Explore the Triangle's Cities and Towns

Newcomers to the Triangle undoubtedly have many choices for where to establish their roots near the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.


Published:

Downtown Durham

Photo by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Jump to your community:

Apex     Carrboro     Cary     Chapel Hill     Clayton     Durham     Fuquay-Varina     Garner 
Hillsborough     Holly Springs     Knightdale     Morrisville     Raleigh     Rolesville     Wake Forest 
Wendell     Zebulon


More than a dozen towns surround the bustling cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill — each one enticing newcomers with its own unique character. Hillsborough, Wake Forest and Apex delight residents with charming historic districts lined with centuries-old buildings and quaint storefronts that harken back to a simpler time. Morrisville accommodates a large international population, and Holly Springs and Zebulon take pride in having their own professional baseball teams.

Strengthened by its CardRates.com “2018 Cities Primed for Economic Growth and Opportunity” No. 7 ranking — and an unemployment rate well below the national average — Raleigh boasts a reputation as a robust career destination. Just 3 miles west of the downtown district, North Carolina State University ranks ninth on Kiplinger’s 2018 list of campuses with the “Best Values in Public Colleges.”

North Carolina’s fifth-largest city, Durham, boasts the elegantly renovated American Tobacco Historic District, which accommodates shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Just 2 miles northwest of downtown, Duke University sprawls across 8,690 acres of land that includes the majestic Duke Forest. This prestigious private school ranked ninth on U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges list of national universities. And according to the city’s most recent resident satisfaction survey, four out of five feel Durham is a good-to-excellent place to live.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill claims the No. 1 spot on Kiplinger’s 2018 list of campuses with the “Best Values in Public Colleges,” and Cary ranked 10th in 2017 among the “30 Safest Cities to Raise a Child,” according to SafeWise, a website that tracks information on home security systems and safety. Ting Park (previously North Main Athletic Complex) in Holly Springs was named “Public Park of the Year” by Tennis Industry magazine in January 2017.

Newcomers to the Triangle undoubtedly have many choices for where to establish their roots. Explore the unique towns and cities Triangle residents call home. Read additional information about some of the region’s most popular suburbs.


Wake County

Photo by Jennifer Bell

Apex Peakfest


Apex
73 Hunter St., 919-249-3400
Population: 47,349
Apex lives up to its motto, The Peak of Good Living, by hosting events throughout the year such as Christmas on Salem Street, the PeakFest street fair in May, Peak City Pig Fest in June and its popular Olde Fashioned Fourth of July. In 2015, Apex ranked No. 1 on Money magazine’s annual list of the “50 Best Places to Live,” and in 2018 Apex ranked seventh on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s list of “The Safest Cities in North Carolina.”

Find out what's going on in Apex.


Cary
316 N. Academy St., 919-469-4000
Population: 162,320
Located in the heart of the Triangle between Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, Cary hosts signature annual events such as the Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival in April and Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival in August. In 2017, Cary was named the fourth best real estate market in the U.S. by WalletHub, and the 10th safest U.S. city in which to raise a child by SafeWise. Cary also ranked fourth on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s 2018 list of “The Safest Cities in North Carolina.”

Find out what's going on in Cary.


Fuquay-Varina
401 Old Honeycutt Rd., 919-552-1400
Population: 25,865
Fuquay-Varina, once known as “Piney Woods,” became famous for a mineral spring rumored to heal ailments. Named after French Revolutionary War veteran William Fuquay, who moved his family to the site, Fuquay incorporated in 1909 and joined the neighboring community of Varina in 1963 to become Fuquay-Varina. Annual events include the WRAL Freedom Balloon Festival in May and FM2FV Concert Series in the spring. Fuquay-Varina ranked ninth on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s 2018 list of “The Safest Cities in North Carolina.”

Find out what's going on in Fuquay-Varina.


Garner
900 Seventh Ave., 919-772-4688
Population: 28,776
This fast-growing community south of Raleigh boasts family-friendly events throughout the year, including the Groundhog Day Celebration, Spring Eggstravaganza and Garner Independence Day Celebration. Families can enjoy more than 4 miles of paved trails, 12 playgrounds, a boathouse on Lake Benson open during the warmer months and musical performances at the Garner Performing Arts Center.

Find out what's going on in Garner.


