Charlotte is full of family-friendly attractions that will entertain all ages, including infants. From educational attractions to interactive, hands-on environments to fine dining experiences, a day in Charlotte can be packed with fun. We decided to test the “Charlotte’s Got A Lot” philosophy and see what family-friendly adventures we could have in one Saturday. Our line-up included: lunch at the EpiCenter, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Discovery Place, and Harvest Moon Grill. Let me warn you though, both the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Discovery Place could each take an entire day, but that’s not the way we do things. We like to make each day as fun-filled as possible.
The EpiCentre boasts a wide range of dining options for any palate, price range, or time of day. At just two blocks from the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we parked in their parking garage and took a leisurely walk to the EipCentre. Opting for Five Guys, we weren’t disappointed with our massive cheese burgers and Five Guys Style fries. It’s easy to taste why they are constantly voted “Best Burger in Charlotte.”
We returned to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and I expected it to be mostly entertaining for Darren while Athena and I tagged along, but what they offered was beyond a pleasant surprise. I loved every aspect of the Race Week area. It was highly-interactive and hands-on with opportunities for the entire family. We were taken on a behind the scenes look at how a NASCAR team and industry prepare for race day each week. Seeing an engine dyno, practicing a pit stop, walking through a full-size NASCAR Sprint Cup hauler, calling a race, and getting behind the wheel in one of the iRacing simulators… we did it all! It takes an entire NASCAR pit crew an average of 12 seconds to complete a full four-tire pit stop. I completed the Kobalt Pit Crew Challenge in 22 seconds. This may not sound impressive but I was the fastest “pit crew” in Charlotte. (Well, for the time that we were there and against other, non-experienced visitors.) But still, I was impressive! Darren on the other hand was well over 30 seconds. Who is a better pit crew? That’s right, it was me.
Even Athena got to sit in the driver’s seat and feel what it’s like to ride in a racecar.
We could have spent the entire day at NASCAR Hall of Fame filling out our “HardCard”, NASCAR’s experiences, times, and challenges all saved to a card that you can access when you get home. I highly recommend trying each of the hardcard experiences and bringing a piece of NASCAR home with you. Next time, we’ll plan a full day at NASCAR’s Hall of Fame but this time we had another great stop in our full day of Charlotte activities.
Discovery Place, an interactive science museum with an IMAX Dome Theatre on site, was next on our list. It offers a lot to engage and excite kids and kids at heart. Once again, I think I had the most fun at Discovery Place with Athena and Darren not far behind. We stepped into a world where science was brought to life through interactive exhibits and explosive experiments. Darren and I loved the memory game and Athena enjoyed the bright colors and animals that she hadn’t seen before.
In the KidScience section, we were taken on a journey for the senses. It features six main
topic areas including: build, move, color, air, water, and sound. Athena and Darren were able to thump out tunes on color tubes and drum on kitchen instruments while Athena and I were able to create a splash, literally. At the Water Table we filled and poured water, making sounds and getting things to spin and float.
After a day of discovering and exploring, we were ready to eat. Luckily, Harvest Moon Grille is so close to Discovery Place that we could walk out one door and walk into another. Harvest Moon Grille is an authentic farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of Uptown. All of their food is sourced from within 100 miles of Charlotte. Actually, the Chef/owner, Cassie Parsons is also the owner of Grateful Growers Farm so it’s more like farmer-to-fork. If you’re in Charlotte for the day, don’t miss the opportunity to dine at such a local establishment. It’s simple: local, seasonal, sustainable food just tastes better, is better for you, and is better for the local economy.
We started out with the Soup of the Day. I chose the Pork Ketarian and Darren went with the Vegetarian. While both were delightful, especially on a cold day, we both preferred the Prok Ketarian. It had a spicy kick that left us sniffling but licking our lips for more.
Next up, we shared an assortment of local and house-made cheeses with whole grain mustard and rye crackers. Darren and I loved trying to select our favorites and guess the flavors.
The main course was “mouth-watering”, “eyes agape” good. My Ribbons Bolognaise was made with fresh house fettuccini and traditional bolognaise. The portion wasn’t excessive and I left room for dessert. Darren’s Coyboy Ribeye, however, was an eighteen ounce, bone-in ribeye, served with black beans and rice. It was massive! When it arrived at the table, it looked like enough meat to feed an army. I didn’t think he’d ever get through it all, but with a little bit of help, we cleaned the plate.
I was 100% certain I didn’t save room for dessert but when I heard that they had coffee ice cream, I found a special reserve for it. It’s funny how the description of dessert can make room in even the fullest stomach. I savored my coffee ice cream while Darren opted for the chocolate bread pudding. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
The “Charlotte’s Got A Lot” philosophy is an understatement. In one day, we were able to have educational, hands-on, interactive experiences in two great locations. They offered family-friendly activities and a first-hand look at the world of science and racecar driving. We dined like royalty while keeping it fresh and local and we ended our day with an unbelievable view of the immaculately-kept Uptown as we drove away from the city and back to our home. Regardless of age, you can find a fun way to spend a day in Charlotte.