Adventures in Nature Across the Triangle

Climb, fly and paddle your way through some of the Triangle’s greatest adventures


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Paddle Creek is a well-known staple for nature lovers.

Photo courtesy of Paddle Creek

Over the course of a few weeks, our family has floated, climbed and soared our way through the gorgeous Carolina outdoors. And we did it all without traveling more than 35 minutes from our Raleigh home. 

Businesses throughout the Triangle offer opportunities to invest in adventure. You can find an activity that will fit every family type, age and skill level. Be ready for heart-pumping, adrenaline-rushing fun, because these adventures will change the way you see the world. The only question is: Which one will your family try first? 


TreeRunner Raleigh Adventure Park 
12804 Norwood Rd., Raleigh 

Halfway between Raleigh and Durham, nestled on the David R. Kahn Jewish Community Campus, 70 obstacles and zip lines zigzag throughout forested land, offering a wide variety of challenges and adventures. Each day at TreeRunner Raleigh Adventure Park starts with a guided safety training session to help guests feel confident using their harness and clipping mechanisms. The way these magnetic mechanisms work ensures that only one line can be unattached at any given time, so guests are always safely harnessed as they move about the trees. 

After training, guests are free to climb the cargo rope to the main deck. From there, they can choose one of seven routes, categorized by difficulty. A friendly park guide is always on the main deck to help guests decide which course to try based on their experience, skill level and, most importantly, what they enjoy doing. There are three beginner routes, two intermediate routes and two expert routes. The park requires that guests finish a beginner route before moving on to an intermediate course, and finish an intermediate course before moving on to the expert route. 

You’ll hear great music and encouraging instructions throughout the park. Even the youngest adventurers (ages 4-7) can experience their own course a little closer to the ground. 

Why you will love it: You can make the day your own! Even the most adventurous and confident teens can be humbled by the difficult courses, while kids who may be a little more cautious will experience joy and a self-confidence boost while accomplishing the beginning and intermediate courses.


Go Ape! Blue Jay Point County Park 
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh

“Always stay attached!” The park’s slogan not only reminds guests to physically stay clipped in throughout the park, but also indirectly reminds them that this this is a place where their bond as a family and their attachment to nature can grow. Go Ape! has been thrilling families in the Triangle since 2015. The park offers two very distinct opportunities to accommodate multiple skill levels. 

Treetop Journey introduces the high ropes experience to all ages. Guests choose from two routes on one platform. In both, guests are attached to a continuous wire that leads them through obstacles that culminate in a zip line. Because of this constant attachment, climbers don’t need to worry about clipping on or off — they can just concentrate on the fun of traipsing through the trees. 

Ages 10 and older are invited to try the Treetop Adventure, a journey through the tops of the forest canopy. After training, participants are encouraged to go through the next five stations at their own pace. Each course starts with a gated station that has a ladder leading up to the trees, and ends with an exhilarating ride down a zip line. 

Why you will love it: The absolute vastness of the forest makes you forget that you are just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of a big city. 


Triangle Skydiving Center
480 Airport Rd., Suite 200, Louisburg

What is North Carolina known for if not for its beautiful blue skies? And what better way to show your sense of adventure than by sailing through the blue with nothing but a parachute to glide you to the green grass below?

Don’t be shy to admit if you’re one of the many people who think, “Well, skydiving is something I wanted to do before I had kids.” You’re not alone. Jumping out of a plane seems risky. But when it comes down to it, it is — statistically speaking — safe. According to Skydiving.com, you are more likely to be killed by a bee, dog or lightning than you are in a skydiving incident. 

Photo courtesy of Triangle Skydiving Center

Author Mandy Howard checks skydiving off her bucket list.

Is it really a family adventure? Absolutely! And although potential skydivers must be age 18 to jump, skydiving may be one of the most accommodating adventures multigenerational families could consider.

Triangle Skydiving Center not only accommodates adults of all ages, it also welcomes adventure-seekers with mobility issues. Recently, Triangle Skydiving Center hosted a family whose son lost the use of his legs in a car accident. Employees say that he landed with his tandem jumper with exhilaration and achievement on his face — and there wasn’t a dry eye on the field. 

Imagine surprising your high school graduate with a skydiving trip. Or maybe, instead of buying your college graduate a new watch, you could give him the sky and encourage him, symbolically, to reach for it and live life with his arms wide open. 

Why you will love it: It’s a bucket list item for a reason. It will literally change how you see the world. 


Paddle Creek
Multiple locations near Falls Lake and the Neuse River

A well-known staple for local nature lovers, Paddle Creek offers a wide variety of ways to float freely through the Triangle’s hidden waterways. Among other options, customers can choose the “Quick Trip,” in which the river is happy to do the work for you, a half-day Neuse River excursion, or an exploration of Robertson Millpond Preserve’s sunken forest.