Holly Springs
128 S. Main St., 919-552-6221
Population: 33,260
One of Wake County’s boomtowns, Holly Springs is home to a $5 million cultural center, $19 million Ting Park, golf courses and spacious parks. Ting Park was named the “Public Park of the Year” by Tennis Industry magazine in January 2017; and, in 2018, Holly Springs ranked third on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s list of “The Safest Cities in North Carolina.”

Find out what's going on in Holly Springs.


Knightdale
950 Steeple Square Ct., 919-217-2220
Population: 14,794
Located just 9 miles from Raleigh, this small town is one of Triangle’s fastest growing. Annual events include the Easter Eggstraordinaire, Fourth of July celebration and Christmas on First Avenue. Knightdale ranked 13th on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s 2018 list of “The Safest Cities in North Carolina.”

Find out what's going on in Knightdale.


Morrisville
100 Town Hall Dr., 919-463-6200
Population: 24,732
Morrisville has grown from a small population of 1,022 in 1990 to 24,732 current residents, thanks to its ideal location near Research Triangle Park, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and Interstates 40 and 540. The culturally diverse town is lauded for its signature events, including the East Meets West festival and SpringFest, and residents have easy access to large shopping centers, including Park West Village and Morrisville Place.

Find out what's going on in Morrisville.


Photo by Shutterstock.com

Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh


Raleigh
222 W. Hargett St., 919-996-3000
Population: 458,880
In February 2018, CardRates.com ranked Raleigh the seventh “City Primed for Economic Growth and Opportunity.” Men’s Health ranked Raleigh third among the “Sportiest Cities in America” in September 2017. From parks to museums, North Carolina’s capital offers plenty of fun and entertainment for Triangle families.

Find out what's going on in Raleigh.


Rolesville
502 Southtown Cir., 919-556-3506
Population: 6,962
Rolesville is Wake County’s second oldest town after Raleigh, and one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing. Once fenced from post to post to contain animals, Rolesville now accommodates residential and commercial subdivisions where large farms once stretched.

Find out what's going on in Rolesville.


Wake Forest
301 S. Brooks St., 919-435-9400
Population: 40,112
The original birthplace of Wake Forest College, this quaint town offers residents a rich history in addition to shops and restaurants at The Factory, a thriving farmers market, annual parades and festivals, and recreational fun at nearby Falls Lake. The town’s annual Meet in the Street festival in May draws more than 10,000 attendants.

Find out what's going on in Wake Forest.


Wendell
15 E. Fourth St., 919-365-4450
Population: 6,745
Once a tobacco-farming area, Wendell evolved from a school-centered village in the late 1800s named by a teacher in honor of poet Oliver Wendell Homes, to a picturesque town with an historic business district. A 70-foot-long tobacco hornworm mural was painted in downtown Wendell in 2016 to preserve the town’s history. The hornworm, affectionately named Oliver, wears different hats throughout the year to celebrate the seasons and holidays.

Find out what's going on in Wendell.


Photo by Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace


Zebulon
1003 N. Arendell Ave., 919-269-7455
Population: 5,159
The easternmost town in Wake County, Zebulon came into existance after the Raleigh and Pamlico Sound Railroad Company decided to lay down rails through a dense pine forest between two family farms in 1906. The town is named after Zebulon B. Vance, the state’s governor during the Civil War. Zebulon is also home to the Carolina Mudcats, a minor league baseball affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Find out what's going on in Zebulon.


Durham County

Durham
101 City Hall Plaza, 919-560-1200
Population: 263,016
Durham’s American Tobacco Historic District features shops, restaurants and entertainment venues located in renovated tobacco warehouses. The Durham Bulls play in Durham Bulls Athletic Park, which is also located in the district, and the Durham Performing Arts Center attracts award-winning Broadway shows and concerts year-round. Durham is also home to Duke University, Duke University Medical Center and North Carolina Central University. 

A 2017 Durham Resident Satisfaction Survey showed that 81 percent of residents feel that Durham is a good-to-excellent place to live. Durham County also comprises the unincorporated communities of Bahama, Rougemont and Bethesda.

Find out what's going on in Durham.


Orange County

Carrboro
301 W. Main St., 919-942-8541
Population: 21,265
Carrboro is known for its cultural diversity, managed growth, dedication to the arts and Weaver Street Market, a natural foods grocery store. The bustling Carrboro Farmers’ Market is celebrating its 40th year in 2018 and features more than 75 market vendors. Carrboro ranked 11th on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s 2018 list of “The Safest Cities in North Carolina.”

