Kids Camps In Carolinas and Virginia Offer Unique Overnight Experiences


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Looking for something different for your camper this summer? Not all children fit into a traditional overnight camp formula. Some kids would rather set out on a sailing adventure than sing around a campfire or play Capture the Flag.

Several unique camps in the Carolinas and Virginia offer overnight experiences unlike any other. Consider these camp experiences, which mix fun with out-of-the-ordinary learning.

Shadow Hill’s Summer Camp for Kids and Their Dogs
shadowhillshelties.com • Jackson Springs, N.C.

Kids can bring their best furry friends to camp with them at Shadow Hill Farm’s summer camp, which covers 134 acres in Jackson Springs. Jane Hammett-Bright, who has decades of experience raising and showing Shelties, works with kids and their dogs on everything from agility courses to grooming

“Parents are floored that their child and the dog learned all that they did,” she says.

All dogs are welcome as long as they are kid- and dog-friendly. Dog-and-child pairs stay together in a large building that Hammett-Bright recently constructed using the proceeds from winning the “Fan Favorite” award on the television show, Survivor: Nicaragua. Campers get up early to work with dogs on agility courses, and Hammett-Bright also takes them swimming and camping in the Uwharrie Mountains. She shares her Survivor experience by teaching campers how to build fires and constructing Survivor-inspired games. All meals are homemade and if the timing is right, campers may get to see a litter of newborn puppies.

Appalachian State University Forensic Science Camp
conferences-camps.appstate.edu/youth-camps • Boone, N.C.

Forget campfires and s’mores. At Appalachian State University’s forensic science camp, campers may spend an evening detonating explosives or making a DNA necklace. Designed for high school students, the camp offers a real-life look at what happens to evidence after it’s collected from a crime scene. Students learn from forensic professionals representing all areas of law enforcement, which could include bomb squads or digital evidence examiners. Crime scene investigation comes to life in the lab where students can investigate a suspicious arson, detect and classify fingerprints, analyze trace evidence and more. The university opens up its high-tech equipment for campers, allowing them to use scanning electron microscopes and polarized light microscopes to examine fusion methods of explosives such as TNT. The camp is staffed by ASU chemistry faculty members, and students stay on-campus (with staff supervision) at ASU for the three-and-one-half-day camp sessions.

RV Sea Lab Summer Camp
rvsealab.com • Wilmington, N.C.

Summer camp hits the water at RV Sea Lab, where campers spend up to five days sailing a research vessel up and down the Intercoastal Waterway. Students have likened the trip to experiencing what they’ve seen on the Discovery Channel. “The kids get an adventure,” says Matt Perkins, owner, founder and captain of RV Sea Lab. “We are overseeing them, but they live on the boat and crew it.”

Perkins packs in plenty of adventure, including surfing, exploring islands only accessible by boat and using an overboard camera to inventory ocean species. The camp is heavy on science that will benefit students interested in studying chemistry and oceanography, but Perkins says many students come on board for the thrill and freedom of the trip.

“It’s sort of like a literary experience, like they’re Tom Sawyer,” he says. Popular stops include Beaufort and Shackleford Banks, where campers likely will encounter wild ponies.

Camp Motorsport
campmotorsport.com • Clover, Va.

No driver’s license is needed at Camp Motorsport, where kids ages 9-16 can spend a week driving dirt karts, half-scale stock cars and racing go-karts. Campers get behind the wheel at least twice every day, taking a vehicle off-road or around a paved track. Drivers of all levels are welcome, from newbies to kids considering a motorsports career.

Teenagers who are closer to legal driving age can receive extra training in defensive driving and skills needed to get a learner’s permit or license. The Go-Kart Racing Challenge offers a week of competitive go-kart racing. Between driving sessions, campers stay busy with paintball and daily swims. They return home with more than just improved driving skills — the camp’s activities teach kids math, science, technology and engineering related to motorsports.

Camp Woodie
wildlifeedcenter.org/camp-woodie • Pinewood, S.C.

