Hickory is a mid-sized town in western North Carolina, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Voted the 10th best place in the U.S. to live by Reader’s Digest, Hickory is an ideal town to raise a family. There’s no shortage of things to do with kids in and around Hickory. From museums to swimming, there’s something for everyone in this quiet southern town.
Catawba Science Center in Hickory is place for kids to learn about all things science. At the center, kids can touch a variety of animals like stingrays and sharks and get a glimpse of rare turtles, snakes, frogs and fish. Other activities for kids include learning about causes and challenges associated with infectious disease, viewing images of the solar system, creating and launching rockets, designing their own invention and visiting the on-site planetarium. Less than 30 miles from Hickory in Statesville is Iredell Museum Kids at Play. With 1,700 square feet of play area, kids will enjoy a variety of hands-on, interactive exhibits to spark their creativity. In Conover, just over 10 minutes from Hickory, is the Firefighter’s Museum of Catawba County. This historic museum features firefighting photos and equipment dating back as far as the early 1900s. The museum has six fire trucks on display, with the oldest being a 1936 model. Kids will be in awe looking at and touching the various pieces of equipment used in the past and present to put out fires. The museum focuses on fire safety and education, so not only should it be entertaining for the kids, it will be educational as well.
Summers in North Carolina are notoriously hot, so let the kids cool off in the water. Suncreast Water Park is 20 miles from Hickory in the town of Taylorsville. Here, kids will have a blast splashing in the water, swimming, swinging from the rope swing, playing in the water playground or going down the water slide. Right in the heart of Hickory is Kool Park Pool. This public swimming pool first opened in 1936 and features a 90-foot slide, a 15-foot diving tower and three diving boards. There is also a concession stand and game room, and a lifeguard is on duty at all times. Statesville Leisure Pool is just under 30 miles away from Hickory in the town of Statesville. In addition to a large lap pool, the complex also features a splash playground and splash pad for kids ages 1 through 12. There is also a lazy river and two water slides.
Family Fun Centers
If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, check out Hickory Dickory Dock in Hickory. With attractions like bumper cars, arcade games, miniature golf and laser tag, kids will have fun for hours. There is also a three-story indoor playground, as well as a food court. Bo’s Family Fun Center is in Lenoir, just over 25 minutes from Hickory. There is over 55,000 square feet of fun for kids and adults. Pool tables, bowling, mini golf, laser tag, bumper cars, a large arcade and soft play are the main attractions at Bo’s. Located in Statesville is FunStation 2000, an indoor family fun center with a large playground, indoor batting cages, an arcade and laser tag. FunStation 2000 also has small rides for kids like the Red Baron Bi-Planes and Tubs of Fun.
For kids that love animals, Zootastic Park is the place to go. Just under 30 miles from Hickory in Troutman, North Carolina, this sprawling working zoo has several animals on display. Camels, antelopes, tigers, kangaroos, emus, ostriches, iguanas and snakes are just some of the types of animals you’ll see at Zootastic Park. The mountains of North Carolina are home to some hidden gems, and your kids can look for them at Hiddenite Gems. Here, kids can explore Emerald Hollow Mine, the only emerald mine in the U.S. that’s open for public mining. There are over 63 different types of minerals and gems, some of which include sapphire, topaz, emerald and aquamarine. Take in the breathtaking beauty of Hickory, North Carolina at the Ivey Arboretum. Kids can learn about the more than 400 species of rare and native shrubs, plants and trees. Pack a picnic lunch and soak up the scenery at this 3-acre park.