1658 Sterling Road
Charlotte, NC 28209
Perched on the banks of Sugar Creek, just across a swinging bridge from Freedom Park, this nature museum provides plenty of fun on rainy days. The museum is home to a variety of live animals, including local residents such as skunks, owls, possums and the city’s reigning groundhog, Queen Charlotte, plus an alligator and enough snakes, frogs, lizards and turtles to enthrall any nature lover. The activity room is stocked with nature-based games and activities that encourage kids and adults to explore together. Animal feedings and encounter sessions are offered daily, with puppet shows and other programs scheduled all week. Although the museum is oriented to ages three to seven, the Butterfly Pavilion, filled year-round with blooming flowers and fluttering wings, is sure to brighten a rainy day for every age group.
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301 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
Charlotte’s award-winning hands-on science museum is a top choice for rainy days. Interactive exhibits provide the younger set with an active play experience that introduces scientific facts along with the fun, while science labs stocked with microscopes and other scientific equipment encourage the discovery of the mysteries of the natural world. Inside Discovery Place you’ll also find a rainforest stocked with tropical birds and vegetation and a 15-tank aquarium filled with sealife from around the world. The whole family will enjoy a visit to the IMAX Dome Theatre showing films capable of transporting you far beyond rainy reality – from the age of dinosaurs to the vastness of space.
200 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
Dedicated to local history that has occurred since the Civil War, this museum makes an interesting and educational rainy day destination. The permanent exhibit, Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers, takes guests on an interactive trip through history using over a thousand artifacts plus video clips, period recordings, old photos and more. The exhibit includes visits to a cotton farm, a mill village, an early Belk Department Store where you can try on hats, a living room where you can listen to music and radio from the 1940s and a lunch counter that was once the scene of sit-in protests. In addition, changing exhibits at the museum highlight the diverse cultural background of Charlotte in the 21st century.
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC 28159
A rainy day can’t dampen the fun of a visit to the North Carolina Transportation Museum for train buffs young and old. Located about an hour north of Charlotte just off I-85, this museum occupies the structures of the old Spencer Shops, once one of the largest steam locomotive repair facilities on the eastern seaboard. Four buildings are crowded with exhibits depicting the age of rail travel, plus collections of classic automobiles, a full-size replica of the original Wright Flyer, Conestoga wagons used by early settlers and other forms of transportation. The 1924 Roundhouse, one of the largest ever built, houses 40 restored locomotives and railcars. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, visitors can ride aboard a train pulled by an antique diesel engine for an additional fee.
215 N. Sycamore St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
Nothing takes the edge off kids’ rainy day restlessness better than a day spent playing in the water. When rain makes outside pools off limits, Ray’s Splash Planet, operated by Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, fills the bill. This indoor facility on the Irwin Academic Center campus near the Center City has water slides, a lazy river, an interactive water play area with squirters, easy-entry pool and a vortex, plus lap-swimming lanes and a fitness center. If you’re looking for a more peaceful (and grown-up) rainy day experience, consider visiting the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center on E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where you’ll find an Olympic-size pool for swimming laps, a therapeutic warm pool, water exercise classes and a hot tub reserved for adults only.