Carolina Family Vacations for Adventure Seekers


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Rushing around to beat the clock every morning isn't enough activity to scratch everyone's adrenaline itch. For these action junkies, family time is best when filled with heart-pounding, breathtaking exhilaration. The more, the better. The Carolinas don't disappoint, delivering a variety of adventurous activities. From zip lines high in the trees to skydiving in an enormous wind tunnel, families in motion can find plenty to keep them on the move.

Flying on the Wind
Paraclete XP Skyventure

Ever wanted to go skydiving, but don't have a plane or, gulp, a parachute? Paraclete near Fayetteville, N.C., has you covered. Paraclete has the world's biggest vertical wind tunnel: a whopping 51 feet tall and 16½ feet across lets you and your family "fly" together. After suiting up and getting some one-on-one time with an instructor, you float on the power of the wind. There are some restrictions - no expectant moms or kids younger than 2, for example - but if you're in good health, you're ready to fly.

For the less-adventurous visitor: There's a comfortable viewing area where you can watch family members float up and down right in front of you. Young kids are offered coloring books and crayons while they wait, too.

Important info: 190 Paraclete Dr., Raeford, N.C., 1-888-4SKYFUN, www.paracletexp.com. Prices range from $39 for repeat flyers to $63 for first-timers and up.


Climbing the Walls
Triangle Rock Club

Is your family ready to start climbing the walls? Head to Morrisville, N.C., where the Triangle Rock Club has 9,000 square feet of climbing walls in an air-conditioned environment. You can take classes or start climbing at your skill level whether your family is just dabbling or are experienced climbers. With more than 100 climbing routes and bouldering problems (climbing without a rope), you can return often to enjoy a fit family hobby.

For the less-adventurous visitor: Family members with more experience can hit higher walls while more-timid climbers start out with an easier course. No one pushes you to go higher. Do only what you're comfortable with!

Important info: 102 Pheasant Wood Court, Morrisville, N.C., 919-463-7625 (ROCK),  http://trianglerockclub.com. Adults, $17; ages 11 and younger, $10.

 

Zipping Through Trees
ZipQuest at Carver's Falls

Spend more than two hours in this untouched natural area - while you're zipping through the treetops, high in the canopy. ZipQuest at Waterfall and Treetop Adventures offers a zip line experience for the whole family (over age 10). From floating spiral stairways to a suspension bridge over the falls, you can enjoy the beauty of the area without setting foot on the ground. And you'll end your experience by zipping right beside the waterfall itself.

For the less-adventurous visitor: Other family members hang out at the nearby Airborne and Special Operations Museum.

Important info: 533 Carvers Falls Dr., Fayetteville, N.C., 910-488-8787,  www.zipquest.com, Adventurers ages 10 and up, $79

 

Thrills at the Beach
Kitty Hawk Kites

Sure, your family can easily spend hours building sand castles and gathering shells at the Outer Banks. But if you're ready for adventure, Kitty Hawk Kites can get your family hooked up to almost any thrill you're seeking: hang gliding, jet skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking. You name it, chances are they have it. Enjoy a favorite activity or take classes to learn a new one.

For the less adventurous visitor: There's plenty to do to keep everyone happy. If you're waiting for someone to wrap up hang gliding, you're free to explore the amazing Jockey's Ridge dunes. Try a wild horse or dolphin tour. Family members can ride in the boat while another person wakeboards. Kayak tours provide a mild adventure on flat water.

Important info: Different locations in the Outer Banks. Call 1-877-359-

8447 for details on a specific activity. www.kittyhawk.com.  Prices vary depending on activity.

 

Mountain Biking to Waterfalls
Pura Vida Adventures

Here's an action-filled way to see the waterfalls of Western North Carolina: pedal a mountain bike on a waterfall tour. Pura Vida Adventures offers a beginner's tour - with wide trails that are mostly downhill - to let you explore the falls around DuPont State Forest. Can't get enough mountain action? Try a multi-day North Carolina family adventure. One day you'll rock climb. The next, explore rafting. And the following day, hit the trails on mountain bikes. Or mix and match another way.

