2013 Best Family Places to Visit


Published:

Parents know best when it comes to family-friendly places to eat, shop, celebrate and visit in the Triangle, so we asked you to name your favorites. In some cases, top vote-getters were extremely close, so we awarded two. Businesses or places that received an overwhelming number of votes are recognized as Honorable Mentions.

Without further delay, here are your top recommendations for family places to visit in the Triangle:

Fair or Festival
N.C. State Fair and Cary Lazy Daze
The first N.C. State Fair took place in October 1853 and was created by a group of agricultural reform advocates to encourage North Carolina farmers to adopt scientific methods of farming. Today, while agriculture and produce are still emphasized at the fair, a new trend as evolved as vendors try deep-frying new food items each year. In fact, the official blog of the N.C. State Fair Press Office is called "Deep Fried @ the N.C. State Fair." (info.ncagr.com/DeepFried) With more than 50 adult rides and 30 kiddie rides, attendees should be sure to save the deep fried delicacies for after the rides. Fireworks start every night at 9:45 p.m. Purchase tickets before the fair online to save money or visit on the day that you can be admitted for free by donating canned goods. Located at 1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh; ncstatefair.org.

Since 1977, Cary Lazy Daze has brought residents and visitors together in a celebration of summer and community to enjoy arts and crafts, live music and food. The event's 35-year streak was disrupted in 2011 when Hurricane Irene made landfall in North Carolina on the day of the festival, but it has since continued and gained momentum and popularity. Kid's World allows children of all ages to make crafts to take home. This year's festival will feature Thumbprint Theatre, which will emphasize the use of hands as children make thumbprint actors and object rubbings. Located in downtown Cary; townofcary.org (search for Lazy Daze).

Museum
Museum of Life and Science
A top attraction in North Carolina, the museum is situated on 84 acres and features a world-renowned butterfly conservatory, an animal sanctuary for rescued lemurs, black bears and red wolves as well as a hikeable "Dinosaur Trail." Exhibits are both indoors and outdoors and include over 60 species of live animals in exhibits such as the "Farmhouse." Science center exhibits are interactive and kids can complete experiments in The Lab! Located at 433 W Murray Ave., Durham; lifeandscience.org.

Honorable mention: Marbles Kids Museum
Located at 201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh; marbleskidsmuseum.org. (Learn more below.)

Rainy Day Activity
Marbles Kids Museum
The wall that wraps around Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh is filled with more than one million marbles that light up at night. Marbles' exhibits allow kids to learn how to budget money, paint, sculpt and play while learning about health and physical activity. An Imax theater screens 3D Hollywood blockbusters as well as 3D documentaries made exclusively for Marbles Kids Museum such as Under the Sea and Flight of the Butterflies. Check out Marbles' website for exciting events such as visiting artists, chefs and scientists that lead interactive classes. Located at 201 E Hargett St., Raleigh; marbleskidsmuseum.org.

Family Sports Event
Durham Bulls Game
The Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League provides recreational baseball free-of-charge to kids ages 5-12 in the City of Durham. The Durham Bulls were founded in 1902 and were originally the Durham Tobacconists. The Bulls received international attention and fame following the release of the film Bull Durham in 1988, starring Kevin Costner. Kids run the bases on Sunday games and Wool E. Bull makes an appearance at every game. Located at 409 Blackwell St., Durham; milb.com.

Honorable mention: Carolina Hurricanes Game
The Carolina Hurricanes were originally the Hartford Whalers, and relocated to North Carolina in 1997 under the name Carolina Hurricanes. The Kids 'N Community Foundation brings the Hurricanes players into the community, donating more than $500,000 to children's charities and scholarship programs last season. Located at 1400 Edwards Mill Rd., Raleigh; hurricanes.nhl.com.

Place to Take Visitors
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Sarah P. Duke, the wife of one of Duke's founders, gave $20,000 to fund the cultivation of 55 acres to the west of Duke's campus in 1935. She tirelessly worked to plant more than 40,000 irises, 25,000 daffodils and 10,000 small bulbs. Heavy rains and floods destroyed the garden, and when Duke died in 1936, the gardens were destroyed. Her daughter constructed a new garden on higher ground as a monument to her mother, which laid the foundation for what is now the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Located at 420 Anderson St., Durham; hr.duke.edu/dukegardens.

Honorable mention: Pullen Park
Located at 520 Ashe Ave., Raleigh; raleighnc.gov (search for Pullen Park).

