Let’s get this out of the way. You are wondering why you would be visiting Greensboro, NC. That is a valid question. I happen to live here so I totally understand. We are a small town. However, maybe you are driving to the beach (we are on the way to a lot of them) and need a little break. Or maybe you are here for work, to visit friends or family. If you really think about it I bet you know someone who lives in this area. I have three separate friends who relocated down here all from different parts of my life. Or you are planning a staycation. No matter what the reason, Greensboro is actually a pretty fun small town that is very child friendly.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s answer a more important question: what to do in Greensboro with a toddler?
My answer: The Greensboro Science Center
We relocated to Greensboro from a much larger city and before that from New York City. So I know a good museum, zoo, science center. While Greensboro lacks in size, the Greensboro Science Center is both large and high quality.
What to do with a toddler
The main attractions for a toddler will likely be the indoor aquarium and the outdoor zoo. We typically start with the aquarium as it is right off of the entrance. The newly expanded aquarium features otters, penguins, an octopus, sting rays to pet, a boa constrictor and a large aquarium with three sharks. In the new addition the focus is on sea creatures with colorful fish, crabs, seahorses, and jellyfish.
The aquarium is well designed for little friends. Most of the tanks reach the ground and if not are low enough for even small visitors to see in. There are tunnels and hidden viewing chambers perfect for inquisitive toddlers. In the land and sea exhibits (ie. penguins and otters) there are ledges which toddlers will find a perfect perch for viewing the animals when they are out of the water. In our numerous visits we have always found the ledges packed with kids and never had a docent complain.
From the aquarium we typically skip the other exhibits and head straight to the zoo. However, be sure the check on the special exhibit. On our first trip to the science center it was the Body’s exhibit, which was a huge hit with the medical professional grandparents and the toddler.
Like the aquarium, the zoo is built for little friends. Right off the entrance there is a petting zoo with goats, donkeys and sheep. There is also a meerkat exhibit which features tunnels for the kids to climb in and out of. Large sculptures of animals throughout the zoo make for fun climbing.
While you may not see every animal you would expect at a zoo that has it’s benefits. No we don’t have a lion but we have friendly giant turtles which your little one can pet. They can also toddle through a Wallaby pin and get up close and personal with a red panda.
What to do with bigger kids
Skywild! Skywild is one of the most amazing zipline obstacle courses I have ever seen. It runs the length of the zoo (no worries you aren’t ziplining for your life over the tiger). There are numerous different types of obstacles designed to have you imitate animal behaviors (think leaping and crawling). There are slides, swings, areas to balance, and much much more. The first time we came to the Greensboro Science Center my big kid (aka my husband) lost his mind over how fun Skywild looked.
Know before you go:
Skywild is located within the Greensboro Science Center but a separate ticket. If you purchase a ticket for Skywild it will also cover your admission to the Greensboro Science Center but not vice versa. The minimum age is eight. If your child is eight or nine then they will need to be accompanied by a participating adult over the age of 16 (does not have to be a parent). Otherwise, you just need to be present but can watch from the safety of the ground.
Logistics for visiting the Greensboro Science Center
When to visit:
If you can swing it go in the mornings, particularly Sunday mornings. Regardless of the day of the week the Greensboro Science Center opens at 9am. In the south that is prime church time on a Sunday. On our most recent visit we got there Sunday at 9am and were one of only three families in the entire aquarium. That made for some unobstructed viewing of the “big shark”, my daughter’s favorite. And let’s face it, if you have a toddler you are up by 9am.
If you head out to the zoo right at 9am you may find that some of the animals aren’t up and moving around yet. It is best to do the interior first and then head outside. We made it to the Gibbons around 10am and were rewarded with watching them eat breakfast (not officially publicized on the schedule). The basket they get food out of is right on the ground and my toddler had a blast watching the Gibbons pry food out and walk around.
Children under three are free. Adults are $13.50, which does not include any special visiting exhibits or Skywild.
A great thing about visiting the Greensboro Science Center is that it is part of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). If you are a member of another ASTC center then your admission is 100% free, AZA members receive 50% off admission. Considering how popular zoo and science center memberships are among families with young children, you may very well qualify for a discount!
If you are wondering what to do in Greensboro with a toddler make sure you check out the Greensboro Science Center! It is big fun for all ages!