Find out what's going on in Carrboro.


Photo courtesy of UNC-Chapel Hill

Old Well


Chapel Hill
405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 919-968-2743
Population: 59,246
Chapel Hill’s history is tied to the University of North Carolina, which ranked first on Kiplinger’s 2018 list of campuses with the “Best Values in Public Colleges” and 30th among U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges list of national universities. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools boasts the state’s lowest dropout rate and one of its highest graduation rates. In 2017, Chapel Hill was featured in The Guardian’s “Best Towns and Small Cities in the U.S.”

Find out what's going on in Chapel Hill.


Hillsborough
101 E. Orange St., 919-732-1270
Population: 6,568
Rich with American Colonial history, Hillsborough claims more than 100 late 18th- and 19th-century structures and hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. Downtown Hillsborough comes alive with arts and entertainment the last Friday of each warm weather month. Natural attractions include Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area and the Hillsborough Riverwalk.

Find out what's going on in Hillsborough.


Chatham County

Pittsboro
635 East St., 919-542-4621
Population: 4,266
Pittsboro is home to a quaint downtown district and the renowned Fearrington House Inn, a AAA Five Diamond Relais and Châteaux property. The town hosts an old-fashioned Christmas parade the second Sunday in December, and the ever-popular Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance, which takes place biannually in spring and fall 10 miles northwest of town.

Find out what's going on in Pittsboro.


Johnston County

Clayton
111 E. Second St., 919-553-5002
Population: 20,260
Clayton has experienced explosive growth in the last decade, owing to its small-town charm and close proximity to Raleigh. The Clayton Center is the town’s crown jewel, offering a variety of musical and dramatic performances for all ages, and Clayton ranked 10th on the National Council for Home Safety and Security’s 2018 list of “The Safest Cities in North Carolina.”

Find out what's going on in Clayton.


Smithfield
350 E. Market St., 919-934-2116
Population: 12,266
Situated along the Neuse River, Smithfield is home to the Ava Gardner Museum in the town’s historic district, and hosts the annual Ham & Yam Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors in celebration of the region’s agricultural heritage.

Find out what's going on in Smithfield.


Populations are based on July 2016  U.S. Census population estimates, the most recent available at press time.

 

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Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
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Take part in Maple View's annual event that features live music by Back Porch Orchestra & The Mason Lovette Band. Enjoy delicious ice cream specials and award winning dairy products, the...

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900 Old Fayetteville Road
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Discover clay through a safe and engaging activity. Dress for the weather and to get messy or wet. Register online. Choose course #220634.

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
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Monday, July 16; 10:30–11:00 a.m. Practice your shapes and develop your fine motor skills through games and hands-on activities. Then go on a nature hunt to find plants and animals of different...

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Crowder County Park
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

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Enjoy a family-friendly movie. See the website for the movie title. Showings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

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Crabtree Valley Mall
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Athlete and artist Ernie Barnes is known for his colorful, elongated figures and for his special way of making the figures look like they were in motion. Look at some of his paintings, strike a...

Cost: $5/child

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $7 ages 1 and older.

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Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
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Tuesday, July 17; 11:00 a.m. – Noon What's swimming underneath the surface of Crowder's Pond? Explore the animals that call this habitat home in a hands-on pond study. Learn the aquatic food...

Cost: $1/Person

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4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Meet a favorite princess or superhero from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

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Crabtree Valley Mall
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Enjoy the Fun Caravan, a mobile recreation program equipped with a host of fun activities for ages 12 and younger. Enjoy games, arts and crafts, obstacle courses and more.

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Enjoy a Build-A-Bear activity, storytime, games and painting from 11 a.m.-noon and 1-2 p.m.

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Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Contact Name: Jody Smith
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2800 Pickett Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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Take part in a yoga session focusing on strength, flexibility, balance, breathing and relaxation. Ages 10 and older. Registration encouraged.  To register, call 919-245-2536...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
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Cost: Free

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Lake Crabtree County Park
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Cost: Free

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5 E. Edenton St.
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Cost: Free

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Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
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Cost: $6

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Cost: Free

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Ages 7-12 enjoy fashion and design activities from 11 a.m.-noon.; ages 13-18 enjoy the same activities from 1-2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crabtree Valley Mall
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Raleigh, NC  27612
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Cost: Free

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Carrboro Library, Hillsborough Library, Kidzu
900 Old Fayetteville Road
Inside McDougle Middle School
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Library
Telephone: 191-996-93006
Contact Name: Jody Smith
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Learn about sea turtle adaptations for success in the ocean and their incredible life cycle. Carolina Children's Museum is a proud sponsor of this free program provided by Dragonfly Nature...

