17 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh-Durham over Thanksgiving

Festivals, outdoor activities and seasonal fun


Published:

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

Enjoy the Triangle with your family and friends during Thanksgiving break. Check out these ideas for homegrown fun, and don’t forget to call ahead to ensure venues are open.

1. Get moving at various Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trots in Carrboro, Cary, Durham, Raleigh, Knightdale and Wake Forest. Browse our roundup of Turkey Day Trots to see which ones offer kids' dashes, kids activities, and where you can take your pet and baby in a stroller along.

Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com

2. Go ice skating with your kids at the Ice Raleigh Skating Rink, which is open Nov. 19-Jan. 29, in downtown Raleigh.

PHoto courtesy of Carolyn Scott Photography

3. Catch Chapel Hill’s Downtown Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony Nov. 27, 6-7 p.m., at Memorial Garden of University Baptist Church on Columbia Street. The event is free. Enjoy caroling with the church choir. Take your camera so your children can have their photos taken with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus!

Photo Courtesy of Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership

4. Enjoy the Chinese Lantern Festival at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary Nov. 25-Jan. 15. You can see more than 20 displays with thousands of LED lights. Hours are 6-10 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. The festival also features Chinese performers on weekends. Purchase tickets online, $15 adults and $10 for ages 3-17, at boothamphitheatre.com/nc-chinese-lantern-festival-cary.

5. Soak in an old-fashioned celebration at Hill Ridge Farms’ Festival of Lights in Youngsville Nov. 24-Dec. 31, 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Take a covered wagon hay ride through the holiday lights, and enjoy bonfires, a jumping pillow, train rides and music. Admission is $10 for ages 2 and older Sunday-Thursday, and $12 for ages 2 and older Friday-Saturday. Train rides are $3/person. Learn more at hillridgefarms.com.

6. Listen to carols, join in a singalong and expect a visit from Santa at the North Carolina Symphony’s Holiday Pops Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 26 at 3 p.m. at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. Purchase tickets, $43-$73, at ncsymphony.org.

7. Enjoy "Hip Hop Nutcracker" at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 26, at Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham. Purchase tickets, $33-$53, at ticketmaster.com. Find more performances in our November roundup.

8. Catch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical" at Duke Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 25-27 in Raleigh. Visit ticketmaster.com for details.

9. Shop for hand-crafted North Carolina gifts, from pottery to jewelry to foods at these eight unique venues in the Triangle

10. Donate your time, talents or treasure to a charitable organizing serving those in need. Browse our roundup of local nonprofits where your family can help. Call ahead to ensure the volunteer opportunities listed are still available before you head out.

11. Take your kids for Thanksgiving-themed play at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh. Marbles will be open Nov, 23, 25, 26, 27, but closed Thanksgiving Day.  Catch The Polar Express at the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles starting Friday, Nov. 25.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

 

12. Explore our state's cultural museums. The North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Museum of Art and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh will be closed on Thanksgiving day, but open the day after (Friday) for regular hours. The North Carolina's Museum of Art Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is open daily, including holidays (dawn to dusk) and features paved and gravel trails past interesting works of art.

THOMAS SAYRE, GYRE, 1999, © 2009 THOMAS H. SAYRE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF ART

Check out these visiting exhibits:

The “Secret World Inside You” at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences features a 14-foot projection of a woman’s body as part of an interactive table that highlights ways that microbes impact human health. Visitors can zoom in on 17 animated microbial scenes, from the Streptococcus bacteria that cause plaque on teeth, to the bacteria that break down the crystals that cause kidney stones, to the first big dose of bacteria babies get when they exit through the birth canal.

Photo of The Secret World Inside You © AMNH/D. Finnin

“Selma to Montgomery: A March for the Right to Vote: Photographs by Spider Martin” at the North Carolina Museum of History  is a powerful tribute to the work of those who peacefully marched and endured attacks by Alabama state troopers in 1965 so black Americans could have the right to vote. Martin (1939-2003), a photojournalist with The Birmingham News, walked with the marchers, capturing moments that turned international attention to the civil rights movement.

