A Guide to the Triangle’s Most Popular Suburbs

Big-city amenities are easily accessible, but homeowners can take refuge in a small town, where they can experience a true sense of community.


Published:

Downtown Holly Springs

Photo courtesy of the Town of Holly Springs

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Raleigh ranked 14th in 2017 among the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas. Perhaps due to that growth and recognition, more families are choosing to settle in Raleigh’s nearby suburbs. 

Julie Fielding, a real estate agent with Nina Parker Realty Group in Apex, says people are moving to Triangle suburbs primarily because of location. “They can be close to work, whether that’s in downtown Raleigh or Durham, Research Triangle Park, at a hospital or at a university,” she says. Big-city amenities are easily accessible, but homeowners can take refuge in a small town, where they can experience a true sense of community.

Here are some of the most popular suburbs Triangle newcomers are calling home.

Note: All statistics come from the town governments,the U.S. Census Bureau and population.us, which predicts population statistics based on growth trends.


Apex

Thanks to a 23-year population boom, Apex has grown by 28 percent since 1995, increasing from 5,000 residents to around 50,000 in 2018. In 2015, Money magazine named Apex its No. 1 small town in America, which consequently attracted new residents, making it not as small of a town as it used to be. The Halle Cultural Arts Center, located in the bustling historic downtown district, features concerts, movies, exhibits and more. Apexers have easy access to numerous parks, a variety of restaurants, I-540, Raleigh and Durham.


Cary

Once a small-town suburb, Cary has graduated to city size with a population of more than 162,000. Newcomers still find it a refuge from big-city life, since it claims a quaint, historic downtown, its popular Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival and hometown parades. Residents also like having access to Cary’s large shopping centers — soon to include Wegmans Food Market.


Fuquay-Varina

Fuquay-Varina, located 15 miles south of Raleigh, has grown by 42.2 percent since 2009, bringing its number of residents to 25,000 based on the latest U.S. census. It boasts two downtown areas in reflection of what used to be separate towns. Both feature shops, restaurants and annual festivals. I-540 makes it possible for residents to quickly travel to RTP and downtown Raleigh.

 

Holly Springs

Many families are choosing to settle in Holly Springs, based on a 33 percent growth rate since 2009 and an estimated 37,000 residents in 2018. RTP and downtown Raleigh are easily accessible via I-540 and, in 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek named Holly Springs “The Best Place in North Carolina to Raise Kids.”


Photo courtesy of Town of Knightdale


Knightdale

Knightdale has experienced an impressive 28 percent growth rate over the past 10 years, bringing its population to nearly 17,000 in 2018. Stefanie and Mark Despagni, who moved there in the fall of 2016, were drawn to its small-town feel, proximity to downtown Raleigh (less than 15 miles away) and low cost of living. The parks and recreation options were added bonuses. 

Knightdale residents will have even more to enjoy in the near future, according to Jonas Silver, public information officer for the Town of Knightdale. The 73-acre Knightdale Station Park just started phase three of construction, which will add a permanent amphitheater, veterans memorial, restaurants and local shops. In addition, the Mingo Creek extension will connect Knightdale Station Park to Mingo Creek Park, the Neuse River Trail and, ultimately, the Capital Area Greenway System.


Photo courtesy of Town of Morrisville


Morrisville

Morrisville is the closest town to RTP — one of the largest research parks in the world — so it makes sense that many newcomers employed by companies in the park are choosing to make Morrisville their home. The 2015 U.S. Census showed the population at 23,699, a 31 percent increase since 2009. Residents have access to walking and cycling trails, downtown festivals and more, so they get the benefits of a small town with quick access to work locations and community amenities.


Rolesville

Since 2009, Rolesville has quadrupled in size from 2,000 to an estimated 8,000 residents. Once known for farming, this northeastern Wake County town offers three parks, athletic programs and classes through the town’s parks and recreation department, town events and more.


Wake Forest

With nearly 45,000 residents predicted for 2018, the quaint town of Wake Forest has experienced a 32 percent growth over the past 10 years. Its proximity to downtown Raleigh attracts new residents who enjoy Wake Forest’s annual festivals and historic downtown district.


