Charlotte, North Carolina

I spent a very fun, but unromantic Valentine’s Weekend with my love and our offspring.

I find it amusing that whenever we stay in a hotel, my husband and I never end up in the same bed. It’s always the kids’ chance to sleep the entire night in either mommy or daddy’s bed. I’m not going to say one of us is more popular, but one of us did grow the children in her womb. Infer what you will.

It’s fun to explore new places and we loved downtown Charlotte. It was clean, well laid out, had some interesting green space and parks and had a fun mix of shops, restaurants and attractions. Here are some places to check out if you are traveling with kids. (If you’re not traveling with kids, well then you’d better whoop it up for the both of us. I’ll live vicariously.)

Discovery Place
This was an engaging way to spend the morning with the hip under-10 crowd. There’s a small aquarium feature and plenty of places for hands-on science experiments and games.

The bed of nails was a particular favorite for my oldest child.

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My other kid will fearlessly climb trees, ride his bike down steep hills, jump in the deep end of the pool, but a bed of nails…that’s where he draws the line. It’s good to have boundaries.

I especially like the lady’s expression in the background. My feelings exactly…let the 5-year-old try it first!

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The architecture area was a big hit with my son.

I love the concentration on his face.

It does beg the question though…why don’t they play with their wooden blocks at home? Hmmm…

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Oh, and if you are having trouble explaining the birds and the bees to your kids, there’s an eye-opening iMax show about pandas playing right now that really introduces the topic in a larger-than-life way.ad

There are…uh, how do I put this? There are some things I can’t un-see.

Ray’s Splash Planet
If you are traveling with children then you know a hotel with a pool is non-negotiable. There has to be a way, other than jumping on the beds, to burn off their energy.

There are plenty of outdoor hotel pools in downtown Charlotte. Indoor pools are harder to come by. We stayed at the Hilton City Center, which gave it’s guests access to the adjacent YMCA. That’s awesome unless the pool is taken over by lap swimmers and aqua aerobics. Never fear! We had an alternate plan!

blueslideangleofsaturationPhoto credit courtesy of Ray’s Splash Planet

On the edge of downtown is a county park called Ray’s Splash Planet. It’s an indoor water play place with slides, a lazy river and my favorite part, a whirlpool. Get out of my way kids!

Kings Mountain National Military Park

If you are driving through South Carolina, like we did to get to Charlotte, then please take the 10-minute detour to visit Kings Mountain National Military Park. It commemorates the site of a 1780 battle that was key in turning the Revolutionary War in favor of the American Patriots. The museum was top notch and 1.5 mile paved walk was awesome even on a super chilly morning. Plus, the park was free when we visited.

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The best part of the trip? We finally got our first family photo of 2016. That’s one hot family! The 4th member of our family is in there somewhere…I think he was a little short for the screen.

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We had a terrific weekend. It was time well spent and many happy memories were made. Thank you Charlotte!

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