15 Must-Visit Small Towns in North Carolina

From the mountains to the coast, explore these quaint destinations in the Tar Heel State.


Published:

Photo by Bennian/Shutterstock

North Carolina is home to many quaint towns rich in history and natural beauty that provide an opportunity for relaxation and family togetherness, without the noise and traffic of larger cities. If you love the small-town vibe, pack a suitcase to discover the irresistible charm of these road-trip worthy destinations.

Mountains
 

Banner Elk

Photo courtesy of Bill Russ — VisitNC.com

A young boy enjoys a sledding run in Banner Elk.
 

Avery County’s Banner Elk, about 15 miles from Boone, offers an ideal destination for families. “Banner Elk sits between two of the major ski resorts in North Carolina,” says Nancy Owen of the Banner Elk Tourism Development Authority. “On one side of us is Sugar Mountain Resort and on the other side is Beech Mountain Resort, so we’re within a 5-mile radius of two of the biggest winter attractions in North Carolina.”

The town offers plenty of year-round family fun, too. In summer, visit Wildcat Lake, which offers a beach area, swimming, fishing and canoe rentals. It’s also a great spot for a family picnic.

“Our Fourth of July Celebration is really like no other. It’s true classic America,” Owen says. “Thousands of people come to our one stoplight town for this parade. It’s a family tradition.” The parade concludes with a Party in the Park at Tate-Evans Park with food, vendors, a rubber duck race, an egg toss and sack races.

In the fall, Banner Elk is known for its Woolly Worm Festival, held the third weekend in October. The festival celebrates the coming of snow season with worm races, with the winner helping to predict the coming weather.

Insider Tip: You’ll find spectacular mountain views at Apple Hill Farm, an alpaca farm 5 miles from Banner Elk. The private farm frequently hosts tours to see the alpacas, llamas, goats, guardian donkeys, dogs and Mr. Pickles, the pig.


Blowing Rock

Photo courtesy of Todd Bush Photography

"Main Street is the heart of the village, a walkable and friendly place with a mix of unique shops, galleries, independent restaurants," says Amanda Lugenbell of Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority.
 

Blowing Rock, a 15-minute drive from Boone, is known as the Crown of the Blue Ridge and is located in Watauga and Caldwell counties along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The town is named for The Blowing Rock — an enormous cliff high above the Johns River Gorge, which is 3,000 feet below. Fish or hike at Moses Cone Memorial Park, ride the rails at Tweetsie Railroad, launch an aerial excursion at High Gravity Adventures, or explore a natural gravitational anomaly at Mystery Hill.

“The mix of outdoor activity and energetic entertainment is something families love about our town,” says Amanda Lugenbell of Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority. “The atmosphere of downtown is another quality that makes Blowing Rock special. Main Street is the heart of the village, a walkable and friendly place with a mix of unique shops, galleries, independent restaurants, and the lovingly maintained Memorial Park — right in the center of it all.”

Nearby attractions include Grandfather Mountain, Julian Price Memorial Park, Linville Caverns and Linville Falls.

Don’t-miss annual events include the July Fourth Celebration and Parade with sack races, a watermelon-eating contest and inflatables. The annual Blowing Rock Halloween Festival features a costume contest, a scavenger hunt and pumpkin-bowling competitions.

Insider tip: Animal-loving families can attend The Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show, which hosts three outdoor shows each summer.


Brevard

Photo courtesy of Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority

Rainbow Falls is a 150-foot tall waterfall in Pisgah National Forest.
 

Brevard is a best known for its scenic beauty. Located about 30 miles from Asheville, Brevard is the county seat of Transylvania County and part of the state’s “Land of the Waterfalls,” a region comprised of more than 200 waterfalls. The city’s proximity to Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Recreational Forest, where portions of “The Hunger Games” and “Last of the Mohicans” were filmed, makes Brevard popular among outdoor enthusiasts for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and fishing.

Kids can search for precious gems at Crystal Mountain Gem Mine or head downtown to browse the aisles of the “coolest toy store on the planet,” O.P. Taylor’s.

