Whether you live in the greater Charlotte area or you’re just visiting for a short time, one thing you’ll quickly discover is that this city never runs out of activities and destinations to keep you entertained. My family has lived in the Queen City for nearly six years and we still discover new adventures on a regular basis.  If you’re investigating fun day trips just outside the city, then I have a handful of favorites to share that my family loves and I’m sure you will too.  Let’s do this!

Lazy Five Ranch - 15100 Mooresville Rd. Mooresville, NC 28115  (704) 663-5100

If you’ve never experienced one of these ranches before then get yourself to the Lazy Five ASAP!  What you will find upon arrival is essentially a drive through safari.  Bring your car and your crew and get exploring.  You can buy food for the animals at the entrance and feed them as you drive through.  Prepare yourself for ornery ostriches, zany zebras, long neck giraffes and everything in between.  They will all be showing up at your car windows ready to share a feast with you.  Just watch your fingers!  Those ostriches can be a bit pushy at times; especially if they know you have food to share. If you prefer not to take your own car, wagon rides through the park are offered as well.  Happy Trails!

Lazy Five Ranch in Charlotte, North Carolina
Credit: Image graciously shared from Lazy Five Website.

Emerald Hollow Mine - 484 Emerald Hollow Mine Dr. Hiddenite, NC 28636 (828) 632-3394

My four boys are Indiana Jones wanna-be’s, so when we discovered this little gem in the mountains, we had to check it out.  It’s the only Emerald gem mine open to the public and what an experience it was!  They have three ways to find gems: sluicing, creek hunting, and digging in the mine itself.  For younger kids I recommend sticking with the sluicing and creek hunting.  My kids could have literally spent all day searching in the water for gems.  Oh, and bring a picnic lunch.  They offer tables to spread out and enjoy a meal under the bright, blue North Carolina sky.

Hiddenite Gem Mine Located in Hiddenite, North Carolina

Crowders Mountain State Park - 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain, NC 28086

Located about an hour outside of Charlotte, Crowders Mountain is by far one of my favorite escapes.  The park has something for everyone.  There is a lake for canoeing, fishing and paddling.  Rock walls abound for climbing and there is my favorite activity, hiking.  I go specifically for the trek to the top of the mountain.  Up and back it’s about 6 miles with a section of stairs (336 in all!) that is not for the faint of heart, but let me tell ya, the view is most definitely worth the effort.

Crowders Mountain State Park

Tiger World - 4400 Cook Rd, Rockwell, NC 28138 (704) 279-6363

This one’s for all you animal lovers out there.  Located just a short drive from Charlotte, Tiger World offers a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Here you’ll meet all types of rescued exotic animals and hear the sorted stories that brought them there.  I guarantee it will touch your heart and leave you feeling a bit more respect for the unique creatures that share this planet with us.  Tiger World is a non-profit organization so any donations of food, materials and the like are always welcomed.

Tiger World Outside of Charlotte, North Carolina
Credit: Property of Tiger World Website

Grandfather Mountain - P.O. Box 9, Linville, NC 28646 (828) 963-9522

The father of all North Carolina tourist attractions is Grandfather Mountain.  While it sits at a bit over two hours from Charlotte, it’s still a doable day trip if you can get up and get yourself moving.  With loads of hiking, breathtaking mountain vistas and a full service visitor center, this is a must do for anyone visiting North Carolina.  Try it in the fall when the leaves are changing and prepare to be blown away by the beauty of it all.  There’s nothing better than the Smokies in the fall.

Grandfather Mountain in Linville, North Carolina
Credit: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/grmo/main.php

Those are some of the biggies in my arsenal.  A few others to consider would be the Asheboro Zoo, the Linville Caverns and the US National Whitewater Center. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong.  So what are you waiting for?  Turn off your computer and get out there!

Backroads of North Carolina: Your Guide to Great Day Trips & Weekend Getaways
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