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Discovery Place

out natcornLooking for something fun for the kids on a cold and/or rainy winter’s day. The Discovery Place in Charlotte has got you covered. We spent three-and-a-half hours there this past weekend with our two daughters Izzy (12) and Maddie (8) and we never heard a single “I’m bored” or “I’m tired” or “Can we go now.”


Discovery Place is located in uptown Charlotte at 301 N. Tryon Street. You can access Discovery Place directly via a glass-enclosed third-floor level walkway from the museum’s parking deck across the street. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you’ll probably be on the move all day. Discovery place has two levels of hands-on learning activities, plus shows, exhibits and an IMAX theatre.

Some of the cool stops we hit included: Lift — where guests can launch objects and/or try and keep them airborne using air pressure, electromagnetic forces or just muscle power as in the vacuum-powered chairlift where you hoist yourself skyward.

There was also an area called “Push,” where guests can take advantage of mechanics to see wind power in action or to get a bit of advantage in a cool tug-of-war contest. One of (there were several) the short presentations we saw while we were there was “Fired Up” where the presenter displayed some colorful and occasionally loud combinations of the fire trinity — oxygen, heat and fuel. And don’t worry if all this activity makes you tired you can always get a quick rest on the museum’s bed of nails.

In the “World Alive” section there was a rainforest exhibit on two levels. A top or canopy layer allowed you access to some native rainforest birds plus species of reptiles, frogs, stingrays, palms, epiphytes and other plants. On a lower level museum staff talked about the ecology of the rainforest and guests were able to get up close to some of the creatures.

World Alive also included looks into aquatic habitats like the North Carolina coast, a seafloor reef and an Indo-Pacific coral reef. There were also terrariums and aquariums with different fishes, reptiles and amphibians.  

This month’s theme in the “Explore More Stuff Lab” was robots. There was a table with motors, blocks and integrated circuits with computer generated directions where guests could build and program a robot. Other displays let guests explore magnetism, electricity, luminescence plus different forces and more.

We hit the ground running at the Discovery Place and the three plus hours rocked by like a runaway freight train. We didn’t even do the IMAX. “Hubble” follows the gripping story of the iconic spacecraft showcasing the awe-inspiring images garnered from the craft plus showing astronauts working on the giant telescope in deep space. Hubble will be showing at the Discovery Place through June 1. 

The museum will present a special exhibit on Saturday, Feb. 15, entitled “101 Inventions That Changed The World.” The exhibit will use 40 high-definition projectors, multi-channel motion graphics and cinema quality surround sound, take an extraordinary journey through turning points in humankind’s history in one of the most exciting multi-screen environments in the world.

I asked Maddie what her favorite part of Discovery Place was? “All of it,” was her reply.

(Don Hendershot is a writer and naturalist. He can be reached a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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