Free Activity or Place
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
For the first time in nine years, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh was the No. 1 "Most Visited" site in North Carolina, based on the results of the 2012 survey of museums and historic attractions, released in March by Carolina Publishing Associates, which compiles the data. Previously, Asheville's Biltmore Estate topped the list. This summer's roving exhibit will be "Dinosaurs in Motion." View 14 life-size dinosaur sculptures, inspired by real fossils that visitors can move with pulleys and controls. Located at 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh; naturalsciences.org. Note: Free parks around the Triangle are other popular free destinations.

Day Trip
North Carolina Zoo
The site for the North Carolina Zoo was deliberately placed 75 miles west of Raleigh, 25 miles south of Greensboro and 75 miles northeast of Charlotte to ensure its location in the center of the state in Asheboro. 2012 brought in the highest number of zoo visitors in the past 15 years, spurred by a highly popular dinosaur exhibit and high volume of animal births, including a baby giraffe and two infant gorillas. Located at 4401 Zoo Pkwy., Asheboro; nczoo.org.

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Calendar

September 2019

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
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

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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
Website »

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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
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

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Celebrate Latino culture in Durham.

Cost: Free

Where:
Compare Foods Parking Lot
2000 Avondale Dr.
Durham, NC
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Enjoy sweets from over 20 vendors for humans and pets.

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
214 E. Martin Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Jay's Italian Ice
Telephone: 919-780-4169
Contact Name: Jay Jones
Website »

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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...

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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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $29.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $29.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Practice your ABCs and develop your fine motor skills through games and hands-on activities. Play a letter game and go on a scavenger hunt!  For ages 18 months–3 years (with an...

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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These programs are open to students 6–12 years old. Parent/guardians are welcome to stay for the program or drop-off. Preregistration is required. Discover the amazing world of mushrooms and...

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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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Bring your own poles or borrow one of ours through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are provided. All...

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
Website »

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Robert Gibbs discusses his latest book, "Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation." Ages 8-12. Purchase the book from Quail Ridge to reserve two seats for the event and a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209 Lassister Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Join us to make moveable miniature skating figures that light up!  Space is limited. To register, call 919-245-2532. Grades 3-5.

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
Website »

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We are Voted BEST consignment sale in the Triangle and TOP 10 in the NATION!! Our sale features Children's Clothing including a wonderful boutique section, costume section, and coats section,...

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
Website »

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Enjoy a free sunset movie by the picturesque Lake Raleigh. Take a picnic blanket, lawn chairs and a non-perishable food donations (human and pet) on Fridays in September to NC State's...

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
Website »

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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other scientists...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.707.9800
Website »

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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919.707.9800
Website »

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Take part in a pop-up Stroller Barre class followed by a nature scavenger hunt for kids and socializing for moms. Suitable for pregnant mamas. Take a sturdy stroller (no jogger needed!),...

Cost: $5

Where:
Piney Wood Park
400 E. Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM West Raleigh Durham
Telephone: 984-329-5970
Contact Name: Jenine N Pearson
Website »

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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
Website »

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Please join us for our 27th annual Triangle Festival of Hope & Walk to De-feet Dementia at Knightdale Station Park. The 1-mile walk through the park, or 1/4 mile shorter version, will begin...

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N First Ave
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Family fun for all ages includes more than 100 delicious food and craft vendors, free children's activities, live demonstrations and all genres of music from local and regional bands. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Street Creedmoor
301 N. Main St.
Creedmoor, NC  27522
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Sponsor: City of Creedmoor
Telephone: 919-764-1013
Contact Name: Angie Perry
Website »

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We are Voted BEST consignment sale in the Triangle and TOP 10 in the NATION!! Our sale features Children's Clothing including a wonderful boutique section, costume section, and coats section,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
Website »

More information

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
Website »

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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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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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This family-oriented event includes corn milling demonstrations and costumed tours of Yates Mill, and other event activities including a fun children’s scavenger hunt activity, live music and...

Cost: Free, though there is a $3-5 fee for mill tours

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 »

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 »


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

More information

Take the family for Caribbean food, live music, a Kids Zone, bounce house, face painter and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
West Point on the Eno
5101 N. Roxboro St.
Durham, NC  27704
View map »


Website »

More information

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
View map »


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

More information

Celebrate diversity in Wake Forest with live performances, traditional cuisine and family entertainment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $11.25 – $20

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $15 advance tickets, $20 at the door. Free for ages 5 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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The Teen Advisory Board invites you to meet up with other gamers to mingle, snack, and test your skills for prizes! Guests are welcome to bring their own controllers/fightsticks. Register by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
Website »

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The Clayton Center presents country crooner Billy "Crash" Craddock in concert. Sing along with Crash as he belts out his biggest hits, including Knock Three Times, Rub It In, Ruby Baby, Broken...

Cost: $25 plus taxes & fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second Street
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: The Clayton Center
Telephone: 919-553-1737
Website »

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Annual Guides

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