Nearby attractions include Sliding Rock, a 60-foot natural waterfall/rock slide perfect for a refreshing splash into the natural pool at the end; and Forest Discovery Center, which offers hands-on exhibits and interactive displays.

Every Memorial Day weekend, enjoy the White Squirrel Festival, a celebration of the town and its famous mascot. Attendees enjoy live music, arts and crafts vendors, kids’ activities, a box derby and a parade.

Insider tip: On the second Friday of every month, Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, a 200-acre former NASA facility about 17 miles from Brevard, offers “An Evening at PARI,” which includes a tour and outdoor observation session.


Bryson City

Photo courtesy of Bill Russ — VisitNC.com

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad takes you through a beautiful corner of state into river gorges, across fertile valleys and through tunnels cut out of mountains.
 

Surrounded by mountains, historic Bryson City serves as a depot for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad that delights families with its scenic rail excursions, such as the Polar Express.

After riding the rails, explore the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum.

Spend a day hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or rafting/kayaking the Nantahala River. Be sure to visit the Nantahala Outdoor Center for information on guided rafting tours and packages with zip lining and/or train excursion options. Mine for gems at the Deep Creek Tube Center Mining Company or fishing in nearby Fontana Lake.

Enjoy free concerts every Saturday evening from June through October at Riverfront Park, and search for souvenirs in one of many unique arts and crafts shops.

While visiting Bryson City, consider a day trip to nearby Cherokee or Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. 

Insider tip: The Great Smoky Mountains is in the 70-mile wide path of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse happening Monday, Aug. 21. The area offers numerous viewing options, including Swain County Event Park.


Hot Springs

Photo courtesy of Hot Springs Tourism Association

Hot Springs is town rich in history with plenty of charm.
 

This charming mountain town 40 miles north of Asheville is named for natural hot spring waters that have transformed the area a resort destination. First discovered by Native Americans, the natural springs were thought to have healing powers. Today, you can relax in modern Jacuzzi tubs outside on the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa.

“There is a truly relaxed vibe in town, and when people slow down and live in the moment, they tend to be happier,” says Stacey Geyer of the Hot Springs Tourism Association.

Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail, which runs through the town. You can also tube, swim, raft, kayak or fish in Spring Creek and the French Broad or Laurel rivers.

Shop local artisan crafts and dine at one of many locally owned restaurants. Soar through the forest at nearby French Broad Rafting & Ziplines, or take a day trip to Biltmore Estate in Asheville or Chimney Rock State Park in Chimney Rock.

The French Broad River Festival is one the town’s most popular annual events. Held the first weekend in May, the festival features raft races, live music and arts-and-crafts vendors. 

Insider tip: Pack a picnic lunch and climb Max Patch, the 5000-foot bald mountain. It’s an easy walk with picturesque, 360-degree views.


Saluda

Photo courtesy of Saluda Business Association

Saluda's outdoor recreation includes hiking, mountain biking, fishing and plenty of family-friendly tubing options along the Green River.
 

Saluda is “where the Foothills end and the Blue Ridge begins.” This cozy small town, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, offers plenty of outdoor recreation and maintains a strong arts community.

“You’ve got an incredibly quaint, picturesque downtown surrounded by the Greenville Watershed, a protected area, and the Green River Game Lands — 18,000 acres protected by the state,” says Sara Bell of the Saluda Business Association. “Saluda is an oasis.”

Outdoor recreation includes hiking, mountain biking, fishing and plenty of family-friendly tubing options along the Green River. “Saluda has also attracted a really vibrant artistic community,” Bell says. In May, the town celebrates its arts heritage with the Saluda Arts Festival, which attracts tourists and renowned local and regional artists. The event also features live music and kid-friendly activities.

Saluda is well-known for its annual Coon Dog Day Festival, offering food, live music, parade, crafts, street dancing and more. The event is held the Saturday after July Fourth. 

Insider tip: “The leaf change here is just phenomenal,” Bell says. But, she adds, the town is about 30 minutes south of Asheville, so the colors peak in the second or third week in October rather than the first.


Piedmont
 

Hillsborough
 

Photo courtesy of Chip Henderson — VISITNC.COM

Downtown Hillsborough offers a variety of unique shops.
 

Hillsborough is known as “the small town with a big history” with more than 100 schools, churches and buildings from the late 18th and 19th centuries. Its central location in the state, along with a healthy serving of Southern charm, makes the town an interesting  tourist destination for families.

Take a guided tour of the historic downtown or explore the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, a North Carolina State Park offering hiking, picnicking and fishing on the Eno River. The Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail, NASCAR’s last remaining dirt track, hosted races between 1948 and 1969 and now offers 3 miles of hiking trails near the Eno River that include the 1-mile oval and rusty remnants of the track’s glory days. History buffs will also enjoy the Occaneechi Indian Village and exhibits at Orange County Historical Museum.

Every September, barbecue lovers celebrate Hog Day with plenty of pulled pork, live music, unique gifts, home decor, face painting and bounce houses.

Nearby attractions for kids include Kidzu Children’s Museum in Chapel Hill, Eno River State Park and the Carolina Basketball Museum on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Insider tip: The best spot for walking, jogging and cycling is Riverwalk, a paved urban greenway along the Eno River and part of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail.


Salisbury
 

Photo courtesy of Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Salisbury is filled with “history museums, agritourism locations, arts and cultural sites, and a charming downtown."
 

Salisbury is 45 miles from Charlotte and the home of Cheerwine, the popular cherry-flavored soda established in 1917. Salisbury and Rowan County’s “countryside and urban vibe speaks to its unique character,” says Tara Furr, director of public relations and communications for the Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The area is home to “history museums, agritourism locations, arts and cultural sites, and a charming downtown all within an easy drive from one another,” Furr says.

You can easily spend a day filled with family fun at Dan Nicholas Park, which has paddleboats, a park train, gem mining, a carousel, mini golf, an aquarium a barnyard and a water plaza/splash pad.

Savor the sounds of nature at Eagle Point Nature Preserve, a 200-acre area on High Rock Lake with hiking trails and canoe and fishing access. Help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cheerwine with the “Cheerwine: 100 Years Exhibit” at Rowan Museum in downtown, or pack a picnic and head to Dunn’s Mountain Park for hiking and outdoor recreation.

Nearby attractions include the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville and Patterson Farm in China Grove. 

Insider tip: Tiger World, a nonprofit wildlife preserve for exotic animals in Rockwell, is a 20-minute drive from Salisbury. Educational guided tours occur Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.


Pinehurst
 

Photo courtesy of Village of Pinehurst

Through parks and greenways, families can enjoy walking trails, soccer and baseball fields, an in-line hockey rink, tennis courts, a disc-golf course, bocce ball and a splash pad.
 

The famed golf destination known as the Village of Pinehurst has much to offer families in addition to world-class golf courses. Through parks and greenways, families can enjoy walking trails, soccer and baseball fields, an in-line hockey rink, tennis courts, a disc-golf course, bocce ball and a splash pad.

“Pinehurst Resort offers many activities for parents and children alike,” says Melissa Holt, a communications specialist for the Village of Pinehurst. While mom and/or dad hit the links, kids can enjoy indoor games and fun at KidsClub. “Later, the whole family can enjoy the resort’s private lake, Lake Pinehurst, featuring fishing, boat rentals, kayaks, cabanas and more,” Holt says.

Downtown Pinehurst offers boutique shopping and family-friendly dining options. “While you’re there, stop by the Tufts Archives and learn about the Village of Pinehurst’s history,” Holt suggests.

Don’t-miss annual events include Fourth Fest in July with a parade and fireworks, and Holly Arts and Crafts Festival and Oktoberfest in the fall. 

Insider tip: For a delicious Southern breakfast, try the blueberry pancakes or biscuits and gravy at Pinehurst Track Restaurant while watching the horses train at the Harness Track.


Coast
 

Bath
 

Photo courtesy of Bill Russ — VisitNC.com

The harbor at Bath, North Carolina's first town.
 

A roundup of North Carolina’s small towns wouldn’t be complete without the state’s first town, incorporated in 1705. Bath, located on the Pamlico River, near the Pamlico Sound, is rich in history and is a National Historic Landmark. Learn about the town’s first settlers and how Bath became the state’s first port.

“Historic Bath is very scenic,” says Charles Guard, historic interpreter for Bath with the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Many people come just to park by Bonner’s Point and sit out and watch the sunset.”

Bath was a favorite haunt of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, the pirate, who frequented North Carolina’s coast.

Be sure to visit St. Thomas Episcopal Church, built in 1734, making it the oldest church building in the state. 

Insider tip: In front of the Bonner House, look south across the water. The land visible to the left is Plum Point, sometimes referred to as Teach’s Point after the notorious pirate who lived there.


Beaufort
 

Photo courtesy of Bill Russ ― VisitNC.com

Wild horses on Shackleford Banks, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. The horses are believed to be descendants of Spanish mustangs that were brought to North Carolina five centuries ago.
 

Founded in 1709 and incorporated in 1723, Beaufort is North Carolina’s third oldest town and is located along the state’s southern Outer Banks. Be sure to stroll along Front Street, a scenic downtown waterfront area offering a variety of shops and restaurants. The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort serves as the official repository of artifacts from Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, since the ship ran aground near the town in 1718. See more than 300 pieces from the ship on display, and learn about the coastal environment and the area’s natural history at the museum.

Beaufort Historic Site offers a historic building tour that stops by the courthouse and the building that once housed the apothecary shop and doctor’s office.

Take a ferry or private boat to Rachel Carson Reserve, home to a herd of wild horses and host of summertime educational programs about the reserve’s habitats and animals. See more than 100 wild horses by hopping on a ferry to Shackleford Banks, a barrier island in Cape Lookout National Seashore. 

Insider tip: Book a guided bike tour with Hungry Town Tours, which offers a variety of historic, culinary and scenic tours to explore the historic charm of this small town.


Edenton
 

Photo courtesy of Kip Shaw/Chowan Tourism Development Authority

Tours are available of the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse.
 

The first Colonial capital of North Carolina, Edenton offers a lively downtown and distinctive architecture that reflects the town’s 300-year history. Take a walking tour from the Historic Edenton State Historic Site to the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse and 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, or a guided tour via trolley to view notable sites in the Edenton Cotton Mill Historic District.

Head to Colonial Park on South Broad Street for a cruise around Edenton Bay. “The Liber-Tea is an electric boat that can take families out for a wonderful maritime tour,” says Nancy Nicholls of the Chowan County Tourism Development Authority.

The town also offers kayaking, canoeing, camping and trails for walking and birding.

Visit the Edenton National Fish Hatchery, operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to learn about the hatchery’s role in preservation.

Annual events include Edenton Music and Water Festival each summer with free boat rides, live music, arts-and-crafts vendors, dancing and a guided sunset paddle activity.

The town’s Peanut Festival is held the first weekend in October and features a parade, Battle of the Bands event, arts-and-crafts vendors, and a 5K run/walk. 

Insider tip: See a show at the Rocky Hock Playhouse, a live Christian musical theater.


Manteo

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHIP HENDERSON — VISITNC.COM

Enjoy the scenic views of the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse and Manteo waterfront.
 

This coastal town on Roanoke Island is packed with family fun and history lessons. The scenic downtown waterfront is dotted with restaurants and gift shops, and is ideal for leisurely strolls and spectacular views of the harbor. One of the town’s most recognizable gems is the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, the only in-shore lighthouse on the Outer Banks.

See a movie at the Pioneer Theatre, which claims the oldest single-screen theater in America. Additional family attractions include North Carolina Aquariums on Roanoke Island, Elizabethan Gardens and Roanoke Island Festival Park, a must-visit destination for learning about the area’s Native American history and first English colony settlement. While there, climb aboard the Elizabeth II, a 16-century replica ship, or explore American Indian Town, a new exhibit that represents what English explorers found in the late 16th century. Learn about the Lost Colony at Roanoke Adventure Museum or by attending a summer performance of America’s longest-running outdoor drama, “The Lost Colony.” 

Insider tip: Elizabethan Gardens hosts Wet and Wild Wednesday for young kids June 21-Aug. 16. Children can learn about plants and water, pot a take-home plant, and cool off with water sprinklers, squirt toys and a water cannon. The event is free with admission.


New Bern

Photo courtesy of Tryon Place

The gardens at Tryon Palace
 

Historic New Bern is an alluring Southern town along the Trent and Neuse rivers known as North Carolina’s first state capitol and the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. It boasts a lively downtown consisting of shops, restaurants and riverfront attractions.

Tryon Palace, North Carolina’s first state capitol, is now a living history attraction offering character interpretation, tours and programs. Visit the Birthplace of Pepsi and the Pepsi Store on Middle Street to view and buy memorabilia, and stop by the New Bern Firemen’s Museum to learn about the oldest fire company in the state.

New Bern is also near the Croatan National Forest that offers 159,000 acres for camping, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, hiking and observing wildlife. Picnic at Union Point Park, in the historic downtown district. It features a gazebo, walkway, boat launches, a fishing pier and a small playground. Young kids can slide, swing and climb at the fort-like structure at  Kidsville at Seth West Parrot Park. 

Insider tip: Tour historic New Bern in a fully restored 1929 Ford Model A. Tours are booked via Aerie Bed and Breakfast Guest House and Conference Center, one block from Tryon Palace.


Ocracoke

Photo by Melinda Fondrie Sutton

The village of Ocracoke is popular with families who love outdoor recreation and water sports.
 

The island of Ocracoke is accessible only by plane or ferry, but it should still make your list of must-visit towns. There are no traffic lights, chain restaurants or movie theaters, making Ocracoke a simple and unique paradise for beach lovers to visit.

“Shells are plentiful on the 16 miles of clean, untouched, virgin seashore, without any houses, condos or high rise hotels over your shoulder,” says Helena Stevens, travel and tourism director for Ocracoke. “We are truly unique.”

The village is popular for families who love outdoor recreation. “Go kayaking on Silver Lake or explore Springer’s Point Nature Preserve, one of Blackbeard the Pirate’s haunts,” Stevens suggests.

Families can take an offshore adventure by chartering a fishing expedition, sailing Pamlico Sound or visiting Teach’s Hole, where Blackbeard was beheaded in 1718.

Experience Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree the last weekend in October to see a historically accurate pirate encampment and watch three ships re-create the last hours of Blackbeard’s life. Visitors are encouraged to wear their best buccaneer gear to this event.

The village welcomes summer with the Ocrafolk Festival — three days of music and storytelling that takes place during the first full weekend in June.

Insider tip: Capture the perfect family photo at Springer’s Point, which offers wide panoramic views.


Myra Wright is the web editor of Carolina Parent and Piedmont Parent. She frequently writes about North Carolina travel and loves exploring the state with her husband and three kids.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

11 Kid-Friendly Washington, D.C., Attractions Offering Free Admission

Explore DC for free

Kid-Friendly Music Festivals in the Carolinas

Regional music festivals offer fun for the whole family.

Spend a Day at Tiger World

See tigers, lions, leopards and more at the endangered wildlife preserve.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2017

Shop for gently used clothing, toys, books, baby equipment and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Factory
1839 S Main St
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore "All Matterings of Mind" and get inspired to make your own magical works of art. The Duke Chemistry Society will present “The Magic of Chemistry” and magician...

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Create music and dance-inspired crafts, go on a scavenger hunt for artworks featuring dance and music, or play around with art-inspired poses in the galleries. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Ackland Art Museum
UNC-Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Website »

More information

Meet nanoscientists from Duke University, NC State University and Triangle MRSEC as they share hands-on activities and interactive demonstrations on all things teeny-tiny. 

Cost: $5 ages 1 and older

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919.834.4040
Contact Name: Taylor Rankin
Website »

More information

A young girl dreams about taking flight in the makeshift airplane that she has built in her backyard. After a huge storm, she finds an elderly woman who looks and sounds like a bird, but who just...

Cost: $14/adult, $10 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a bouncy castle, inflatables, a playground, field games, face painting, giveaways and a food truck. Sponsored by New City Church, a new church starting in North Raleigh in April. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Williams Park
1525 Lynn Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: New City Church
Telephone: 919-434-1900
Contact Name: Pastor Dylan Dodson
Website »

More information

A young girl dreams about taking flight in the makeshift airplane that she has built in her backyard. After a huge storm, she finds an elderly woman who looks and sounds like a bird, but who just...

Cost: $14/adult, $10 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 3-5 enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Teens in grades 6-10 read, create and take on challenges.  March is the month of movie release parties, including "Logan" and "The Beauty and the Beast." Build circuits and...

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Get ready for spring with an enjoyable story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Get ready for spring with an enjoyable story.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience a music and movement class. Explore Orff and percussion instruments and do a little jumping and jamming. Call to RSVP.

Cost: Free

Where:
Millbrook Baptist Preschool
1519 E. Millbrook Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Millbrook Baptist Preschool
Telephone: 919-876-4030
Contact Name: Suzanne Holleman
Website »

More information

Kids learn, explore and play outdoors, while doing a fun nature-based activity. Ages 18 mos-5 yrs with parent. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Forest Hills Park - West End
504 E. Forest Hills Blvd.
Durham , NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-806-7502
Contact Name: Kate Macartney
Website »

More information

Parent and child enjoy stories, songs, movement, observation and hands-on, creative projects that explore the gardens. Ages 3-5. Register online.

Cost: $7/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Telephone: 919-668-1707
Website »

More information

Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 5-12 learn about healthy fruits and vegetables, kitchen and food safety, and enjoy a healthy snack. Meet in the bakery side of the cafe. Email sherry.thrasher@wholefoods.com to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods North Raleigh
8710 Six Forks Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Telephone: 919-354-0350
Contact Name: Sherry Thrasher

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the story about Squirrel's birthday gift to Big Bear.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy musical storytime with Amy Godfrey. 

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

The library's Teen Leadership Corps hosts an opportunity for kids of all ages to come build something special with Lego and Duplo bricks, and play games to improve reading and math skills.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the outdoors with a story read aloud in the gardens. Nature-themed stories are followed by a related activity or garden walk. Ages 3-5. Meet in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden Story...

Cost: Free. Parking fees apply

Where:
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Telephone: 919-668-1707
Website »

More information

A young girl dreams about taking flight in the makeshift airplane that she has built in her backyard. After a huge storm, she finds an elderly woman who looks and sounds like a bird, but who just...

Cost: $14/adult, $10 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

A day-long conference that features nationally recognized speakers and mental health experts addressing issues associated with faith and mental illness. Breakout session will address caregiver...

Cost: $35

Where:
St. Thomas More
940 Carmichael St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Faith Connections on Mental Illness
Contact Name: Shaylyn Murphy
Website »

More information

Learn about "yucky" things and the science behind them. Ages 6-8. Register online. Choose course #199207. 

Cost: $25/child

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy imaginative play in a natural setting. Materials provided. Register online. Choose course code #198886.

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Registration required.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

A young girl dreams about taking flight in the makeshift airplane that she has built in her backyard. After a huge storm, she finds an elderly woman who looks and sounds like a bird, but who just...

Cost: $14/adult, $10 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Students in grades 3-5 take part in a basketball tournament. Players are guaranteed to play at least three games each. 

Cost: $75/player. $15/spectator admission fee

Where:
Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club
810 N. Alston Ave.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Join bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ Meet at the Waterwise Garden.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-460-3355
Website »

More information

Join bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ Meet at the Waterwise Garden.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Take part in an interactive workshop that illuminates common challenges parents face following divorce, as well as explores techniques that can be used to anticipate and overcome these challenges....

Cost: $26.99

Where:
3820 Merton Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: New Direction Family Law
Telephone: 919-719-3470
Contact Name: Jen Bordeaux
Website »

More information

Spend a day with animal friends and enjoy tours of the hospital, labs and grounds, animal care demonstrations, expert Q&As, dog agility demos and more. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
1060 William Moore Dr.
Raleigh, NC  2607
View map »


Website »

More information

Cary Judo Club and Karate International of Cary presents its 3rd Annual St. Baldrick's Fundraiser. In addition to the "Brave a Shave for Kids with Cancer" head...

Cost: Free

Where:
Karate International of Cary
250 Nottingham Drive
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Judo & Karate International of Cary
Telephone: 919-539-9937
Contact Name: Chris Collins
Website »

More information

Pick up a scavenger hunt card at the Information Desk in the West Building, and follow the clues to find fragrant flowers and artful treasures in the galleries. Free with "Art in Bloom"...

Cost: $13/members and $18/nonmembers. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy a garden festival. Learn about bees and bugs, take part in hands-on learning activities and garden crafts, and see birdhouses on display. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/nonmember, $10/family. Free for members.

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum at NCSU
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Enjoy the town's annual egg hunt.

Cost: Free

Where:
Zebulon Municipal Complex
301 S. Arendell Ave.
Zebulon, NC  27597
View map »


Telephone: 919-269-7455
Website »

More information

Enjoy the outdoors with the family. Kids can play in an over-sized sandbox or making wheatgrass containers for home windowsills. Adults can learn about the newest techniques in gardening and...

Cost: Free

Where:
South White Street Downtown Wake Forest
301 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Town of Wake Forest
Contact Name: Lisa Hayes
Website »

More information

Enjoy pottery demonstrations, kiln openings, raku firings, glass blowing demos, food trucks, live music, a raffle and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cedar Creek Gallery
1150 Fleming Rd.
Creedmoor, NC  27522
View map »


Sponsor: Cedar Creek Gallery
Telephone: 919-528-1041
Contact Name: Jennifer Dolan
Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Advance registration required online.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a pop-up market featuring perfect gifts for Easter baskets, Mother's Day, Father's Day and more. https://www.facebook.com/events/600484073473736/

Cost: Free

Where:
Windborne United Methodist Church
9121 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Windborne United Methodist Church
Telephone: 919-386-0212
Contact Name: Lu
Website »

More information

Visit Stagville for an open house and learn about the Cameron's role in bringing the railroad to North Carolina. Make your own train car. Suggested donation of $1 per person.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Road
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Stagville
Telephone: 919-620-0120
Website »

More information

Kids learn, explore and play outdoors, while doing a fun nature-based activity. Ages 18 mos-5 yrs with parent.

Cost: Free

Where:
Briar Chapel
Catullo Run/Briar Chapel Pkwy
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-274-7933
Contact Name: Heather Murphy
Website »

More information

Residents and their canine friends are invited to the Dog-Gone Egg Hunt at Piney Wood Park from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Dogs must meet the minimum vaccination requirements of the dog park. Non-dog...

Cost: Free

Where:
Piney Wood
400 E. Woodcroft Pkwy.
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Website »

More information

All ages help with trail maintenance, clearing the Bennett family cemetery and fixing the fence around the historic garden. The rain date is April 8. For more information, email...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bennet Place State Historic Site
4409 Bennett Memorial Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Select Sitters is excited to provide an opportunity for families to meet with and interview its prescreened babysitters and nannies. Babysitter Speed Dating allows each family to connect with...

Cost: $15 for prospective clients

Where:
Snickerdoodles Play Cafe
3721 Lynn Rd #112
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Sponsor: Select Sitters
Telephone: 919-561-6233
Contact Name: Kara Varnell
Website »

More information

Celebrate spring and the great outdoors. Kids can play in an oversized sandbox, make wheatgrass containers for home windowsills, paint with mud, and peruse assorted fossils and animal skeletons....

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Wake Forest
S. White St.
, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy storytime with a community farm member, a book swap via Little Free Library, and free play in a natural playground.   

Cost: Free

Where:
The Community Farm at Camp Chestnut Ridge
2902 Mount Willing Rd.
Efland, NC  27243
View map »


Contact Name: Sandy Straw
Website »

More information

Take part in a free trial class with Tinkergarten Leader Heather Murphy. Children of various ages and needs explore, problem solve, communicate, collaborate, and create together....

