When the temperatures start to drop and the leaves start to change, it’s a great time to get out in the Queen City. Here are some kid-approved activities you won’t want to miss this Fall in Charlotte:
Best Baby-Friendly Event: Festival in the Park
Held each year at Freedom Park, this festival is a fall favorite. Festival in the Park offers a “Family Fun Zone” down by the locomotive area of the park. Freedom Park is stroller friendly with abundant sidewalks. Kids can enjoy playing on the playground as well as a merry-go-round and train ride. Face painting is available throughout the park along with a variety of entertainment at the “Carolina Clown” stage.
Best for: Kids 10 & under
Tips: Parking can be terrible during this event, walk if you are able or take the light rail
Friday, September 25: 4 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 26: 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, September 27: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Where: 1409 East Boulevard
Best to Bring Along Childless Friends: Windy Hill Orchard
A short drive from Charlotte to York, S.C., will take you to the adorable Windy Hill Orchard. On Saturdays, hayrides with “Johnny Appleseed” are offered throughout the day for $5. Kids love to take in the sights (and smells) of the animals on site. Apple picking season may have ended early this year but parents and friends can still enjoy the farm stand for everything apple such as hard cider (they offer flights) and apple cider doughnuts. Windy Hill will be hosting their 22nd annual Apple Harvest Festival on October 17.
Best for: Kids 8 & under
Tips: Bring a wagon to pull in the orchards and wear appropriate shoes if you are visiting after a good rain.
Thursday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 12 – 6 p.m.
Where: 1860 Black Highway, York, S.C. 29745
Best “My kids aren’t old enough for haunted houses”: The Great Pumpkin Fest
This is the perfect event for those too young to enjoy Scarowinds. During daytime hours (11 a.m. – 5 p.m.) Carowinds will be kid friendly and sans zombies and chainsaws. Charlie Brown and crew deck out in costumes for a daily parade and live classic Halloween music is performed in Harmony Hall during the Great Pumpkin Fest. Find a friend with season passes and admission rates will drop to $35.
Best for: 12 & under
Tips: The park opens at 10 a.m., arrive early for the activities that start at 11 a.m. The park tends to be busiest mid-afternoon.
When: September 19 through November 1: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: 14523 Carowinds Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28273
Best Photo Op: Hall Family Farm
Tucked away in Ballantyne is quaint farm filled with strawberries in the spring and pumpkins in the fall. Hall Family Farm offers pumpkin picking along with two corn mazes (a get lost quick kind and the other kid friendly) hayrides and a playground. After picking the perfect pumpkin, stop by the farm stand for coffee or a slushie and to purchase your hayride and corn maze tickets. Try out the mini corn maze while you wait on the next hayride to start. The hayride includes classic Halloween music and a scavenger hunt to entertain younger guests.
Best for: 10 & under (older children will enjoy the corn maze at night)
Tips: Don’t wait to visit unless you are looking for odd-shaped stemless pumpkins. Bring a flashlight for the corn maze after dark and avoid visiting during school hours (think bus loads of school children)
Sunday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (starting 9/25)
Friday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Where: 10713 Providence Rd West, Charlotte, NC 28277
(Photo credit: Festival in the Park photo via Tom Schellin Photography, Great Pumpkin Fest photo via Carowinds)