The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and it’s a great time to get outdoors with your family in the Queen City! Here are 6 of our favorite spots to get outside and enjoy.
1 - Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary
Connect with nature at this nationally-recognized 4-acre sanctuary in the heart of Myers Park. Pick up a map at the Clarkson House then stroll the shaded paths of the gardens and help your kids look for birds, rabbits, turtles, frogs, and chipmunks. Admission is $8 for anyone over 18. 248 Ridgewood Avenue. 704.331.0664 www.winghavengardens.com.
2 - Dan Nicholas Park
At this amazing park in Rowan County, about 45 minutes from uptown, your kids can ride an old-fashioned carrousel and train, play mini-golf, climb on cool playgrounds, splash in the water play area, ride the paddleboats, pet farm animals and more. The best part? Most of the activities cost less than $2 per person. (Note: one thing does cost more: panning for gemstones. That's $7 for a beginner's bucket, which two kids can share.) http://www.dannicholas.net
3 - Charlotte Nature Museum
Free flying butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion, live animals in the Creature Cavern, Insect Alley and the Paw Paw Nature Trail make this a great spot for the younger set. Located in the heart of Myers Park. $6 per person. 1658 Sterling Rd. 28209 http://www.charlottenaturemuseum.org/
4 - U.S. National Whitewater Center
Sure, it costs money to raft the whitewater. But for $5 to park, you can sit on rocks next to the rapids and wave to the kayakers and rafters that splash by. This one-of-a-kind center also has a walking trail that hugs the course and large rocks with plastic climbing footholds for young kids to scamper on. 820 Hawfield Road. 704-391-3900. www.usnwc.org.
5 - Greenways
The 37 miles of developed Greenways and 150 miles of undeveloped Greenways are undeniably a hidden treasure. These paths, perfect for walking or biking, run along creeks throughout the county. They connect neighborhoods and other points of interest. Kids love how they’re sort of hidden. As you drive on busy W.T. Harris Boulevard, you might never guess you’re passing over a tunnel where kids are riding their bikes, on their way to play by a creek. http://charmeck.org
6 - UNCC Botanical Gardens
Many parents don’t know about this free resource, or might not know if it’s appropriate for kids. It is. Paths wind around Asian gardens, a butterfly garden, a waterfall pond, a 120 year old cabin and so much more. This is a place that will ignite kids’ imagination. Botany classes are also offered to both kids and adults. https://gardens.uncc.edu/visiting-the-gardens/