5 Ideas for a Family Playdate in the Triangle


Published:

Children pose in front of a mural in North Hills.

When you have a day wide open for family fun, you’ll find plenty of options in the Triangle. Check out these ideas for creating a day of wonder with your family — right here in your own backyard.

 

1. Art and Nature Explorations in Raleigh

North Carolina Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh continues to grow and provide new treasures your family can discover together. Before you tour the museum collection, start the day by hiking any of the 3 miles of trails in the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. The Blue Loop consists of a paved, 1-mile trail perfect for strollers. Fly kites or play Frisbee on the Ellipse lawn before settling down for a picnic. After lunch, explore the museum’s permanent collection.

Expert tip: Pick up a copy of the Making Faces activity guide, a free resource for kids that introduces museum characters and encourages budding artists to draw their own portraits.

 

2. Shopping and Recreation at North Hills

North Hills, 4158 Main at North Hills St., Raleigh

Raleigh’s rapidly growing mini-metropolis is so much more than a shopping center. Start at North Hills Park, just off Currituck Drive, which has a baseball field, tennis courts, a greenway connection and a playground with bathrooms. For lunch, drive less than a mile to North Hills’ outdoor shopping center, where you’ll find a plethora of kid-friendly eateries. Shop at the newly relocated and redesigned Quail Ridge Books independent bookstore and Learning Express Toys, then finish the day with a movie at Regal North Hills, bowling, or a free outdoor concert or movie at the amphitheater during the warmer months — all within walking distance. Shuttles are also available for those who have difficulty walking.

Expert tip: Trade the toy from the North Hills Chick-fil-A kids meals for free ice cream! (This is a nationwide Chick-fil-A policy so try this at your local Chick-fil-A as well.)

 

3. Wonder and Education in Chapel Hill

North Carolina Botanical Garden, 100 Old Mason Farm Rd., Chapel Hill

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, 250 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill

Celebrate a beautiful morning at North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. Don’t miss the Children’s Wonder Garden with “jump stumps,” or the opportunity to write letters to fairies. Hike the trails to find the perfect shady spot for a picnic. From there, you’re a short drive away from Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Tour the hands-on science center while waiting for an educational show in the incredible domed projection theater.

Expert tip: Check out the Morehead Sundial in front of the building. At 36 feet in diameter, the sundial is one of the world’s largest. Chapel Hill fans can continue exploring the campus to snap photos of UNC-Chapel Hill’s famed Old Well and Davie Poplar.

 

4. Sporty Experiences in Downtown Durham

Durham Central Park, 501 Foster St., Durham

American Tobacco Campus, 300 Blackwell St., Durham

Start your day at Durham Central Park, where your kids can watch local X-gamers rip through ramps, stairwells and an 8-foot trog bowl at the skate park. If your kids plan to skate, be sure to take helmets and pads.

After catching air — or watching others do it — explore the rest of the 5-acre park. Kids can climb Mount Merrill, an interactive children’s play area, or sprint across The Great Lawn, a sprawling, open green space near the skate park.

For lunch, drive less than a mile away to the American Tobacco Campus, where you’ll find Moe’s Southwest Grill, Mellow Mushroom and a variety of other restaurants that provide family-friendly dining in this budding historical and architectural focal point. Across the street, play tag in Diamond View Park while you wait for the Durham Bulls Athletic Park gates to open for one of the greatest family pastimes of all — going to a baseball game!

Expert tip: Check out the SEEDS Garden of Eatin’, a public, free-pick, edible garden in Durham Central Park. Learn more at seedsnc.org/our-gardens.

 

5. Old-Fashioned Fun in Cary

Phillips Farm, 6701 Good Hope Church Rd., Cary

Fred G. Bond Metro Park, 801 High House Rd., Cary

Ashworth Drugs, 105 W. Chatham St., Cary

Start your day at Phillips Farms participating in kid-friendly, farm-centric activities. Take your fresh picks to Fred G. Bond Metro Park for a picnic lunch. Take a lazy walk to the boathouse and feed the ducks or enjoy a paddleboat ride while your food digests. Earn a snow cone by taking a long hike or trek through the park’s ropes course. During weekends, you may be able to catch a free concert at the amphitheater. End the day by making a stop at Ashworth Drug’s old-fashioned soda fountain in downtown Cary to enjoy an ice cream float or milkshake.

Expert tip: Ensure your spot on the Fred G. Bond Metro Park ropes course by making a reservation through the Town of Cary website.

 

Mandy Howard is a freelance writer and mother of three in Raleigh.

 

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Flaherty Park Community Center
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Flaherty Park Community Center
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Cost: See website for fees

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Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cary’s popular food truck rally also features music from local performers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Cary
, NC  27511


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Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Park
319 S. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Borden Building and Grounds
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Sponsor: Historic Resources and Museum Programs
Telephone: 919-996-4364
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Cost: $44/resident, $57/nonresident

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Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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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
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-918-7387
Contact Name: Cybrary
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

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Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: $50-$70/person

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Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
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Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


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 »


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Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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More information

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Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
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View map »


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

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


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

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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
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Cost: $9/resident, $11/nonresident

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Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
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Cost: $5

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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 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


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

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Cost: $15/resident, $20/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: General Admission

Where:
TreeRunner Raleigh
12804 Norwood Rd
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Sponsor: N/A
Telephone: 919-410-7347
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Cost: $40

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The Poe Center for Health Education
224 Sunnybrook Rd.
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Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


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

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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

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Cost: $7/nonmember. Free for members and ages 6 and younger.

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre for the Arts
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Support local artists as they perform in Wake Forest.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre for the Arts
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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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

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Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

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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

Preschoolers (ages 3-5 accompanied by an adult) meet a real turtle and hike to see others.  Play turtle games and bring home a rock 'turtle' in a terrarium you design. Preregister online using...

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 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with kids programs, a bungee jump station, demos, food trucks and much more.  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Morgan Imports
113 S. Gregson St.
Durham, NC
View map »


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 »


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

More information

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Cost: $35/resident, $45/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy a summer movie under the stars to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Purchase advance tickets online. 

Cost: $7/nonmember. Free for members and ages 6 and younger.

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

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