Cost: Free; donations encouraged

Where:
Devils Ridge Golf Club (In the Players Club)
5107 Linksland Drive
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Website »

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Join award-winning children's book author John Claude Bemis as he shares fun activities for opening up the imagination and coming up with exciting story ideas. Rising 3rd graders and up. 

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

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1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

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Barnes & Noble
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

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Pump It Up Raleigh
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Enjoy activities inspired by Eric Carle's popular book, "The Grouchy Ladybug." Ages are 4-9.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Library, Hillsborough Library, Kidzu
900 Old Fayetteville Road
Inside McDougle Middle School
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Orange County Library
Telephone: 191-996-93006
Contact Name: Jody Smith
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

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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Cost: $7 ages 1 and older.

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Experience the the excitement of wheelchair basketball in preparations for August Madness. Whether your team is practicing for August Madness or you're looking for a fun Friday activity, all...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Campus YMCA 'Cage' Court
304 Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Bridge II Sports
Telephone: 18668802742 x12
Contact Name: Katharine Doyle
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This epic musical is about wishes, family and the consequences of the choices that we make. A childless baker and his wife endeavor to lift their family curse by journeying into the woods,...

Cost: $15/person

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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See the G-rated movie under the stars at Booth Amphitheatre. Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast cars, the legendary Lighting McQueen finds himself pushed out of the sport that...

Cost: $5 ages 13 and older. Free for ages 12 and younger.

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27518
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Enjoy a movie outdoors at the amphitheatre. Take a blanket or lawn chair.  Call the Halle Cultural Arts Center for film title. Pets and alcohol not permitted.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Nature Park Amphitheatre
2600 Evans Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The Halle Cultural Arts Center
Telephone: (919) 249-1120
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Saturday, July 21; 10:00–11:00 a.m. Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call our park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Join staff for a leisurely hike along our trails while learning how to identify plants, insects, birds and any other critters that happen along our path (not stroller accessible, so baby backpacks...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Orange County Partnership for Young Children is partnering with Kidzu Children’s Museum to host Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Kick-Off. Visit us at the table set up outside of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Orange County Partnership for Young Children
Contact Name: Hannah Willcox
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Meet a real turtle and hike to see others. Play turtle games and bring home a rock 'turtle' in a terrarium you design. Ages 3-5 with caregiver. Register online.

Cost: $6

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson Nature Preserve
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Children's booksellers read their favorite picture books. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Kids enjoy arts and crafts. No registration required. Parents/adults must accompany children.

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Little ones enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
5959 Triangle Town Blvd.
Cary, NC  27616
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Saturday, July 21; 1:00–3:00 p.m. Stop by our FREE discovery table to learn about bees! Registration is not required. The display table is located by the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

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

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View the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history and aspects of its preservation. All ages. Registration encouraged online; tickets available inside...

Cost: $5/adult, $3/ ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger.

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Join the Dungeons & Dragons group for awesome fantasy storytelling and action-packed game play over refreshments. Fans and gamers 15 and older are welcome to join the game or watch and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough , NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919.245.2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Enjoy activities inspired by Eric Carle's popular book, "The Grouchy Ladybug." Ages are 4-9.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Library, Hillsborough Library, Kidzu
900 Old Fayetteville Road
Inside McDougle Middle School
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Library
Telephone: 191-996-93006
Contact Name: Jody Smith
Website »

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arcBARKS, the maker of healthy dog treats operated by The ARC of Greensboro, will have free samples for all dogs at this dog- and human-friendly event. Co-sponsor Shoe Crazy Wines will have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Special Treats Chocolate Shop
Timberlyne Shopping Center
1129 Weaver Dairy Rd.,Unit R
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Special Treats
Telephone: 919-883-2151
Contact Name: Dan Friedman
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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Scott Reintgen discusses his newest book, "Nyxia Unleashed."  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 19.0px Calibri; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1...

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

This epic musical is about wishes, family and the consequences of the choices that we make. A childless baker and his wife endeavor to lift their family curse by journeying into the woods,...

Cost: $15/person

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.