Paddle Creek provides transportation for its customers to or from their car and will set them up in the water with their personal flotation device and a paddle board, or a solo or tandem kayak. The quick trip is an ideal family adventure. It’s long enough for families to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and possibly see deer, osprey, owls, beavers and muskrats, and it is short and simple enough that they can’t make a wrong turn.

Why you will love it: Rocked gently by the flow of the river and surrounded completely by nature, you and your family will want to escape to the sanctuary of the water time and again.

 

Mandy Howard is a freelance writer and mother of three in Raleigh who literally took a leap of faith to experience these adventures with her kids for the purpose of writing this article. 

 

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December 2019

Come by the Finley Center any time during the day to participate in a collaborative community art project celebrating what you are thankful for! Play a game of “Roll a Turkey” and take home...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Telephone: 919-676-6368
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Did you know bucks or male deer can grow a new set of antlers each year? Explore pelts, skulls, tracks, and scat of white-tailed deer through hands-on discovery stations. Then learn about the...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2854
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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Please join Admissions, Division Directors and our Head of School as they talk about Duke School’s unique program, specifically for incoming kindergarten through fourth grade students for the...

Cost: $0

Where:
Duke School
3716 Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Duke School
Telephone: 919-416-9420
Contact Name: Logan Blaylock

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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #127198.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Have you ever wondered what happens to our wildlife during the winter? They have a variety of adaptations to help them get through the cold months. Come explore some of their techniques then take a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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There are a lot of dangers in the woods for deer and rabbits! Read a story about these mammals and practice hiding from predators during a fun game, then make a deer-themed craft. For ages 3-5...

Cost: FREE. Registration is required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Design and create a keepsake apron with vibrant markers and other fun decorations. After completing your apron, enjoy baking and decorating your own individual cake. Ages 6-10. 

Cost: $35/resident, $45/nonresident

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

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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Come talk about books and eat pizza. No assigned reading prior to the meeting. Call or stop by to register: 919-245-2532.

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Parents of children learn age-appropriate social skills for children ages 3-6. Register online by Nov. 28.

Cost: $22/person or $33/couple

Where:
Project Enlightenment
501 S. Boylan Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

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Please visit the Homeschoolers of Holly Springs 4th Annual Holiday Market Day. Student entrepreneurs will be showcasing their products while learning about running their own businesses. All...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Hope Community Church
2080 E Williams St
Apex, NC  27539
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As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 919-556-7777
Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
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Want a fun arty Friday night activity for your teen? We've got the Teen Art Takeover just for them. Once a month we open up the community clay studio just for the 11-17 set. We have art...

Cost: $5 Resident/$6 nonresident

Where:
Chapel Hill Community Clay Studio
200 Plant Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Community Clay Studio and Chapel Hill Teen Center
Telephone: 919-968-2878
Contact Name: Robena Meek
Website »

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Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

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Join the three ensembles of the Cary Youth Voices for choral music. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Greenwood Forest Baptist Church
110 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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On season 6 of American Idol, Melinda Doolittle stunned both the audience and the judges with her powerhouse vocals and her personal charm. She placed third in the voting, and has since gone on to...

Cost: $28 + taxes and fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second Street
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: The Clayton Center
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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Meet at the Waterwise Garden (first parking lot on right) No preregistration required.Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends....

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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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
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See award-winning houses from the Town of Cary's 9th Annual Gingerbread House Competition on display. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

More information

Ages 4-12 enjoy free arts and crafts. Registration not required. Children must have adult accompaniment. 

Cost: Free

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

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Take your American Girl to enjoy crafts, games, tea etiquette and more. Registration required online. Ages 5-10. Choose course #127007 for the 11 a.m. tea or #127008 for the 1 p.m. tea. 

Cost: $21/child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Website »

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Get ready for the holidays with festive activities, shopping, a holiday concert at 5 p.m. and much more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Website »

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Make an angel out of polymer clay to hang on a tree. Register online. Choose course #127353.

Cost: $19/resident, $25/nonresident

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Kick off your holiday season with horse-drawn carriage rides, hot apple cider, live music, handmade crafts, holiday activities, and a visit with Ol' Saint Nick.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Oak View County Park
Telephone: 919-250-1013
Website »

More information

As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 919-556-7777
Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
Website »

More information

Ages 3-12 and their fathers enjoy a night of dancing, light refreshments, photos and more. Registration required at Rolesville Community Center.

Cost: $25.00 per couple, non-resident $30.00 per couple, $10.00 per additional child

Where:
Rolesville Community Center
514 Southtown Circle
Rolesville, NC  27571
View map »


Website »

More information

Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

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