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Take Your Family on a High-Speed Adventure at ZMAX Dragway in Concord, NC

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Thinking about a visit to ZMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC? When is the last time you stood up to watch something go 300 mph? Been a long time or maybe never? Then you should plan a trip to the ZMAX Dragway for an NHRA National Event.

We got a chance to visit for an NHRA Nationals Events and couldn’t believe all the things we got to experience. And the best part? Kids are just $10. So your 300 mph family adventure just got a lot more budget-friendly. Here’s everything you need to know.

Watch!: Here’s our visit in one quick video

This post contains affiliate links.

The next NHRA event at ZMAX Dragway is coming soon! Get tickets now for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals: April 26th – 28th, 2024

Thank you to Explore Cabarrus County for providing tickets so we could bring our readers this review!

entrance to ZMAX Dragwa
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Scratch-Made Breakfast & Lunch at Sunflour Baking Company in Charlotte, NC

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Are you looking for a great place for breakfast or lunch in Cabarrus County? If you’ve never visited Sunflour Baking Company you are missing out. The flakiest most delicious breakfast pastries, sandwiches, cookies, and cupcakes are waiting for you at one of Sunflour’s five locations near Charlotte, NC and we think you’ll want to pop in and enjoy their delicious offerings. We spent a weekend in Cabarrus County and we so enjoyed our breakfast that we stopped in for lunch the next day.

Counter at Sunflour Baking Company

Our breakfast was courtesy of Explore Cabarrus County, our lunch was not. Thank you to Explore Cabarrus County for introducing us to what might be our new family-favorite restaurant!

Amazing coffee, a variety of indoor and outdoor seating, with scratch-made baked goods using local ingredients makes Sunflour Baking Company the perfect place for a relaxing family breakfast, lunch, brunch, or even just a snack.

Food from Sunflour Baking Company

Breakfast at Sunflour

Sunflour has hands down the most delicious pastries we’ve ever had. And, that’s really saying something because I have a sweet tooth that’s probably a little too big. My vanilla sweet roll was somehow light and flaky and soft at the same time with just the right amount of sweetness. Even my husband who isn’t big into sweets raved about the cinnamon rolls and the kids loved their selections, too. We also enjoyed breakfast sandwiches on homemade bread that was so good we knew had to head back to this place to try their lunch options. Which, we did.

Pastries at Sunflour Baking Company

Lunch

I didn’t get any photos of lunch. I’m sorry but I was too excited to bite into that bread again. We enjoyed BLTs and turkey avocado sandwiches for lunch. But you’ll also find a variety of paninis and other sandwiches on the menu, plus soups.

Sunflour Pastry Counter

Pastries and More at Sunflour

You’ll find kid favorites like cream-filled sprinkled cookies and cupcakes, as well as all sorts of muffins, rolls, and sweet and savory pastries at Sunflour. Everything is fresh and made from scratch. We really had trouble picking just one item and opted to split a few things to try a variety. It was a good way to go and highly recommended.

Sunflour Baking Company: Review

Since our initial visit to Sunflour Baking Company, we’ve returned whenever we’re in the area. We love the pastries and sandwiches and the friendly atmosphere.

My husband loves to get his breakfast sandwiches on Sunflour’s delicious cheddar biscuit. I love the Vanilla sugar roll- so light and flaky. The kids really enjoy the cinnamon rolls. Sunflour is a place where we’ve found great food and a good cup of coffee again and again.

Sunflour Baking Company exterior

Visit Sunflour Baking Company

Sunflour Baking Company locations:

Harrisburg Sunflour Baking location: 5040 NC-49, Harrisburg, NC
Dilworth Sunflour Baking location: 220 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC
Elizabeth Sunflour Baking location: 2001 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC
Ballantyne Sunflour Baking location: 14021 Conlan Circle, #B-9, Charlotte, NC
Noda Sunflour Baking location: 515 Jordan Place, Charlotte, NC

Things to Do in Charlotte, NC

Looking for more delicious options in Charlotte, NC? Check out our list of places to eat out on our Things to Do in Charlotte list.