An evening at Camp Woodie could involve anything from tug-of-war over a tractor tire to navigating the night sky. The weeklong camp, established in 1995 and overseen by the S.C. Waterfowl Association, mixes fun and games with hands-on education about wildlife, hunting and the outdoors.

“(We teach kids) about how beautiful it is to step outside in God’s creation and to love, respect and use natural resources wisely,” says Ed Paul, Camp Woodie’s director.

Campers learn how to operate in the outdoors, whether they are practicing hunting safety with firearms or figuring out where the best fishing is on a body of water. Outdoor survival classes teach campers everything from how to build a fire to how to navigate by the stars.

Many campers arrive with little experience with the outdoors, but leave with increased confidence and appreciation for nature, Paul says. “They learn just how small we are when we step outside, but also how large of a role we can have in keeping the outdoors a place for the next generation.”

While specialty overnight camps can cost up to $1,200 for five days, the experience is often life-changing. Kids who build on the skills they learn at camp can earn everything from college scholarships to counselor jobs when they are older — a worthy investment in their fun and future.

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer based in Charlotte. She has two elementary school age children.

Unique Day Camps Closer to Home

Camp Moo Gung Hwa
koreanculturecamp.net; Raleigh
Covers Korean culture for Korean-American children.

Cirque de Vol Studios Circus FUNdamentals Camp
cirquedevol.com; Raleigh
Teaches circus arts including aerial silks, trapeze and juggling.

Doll Camps at the Historic Polk House
facebook.com/polkhouse; Raleigh
Kids enjoy colonial games, crafts and stories with American Girl dolls.

Duke Lemur Center’s Leaping Lemur Summer Science Camp
lemur.duke.edu; Durham
Campers learn about primate evolution, natural history, research and conservation.

Girls Rock NC: Rock and Roll Day Camp for Girls
girlsrocknc.org; Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham
Girls participate in music and empowerment workshops.

Lil’ Chef Kids Cooking Studio
lilchefraleigh.com; Raleigh
Little chefs learn about cooking, food chemistry and more.

The N.C. School of Traditional Music: Folk Music Summer Camp for Kids
trianglemusicschool.com; Durham
Campers discover folk music and play historical games.

Town of Cary Camps
townofcary.org; Cary
Choose from camps that focus on bluegrass, BMX biking, Civil War history, photography and more.

Here’s one a little farther away, but worth the drive:

Junior Vet Camp
tripleplayfarm.com; Davidson
Dr. Robbie Whaley of Piedmont Equine Mobile Veterinary Services offers three days of vet camp for kids ages 10-16 who have a “serious interest” in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.

For more camp resources, read our feature, Arts-Based Camps Invite Kids to Paint, Act or Dance Through Summer.

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October 2018

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
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

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N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Take part in a 10k, 5k or 1-mile-fun-run to raise funds for local mental health research. Register online. The event also features food and kids' activities. Register online.

Cost: $30-$75. Free for ages 5 and younger.

Where:
The Angus Barn
9401 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Enjoy pottery demonstrations, kiln openings, raku firings, glass blowing demos, food trucks, live music, a raffle and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Cedar Creek Gallery
1150 Fleming Rd.
Creedmoor, NC  27522
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Shop antiques, crafts and art, and enjoy food trucks at this artisan and vintage market in downtown Cary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
100 W. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Contact Name: Leslie & Jessica
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Ages 5-8 embrace science and nature while developing skills and knowledge about the natural world. Register online.

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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Kids (ages 6-10) learn to identify the tracks and skulls of common animals that live in or near the preserve. Make a plaster cast of a track to take home. Weather permitting, take a hike to...

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: Wilkerson staff
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Explore the uses of pumpkins, past and present, and study pumpkins inside and out. Paint a small pumpkin to take home. All ages. Meet at the Upper Pavilion. Registration required for all family...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Enjoy live music and delicious soups, breads, sandwiches and desserts from some of Chapel Hill and Carrboro's leading chefs. Unique, handcrafted bowls donated by local artists will also be...