Median Home Values

Source: Zillow

Apex: $325,700

Fuquay-Varina: $234,000

Holly Springs: $279,500

Knightdale: $181,100

Morrisville: $292,000

Rolesville: $271,900

Wake Forest: $288,700


Michele Jonczak is a freelance writer in Raleigh and mom to Holden (8), Hayes (6) and Emery (4). 

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February 2019

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
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Share your artistic creations by entering the park’s annual community art and photography contests. Contest rules will be posted in January 2019. The contests include youth and adult categories...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Triangle lovers of human and natural beauty can get an early jump on Valentine's Day at a pottery treasure hunt February 10 on the Falls Lake section of the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Courtney...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mountains-to-Sea Trail
Falls Lake
Durham and Raleigh, NC  28445
View map »


Sponsor: Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
Contact Name: Court Pernell
Website »

More information

Shop for gently used children's clothing, baby equipment, maternity wear, toys, books and much more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


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 »

More information

Take your favorite Valentine to the farm and join all the animals for some Valentines fun. Meet Peppa Pig and Annie the Donkey, and feed the horses and other animals. Take...

Cost: $13.50/person

Where:
Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919-407-1806
Contact Name: Andrew
Website »

More information

Corteo, which means cortege in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to...

Cost: $39 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Puppet Show Incorporated presents "Goldi and #3 Bear Cottage," a fractured fairy tale inspired by the popular children’s book "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hillsborough Library
137 West Margaret Ln.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Hillsborough Main Library
Telephone: 191-924-52525
Contact Name: Beth Hawkins
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More information

Carolina Children's Museum and Reborn Clothing Company have partnered to create a Valentine's Day event for you and your children that helps to teach them about...

Cost: $15 per child for 1 pillow

Where:
Devils Ridge Golf Club (The Homestead Room)
5107 Linksland Drive
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Children's Museum
Contact Name: Kirsten Pierce
Website »

More information

Did you give a valentine to Mother Nature this year? Join us as we celebrate a day of love and kindness at the park! Make a few homemade valentine presents for our feathered friends including a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
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More information

Ages 5-8 embrace science and nature while developing skills and knowledge about the natural world. Register online. Choose course #121606.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Author, storyteller, performer Donna Washington, a well-known spoken word recording artist performs for all ages. Free tickets distributed at 2 p.m.

Cost: Free; ticket required.

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


Website »

More information

Corteo, which means cortege in Italian, is a joyous procession, a festive parade imagined by a clown. The show brings together the passion of the actor with the grace and power of the acrobat to...

Cost: $39 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
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View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization.

Cost: $15 or use your package/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Website »

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Ages 5-13 enjoy a one-hour yoga class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness, encourage the development of communication and social...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


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Read Edna Miller’s story "Scamper, A Gray Tree Squirrel," to learn what squirrels need in winter.   Dress for the weather for outdoor fun. Ages 1-6 with accompanying...

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

Show More...
Show Less...

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Come join us in the park center for some Valentine’s Day arts and crafts! Create valentines for your friends, make some love bugs, and take home your own valentine tree. For all ages (adult...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization and more.

Cost: $15/child, use your package/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt Carmel Church Rd
chapel hill, NC  27517
View map »


Website »

More information

Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department and Shaw University Men's & Women's Soccer teams offer spring soccer clinics for youth ages 5‐7 who are interested in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road (Softball Field)
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Join us for storytime in Spanish. Co-sponsored by ISLA (Immersion in Spanish Language Acquisition). https://www.laislaschool.org/

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Show More...
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The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Come join us in the park center for some Valentine’s Day arts and crafts! Create valentines for your friends, make some love bugs, and take home your own valentine tree. For all ages (adult...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Connect with your baby, other parents and yourself during this adult-focused postpartum yoga class. Recommended for babies newborn to walking. Take a mat, a blanket for your little one, and...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

Expand your knowledge of our local flora and fauna by exploring a different area of the park each month. Join park staff as they "nerd out" over amphibians, birds, insects, spiders and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Preschoolers learn how foxes and coyotes are similar to and different from dogs. Children ages 3-5 with adult meet Red the Fox and Carrie the Coyote, then go outside to look for real tracks and...