Ride a Carousel & Train: Village Park in Kannapolis, NC

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Have you visited Village Park in Kannapolis, NC? Not only does this park have two amazing playgrounds and multiple picnic shelters, but you’ll also find North Carolina’s only double-decker carousel lit with 1800 lights! As if that weren’t enough, the park also has a real miniature train that families can ride around the park. Tickets for the carousel and train are very inexpensive. Topping all that off is a free holiday light display and seasonal events. We loved our visit to Village Park in Kannapolis and we have all the information for you!

Carousel at Village Green Park

Village Park Carousel

Manufactured in Italy, this carousel is the only double-decker carousel in North Carolina. It features over 1,800 lights, hand-painted murals, and traditional carousel music. The classic carousel is set beside a green space as you enter the park in its own covered shelter, making this park feel whimsical and inviting.

Tickets to ride the carousel at Village Park are $1.50.

Think your kids are too big? Think again. Even my preteens enjoyed a whirl on this carousel.

Village Park train

Village Park Train

The train shed at Village Park is located across from the carousel. From there, families can hop on board the rotary express train and ride around the park, past the splash pad, both playgrounds, and across the paved and shaded walking paths. The train is a g-24 scale replica CP Huntington engine.

Tickets to ride the rail at Village Park are $1.50. The train hours are seasonal, running weekends April through mid-October and daily in the summer. Find exact hours on the Kannapolis Parks website.

Purchase tickets for both the train and the carousel at the exterior window of the main building at the park’s entrance.

Village Park Playground

City of Kannapolis, Village Park Playgrounds

Climb high, bounce, swing, and slide at both of Village Park’s playgrounds. Located side by side, one playground is intended for the 5 and under crowd, while the other is meant for older kids. We loved the climbing options and long slides at this park!

Paved Walking Trails

Taking a walk or a run? The paved walking trails at Village Park and connected to other trails in the area could be just the right place for you. You can take the 2-mile loop between Village Park and Bakers Creek Park on the 8th Street Greenway and the Bakers Creek Greenway.

Greenway Trail Map

Free and Cheap Holiday Fun at Village Park in Kannapolis

We love FREE and low-cost holiday fun, and Villiage Park is packed with it. They have a totally free holiday light display with thousands of lights! Walk through the displays at your own pace for a magical holiday experience. Check out the FREE Holiday Lights at Village Park.

Or, if you want to turn it up a notch, book tickets for the park’s holiday train, the Winterland Express! Tickets are $2 per person. Ride the train through the park’s lights and see them in a whole new way. End your evening with a ride on the two-story carousel for just $2 per person.

Tree Lighting Celebration for the Holiday Season

The Kannapolis tree lighting at Village Park is one of the park’s most exciting events of the year! Thousands gather throughout the park on Saturday evening before Thanksgiving to see the park illuminated by 250,000 lights strung through trees, along buildings, and adorning the Christmas tree in the green space of the park. To kick off the Celebration of Lights, there is an annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Kannapolis Tree Lighting Ceremony at Village Park

The Tree Lighting Ceremony

When the ceremony begins, various speakers say a little about the past year and the year that is to come. Then, the crowd is introduced to Santa Claus himself! As he counts down with the crowd, the large Christmas tree illuminates as the crowd hits 1, along with dozens of LED Christmas trees that surround to tree. This creates a gorgeous display of color, and the crowd begins to move and weave through the trees, now bright with the Christmas spirit!

Where to Gather Your Family for the Tree Lighting Ceremony

You can sit pretty much anywhere in the circumference of the tree to get a good view. If you plan to ride the carousel, train, or visit Santa right after the lighting, I would recommend standing toward the back closer to the lines for those activities. The lines grow long quickly, so anything you can do to get you closer to the front of the line, the better. The train lines seem to be the longest of the three attractions, so if that is on your holiday bucket list, stay close to that line during the tree lighting ceremony.

You can also choose to stand closer to the main stage area to hear the wonderful messages from community leaders. Here, your kids will get an up-close view of Santa as he greets the park! There are also a few carols sung, and you are best able to hear and enjoy the thrill of the countdown here (it’s a little hard to hear once you get closer to the tree). 

Fireworks 

My family’s favorite part of the tree lighting ceremony was hands down the fireworks that immediately preceded the lights. The fireworks rose into the sky behind and to the left of the main stage, so we were able to position ourselves so that the fireworks rose into the sky right above the Christmas tree.

The fireworks display lasted around 5 minutes and was a great way to start the celebration and helped stabilize the crowd movement for a few minutes. If you have little ones, be sure to bring ear protection (our two-year-old didn’t find the fireworks as thrilling as the rest of us).

Celebration of Lights

This free holiday light display in Village Park is daily from November 18th through December 30th, 2023. Hours are Sunday through Thursday 6 pm to 9 pm and Friday and Saturday 6 pm to 10 pm. The display will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

In addition to the lights, Santa will be on-site to visit with the kids every evening! Plus enjoy live holiday music, entertainment, crafts, and a miniature train display.

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

Here’s everything you need to know about Celebration of Lights at Village Park

Tickets for the Winterland Express and Carousel

Book your tickets in advance for the Winterland Express at the Celebration of Lights.

Carousel tickets can be purchased nightly on-site.

Places to see Christmas lights in Charlotte, North Carolina

Looking for more places to see Christmas lights? We’ve got you covered!

Here’s our list of more than 10 places to see Christmas lights near Charlotte, NC.

Kannapolis Holiday Events

Tree Lighting Ceremony: November 18th, 2023 6 pm in Village Park
Christmas Parade: December 19th, 2023 6 pm in Downtown Kannapolis

Downtown Kannapolis
Downtown Kannapolis, NC

Village Park, Kannapolis
700 West C Street, Kannapolis

Discover Gold and a Nugget of History at Reed Gold Mine in Midland, NC

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Have you heard about Reed Gold Mine in Midland, NC? The very first gold ever discovered in the United States was at Little Meadow Creek and what would soon become the Reed Gold Mine. Visit Little Meadow Creek, tour the underground gold mine, and try your hand at panning for gold. Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site is an amazing place to visit. Admission is totally free. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your own visit to Reed Gold Mine.

Bridge over Little Meadow Creek
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Take on a New Challenge at The Escape Game: Concord, NC

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Love a good puzzle challenge with the family? The Escape Game at Concord Mills recently opened with 5 escape room challenges for your friends and family to conquer. All five rooms differ with regard to difficulty and the number of players able to play together, so groups big and small, and beginner or more seasoned escape room players, will all find a game that’s right for their group.

The Escape Game: Concord invited us out to try a game so we could share the experience with our readers.

The Escape Game in Concord Mills

Three of my kids, aged 10-13, and I got to play the Playground Escape Game and we had a blast! It was a very cooperative game and really required us to divide and conquer and help each other to solve all the puzzles in time.

The game was full of surprises and we won’t share all the details, so you can enjoy the game yourself. But here’s how our experience went.

The Escape Game at Concord Mills

The Escape Game is located between the movie theater and Dave & Busters at Concord Mills. If you head towards the movie theater parking lot and then keep going around towards Dave and Busters, you’ll see The Escape Game, painted black and white, on the exterior of the mall. You won’t need to walk through the mall to get to The Escape Game, but there’s an entrance in the mall, too!

When you arrive you’ll check in with your name, if you’ve made reservations in advance. This is recommended, by the way. Then, if you haven’t filled out a waiver, there’s a quick form to fill out on a tablet kiosk. Then, you’re ready to go.

Your guide will walk you to your game and welcome you to the space. A movie intro will play on the screen above the door and you’re off.