PHOTO BY SPIDER MARTIN, COURTESY OF BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE

"Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and '40s" at the North Carolina Museum of Art includes beautiful cards like this 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop.

Collection of J. W. Marriott, Jr.; Photo © 2016 Peter Harholdt

All museums are closed on Thanksgiving but open the day after (Friday), with regular hours. Browse our November roundup to find more exhibits.

13. Let the kids unleash their energy at a local playground. Visit the City of Raleigh's largest playground opened this fall in Laurel Hills Park or check out any of these five gated playgrounds in the Triangle.

14. Attend Smashfest in Durham. The Scrap Exchange’s annual post-Thanksgiving, anti-consumerism fundraiser offers a fun outlet for families, 3-7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25, in Durham. The nonprofit creative reuse center is inviting all to show up to the admission-free event to enjoy the festivities or to buy something to throw against a dumpster to relieve their holiday stress outdoors. Smashfest will also feature Junk Jams, which is The Scrap Exchange’s DIY music-making activity; fire spinning; fire pits; live music from local bands and food truck fare (for sale). Smashables are for sale; all other activities are free. Learn more.

Photo courtesy of The Scrap Exchange

15. Head outdoors with your family for a hikeHike NC! will offer a hike on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 1:30 p.m. at Annie Louise Wilkerson Park in North Raleigh. The hike is about 3 miles, rated easy and good for families with kids. Register for the hike on Eventbrite.

Photo courtesy of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

16. Ride the State Fair Flyer. The State Fair Flyer will run Saturday, Nov. 26, and Sunday, Nov. 27, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. each day. The ride is $8 is for a roundtrip and it starts at the Orville Terminus near the Scott Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Only cash is accepted and only roundtrips are offered.  Learn more.

17. Go on a harvest hunt at Oakwood Cemetary to help lay wreaths on veterans' graves. Come, stretch your legs and enjoy some outside time together with your family throughout the holiday weekend. For a $15 donation, you can pick up a Harvest Hunt packet at the Oakwood Cemetery office, located at 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh, then explore the cemetery to learn its history and secrets by filling out the Harvest Hunt packet. Once you've completed your answers, you can email them back to the cemetery by Nov. 28. The $15 fees will be donated to the cemetery's Wreaths Across America event. Each $15 collected will sponsor one wreath for the grave a veteran buried.

 

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About this Blog

News, Fun, Deals

Parenting news, opinion, family fun, free offers

About This Blog

Karen Lewis Taylor is a freelance writer and editor and lifelong resident of the Triangle. A former English teacher and student publication advisor, she has written for numerous local and regional publications. Karen will blog about family fun in the Triangle — including freebies and news that matters to local parents. Check our home page on Thursdays to see her weekend family fun planner post. Karen lives in Apex with her husband and two daughters. 

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Calendar

February 2017

Join park staff in collecting data for the 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

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

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: $18

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


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

More information

Families celebrate Purim with bagels, fruit and Hamantaschen. Kids enjoy Purim-related activities,  music and more. Costumes encouraged.

Cost: $8/family, member; $12/family, nonmember

Where:
Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center
12804 Norwood Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center
Telephone: 919-676-6170
Contact Name: Jill Lokitz
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: $18

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


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

More information

Learn how to creatively attach air plants to scrap wood. Combine reuse and living art and learn about how to care for air plants. All materials are provided, including plants. Register online....

Cost: $25

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


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

More information

Join a park naturalist on a one-mile hike around Yates Mill Pond and help to identify and count the birds that we see along the way. Learn how to identify backyard birds by sight, sound and other...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy the tale of a young mermaid with the dulcet voice who risks it all for love in a daring deal with a vengeful sea witch. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $30-$89

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

More information

Discover birds along the trails and pond. All ages. Meet at the Longleaf Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

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


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

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Join park staff in collecting data for the 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

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

Learn about the bald eagle and hike to the fishing pier to view eagles soaring high. All ages. Meet at the Longleaf Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

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


Telephone: 919-387-4342
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

Enjoy games, crafts and hikes. Take a picnic lunch. All ages. Dress for outdoor fun. Meet at the Longleaf Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Spend the afternoon learning all about birds. Go on a bird behavior scavenger hunt, play a migration game, and learn how to identify common species on the lake and at the feeder. Make suet. Ages...

