Attractions in Columbia, South Carolina, Offer Educational Opportunities for All Ages


Published:

Guests to the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden can participate in giraffe feedings.

Photo courtesy of Experience Columbia SC.

If you’re headed south this summer, consider a day trip or weekend stay in Columbia, South Carolina, a charming city filled with kid-friendly activities. A quick 1.5-hour drive from Charlotte and doable 3.5-hour drive from Raleigh, Columbia offers outdoor recreation, educational museums and family activities for end-of-summer fun.

EdVenture Children’s Museum

As the largest children’s museum in the South, EdVenture Children’s Museum should be at the top of your things-to-do list while visiting Columbia. Walk in the front doors and your kids will be in awe of “EDDIE,” a 10-year-old boy who is 40-feet tall and weighs more than 17 tons. “EDDIE” isn’t a statue. He’s an interactive exhibit children can explore to learn how our bodies work. Climb up and down his vertebrae to see his brain, heart, stomach and more. Additional exhibits include “Wags and Whiskers,” which teaches kids about the care and health of pets; and “Maker Works,” a makerspace workshop area to bring your child’s creativity to life.

“World of Work” is a kid-size city designed to help kids learn more about jobs. They can climb a 24-foot fire truck, take orders at a diner, shop at a neighborhood market, sit on the tractor and learn about care car in a full-size Chevy.

EdVenture Children’s Museum also offers a putting course, carousel and TV station center where your little ones can pretend to give news updates. Admission is $11.50 for children and adults ($10.50 for members of the military, educators and ages 62 and older). Learn more at edventure.org.

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden

More than 2,000 animals call Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden and its natural habitat exhibits home. See giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers, koala bears, kangaroos, sea lions, grizzly bears, otters and more. Feed a giraffe at the overlook or walk beside the kangaroos in the kangaroo walkabout. Periodically, zoo visitors can participate in animal feedings and watch animal demonstrations and educational presentations. Be sure to check riverbanks.org for the latest schedule.

Enjoy several interactive activities designed for kids. Waterfall Junction at the Riverbanks Botanical Garden is a 3-acre garden with treehouses, playhouses, a splash zone, the Dino Dig, a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex replica and more. Kids can also experience a carousel, train ride, climbing wall, vertical ropes challenge and zip lining course activity.

Zoo tickets can be purchased online and are $15.95 for ages 13 and older, $13.50 for ages 2-12 and free for guests under age 2. Learn more at riverbanks.org.

South Carolina State Museum

The South Carolina State Museum is 225,000-sqaure-feet and features exhibits, a planetarium, only permanent 4-D theater in the state and an observatory. The museum houses more than 100,000 artifacts that represent the art, natural history, science and South Carolina culture.

The 55-foot digital dome planetarium brings the night sky and universe to life with daily programming. Shows change each month. Be sure to check the museum website for the schedule.

In the 4-D theater, immerse yourselves in a 3-D visual world while also experiencing physical effects such as a water spray and vibrating seats. Museum admission is $11.95-$19.95, depending on age and type of ticket. Learn more at scmuseum.org.

Saluda Shoals Park

While visiting Columbia, consider exploring Saluda Shoals Park for outdoor recreation. This scenic 400-acre park along the Saluda River features traditional and splash water playgrounds, trails, a wetland preserve, a kayak/canoe launch area and more. Learn more at icrc.net/saluda-shoals-park.

Total Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21

Columbia, South Carolina, is in the path of totality for a monumental solar eclipse, which will occur Monday, Aug. 21, and is projected to be the most viewed total eclipse in history. A total solar eclipse happens when the sun, moon and earth line up so perfectly that the moon blocks the sun. Columbia is uniquely positioned to experience the longest total eclipse time on the East Coast, with darkness expected for 2 minutes and 36 seconds. The next time a total solar eclipse like this will be visible from the Columbia area is 2078.

A variety of special events and viewing parties are scheduled leading up to and on Aug. 21. The South Carolina State Museum, for example, is hosting several events beginning Friday, Aug. 18. There will be a planetarium show titled, “Shadows From Space” as well as pop-up stations and astronomy, space and educational programs covering the eclipse. Gen. Charles Duke, an Apollo 16 astronaut, is also scheduled to make an appearance.

