Spring break educational outings

Pan for gold at Reed Gold Mine.
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Spring break is just around the corner! While I’m looking forward to the break from school, I’m also dreading the inevitable boredom blues. I’ve found that keeping the kids busy is key to a happy and peaceful spring break.

Just because it’s spring break doesn’t mean that learning has to stop for the week. Spring break can be a great time to take the kids on an educational (and fun!) field trip.

There are many educational day trip destinations within a reasonable driving distance from Charlotte. Here are four destinations to consider as you make your spring break plans. Look for my next column for four additional ideas.

Reed Gold Mine

9621 Reed Mine Road, Midland

Tour Reed Gold Mine, the site of the first documented gold discovery in the United States. Visitors can tour the mine, hike a trail, or pan for gold. The site is open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. There is a $3 cost if you choose to pan for gold. Gold panning opens for the season on April 2. For more info, visit historicsites.nc.gov.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History

1500 East Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia

Explore science and history as you tour the museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits. Indoors, visit the Hall of North Carolina Natural History, the Hall of North American Habitats, the Creepy Nature exhibit, a Dino Safari, the Hall of North American Wildlife and the Hall of the American Indian. Outdoors, walk the Nature Trail, visit the Catawba Indian Village, the Stone Age Heritage Site and the 18th Century Backcountry Farm. The museum is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. (closed Easter Sunday). Admission cost is $7 for adults and $6 for children (ages 4-17). For more info, visit www.schielemuseum.org.

Lazy 5 Ranch

15100 Mooresville Road, Mooresville

Go on a mini-safari through Lazy 5 Ranch to experience up-close encounters with exotic animals. The ranch features many unique animals including giraffes, zebra, bison, ostriches and many species you never knew existed.

The ranch will hold a special Easter “Eggstravaganza” on Saturday, April 13 and Saturday, April 20. The event will include egg drops, coloring contests, live bunnies and scavenger hunts.

Admission cost is $11 for adults and $8 for children. Admission, including a wagon ride, is $16 for adults and $11 for children. The ranch only accepts cash. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until one hour before sunset and Sunday from 1 p.m. until one hour before sunset. To make a wagon reservation, call 704-663-5100. For more info, visit lazy5ranch.com.

N.C. Transportation Museum

411 S. Salisbury Ave., Spencer

Visit a historic train depot and roundhouse, see restored locomotives and rail cars on display and take a 25 minute train ride around the site. The museum also has a collection of antique automobiles and aviation exhibits. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m. Admission plus train ride is $12 for adults and $8 for children (ages 3-12).

The Easter Bunny Express will be held April 13-14 and April 19-20. Take a 25 minute train ride with the Easter Bunny and enjoy inflatables, Easter crafts, face painting and photos with the Easter Bunny. April 19-20 will feature Easter egg hunts at 10:30 a.m. (ages 0-4) and 11:30 a.m. (ages 5-10). Admission plus the Easter Bunny Express is $13 for adults and $9 for children (ages 3-12). Meals with the Easter Bunny are also available for an additional charge. For more info, visit nctrans.org.

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