Five Best Free Recreational Spots for Preschoolers in Charlotte

by Sarah Roland on May 8, 2017

Five Best Free Recreational Spots for Preschoolers in CharlotteAs we head into the summer, we're all wanting to get outside more. Sometimes getting outside, however, comes with a high price tag.

We did a little research and found dozens of free activities to do together with your kids in Charlotte. We've picked what we think are the top five!

1. ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center

Website Description: ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center is an one-of-a-kind youth destination located in Charlotte, NC, in the heart of the cultural arts district.

This collaborative effort between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is a 102,000-square-foot facility recently ranked by as the No. 1 children’s library in the United States.

ImaginOn is visited by more than 300,000 people annually and features two state-of-the-art theatres, a dedicated library space for kids 11 and under, four multi-use classrooms, a teen-only library, a multimedia production studio, and interactive exhibit space.

With cutting edge services and library collections, an award winning professional theatre and innovative education programs, ImaginOn brings stories to life through extraordinary experiences that challenge, inspire and excite young minds.1Four Ways to Be a More Playful Parent.png

2. Art Museums

The Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art both build free kids days into their schedule. On those days, accompanying adults typically receive half-price tickets.

3. Nature Centers

Macklenburg County boasts three Nature Centers.

The Division of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources is responsible for the protection and conservation of Mecklenburg County's parks designated as Nature Preserves.

Nature Center.jpgNature Preserves protect the county's biological resources and natural areas, while providing opportunities for environmental education, nature-based programs, and outdoor recreation.

Our staff offer more than 5,000 programs annually, perform natural resource management on over 7,600 acres, maintain more than 30 miles of nature trails, and operate 3 nature centers and a public campground.2

Nature Center Locations:

4. Spraygrounds

The Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department now offers a place for you and your family to escape from the summer heat and cool off in one of the new and exciting spraygrounds.

Each sprayground has been constructed with fun water features that you can run through, jump in or just sit down and enjoy. There is no charge, just come and enjoy.

The outdoor pools and spraygrounds will both open and close on the same schedule, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Sprayground Hours are 10am-8pm.

Waterpark.jpgFacilities with Spraygrounds:

The West Charlotte Sprayground will close for maintenance beginning July 25. the Sprayground is expected to be closed for two weeks.3

5. Airport Overlook Park

TripAdvisor lists the airport overlook as the 17th best activity in Charlotte. Pack a lunch and watch the planes take off and land. It can be a little loud for little ears, but if your children love planes, it doesn't get any better than this!

Bonus: Geocashing

Consider getting into Geocashing using your smartphone and the free app. Doesn't get better than that!

For more ideas, see these articles from the Charlotte Observer and Charlotte On The Cheap.


  1. Description from ImaginOn's website. ↩︎

  2. Description from Division of Nature Preserves website. ↩︎

  3. Description from website ↩︎