25 Things to Do at Discovery Place Science

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Take advantage of free parking at Discovery Place and plan a super-quick visit with the kids.

The inside of the science museum in Charlotte, NC.

Discovery Place Science has been one of our favorite family things to do in Charlotte for years. When we started our homeschool adventure last fall, I immediately signed up for an annual membership with visions of frequent visits to the museum.

Then life got busy and I confess we haven’t made the time to go all the way uptown since August! Though our annual membership saves the entrance fee, it doesn’t cover parking.

We were invited by friends to join them for a day at Discovery Place today but an appointment at 11:30 am prevented an all-day visit. I decided that flexibility to drop plans and do spur-of-the-moment adventures is the biggest perk of homeschooling and we haven’t taken nearly enough advantage of that yet.

I threw my normal caution to the wind and agreed to meet them right at open and just enjoy whatever we could see in an hour and a half before leaving to get back for our appointment.

After all, we’re members, so it would just be the parking fee, right??

How much does it cost to park at Discovery Place?:

As we checked in at the welcome desk, I discovered that parking at the official Discovery Place Science parking ramp is FREE for a 59 minute visit.

The staff member stressed that very specific time: 59 minutes for free parking. Even just one minute longer and you will pay full price.

For members, parking costs $8 for the day.
For non-members, parking costs $12 for the day.

I realized I’ve been doing our Discovery Place visits all wrong. Rather than going for an entire, exhausting day, we need to take advantage of more frequent shorter trips and use that free parking perk!

Where to park at Discovery Place:

Discovery Place Science has it’s own dedicated parking ramp on the corner of Church St. and 6th St. You can find a detailed map to the parking deck here.

We love to park on the very top floor of the parking deck where there is a pedestrian skywalk right into the third floor of the museum.

If you park on a lower level, there is an elevator that takes you up to the top for the skywalk or you can go down to the sidewalk and just stroll across the street into the museum.

Be sure to take your parking ticket into the museum to be validated!

25 fun things to do at Discovery Place Science in Charlotte, NC.

What can you do at Discovery Place during a 59 minute visit?

The reason we’ve loved Discovery Place so much over the years is that though there are reliable always-there favorites, the exhibits are always changing and updating.

Each attraction is meant for a fairly short interaction before you feel compelled to move on to something new to see.

During a 59 minute visit, you could easily fit in several of the following items:

  1. Go bird spotting in the tropical rainforest
  2. Swing from the rope bridge
  3. Watch the turtles move
  4. Count the jellies in the aquarium
  5. Visit the new Japanese shark
  6. Find Dory
  7. Spot the camouflaged cuttlefish
  8. Get the rundown on the aquarium inhabitants from a staff member
  9. Lift yourself up by air in the vacuum-powered air chair
  10. Test your arm strength in the pulley chairs
  11. Explore air currents with the wind pumper
  12. Balance balls on the wind machine
  13. Defy gravity with the gyroscopic suitcases
  14. Lay on a bed of nails
  15. Scoop beads at the Gizmotron
  16. Have a strength contest with friends on the tug-o-war machine
  17. Create the perfect interior design for a house using the blocks in Project Build
  18. Build a skyscraper out of blocks
  19. Protect yourself with the best fort ever made out of PVC tubes and netting
  20. Watch the muscle man dance
  21. Place all the human body organ pieces back into the puzzle
  22. Use a micropipette to sort colored liquid into trays
  23. Get a close-up look at animal shells with a microscope
  24. Pet a live sea creature in the shallow touch pools
  25. Name the mystery object in the Private Eye game

In an hour and a half, we did almost all of these things!

For our next visit, I absolutely plan to go back with a more intentional list of things to see so we can prepare by reading some books before we go.

It would definitely be worth checking out the current attractions before your visit at the official Discovery Place Science web site here.

More Uptown Charlotte Ideas

While you’re spending the day in Uptown Charlotte, why not take the kids out to lunch at Optimist Hall?

Or, plan a special visit to the Mint Museum, it’s one of my daughter’s favorites.

25 things to do at Discovery Place Science with free parking

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