Carolina Family Vacations for Adventure Seekers


Published:

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.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Fun Family Activities in N.C. Gardens

Escape to these N.C. gardens for a glimpse into the region's rich traditions and diversity.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

December 2019

Wear your favorite holiday attire and dine with Santa Claus. Enjoy a delicious brunch, stories and crafts, and take pictures with the jolly man from the North Pole. 

Cost: $10/child. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Joyner Park Community Center
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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

See dancers and a guitarist from Flamenco Carolina perform a Spanish style of music and dance.

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Ebeneezer Scrooge was visited by three spirits, but what about the next Christmas? With heartwarming excitement, discover how the Cratchit family has fared in the year that has passed since old...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

The Durham Medical Orchestra performs with special guest Joseph Alessi, principal trombone, New York Philharmonic.

Cost: Free

Where:
Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University
1336 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


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

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 »

More information

The choir presents its 49th performance on Handel's "Messiah."

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The first day of winter is right around the corner! Help us welcome the season by making a snow globe to take home. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult...

Cost: For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); FREE. Registration

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850

More information

Children will enjoy this wonderful book written by John Denver reminding us not to forget about the wildlife this holiday season. We will make a craft then take a walk to look for our wildlife...

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...

Join RTOOT as it performs the music of great Italian composers as well as beloved Christmas classics. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $9/adult, $3 ages 12 and younger

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


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Dan the Animal Man brings some of his animals from his vast collection to entertain all ages. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Help find candy canes hidden in Bond Park before the Grinch turns them green. Ages 6-12. Registration required online. Choose course #127871. 

Cost: $10/child

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


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Get into the holiday spirit by decorating cooking, making a craft and enjoying a holiday children's show.

Cost: Free

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

The Wake Forest Abilities Choir will present an evening of holiday music under the direction of director.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrate pecans at the State Farmers Market.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us to learn about how Habitat for Humanity helps build houses, hear a Christmas tale and then build a graham cracker house of your own. Call to, 919-245-2532. Best for ages 4 and up with a...

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

Is there a man in the moon, and is the moon made of cheese? Sip on some hot cocoa and listen to some of the stories people have told about the moon and find out if there is truth to them. Then...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone, and adult accompanime

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Discover family traditions from North Carolina and around the globe. Create art, enjoy free access to Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism, and have a special visit with Santa.

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art East Building and Museum Plaza
Raleigh, NC


Website »

More information

Bundle up and enjoy an evening around the campfire learning about creatures of the night and listen to Native American tales about some of our favorite nocturnal animals. Roast marshmallows and go...

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 ages 5-12 enjoy indoor activities while parents enjoy a night out. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

Wear white clothing and play games, tumble and dance. Enjoy pizza, drinks and more. Ages 5-10. Registration required online. Choose course #127487.

Cost: $18/child; $28 for two children per family

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


Website »

More information

Friday, December 13, 6:00pm, at both the Millbrook and Wake Forest Campuses. Put on your Christmas jammies, grab a blanket and come out for a  festive night to watch the classic animated...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crossroads Fellowship
2721 E Millbrook Road
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Fellowship
Telephone: 919-981-0222
Contact Name: Lorraine Entwisle
Website »

More information

Have some fun and make something great at the Clay studio (and parents can sneak away and grab a bite or do some shopping at Northgate Mall). Each kid will complete and paint a piece of pottery...

Cost: $18 per child per workshop

Where:
1058 West Club Blvd
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Telephone: 919-560-2726
Contact Name: Lauren Tannenbaum
Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

Sing along with the band as they perform holiday favorites of Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Celebrate the love and joy that this season brings by creating art inspired by a Christmas tree. Register online. Choose course #126761.

Cost: $32/resident, $42/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

More information

Our Reindeer Romp is open to the entire community and our Girls on the Run families. So join us! Celebrate as nearly 1,000 girls reach their end-of-season goals – the finish line is only the...

Cost: $30 - $35

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheater
8003 Regency Pkwy
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Girls on the Run of the Triangle
Telephone: 919-401-6307
Contact Name: Jamie Botta
Website »

More information

Ages 5-12 make a picture frame for the holidays. Snack provided. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Travel with us to Puerto Rico with books, games and arts and crafts!  Join the staff of ISLA (Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition) for a fun filled hour! Best for ages 3 and up with a...

Cost: Free Gratis

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

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m....

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
Website »

More information

Family Wildlife Series: Holiday Habitat Helpers Saturday, December 14, 2-3 Attract winter wildlife to your backyard by providing or improving their habitat.  Create simple outdoor decorations...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

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


Website »

More information

Join us as we watch for meteors during the Gemenids Meteor Shower. Local astronomers will help us observe these shooting stars and other phenomena in the night sky. As a bonus we may see or hear...

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: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

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


Website »

More information

See the choir perform beloved Christmas songs with guest vocal group AVANTE. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

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


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for families in the Triangle by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!

Subscribe

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags