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.

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September 2019

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Enjoy local bands, arts and crafts vendors, car show, kids' area, fun contests and games, plus a barbecue cook-off contest featuring veteran cooking teams.

Cost: Free

Where:
River Park
114 E. Margaret Ln.
Hillsborouh, NC  27278
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Visual artists from near and far will showcase their work, and 75 performing arts groups provide continuous music, dance and entertainment throughout the festival including extended Saturday...

Cost: $5 suggested donation; free for children under 12

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Take the family for a showcase of popular and folk music and art, dance performances, educational booths, children's activities and food from different regions of Latin America.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Fayetteville St. City Plaza
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Did you know that beavers are actually large rodents? Join us at the park and discover the parts of a beaver and what they like to eat. Test your knowledge in a round of trivia and take a walk in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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This cultural exp features live entertainment, a kids zone, food vendors, games and much more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
494 Knightdale Station Run
Knightdale, NC  27545
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It's 50% off ALMOST EVERYTHING! The word GREEN or BLACK will be written under the price on tags and you won't believe what's left!!! Check us out on facebook at Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
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Take the family for a balloon artists, face painting, carnival games, obstacle courses, arts and crafts and a magician. This event celebrates the grand opening of the David R. Kahn Community Campus...

Cost: Free

Where:
David R. Kahn Community Campus
12804 Norwood Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Cost: $5 – $25

Where:
Downtown Pittsboro
Pittsboro, NC


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PepperFest is a celebration of sustainable agriculture, farmers, and the creativity of the Piedmont’s top chefs, brewers and artisans. This outdoor event is held in NC’s...

Cost: $5-$30

Where:
Downtown Pittsboro
205 Lorax Lane #5
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Sponsor: Abundance NC
Telephone: 919-444-9300
Contact Name: Tami Schwerin
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The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Grab your magnifying glass and help solve the many mysteries along the Old Beech Nature Trail. Who left the pile of acorns by the rotten log? Whose scat is that? Use your senses and detective...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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The autumnal equinox signals the beginning of fall. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Let’s celebrate the arrival of fall! Make a craft inspired by the leaves’ changing colors. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult accompaniment...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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Rags to Riches Theatre for Young Audiences presents the classic tale for all ages. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Let’s celebrate the arrival of fall! Make a craft inspired by the leaves’ changing colors. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult accompaniment required...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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Learn about the annual, long-distance movement of the migratory birds in our park. We will learn the difference between summer migrants, winter migrants, and permanent residents and then go on a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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The library invites you to celebrate and enjoy poetry with a series of events for all ages hosted by Hillsborough’s Poet Laureate, Dee Stribling! On the last Wednesdays of the month throughout...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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In honor of Chicanx and Latinx Heritage Month, we’ll enjoy poetry written in English and in Spanish written by Chicanx and Latinx poets.  Following questions and discussion, those attending will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, carnival rides, street performers, bluegrass shows and more are all part of Benson Mule Days. See website for hours.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Benson
500 S. Market St.
Benson, NC  27504
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 “Shinrin-yoku” is a Japanese healing technique which means "taking in the forest atmosphere." Developed in the 1980s, it has become a cornerstone of preventive health...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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This family-friendly urban bluegrass festival features a dance tent, workshops and exhibit hall with instruments and gear in the Raleigh Convention Center, food vendors, a youth stage, juried...

Cost: Free-$60

Where:
, NC

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Enjoy down time in nature, or take part in guided art making, herbalism, outdoor yoga, storytelling, or basic women’s camping skills. Dinner and breakfast included, but take camping...

Cost: $50/member, $55/nonmember.

