TRAVEL
08/03/2011 02:21 pm ET Updated Oct 03, 2011

Family Vacations in Charlotte: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

Family vacations in Charlotte, N.C., can be rewarding experiences or absolute disasters -- it all depends on pre-trip homework. To make planning easier, we've done all the preparation. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on traveling with children, here are recommended attractions for those planning Charlotte family vacations.

U.S. National Whitewater Center


The U.S. National Whitewater Center provides families with a day full of adventure. From rock climbing, to hiking, to white-water rafting, thrill-seeking families will fall in love with all this facility has to offer.

Address: 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28214.
Phone: 704-391-3900
Hours: The main gate and trails are open, weather permitting, 365 days a year, from dawn until dusk. Activity availability and related hours of operation vary by season. Check the schedule on the center's website before your visit.
Price: AllSport Daily Pass – $49 adult (10 years old and up), $39 child (9 years old and under); the AllSport Pass is the most inclusive option, providing unlimited access to various activities.

Carowinds


Dubbing itself the "thrill capital of the Southeast," Carowinds is a classic amusement park that families will love, featuring both roller coasters and family rides, as well as a 12-acre children section. Carowinds also has a water park area.

Address: 14523 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte NC 28273
Phone: 704-588-2600
Hours: Park hours are generally 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but are subject to change. Check Carowinds' website before your visit.
Price: Regular single day, ages 3 to 61 and 48 inches or taller in shoes: $41.99 online or $52.99 at the gate

Discovery Place Kids!


Discovery Place Kids! is a hands-on, interactive children's museum designed for children from infants to second graders. Teaching children through creative play, visitors can explore a variety of themed areas, such as I Can Create or I Can Be Healthy. Children and parents will enjoy a day of learning and fun.

Address: 105 Gilead Rd., Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 704-372-6261
Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m. Closed New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and Day
Price: $8 for all visitors except those under 1 year old (free)

Lake Norman


Located just minutes from downtown Charlotte, visitors to Lake Norman can enjoy various water sports and boating. Golfing, fishing and shopping are also popular activities in this area.

Address: Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: 704-987-3300
Hours: N/A
Price: N/A

Christmastown, USA


If your family is in the Charlotte area during the Christmas season, plan to take a drive to McAdenville, N.C., to experience Christmastown, USA. The entire town transforms into a city of lights, creating a magical winter wonderland. Family vacations in Charlotte won't soon be forgotten with strolls through this historic small town.

Address: McAdenville, NC 28101
Phone: N/A
Hours: From December 1 to December 26: Monday to Friday 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 5:30 to 11 p.m.
Price: Free admission

Harvey B. Gantt Center For African American Art + Culture


The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Art + Culture provides a wonderful opportunity for visitors to learn about the rich cultural history of the region while experiencing engaging art exhibits and activities.

Address: 551 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202
Phone: 704-547-3700
Hours: Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, closed; Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Adults $8; seniors (62 and up) $6; teachers/military/students with ID $6; children (6 to 17) $6; children (5 and under) free

NASCAR Hall Of Fame


Familes should start their engines and head over to the NASCAR Hall of Fame for a day of fun-filled activities. Patrons can even learn about the sport and try their hands at a pit-crew tire change.

Address: 400 East Martin Luther King Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28202
Phone: 704-654-4400
Hours: Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Christmas. Extended hours: October 14 to 16 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Price: Adult $19.95; senior (60 and up) / military $17.95 ; children (5 to 12) $12.95

What are your favorite vacation spots in Charlotte?

Check out more FAMILY TRAVEL GUIDES.