Cost: $3; no fee for accompanying adult

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: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

Meet other families in your community in a recreation setting. The play room will be reserved for parents and their young children. Sports and recreation equipment will be available...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

The Flying Biscuit Cafe (www.flyingbiscuit.com) is throwing a Love Cake Party for Valentine's Day on Thursday, February 14. Dine in and receive a complementary Love Cake appetizer for...

Cost: Free for Love Cake; dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Come join us in the park center for some Valentine’s Day arts and crafts! Create valentines for your friends, make some love bugs, and take home your own valentine tree. For all ages (adult...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. Choose course #121597.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Jack Smith Park
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Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Marylou loves everything about Herbie—how his slime trail glistens in the dark, how he can stretch himself thin to squeeze inside the cellar window, and how he always finds the juiciest tomatoes....

Cost: Free

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February is heart month and Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to show yourself some love. Meet Orangetheory Fitness founder Ellen Latham, who hosts a public event signing her book,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange Theory Fitness North Hills
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Telephone: (984) 833-4472
Website »

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This after-school class for kids in grades 3-5 offers fun learning yoga poses and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. Grades 3-5. 

Cost: $15/class, or use your class pass/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt. Carmel Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Website »

More information

Mix your way to some sweet-smelling at-home treatments while learning the science behind the fizz!

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Observe and count the variety of birds that can be found along the trail as we walk to the Beaver Creek Bridge. Ages 6 and older. Meet at the New Hill parking area (1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.,...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-2117
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Come by the park center any time during the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count to view a free slideshow of the birds of Yates Mill Pond. Over 150 photographs of birds are featured in the...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Join park staff in collecting data for the 22nd 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: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Learn about local birds and contribute to a global database of bird populations at the North Carolina kickoff of the 22nd Great Backyard Bird Count. First Lady of North Carolina Kristin Cooper and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Using fun activities, discover tips and techniques to identify birds in the rewarding hobby of bird watching. Learn how to participate in the bird count and hike along the shoreline to practice...

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

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. Choose course #121592.

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy fun, games, friendship and more every Friday.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

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This class is a chance for adventurous women to get together for a fun-filled workshop where we explore the basics of aerial silks. No need for a background in aerial yoga, this is a workshop...

Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Telephone: 188-858-79530
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Cost: Dine-in purchase required

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Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
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Cost: Free

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Lake Crabtree County Park
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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Celebrate all things cats at the Tica Time Cat Show. Watch judging, learn about the different cat breeds, interact with the breeders and exhibitors, cheer on favorite cats, shop...

Cost: $5.00 adults; discounts for children and families

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Learn to identify common winter birds by sight and sound. Visit a bird-feeding station for up-close encounters, learn how to be a citizen scientist, and take home a feeder and identification...

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Hillsborough Visitors Center
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Sponsor: Alliance for Historic Hillsborough
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Learn how to use unique materials to create wind chimes with glue and paint. Wear clothes that can get messy. Aprons and crafting materials provided. Register online. 

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Preschoolers learn how foxes and coyotes are similar to and different from dogs. Children ages 3-5 with adult meet Red the Fox and Carrie the Coyote, then go outside to look for real tracks and...

Cost: $3; no fee for accompanying adult

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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: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

Puppet Show Incorporated presents "Goldi and #3 Bear Cottage," a fractured fairy tale inspired by the popular children’s book "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by...

Cost: Free

Where:
GiGi's Playhouse Raleigh
Swift Creek Shopping Center
2887 Jones Franklin Road
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Sponsor: GiGi's Playhouse Raleigh
Telephone: 191-930-73952
Contact Name: Caroline Tate
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More information

Ages 4-12 with caregiver enjoy arts and crafts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Take your favorite Valentine to the farm and join all the animals for some Valentines fun. Meet Peppa Pig and Annie the Donkey, and feed the horses and other animals. Take...

Cost: $13.50/person

Where:
Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919-407-1806
Contact Name: Andrew
Website »

More information

Join us for a celebration of African culture with stories, crafts, prizes and more!

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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More information

Jeff Boyer takes bubbles to the max in this one—man bubble extravaganza! It’s the craziest, most creative bubble show around. Jeff juggles bubbles, sculpts and builds with bubbles, and...

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Where:
Cary Arts Center
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More information

Join a park naturalist on a one-mile hike around Crowder 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:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
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Discover what's happening as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #121590.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/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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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. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.