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Come out to the 5th Annual Wolfpack Games at Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center on Friday, September 27th at 6 PM. Enjoy a fun atmosphere and get an exclusive sneak peek at the 2019-2020 NC State...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Willis R. Casey Aquatic Center
2611 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
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Enjoy free bowl cuts by Arrow, Worm Farms; a Most Annoying Sound Off; and Costume Contest. Wear a best orange or blue tuxes. Gates and food trucks will open and begin at 6pm with the movie starting...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Raleigh Meadows
Campus Shore Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: VisitCentennial
Telephone: 704-651-3179
Contact Name: Jude DesNoyer
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Mums and pumpkins take center stage at this festival featuring live music and food trucks.

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N. First Ave.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, carnival rides, street performers, bluegrass shows and more are all part of Benson Mule Days. See website for hours.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Benson
500 S. Market St.
Benson, NC  27504
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Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Welcome fall's arrival with a food truck rodeo, car show, face painting, a craft show and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
125 U.S. 1-A
Youngsville, NC  27596
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Celebrate the Fall Harvest with the Cary Downtown Farmers Market on Saturday, September 28 along West Chatham Street in Cary! There will be contests and games, craft booths and food trucks lining...

Cost: Free

Where:
West Chatham Street
Cary, NC  27511


Sponsor: Cary Downtown Farmers Market
Telephone: 919-244-6463
Contact Name: Lindsey Chester
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Take part in a 1.4-mile walk for inclusiveness. Registration and activities begin at 10 a.m.; walk begins at 10:30 a.m. Enjoy refreshments, games, raffle and a decorating station. All ages and...

Cost: $15/family, $5/individual

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Campbell Law School will host a bike ride from “The Creek to the Capital” the morning of Saturday, September 28 as part of its yearlong anniversary celebration. Riders of all skill...

Cost: $40 fee includes T-shirt/lunch

Where:
Finish line @ Campbell Law School
225 Hillsborough St
Raleigh , NC  27603
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Sponsor: Campbell Law School
Telephone: 919-865-5978
Contact Name: Lisa Snedeker
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Enjoy a day at the park and listen to stories from professional storytellers in this event presented by Wake County Public Libraries and Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
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Live Entertainment all day, including a Talent Contest. Win the Raffle. Enjoy at least a dozen international options prepared by parishioners-- Mexican, Irish, Filipino just to name a few. ...

Cost: Free festival admission. Food and raffle incur fees

Where:
J. Ashley Wall Towne Square
J. Ashley Wall Towne Square W. Third St. & W. Cypress St.
Wendell, NC  27591
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Sponsor: St Eugene Catholic Church
Telephone: 919-449-5234
Contact Name: Susan Welsh
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Enjoy live performances, cultural exhibits, children's activities, dragon boat racing and more. Taste a wide collection of ethnic foods and delicacies created by local chefs.

Cost: $5 advance tickets; $8 at the door. Free for ages 12 and younger

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
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Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Travel to Germany without leaving the Triangle at this German-inspired festival featuring live music and food, as well as the ever-popular wiener dog races.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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This family-friendly urban bluegrass festival features a dance tent, workshops and exhibit hall with instruments and gear in the Raleigh Convention Center, food vendors, a youth stage, juried...

Cost: Free-$60

Where:
, NC

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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30 & 3:00 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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In 1979, the NC Legislature designated the Eastern Box Turtle as our state reptile. Learn how you can help conserve this valuable state symbol. Meet Lake Crabtree's adopted turtle, Shel...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Take the family for live music, crafts and food. See website for hours.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Town Hall
301 W. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Mums and pumpkins take center stage at this festival featuring food trucks and great music. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N. First Ave.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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Railroad Days' 44th consecutive year features the Railroad Days pageant at 7 p.m., where a queen in five age divisions will be crowned. The festival continues Oct. 4-5 in downtown Selma.

Cost: $12/person for pageant admission

Where:
Selma Elementary School
311 W. Richardson St.
Selma, NC  27576
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Rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, carnival rides, street performers, bluegrass shows and more are all part of Benson Mule Days. See website for hours.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Benson
500 S. Market St.
Benson, NC  27504
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Website »

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.