Around Town

Grown-up places your kids will love, too

Let’s face it, if you’re a parent, you probably spend a lot of time compromising on the places you go with your kids to keep the peace. But Charlotte happily is home to many destinations that can satisfy multiple generations. As the days get longer and summer break draws near, here are some fun grown-up locales that your kids will dig too.

Each destination is rated on a scale from 1 (worst) to 5 (best) for:

(W) wriggle room (i.e., is it ok for your kids to move around, touch stuff, make noise?), (F) fab food options and (L) learning while having fun.

Barnes & Noble

Books and coffee sound like grown-up fare but there is a ton for kids to explore when you head to the Morrison Place Barnes & Noble. Kids love pulling books off the shelf to read, playing with the Thomas the Tank Engine train set upstairs, checking out the surprisingly well-stocked toy department and getting a snack in the bookstore’s café.

Strangely enough, my kiddos are more likely to read at Barnes & Noble than at our local library branch, where they head right to the computer kiosks.

W – 3

F – 3

L – 3

4020 Sharon Road

Levine Museum of the New South

This museum is a must for all Charlotteans and a great spot for visitors too. The permanent exhibit – “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers”  ̶  recounts the region’s history from the post Civil War era, through farms, factories, civil rights and the rise of Charlotte as a banking hub. Cleverly designed exhibits are hands-on, interactive, and informative; adults and kids are mesmerized and will have tons to talk about afterward.

Temporary exhibitions are fascinating too – the current bilingual show, ¡NUEVOlution! Latinos and the New South, runs through October.

W – 4

F – N/A

L – 5

200 E. 7th Street


JJ’s Red Hots

The place isn’t fancy– just the right mix of nostalgia and simple food done well. Both purists and those looking for more adventurous food combos (like a recent “dog of the week” with candied bacon, blue cheese, arugula pesto and cayenne) will be content. Choose from a wide selection of craft beers or the tasty orangeade. You and your younger dining companions will be happy sipping and munching atop one of the best rooftop decks in the city.

Did I mention kids eat for free on Wednesdays?

W – 4

F – 5

L – N/A

1514 East Blvd.


Wing Haven Gardens

Nearly three acres of lush plants and wooded areas make this a hidden gem, tucked away in Myers Park. Full of winding pathways, the gardens are peppered with charming sitting areas and strategically placed stone plaques with quotes from philosophers and religious figures.

Be sure to visit the children’s garden for hands-on activities and check the events calendar for story times and other happenings specially tailored for kids.

W – 3

F – N/A

L – 5

248 Ridgewood Ave.


10 Park Lanes

This bowling alley’s 2012 transformation turned it into the ultimate hangout for all generations. It’s got a hip “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” feel to it with a tasty pub menu and a full bar. Don’t miss their trademark Stacked Mason Jars – a fun layered take on BBQ and sides, served in actual mason jars.

While you’re there, you and the kids can try your hand at the multitude of free games (think cornhole, bocci, ping pong and fuss ball) available on the spacious, outdoor wrap-around deck.

W – 5

F – 5

L – 2

1700 Montford Dr.


Any of these destinations can fit the bill, depending on your mood and interests. 10 Park Lanes narrowly edges out the others with the overall highest rating – as long as you consider perfecting your ping pong game actual learning. I do.

Photos: CharlotteFive, Liz Bertrand