Enjoy a Vacation Without Travel Costs


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During holiday weekends and school breaks, Lisa Chappell's family often uses the time and money they would have spent on traveling to explore local attractions in the Triangle area. With the current economy, families may want to stay close to home this summer either to save money or because the parents are unable to take the time off work required for a larger vacation. A staycation is not simply staying home, but doing things that you might not normally make the time for or spend the money on.

Chappell, the mom of four girls, has found that since they save money on hotel and gas, they are able to have experiences during their staycations that they would not have been able to enjoy if they had traveled, such as going horseback riding.
Here are some ideas for a spending a few days in or near the Triangle based on typical family summer vacations.

Get wet with a beach staycation

Since swimming is a must for every beach vacation, head out to Jordan Lake or Falls Lake for an afternoon of swimming. At Falls Lake Recreation Area you can swim at Sandling Beach, Rolling View and Beaverdam. Other great options for swimming are the Ebenezer Church, Seaforth, Parker's Creek and White Oak Recreation Areas at Jordan Lake. There is a $6 fee per carload for each of these swimming areas. For more information and park hours, visit www.ncparks.gov and select the park you are interested in visiting.

To add some fun to your beach day, have a sand castle-building contest with your family and give out silly prizes to each person. For younger kids, pack some shells from a previous beach trip or buy shells at a craft store to put on the beach so they can collect shells. When you get home, make a picture frame to display photos of your day. Have your kids paint an unfinished wooden picture frame and then glue the shells onto the frame.

You can also watch fish and other sea creatures by heading to a pet store that carries fish or local fish store. At the Catch the Wind exhibit at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, your kids can sail a miniature boat and learn how the wind affects sailing.

If you have just an hour or two and want to cool off, head to one of the play fountains in the area. Susan Furr likes to take her 4-year-old and 1-year-old to play in the fountains on the outside patio of the Triangle Town Center Mall Food Court in Raleigh. "They have a fun sprinkler area for children to run in and cool off," says Furr, who lives in Raleigh. There is also a play fountain located outside the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Buy or borrow some yard water toys, like a Slip 'n' Slide or a small pool, to have a beach day in your own yard. Turn on the sprinkler and join your kids in the water. When everyone is water-logged, break out some water balloons or squirt guns. Set up a volleyball net and have play balloon volleyball instead of beach volleyball.

For a cool treat, make popsicles by pouring juice into small paper cups and putting them in the freezer. When the juice is slightly frozen, put popsicle sticks into the juice to make the popsicle and then tear off the paper when the popsicles are frozen.

Explore city life

Instead of heading to New York or Chicago for a taste of a big city, spend some time exploring city life in the Triangle. Since most city vacations start with a plane ride, head to the Observation Deck at the RDU Airport where you can watch planes land and take off while listening to pilots communicate with the control tower. There is small playground next to the deck, tables for a picnic and restrooms.

Since a favorite summer city activity is to take in a baseball game, watch one of the local minor league teams play during your city staycation. The Durham Bulls (www.durhambulls.com) play at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the Carolina Mudcats (www.gomudcats.com) play at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. Before you go to the ballpark, check out famous ballparks online, such as Camden Yards or Wrigley Field.

Since many cities offer unique transportation options, take a trolley ride of downtown Raleigh on a Saturday. The trolley ride lasts an hour and provides a narrated tour of areas such as Mordecai Historic Park, Glenwood South and City Market. Tickets for adults are $8, and kids age 7 through 17 are $4. There is no charge for kids 6 and younger.

If your kids are over 14 years old, take a Segway tour to explore downtown Raleigh. Triangle Segway (www.trianglesegway.com) offers tours from one to two hours long that range in price from $40 to $65 per person. Note that ages 14 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult.

Let loose with theme park fun

While there aren't any roller coasters in the Triangle, there are several theme parks within a few hours that could be a day trip or one-night trip, such as Carowinds in Charlotte and Kings Dominion north of Richmond, Va. Sonya Critzer, Cary mom of two teen boys, says that one of her family's favorite trips is to head to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va.

Jodi Woolard, branch sales manager at AAA Vacation in Raleigh, recommends families visit Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro to ride the water slides and relax on the Lazee River. Visit www.emeraldpointe.com for prices and hours. Emerald Pointe offers two children's areas with rides and pools for little ones that are not tall enough to ride the slides.

Closer to home, you can fill an afternoon theme-park style at Frankie's Fun Park in the Brier Creek area of Raleigh, centrally located for many Triangle families. In addition to mini golf and laser tag, kids can drive go-carts, ride bumper boats and go on the Drop Zone or try batting in the cages and climbing on play structures. Other play centers in the area offer activities ranging from skating to mini golf, batting cages and more.

No matter how you decide to spend your staycation this summer, make sure you take lots of pictures to document your fun and enjoy your time together as a family.

Jennifer Gregory lives in the Triangle with her husband, two kids and three dogs.  They often have a staycation over holiday weekends where they go hiking at Umstead Park and canoeing on Falls Lake.

 

Quick Tips for Successful Staycations

 

 

* Have a family meeting to brainstorm activities or places your kids want to go and how you can modify them for close-to-home fun.

* Try to get in a vacation mindset during your staycation. Turn off your cell phone and refrain from checking e-mail as much as possible. Limit the chores you do and consider hiring a housecleaning service before your staycation so you won't feel compelled to clean.

* Consider checking into a hotel for the evening as a change of pace. Many area hotels offer an evening reception with snacks and breakfast in the morning.

* Think about splurging on something for the family that you can use during your staycation and in the future, such as beach chairs or a new board game that you have wanted to try.

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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 »

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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 »

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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
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Website »

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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
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
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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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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
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Website »

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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
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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
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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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
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Website »

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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
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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
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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

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Celebrate pecans at the State Farmers Market.

Cost: Free

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

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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
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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
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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

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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

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