Cost: Free

Where:
Briar Chapel
Catullo Run/Briar Chapel Pkwy
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-274-7933
Contact Name: Heather Murphy
Website »

More information

Kids learn, explore and play outdoors, while doing a fun nature-based activity. Ages 18 mos-5 yrs with parent.

Cost: Free

Where:
Forest Hills Park - West End
504 E. Forest Hills Blvd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-806-7502
Contact Name: Kate Macartney
Website »

More information

Children enjoy free arts and crafts. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; -webkit-hyphens: auto; font: 20.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #323333; -webkit-text-stroke:...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Families enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for a birthday party that includes face painting, balloon twisters, pony rides, soccer, art and music activities, games and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
The Goddard School
1162 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: The Goddard School
Telephone: 919-933-9022
Contact Name: Seema Naik
Website »

More information

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 15.0px Calibri; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} Celebrate the release of the new "Beauty and the Beast"...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Join a textile artist and long-time sewing instructor for this class designed for brand new beginners and re-entry sewers. The class covers tools and sewing concepts, machine threading and...

Cost: $30

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Road
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 919-213-1278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
Website »

More information

Families enjoy a 45-minute interactive tour for kids ages 5–11 and their adult companions. Free with "Art in Bloom" exhibit admission.

Cost: $13/members and $18/nonmembers. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

A young girl dreams about taking flight in the makeshift airplane that she has built in her backyard. After a huge storm, she finds an elderly woman who looks and sounds like a bird, but who just...

Cost: $14/adult, $10 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Families enjoy a 45-minute interactive tour for kids ages 5–11 and their adult companions. Free with "Art in Bloom" exhibit admission.

Cost: $13/members and $18/nonmembers. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Search for early wildflowers. Meet in front of Bond Park Community Center. All ages with adult. Advance registration required online.

Cost: $16/resident, $20/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Wander through the wetlands to net some macroinvertebrates, learn how to identify them and discuss their value in the aquatic environment. Wear clothing that can get wet. All ages. Advance...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Read plant-themed stories, paint colorful garden rocks, and learn how flowers and vegetables grow by planting seeds to take home. This program is perfect for families with children ages 4 and older.

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library
100 Library Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Website »

More information

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px Verdana; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} Learn about the meaning and 16th-century origins of this saying...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Budding photographers can take on photo missions designed to challenge their creativity and improve their photography skills. DSL and phone cameras encouraged. Wear comfortable shoes and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Joyner Park Amphitheater
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Telephone: 559-281-0661
Contact Name: Brett Rounsaville

More information

See a show that benefits individuals in South Uganda. Students from  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Consolas; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none}...

Cost: $25/person

Where:
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre
7713-51 Lead Mine Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Stage Door Dance Productions
Telephone: 919-720-3036
Contact Name: Chasta Hamilton Calhoun
Website »

More information

A young girl dreams about taking flight in the makeshift airplane that she has built in her backyard. After a huge storm, she finds an elderly woman who looks and sounds like a bird, but who just...

Cost: $14/adult, $10 ages 12 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Find eggs in a swimming pool. An adult will need to enter the water with children 9 years old and younger.  Life jackets provided. Advance registration required online. Choose course...

Cost: $6-11

Where:
Campus Hills Pool
2000 S. Alston Ave.
Durham, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Capitol staff for a unique glimpse of the state capitol building, a 19th-century treasure. Participants must be at least 10 years old and comfortable climbing stairs and being in confined...

Cost: $17/person

Where:
N.C. State Capitol
1 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

GPS [Go. Play. See]

GPS, soon to be replaced by The Triangle Go-To Guide, connects you to all the Triangle has to offer, from museum expansions to new parks and schools to youth sports and family fun. Plus, discover our 2016 Readers' Favorites.

Education Guide

The 2016-17 Education Guide offers 643 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

The Triangle Go-To Guide will replace the GPS in 2017 and continue to connect you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.