By Rachel Hoeing
If your teens are like mine, most of their summer will be spent playing summer sports, hanging at the pool, working/babysitting, and sleeping in. While these are all great ways for them to enjoy their summer, the bad news is that none of those items involve spending time with their parents! I feel like each time I look at them I see the clock ticking of how much more time I have left before they are on their own. So, I asked my teens and some of their friends what activities they would enjoy with their parents this summer and came up with the list below. Some of these can get pricey, so I suggest choosing one or two “big ideas” and then a few free (or close to free) ideas!
Click on each venue to visit the corresponding website for directions, hours of operation, cost, etc. In addition, visit our Family Bucket List here to find hundreds of additional ideas for kids of any age! Enjoy!
Suggested BY teens, FOR teens to enjoy with their parents:
1. The Quarry at Carrigan Farms – Carrigan Farms is located in Mooresville, and offers open swim time in the spring fed quarry. You can enjoy just hanging, jumping, or rope swinging while there. It’s $15 per person and you can stay all day if you wish!
2. Disc Golf – This is a great way to have time to talk with your teen while also enjoying a sport, getting them outdoors, and getting some exercise! The best part is that it is free and chances are that there is a disc golf course close to you. You can use our Parks/Playgrounds directory here to find a park that has this option. Some of our favorites for disc golf are Horizons Park in Rural Hall, Triad Park in Kernersville, Barber Park in Greensboro, and Springwood in Burlington. If it’s your first time playing, don’t worry about fancy discs, just bring a few frisbees and have fun!
3. Haw River Canoe and Kayak Co – This is a great opportunity for your children to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with nature. You can enjoy kayaking on the rapids, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, or even fly-fishing. Located in Saxapahaw, it’s close by as well!
4. US National Whitewater Center – You can easily spend an entire day here without completing all there is to do! Head down to Charlotte to enjoy whitewater rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding, zip lines, ropes course, festivals, mountain biking and more! We usually like to get the All-Access pass to save money. This way you can do more than one activity and hop back and forth to the ones you enjoy the most!
5. Dave and Busters – Some of you may have enjoyed the Concord location for a while now, but luckily Winston-Salem now has a Dave & Busters of its own! They have hundreds of arcade games, big screen TVs, and a great menu of food and drinks. Check the website for coupons!
6. Top Golf Charlotte – If you don’t know how to golf, it’s not a problem. Topgolf has three floors of climate-controlled hitting bays. Each bay includes HDTVs. There is also a sports bar, restaurant and rooftop terrace. Walk-in guests are welcome, but we suggest making a reservation before you go because it can get quite crowded.
7. Carowinds – Another one of our favorite places to hit in Charlotte is Carowinds amusement park and their waterpark, Carolina Harbor. If you think you will go more than once, a season pass is definitely worth the money. You can easily spend a full day just in the water park or just in the ride section. Be sure to check out the new Copperhead Strike, which is the Carolinas’ First Double Launch roller coaster!
8. Triad Eco Adventures – Triad Eco Adventures hosts sight-seeing tours in W-S, Greensboro, and High Point. You can choose between segway tours, electric bikes, or even a trolley. They also offer Stand-Up Paddleboard instructions and activities.
9. Busch Gardens – This theme pack is about 4 – 5 hours away from most Triad areas. Busch Gardens is located in Williamsburg, VA and hosts a theme park and water park. This is a fun overnight for your teens if you want to tackle both sections of the park over a two-day period. There are lots of special events coming up this summer, so check their website to see their calendar of events.
10. Dollywood – Although you may think of this amusement park as a place for little ones, my teens quickly found that it hosts some of the best roller coasters around! They also have a waterpark, nearby cabins and resort, and theater shows. It was hands-down one of the cleanest amusement parks I have visited! It is a four – five hour drive depending on your Triad location.
11. iFly – iFLY is located in Charlotte and gives you the opportunity to experience flying with modern indoor skydiving. Your iFLY experience includes a brief training session and your time in the air. Watch the videos on their website to see the fun!
12. Kersey Valley – Located in Archdale, Kersey Valley has enough to offer your teens that you can return again and again. Zip-lines, escape rooms, laser tag, high ropes course, axe throwing, and even more additions in the fall! Visit their website to see all the options and book your adventure.
13. Mebane Tanger Outlets – Even my son who loathes shopping, can get excited about the Tanger Outlets. I think it’s because there are always great deals and he comes home with a nice addition to his wardrobe. Whether you go early for summer clothes shopping, or wait until August for back-to-school deals, this is a fun outing that can always include a delicious lunch or dinner nearby. (We love to stop at Alamance Crossing for meals.)
14. College Tours – If you haven’t already hit this stage with your teen, it will be here before you know it. Ironically, colleges need early acceptance applications at the beginning of Senior year, so if your student has a decent amount of colleges they would like to visit, start in 9th or 10th grade and hit a few each year. Work them into already scheduled vacations with a stop to/from your destination, or set up three or four days in a row of a college tour road trip. Keep in mind that campuses will not be busy like they are during the year, so if you can go on a day (usually in August) when classes are in session, that is always best!
15. Hebron Rock Colony – Maybe it’s because we’ve raised them to love Appalachian State, but my kids have always enjoyed a day trip to Boone and a hike at Hebron Rock colony. Check out the linked blog for tips on where to start. Be sure to bring snacks or a lunch and encourage all family members to disconnect! Other fun hiking spots are Hanging Rock, Stone Mountain, and Pilot Mountain.
16. ACE Adventure Center – Just three hours from the Triad, this is located in Oak Hill, WV. The main draw to ACE is white water rafting on the New River. You can choose between the challenging rapids, or can even float or kayak in the more gentle section. ACE also has zip line tours, rock climbing, guided fishing trips, catwalk tours on the New River Gorge Bridge, hiking, ATVs, horseback riding, biking, rappelling, kayak instruction, stand up paddle boarding, team challenge courses and more. You can also enjoy ACE Lake, which has inflatables, a zip line and a water slide.
17. Wet ‘n Wild – Wet ‘N Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro is great when you have a mixture of thrill-seekers in your house. If one of your teens would rather sit by the pool while another wants to try out “daredevil drop,” it can be done here! It features over 36 water rides and includes plenty of dining options on the premises. You can also choose to eat a picnic lunch outside of the park.
18. Rock Box Bouldering, The Ultimate Climbing Gym & Gnarwall Bouldering – The experience of climbing involves body, mind, and spirit, and can give teens an amazing sense of accomplishment. (Not to mention mom and dad’s sense of accomplishment if they participate along with them!) Ultimate is located in Greensboro, Rock Box is in Winston-Salem, and Gnarwall is in Pfafftown. Rock Box also has a climbing team for Middle/High Schoolers.
19. Spare Time Entertainment – located in Greensboro, this isn’t just any bowling alley. Spare Time has 29 bowling lanes, including a private, upscale VIP room. They have galactic bowling, super fun laser tag, numerous arcade games, and a sports grille with great food. Check their Facebook page for deals and packages!
20. K1 Speed Concord – Indoor go-cart racing with all-electric karts. They have a professionally designed indoor track that is perfect for small or large groups. They have a “Pit Cafe” so you can grab a bite to eat while there as well!
Don’t forget that we have a page on our site dedicated to TEENS AND TWEENS! Click here.