2013 BOB Awards: Family & Kids

Kids Class

Small Hands Big Art
8025 Ardrey Kell Rd., Ste. 103, 704-246-8271
Don’t worry about the mess, moms and dads. Here, kids ages 18 months to 14 are encouraged to show their creative sides through painting, pottery, clay, and other media regardless of how messy the result. The team at Small Hands Big Art, many of whom have master’s degrees in arts education, aren’t afraid to get knuckle deep in clay, paint, and other media. For those who can’t commit to a weekly class, you and your child can attend an open studio session: a 90-minute class of creating and experimenting with art.

Music Fun

Mr. Nigel & Friends at Toys & Co.
242 S. Sharon Amity Rd., 704-365-7890;
4217 Park Rd., 704-527-1921

If you want your kid to get a front-row seat so he can clap his hands and bop to the music of singer/keyboardist Nigel Smith, you best get to Toys & Co. early. Smith’s music—a playful, pop mix of childhood favorites like “Old MacDonald” and “The Wheels on the Bus”—is not only a hit with kids as young as 1 and as old as tweens, but parents dig it, too. Friday, 11 a.m. (locations rotate; call store for details), mrnigelandfriends.com

Kid-Friendly Brewery

Triple C Brewing Company
2900 Griffith St., 704-372-3212
Scoff if you like, but this South End brewery makes for a fun weekend afternoon family outing. The tap room is one large open space with plenty of room for the tykes to cruise around the picnic-style tables. Kids love the self-serve popcorn machine. The pooch-in-residence loves to be petted, and the whole place has a much more laid back feel than a typical bar. Bonus: The large patio is almost entirely enclosed.

Story Time

300 E. Seventh St., 704-416-4600
Every Saturday at 10:30 a.m., dozens of kids up to the age of 7 or so gather at the feet of one of ImaginOn’s animated storytellers for 45 minutes of stories, singalongs, dancing … and bubbles! Afterward, they will find plenty of activities to keep them busy till lunchtime—climbing on a wooden truck, trying the interactive games, or, you know, reading. Bonus: the LYNX blue line stops right outside. A train ride is the perfect way to start or end your ImaginOn experience.

New Park for Kids

Stallings Park
340 Stallings Rd., Matthews
Two years and $2.3 million later, Stallings Park is the best park and playground in the Charlotte area. Period. With a brand-new splash pad, soon-to-be-open walking trails, three different playground areas (one enclosed for the tiny tots), picnic areas, tennis courts, and an 18-hole disc golf course designed by a three-time world champion disc golfer, families love it here.

Kids’ Party

Superior Play Systems
10709-A Granite St., 704-908-3502
Consider this the mecca of playtime for ages 2 and up. Known for its high-quality play yard products and sports equipment, Superior Play Systems opens up its huge showroom, featuring basketball hoops, trampolines, and swing sets, to up to 16 kids per party. The sheer amount of things to jump on, play with, and run around keeps the teeny partiers happy while moms and dads can sit back and watch the show. $199 (weekday), $249 (weekend) for up to 16 children.

In Town All Day Outing

Freedom Park
2435 Cumberland Ave.
What does Freedom Park not have? On its 98 acres, families will find tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields, two playgrounds (one enclosed for the wee ones), large pavilions for picnics and outdoor grilling, and a pond perfect for fishing. There’s a Charlotte B-cycle station, swing sets galore, and a big hill that kids of all ages love to roll down. Bonus: the Charlotte Nature Museum is just across the greenway.

Shoe Store

Kixx Shoes
1730 E. Woodlawn Rd., Ste. G, 704-676-1517
Kixx is all about the little ones. Bright, colorful décor works as the perfect backdrop to shelves lined with the coolest and most of-the-moment lines and styles. You’ll find always-popular staples from Crocs, Keds, Keen, and Merrell, not to mention the latest from super-stylish Livie & Luca, See Kai Run, and TOMS. But it’s not just the shoes, it’s the service mom and dad will love. Kixx staffers work hard to make shoe-fitting comfortable for wiggly toddlers and shy middle-schoolers, so that you walk out with shoes that are a perfect fit for your little ones.

Family Outing

Lazy 5 Ranch
15100 Mooresville Rd., Mooresville, 704-663-5100
Besides the petting zoo, outdoor picnic pavilion, and large playground, there’s the hilarious ride through the ranch via open wagon or in your own car. Either way, you and the little ones will be in stitches as odd-looking ostriches reach their skinny necks through your windows and peck mercilessly at your seed bucket. You’ll crack up as Texas longhorn cattle swing their horns your way and the giraffes mosey over to say hi. And Lazy 5’s rates are reasonable—$9.50 per adult, $6.50 per child ages 2 to 11—so that a day out with the family won’t break the bank.

Consignment Sale

Matthews United Methodist Church
801 S. Trade St., Matthews, 704-815-1945
Every March, members of one of the area’s largest church congregations pull together a huge consignment sale full of great deals on everything from strollers and clothing to furniture and video games. More than 300 consignors sell their best stuff for a hugely discounted price. Plus, it’s not just baby and toddler goods: mamas-to-be can scour maternity goods while teens can shop the racks of clothes and shoes in their sizes. The best part: 30 percent of the proceeds from the consignment sale go to helping ministries around the world.

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