Waiver kiosk and merchandise in the Escape Game lobby

The Playground

Our game, Playground, set us up as 4th-grade students on the very last day of 4th grade. But our teacher wouldn’t let us out until we had completed all the tasks on the report card. Each lit up as we completed them during the game, helping us keep track of where we were and how many more puzzles were yet to be solved.

Up to 12 players can play this game, so I was a little nervous about how the 4 of us would do. We’re not exactly expert escape room players. But our game guide helped us out from time to time with clues on the video screen and little tips to let us know if we were headed in the right direction or not. Which, was super helpful and helped keep the game enjoyable and not frustrating.

The Puzzles at The Escape Game

The puzzles we had to solve were all themed by school subject, fitting with the 4th-grade classroom experience. The way information was displayed and hidden for each problem varied greatly. Some clues had us bouncing between rooms as they were opened and some of it was hidden in plain sight and required some deduction and logic, and maybe a little math to find the solutions. Each problem worked together to get us the information we needed to escape that fourth-grade class.

There were lots of fun little surprises along the way, that I, at least, have never seen in an escape room before. My kids really enjoyed those surprises.

Celebrating our escape at The Escape Game, Concord

Mom Review: The Escape Game: Concord, NC

We had a great time playing Playground. Escape rooms are a great family activity for families, especially with hard-to-please tweens and teens and I would definitely would recommend playing a game at The Escape Game. Our game was really well done and we enjoyed working together to solve it and escape.

In my opinion, I don’t think kids much younger than 8 or 9 would be able to contribute much towards solving the puzzles and they might get bored. Although one nice thing about Playground is that there are a significant number of tasks that require collecting objects and younger kids could certainly help with that. But, suffice it to say, these are really geared toward older kids and adults.

We escaped! The Escape Game, Concord Mills

More Rooms to explore at The Escape Game

We got to peek inside a couple of the other new rooms at The Escape Game!

  • Prison Break: 60 minutes to escape prison. Difficulty 9/10, for up to 8 players
  • The Depths: A secret underwater lab? Difficulty 7/10, for up to 8 players
  • Special Ops: A mysterious market…. Difficulty 8/10, for up to 8 players
  • Gold Rush: Time to find some gold. Difficulty 7/10, for up to 8 players
  • Playground: Escape the 4th grade, can’t be that hard, right? Difficulty 6/10 for up to 12 players
The Depths, Escape Game
Sneak peek: The Depths at The Escape Game, Concord

Tickets for The Escape Game

Tickets are $34.99. Smaller groups may end up together, so if you’d like to book privately, for only your group, you can purchase the entire room beginning at $280. Of course, the other option is just to make sure you bring enough friends to fill the room.

More to Do: Concord Mills

Being located in Concord Mills, a large mall, you could easily turn your visit into a full day. Concord Mills has an aquarium, an arcade, movie theater, lots of shopping, and places to eat.

Our family went to the Lego Store and then decided to drive over to SunFlour Baking Company for lunch, which is a family favorite just about 15 minutes from the mall.

10+ Things to Do with Kids Near Concord, NC in Cabarrus County

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Have you visited Cabarrus County in North Carolina? Just a short two-hour drive from the Upstate, Cabarrus County offers tons of fun for kids from a historic gold mine you can tour, to a famous NASCAR speedway and NHRA dragway. In this article, we’ll share more than 10 places you can take your kids near Concord plus all the tips you need to make it a family memory you will never forget.

Thank you to Explore Cabarrus for providing lodging and some of these experiences.

This article includes:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
ZMAX Dragway
Reed Gold Mine
Great Wolf Lodge
Concord Mills
SEA LIFE Aquarium
The Speedpark
Lionel Retail Store
The Percantile & Creamery
iFly Concord
Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Team Store
K1 Speed Indoor Karting
Kannapolis, NC: Village Park and More
Sunflour Baking Company

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