For the less-adventurous visitor: Pura Vida also offers guided hikes if you'd rather stay on your own two feet on terra firma.

Important info: 152 Hendersonville Hwy., Pisgah Forest, N.C., 772-579-0005, www.pvadventures.com. Prices vary depending on activity.

 

Adventures In and Out of the Water
U.S. National Whitewater Center

Don't let the name fool you. Sure, your family can go whitewater rafting (on the world's largest man-made rafting river) and kayaking at U. S. National Whitewater Center. But you can also mountain bike, zip line, try an adventure course or free-fall jump. This amazing facility crams in almost every outdoor adventure. Your family can buy a day pass or play the whole year with a season pass.

For the less-adventurous visitor: Try eco trekking. You'll walk the trails equipped with a GPS to track and pinpoint hidden checkpoints where you uncover facts about local wildlife and ecology.

Important info: 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte, N.C., 704-391-3900, www.usnwc.org. For an all-day, all-sport pass, $49 for ages 10 and up, $39 for 9 and under. Prices go down if you skip certain sports.

Explore a Remote Destination
Bulls Island, S.C.

If a getaway to a deserted island appeals to your family, head to Bulls Island in South Carolina. It has acres of pristine coastal land only reachable by ferry. Take your bicycle to explore the island on wheels, adopt a loggerhead sea turtle nest, or check out the list of feathered friends and go bird-watching. Spend a full day or half day (don't forget to catch the ferry back!) wandering this remote area - but keep your eyes peeled for alligators! (We're told they're more afraid of you than you are of them.)

For the less adventurous visitor: Hang out on Boneyard Beach, the island's beautiful, untouched beach. You can watch for dolphins in the water, hunt for shells or enjoy a picnic lunch.

Important info: Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, 5821 Hwy. 17 North, Awendaw, S.C., 843-928-3368, www.fws.gov/caperomain/bullsisland.html, www.scgreatoutdoors.com/park-bullsisland.html. For the ferry, adults cost $40, 12 and under are $20.

 

Screaming Along the Rails
Intimidator at Carowinds

If your family craves coasters, this one, billed as "the tallest, fastest, longest coaster in the Southeast," is the one to try. With a NASCAR theme, the mile-long steel coaster rockets you up over 200 feet. You'll take the first drop, then scream around curves and plunges at up to 75 mph.

For the less-adventurous visitor: Want a roller coaster that's a little less extreme? Carowinds has 12 other coasters to choose from. Visit the website (www.carowinds.com) and click the roller coaster link to find coasters' "thrill" ranking (with two as the mildest and five as the most aggressive).

Important info: 14523 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte, N.C., 704-588-2600, www.carowinds.com. Ages 3 and up, $51.99 for a day pass ($41.99 if you buy ahead online).

 

Plunging into Coolness
Fantasy Lake, N.C.

Fantasy Lake in Hope Mills, N.C., provides a thrill while cooling you off. A pair of drop slides start out like regular slides, but launch you into a free fall into the lake below. At the jump towers, you choose from a lower, less-extreme platform or the higher, risk-lovers' jump. There are also rope swings, just like the good old-fashioned watering holes.

For the less-adventurous visitor: Enjoy sitting on a porch swing while dangling your feet into the water to cool off or hit the volleyball court before wading into the lake. Don't forget to check out the pedal boats, too.

Important info: 5869 Permastone Lake Rd., Hope Mills, N.C., 910-424-9999, www.fantasylakewaterpark.com. Ages 11 and up, $14; 10 and under, $10.  n

Kathleen M. Reilly and her family are always up for adventure. She's the author of Walt Disney World Extreme Vacation Guide for Kids and lives in the Triangle.

