Now that your precious butternut squash in swaddling cloth is a ferocious toddler and your house has become a death trap of dagger-shaped corners, 8-foot tall stairs and outlets with the voltage of an electric chair, it is time to get out. Seize the day.
Pack up that SUV-sized diaper bag. Don’t forget the diapers, wipes, extra clothing, elbow pads, kneepads, shin guards, helmet, First Aid kit, snacks, wipes, snacks, hand sanitizer, the kitchen sink and more snacks. Did I mention snacks? Tell your little eggplant to stop reorganizing the liquor cabinet and going Marie Kondo (if Marie was a hurricane) on your closets and let’s explore Charlotte’s toddler offerings:
Venture out to the Southpark Mall play area beside Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Container Store.
The ground is nicely padded for falling and stumbling. Plus, you can get all your pirate jokes out on the humungous, plastic pirate ship. Have you seen the latest pirate movie? It is rated “Aargghhh.” The play area is free (unless you go shopping) and open during mall hours. Stop in at Reid’s Fine Foods for a cupcake afterwards. Then, enjoy the likes of a blissful nap after your kid has gone Captain Hook for a couple of hours.
Check out Park Road Park.
Of course, Charlotte has a plethora of parks, but the Newtown Memorial Playground at Park Road Park is very toddler-friendly with that buoyant rubberized ground. It is not an emergency room visit like the 40-story slides at Freedom Park, perfect for your stumbling avocado to explore, climb and swing.
Attend Cirque de Play at the Harris YMCA.
Join your waddling pumpkin in a gymnastics adventure at the Harris YMCA for open play on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, only $5.
Channel your future Picasso at Noah’s Art.
Noah’s Art is a genius concept where you can let your Jackson Pollock participate in painting, sculpture and various art activities without wreaking havoc on your house and maxing out your credit cards on all of the art supplies. They offer multiple classes and Open Art Studio play dates throughout the week. Check out the schedule for times and pricing.
Take a road trip to Dan Nicholas Park.
Dan Nicholas Park is totally worth the hour drive to Salisbury. The park offers train rides, paddleboats, a merry-go-round carousel, nature center, playground and more.
Find Nemo at one of Charlotte’s various aquatic facilities.
Most of these facilities offer free swim at one time or another so you do not have to completely enroll them in year-round swim lessons. If you want him to be the next Michael Phelps, you should enroll him now. “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming.”
Chase a ball (or butterfly) at Soccer Shots.
Soccer at age 2?! What?! Hear me out. Soccer Shots is your opportunity to sit for 30 minutes while someone else entertains your wobbly black bean. Enjoy 30 minutes of watching your drunken pickle pick daisies, chase butterflies and occasionally, kick a ball. They really do gain soccer and social skills all the while you get to sit. For. 30. Minutes.
Not into sitting in the outdoors for soccer? Check out Lil’ Kickers Soccer.
Through Sports Connection, Lil’ Kickers offers a hands-on soccer experience with your tumbling tot starting at 18 months of age.
Play with the demo toys at Toys & Co.
I challenge you to get out of Toys & Co. without either a complete stage VIII tantrum or another toy to clutter up your house. Play with the train set, push the grocery cart around the store and build an architectural marvel with their building supplies. If you go to the Toys & Co. in Cotswold, you can kill some more time at PetSmart to check out all the cool animals or pick up a new pet snake.
Field trip it to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
Kids under 5 are free (adults $12). Pack a picnic lunch for the outdoor airport park to watch the planes take off and land. Listen to your teetering tyke shout “Airplane! Airplane!” for an hour and enjoy a glorious nap in the afternoon.
Of course, Charlotte also boasts libraries, story times, more parks, more museums, indoor play areas, etc. For more ideas, take a gander to these super cool links:
Cover image via Facebook