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

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Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Mr. Panda is making a surprise. What is it? The animals must wait and see. But waiting is boring. Mr. Panda shows that good things come to those who wait. Read the story about patience.

Cost: Free

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

Kids ages 12-18 interested in learning about the sport can get into boats and learn how to row. Students and parents can also meet the club's rowers and coaches. Novice and experienced...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Wheeler Park
6404 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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

Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Kids ages 12-18 interested in learning about the sport can get into boats and learn how to row. Students and parents can also meet the club's rowers and coaches. Novice and experienced...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Wheeler Park
6404 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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

Listen to a story in English and Spanish and meet  animals.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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Parent and child enjoy a craft, activity and guided walk along the greenway. Ages 2-6.  Register online. Choose course #199100.

Cost: $3

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson St.
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

Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Moms meet other moms for support and friendship. Drop-in program.

Cost: Free

Where:
Grow, The Family Boutique
2885 Jones Franklin Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Telephone: 919-803-3521
Contact Name: Heather Dickens
Website »

More information

Help park staff with citizen science projects. Take a water bottle and wear sturdy shoes. Ages 8-10 with adult; 11 years and older adult optional. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Kids ages 12-18 interested in learning about the sport can get into boats and learn how to row. Students and parents can also meet the club's rowers and coaches. Novice and experienced...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Wheeler Park
6404 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Chase away the winter blues with a hike through the winter garden. After the walk, warm up inside with a book and winter craft. Meet at the visitor center. Ages 3-12. Register online.

Cost: $5/child

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


Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Join others for an easy paced hike around the greenway. Ages 3 and younger; older siblings, strollers and leashed pets welcome. Register online. Choose course #199059.

Cost: Free

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

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

Learn about wolves, coyotes and foxes. Take a hike to look for tracks and signs. Make casts of canid feet to take home. Ages 9-13. Register online. Choose course #199997.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
11408 Raven Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-6764
Website »

More information

Kids ages 12-18 interested in learning about the sport can get into boats and learn how to row. Students and parents can also meet the club's rowers and coaches. Novice and experienced...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Wheeler Park
6404 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Kids can drive their futures at the fourth annual Marbles Future Me Kids Career Fair, which introduces children to real-life architects, bakers, dentists, engineers, news reporters,...

Cost: $5 ages 1 and older

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


Website »

More information

Ages 3-5 enjoy play-based activities in English and Spanish to prepare for kindergarten.

Cost: Free

Where:
Athens Drive Community Library
1420 Athens Dr.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids ages 12-18 interested in learning about the sport can get into boats and learn how to row. Students and parents can also meet the club's rowers and coaches. Novice and experienced...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Wheeler Park
6404 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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

Celebrate the magic of storytelling on Disney Reads Day. Read popular Disney stories and take part in fun activities to inspire your imagination. Enjoy giveaways, including stickers, bookmarks and...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Celebrate Mardi Gras with a walking parade, children's activities and contests. All ages.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Join park staff and search the park for snowflakes and ice crystals. Explore the unique shapes of snowflakes and view ice crystals under microscopes, then construct your own paper snowflake or ice...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Kids learn to code in a free workshop. Register online. Sign up for a summer camp during the event and save $100.

Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show.

Cost: $70-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Delivered is a community workshop centered on educating, empowering and encouraging women to plan and achieve their most optimal birth plan. The workshop will introduce attendees to the benefits of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Davis Family Chiropractic
7901 Strickland Rd.
Ste 104
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Davis Family Chiropractic
Telephone: 919-615-2257
Contact Name: Dr. Alisha Davis
Website »

More information

Raleigh Little Theatre's troupe performs the story of Cher Ami, a pigeon who saved American soldiers during World War 1 by carrying a message for help. Ages 5 and older.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy a fast-paced and accessible introduction to many influential black Americans who have shaped the nation over the last 150 years. Grades pre-K-5.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70-$150

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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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.