (80 miles) Roaring Gap

    Stone Mountain is not immediately visible upon entering the park that bears its name, but this magnificent 600-foot granite dome is well worth the wait.

  • Beech Mountain

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    (88 miles) Beech Mountain

    Come play a mile up! At 5,506 feet our town has many fun things to do! Come try out our free sledding hill, go ice skating, snow tubing, try skiing or snowboarding, or enjoy a delicious cup of hot ...

  • Hanging Rock State Park

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    (88 miles) Danbury

    Not far from the cities of the Triad area, off the four lane highways there's another North Carolina to be discovered sheer cliffs and peaks of bare rock, quiet forests and cascading waterfalls, ...

  • Elk Knob State Park

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    (90 miles) Todd

    Elk Knob State Park is one of the newest additions to the North Carolina state parks system.

  • Check out other fun things to do below...

  • Charlotte Nature Museum

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    (3 miles) Charlotte

    A fun nature museum with a focus on those little ones 3 to 7 years, with live animals, nature trails, and hands-on exhibits in North Carolina!

  • Discovery Place KIDS

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    (13 miles) Huntersville

    Fun exhibits themed around a small town which let kids play, learn and build confidence all in the one fun Discovery Place KIDS in North Carolina!

  • Schiele Museum of Natural History

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    (18 miles) Gastonia

    Indoor and outdoor installations in all mediums and sizes help coalesce to form an indelible impression of the region's natural history and cultural development.

  • Settlemyre Planetarium

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    (19 miles) Rock Hill

    The Settlemyre Planetarium, located at the Museum of York County, uses a sophisticated star projector and a domed ceiling to recreate the night sky at any time of the year. Using this projector and ...

  • The N.C Transportation Museum

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    (40 miles) Spencer

    57 family friendly acres of transportation history at the North Carolina Transportation Museum - fun and educational!

  • Catawba Science Center

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    (45 miles) Hickory

    Science made fun at this kids museum in Hickory, with interactive exhibits, amazing aquariums and even a planetarium!

  • Discovery Place KIDS Rockingham

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    (64 miles) Rockingham

    Incredible discoveries for kids with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities to teach kids as they play, in North Carolina!

  • Old Salem Museums and Gardens

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    (68 miles) Winston-Salem

    Learn about the historic town of Salem through, and experience history right before your eyes in this historical museum attraction!

  • Childrens Museum of Winston Salem

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    (69 miles) Winston Salem

    Galleries include multi level climbing zones, soft and hard construction area, kids' library, plus the Enchanted Forest which itself comprises over a dozen separate play stations associated with ...

  • SciWorks

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    (73 miles) Winston Salem

    With a state-of-the-art Planetarium, 17 acre Environmental Park and 35,000 square feet of exhibits, learning about science is fun at SciWorks. Newest feature: Sportsology Exhibit.

  • Greensboro Childrens Museum

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    (83 miles) Greensboro

    A hands-on, interactive, and educational play place for children ages 0-10 years and their families. Visitors learn while they play, touch, explore and discover in a variety of "Our Town" exhibits. ...

  • Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve

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    (83 miles) Southern Pines

    The Sandhills region consists of nearly one million acres in south-central North Carolina. In the midst of this sandy terrain—famous for golf courses, peach orchards and horse farms is Weymouth ...

  • The Natural Science Centre of Greensboro

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    (84 miles) Greensboro

    Combines an accredited science museum including Herpetarium; zoological park including petting zoo; 3D Omnisphere Theatre performances and an aquarium in development.

  • Childrens Museum of Alamance County

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    (100 miles) Graham

    A fun and interactive way for kids to exercise their curiosity and develop their incredible imaginations through exploration - and where kids and adults can create together.

  • Carolina Raptor Center

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    (10 miles) Huntersville

    Stroll along the nature trail for a self-guided tour, observe raptors in their aviaries, watch a presentation of live raptors and chat with our Wild Wings Educators about your favorite bird of prey.

  • SEA LIFE Charlotte Concord Aquarium

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    (12 miles) Concord

    Explore the wonders of the ocean with this 26,000-square-foot indoor aquarium with over 5,000 creatures, 20 interactive exhibits and educational talks!

  • The Lazy 5 Ranch

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    (28 miles) Mooresville

    A privately owned exotic animal drive thru park that offers a 3.5 mile safari with over 750 animals from six different continents!

  • Tiger World

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    (30 miles) Rockwell

    Tiger World is a nonprofit animal conservation and educational center dedicated to rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of exotic animals. We are open to the public for educational guided tours ...

  • Zootastic Park

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    (32 miles) Troutman

    An educational zoo with a great selection of well cared for mammals, birds and reptiles in comfortable habitats - an animal adventure in North Carolina!

  • North Carolina Zoo

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    (67 miles) Asheboro

    Kids and the family can experience wildlife from two different continents on 500 acres of exhibits carefully constructed to resemble natural habitats! Animal-tastic North Carolina fun!

  • Riverbanks Zoo

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    (85 miles) Columbia

    From elephants and koalas to penguins and sharks, formal gardens to natural woodlands, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden promises new discoveries around every corner!