For more information about eclipse events, visit totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.


Myra Wright is the web editor of Carolina Parent and Charlotte Parent. She frequently writes about kid-friendly destinations and enjoys exploring new places with her husband and three kids.

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Calendar

June 2019

Discover the joys of fishing at Bass Pro Shops with free fishing seminars, kids crafts and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
201 Cabela Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Contact Name: Tammy Fonda-Quann
Website »

More information

Discover the joys of fishing at Bass Pro Shops with free fishing seminars, kids crafts and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
801 Bass Pro Ln.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Telephone: 417-413-9368
Contact Name: Todd Foxx
Website »

More information

Kids Obstacle Challenge is an adventure and obstacle course race series for kids ages 5-16, with 13-15 fun and challenging obstacles and mud! Our mission is to inspire and challenge kids, and forge...

Cost: $36-$60

Where:
Sugg Farm
2401 Grigsby Ave.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

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Take a ride on the New Hope Valley Railway. With trains departing at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., Slow Down Sunday rides are best enjoyed with family and friends. At 12 miles-per-hour,...

Cost: $10/adults, $7/children (ages 2-12) and free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Rd.
Bonsal, NC  27562
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

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Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Join author Marilyn Shannon for the launch of her third book, "In Just One Afternoon - Listening into the Hearts of Millennials."   This event will include a series of panel...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness
8300 Health Park
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Jenny Peacock, Collegewise director and counselor, as she shares everything parents and students need to know about standardized testing, including when to take standardized tests, the...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

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

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden "caches." Learn what geocaching is all about and head out to find a real geocache in the park! We will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

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Sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks are everywhere! Come explore the rocks of Yates Mill through hands-on science. Test the physical and chemical components to discover the identity of...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Drop by the cybrary for storytime with a librarian. Activity Room 4. Preschool and kindergarten ages. No registration necessary. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Cybrary
100 N Greensboro St
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-918-7387
Contact Name: Cybrary
Website »

More information

Soil is magical and needed for everything we do. Using our magic soil bag, each child will participate in this fun magic trick and help us make soil from a rock. This is a fun program on a "dirty"...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Ages 11 and older with disabilities make a salad, pinwheel sandwiches and a refreshing dessert. Register online. Choose course #124745.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Preschoolers (ages 3-5 accompanied by an adult) enjoy stories, crafts and a hike to learn more about the baby mammals at the preserve this summer. We will focus on white-tailed deer and Virginia...

Cost: $5

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: Marti Kane
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

 Girls will get a tour of the labs, enjoy a short presentation on the research that occurs at NIEHS, and listen to a panel of young female scientists will share their stories. There will also...

Cost: Free

Where:
National Institute for Environmental Health Scienc
111 TW Alexander Drive
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Sponsor: Young women in bio
Contact Name: Kaitlyn
Website »

More information

Enjoy tea time for the whole family. Samples of hot tea, cold tea, and kombucha will be provided, along with games and family fun.

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School is a FREE event at Trinity Baptist Church. All families are welcome! June 12-15, 2019. Wednesday - Friday 6-8pm and Saturday from 9-11:30am. Children can come enjoy...

Cost: Free

Where:
Trinity Baptist Church
4815 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Trinity Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-787-3740
Contact Name: Katie Medlin
Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Meet a staff member at the information desk and follow your guide outside to the garden exhibit or into one of the museum galleries. Look around and listen to a history-related story. Ages 3...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124692.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Summer is coming and we know that the best way to kick off the long warm days is with our second annual School’s Out Gelato Party! Students, parents — or anyone who just wants to...

Cost: Free to attend, $5 for gelato bar

Where:
La Vita Dolce Cafe
610 Market St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: La Vita Dolce
Telephone: 919-428-8302
Contact Name: Ann Johnston
Website »

More information

Enjoy glittering, glowing galaxies, cosmic space dough, galaxy jars, marshmallow constellations and more in an out-of-this-world experience. Grades 3-5.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School is a FREE event at Trinity Baptist Church. All families are welcome! June 12-15, 2019. Wednesday - Friday 6-8pm and Saturday from 9-11:30am. Children can come enjoy...