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Calendar

June 2019

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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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201
Cabela Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
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Telephone: 984-204-2200
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Cost: Free

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Bass Pro Shops
801 Bass Pro Ln.
Cary, NC  27513
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Telephone: 417-413-9368
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Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

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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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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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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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
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124963.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online. Choose course #124691.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Travel 238,900 miles above the earth as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of humans’ first landing on the moon. What's it like to travel in space? With the help of some volunteers, kids...

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: Orange County Main Library
Website »

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Travel 238,900 miles above the earth as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of humans’ first landing on the moon. What's it like to travel in space? With the help of some volunteers, kids...

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: Orange County Main Library
Website »

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Ages 11 and older with special needs stroll through the woods. Register online. Choose course #124383.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Come out to the millpond and fish the old-fashioned way - we'll provide you with a cane pole, tackle, and bait, along with basic instructions and assistance with identifying fish species....

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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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
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Court
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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Preschoolers (ages 3-5 with accompanying adult) learn about different frogs and toads that live in our area and what they sound like.  Make frog sounds, hop along the park trails and look for...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Martha Kane
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Bees are really important in our gardens! Read The Honey Robber and the Bee by Eric Carle and discover the world of bees and honey! Find your fellow bees by following your sense of smell, make a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
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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!
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Enjoy tea time for the whole family. Samples of hot tea, cold tea, and kombucha will be provided, along with games and family fun.

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
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Enjoy an out-of-this world space spectacular event. Preschoolers and their families are invited to fly in for space-themed games, crafts, and more. No registration required.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy yoga and breathing exercises. Register online. Choose course #125022.

Cost: $9/resident, $11/nonresident

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

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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
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Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Park
319 S. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Kids ages 6-9 discover the wonders of reptiles that live at the Preserve.  The focus will be hands-on outdoor investigation and the study of living things in their habitat.  In case of...

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

Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. Choose course #124907.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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

Join Optimist Aquatic Center as thousands of kids and adults around the world unite for the world's largest swimming lesson. The World's Largest Swimming Lesson will celebrate its 10th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Optimist Aquatic Center
5902 Whittier Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

What do Historic Yates Mill County Park and the woodland faeries have in common? They both love nature! Take a short walk near the millpond to search for evidence of faeries (sightings are not...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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

Enjoy magic, storytelling and origami with Yasu Ishida. Grades K-5.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy an indoor/outdoor vendor market with food trucks, coffee, live music outside and plenty of fun for all ages.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Pine State Coffee
1614 Automotive Way
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Website »

More information

Vacation Bible School includes dinner. Register at wpumc.com/vbs

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: White Plains UMC
Telephone: 919-467-9394
Contact Name: Michele Vansteen
Website »

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How many fireflies can you catch? Sign up for an evening of summer fun as we catch and release lightning bugs. Explore what gives them a special glow through hands-on discovery, games, and more!...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Every year on June 21, we enjoy the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. Discover the science and cultural celebrations behind this special summer day. Make a pretty sun catcher to hang in...

Cost: Free

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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Cost: $12/person. Free for ages 2 and younger.

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead State Historic Site
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

More information

DIY Fest returns with more than 30 artisans and family-friendly activities to support the mission of Durham 150, the anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Durham. 

Cost: Free

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

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
NC Cooperative Extension
721 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: March of Dimes/Duke Family Medicine
Telephone: 678-246-9027
Contact Name: Courtney Simpson
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Ages 5-8 embrace science and nature while developing skills and knowledge about the natural world. Register online. Choose course #124927.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Enjoy all-things blueberry, food trucks, pie-eating contests and more at Vollmer Farms' annual Blueberry Festival. The Back-40 Country Playground will be open and features a...

Cost: $12 advance tickets, $15 at the door. Free for ages 12 and younger

Where:
Vollmer Farm
677 NC Hwy 98 East
Bunn, NC  27508
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Sponsor: Vollmer Farm
Telephone: 919-496-3076
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Enjoy a movie under the stars and play games at 7:15 before the movie starts. 

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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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. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.