Cost: Free

Where:
Trinity Baptist Church
4815 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Trinity Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-787-3740
Contact Name: Katie Medlin
Website »

More information

Alexander Family YMCA‘s instructors lead a free yoga class in the Jackson-Thiem Pollinator Garden. Come enjoy the Gregg’s beautiful surroundings while you practice building serenity within!...

Cost: Free

Where:
GREGG MUSEUM OF ART & DESIGN
1903 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Gregg Museum of Art & Design
Telephone: 919-515-3503
Contact Name: Gregg Museum
Website »

More information

Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take the fast track to nature in this hands-on study of ecology. Ages 8-12. Register online. Choose course #124970.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Celebrate Flag Day by delving into the history and lore of the American flag at Historic Yates Mill, which has been around since before the American Revolution. Explore the more than 30 national...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Celebrate the start of a fantastic season of story times, book clubs, and special performances with live music, fun and games, and cool treats.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School is a FREE event at Trinity Baptist Church. All families are welcome! June 12-15, 2019. Wednesday - Friday 6-8pm and Saturday from 9-11:30am. Children can come enjoy...

Cost: Free

Where:
Trinity Baptist Church
4815 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Trinity Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-787-3740
Contact Name: Katie Medlin
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

 Designed to raise money for several area charities, this free event will showcase vehicles of all makes and models, including muscle cars, sports cars, pony cars, classic and antique autos,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Wake Forest
South White Street
, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover the joys of fishing at Bass Pro Shops with free fishing seminars, kids crafts and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
801 Bass Pro Ln.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Telephone: 417-413-9368
Contact Name: Todd Foxx
Website »

More information

Discover the joys of fishing at Bass Pro Shops with free fishing seminars, kids crafts and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cabela's
201
Cabela Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 984-204-2200
Contact Name: Tammy Fonda-Quann

More information

It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

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

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Lake Crabtree is excited to host its seventh annual Pollinator Festival, in honor of National Pollinator Week, featuring games, crafts and other fun activities. Win prizes and cool stuff to...

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

Celebrate the Town of Cary's inaugural Juneteenth event that features special activities designed to engage and educate families.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Park
319 S. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Growga will take families on an imaginative journey around the world and practice fun movement and pretend play.

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Where:
American Tobacco Campus
Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers (ages 3-5 accompanied by an adult) enjoy stories, crafts and a hike to learn more about the baby mammals at the preserve this summer.  We will focus on white-tailed deer and Virginia...

Cost: $5

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: Marti Kane
Website »

More information

Ages 3-5 create a simple art project based on a story. Register online. Choose course #124427. 

Cost: $14/resident, $18/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Growga will take families on an imaginative journey around the world and practice fun movement and pretend play.

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Where:
American Tobacco Campus
Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Let the Sunshine In with Sun Catchers! Catch those summer rays with your very own sun catcher! Art instructor Gretchen Phillips will show you how to create a rainbow colored design using tissue...

Cost: $15/$10 for members

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919-821-2787
Website »

More information

Take part in a quilting event that offers an opportunity for quilters to mix and mingle, and for non-quilters to learn. Enjoy displays and demonstrations by guilds and groups, tours of...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Put your dancing shoes on! Come to the mill yard to join our costumed interpreters Jon and Karena Potter in learning and dancing 19th-century country dances. You do not need to have a partner to...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

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

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10-$20

Where:
1321 Athens Dr
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Website »

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Enjoy music from five community bands from the Triangle area, including the Triangle Community Band, the Raleigh Concert Band, the Holly Springs Band, the Village Band, and the Cary Town Band....

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School is a FREE event at Trinity Baptist Church. All families are welcome! June 12-15, 2019. Wednesday - Friday 6-8pm and Saturday from 9-11:30am. Children can come enjoy...

Cost: Free

Where:
Trinity Baptist Church
4815 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Trinity Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-787-3740
Contact Name: Katie Medlin
Website »

More information

The symphony performs well-known classical music by Mozart, Beethoven and more, including Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Purchase tickets online. Ages 12 and...

Cost: $30-$33/person

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

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