Cost: $15-$75

Where:
Weaver Street Market Carrboro
101 E Weaver St
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: TABLE
Telephone: (919) 636-4860
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Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
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North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

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Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
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North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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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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This event, designed for academic students with disabilities in grades 6-12 who are performing at or near grade level, gives attendees a chance to meet role models with disabilities who have...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
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North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
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North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver take a relaxing stroll to experience nature. Register online. 

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

Cost: Free

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 a craft fair presented by the Junior League of Raleigh. See website for hours and to purchase advance tickets.  

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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In this workshop, students will observe that infographics are often used to raise awareness or sell products in social media, and are more easily searched and viewed on the Pinterest platform....

Cost: Free: students must register

Where:
Caktus Group
108 Morris St.
Ste 2
Durham, NC  27701
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Celebrate Raleigh's creativity under the beautiful lights and cobblestone streets of City Market. Find locally-made goods and enjoy a night filled with music and entertainment with over 30...

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
306 Parham St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Contact Name: Sara Buxton
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Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
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North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a craft fair presented by the Junior League of Raleigh. See website for hours and to purchase advance tickets.  

Cost: $10/person

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

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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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

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Read the book by Rebecca Emberley and build your own monster out of recyclable materials. All ages with adult. Registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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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
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy live German music, traditional Bavarian food and fare, German cars, a "Kinder Platz" zone wiener dog races, nail-driving competitions and more. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5-$20

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Mothers and sons wear their favorite costumes at this event featuring a costume contest, games, ice cream and dancing. Ages 5-12. Register online. Choose course #116813.

Cost: $21/parent and child pair; $11 additional child

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
123 Middle Creek Park Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
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Take the family to carve pumpkins and take part in a pumpkin-carving contest later that evening, Prizes awarded for scariest, funniest and most original pumpkin creation. Enjoy a video game...

Cost: Free

Where:
TheeDesign
7901 Strickland Dr.
Suite 112
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: TheeDesign
Telephone: 919-341-8901
Contact Name: Lauren Elliott
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Friday, October 19; 6:00–7:00 p.m. Did you know there are over 40,000 different species of spiders! Join us as we explore a few arachnids found in our park as we search out these 8-legged...

Cost: $1/Person

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


Telephone: 919-662-2850

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

North Carolina's signature event features live music, carnival rides, delicious food, kids' entertainment and more. See website for hours and ticket prices.  

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a walk to benefit the Triangle Festival of Hope. Proceeds benefit and support caregivers and families living with dementia in North Carolina. The event features live music, kids'...

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N. First Ave.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Sponsor: Dementia Alliance of North Carolina
Telephone: 919-832-3732
Contact Name: Kacy Hall
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Enjoy a craft fair presented by the Junior League of Raleigh. See website for hours and to purchase advance tickets.  

Cost: $10/person

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


Website »

More information

Take the family for live entertainment, a bounce house, a costume contest, trick or treat training, princess hair braiding, face painting, music and more. The Aspen School's preschool programs...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Aspen School for Exceptional Children
1050 A NW Maynard Road
Cary, NC  27513
View map »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver take a relaxing stroll to experience 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

Step back in time with 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Preregistration encouraged. Purchase tickets at the mill. 

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Children ages 6 & un

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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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Website »

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Join costumed interpreters Jon and Karena Potter to learn 19th-century country dances. Drop-in program; registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Enjoy a festival celebrating work, food and harvest. This event explores the season for all people on one of North Carolina's largest plantations, through games, music, food,...

Cost: $5/person. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy.
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy live German music, traditional Bavarian food and fare, German cars, a "Kinder Platz" zone wiener dog races, nail-driving competitions and more. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $5-$20

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Triangle Beagle Rescue of NC hosts Beaglefest. Enjoy vendors, food, dog-related games, a dog costume contest, swag, photos with your pup and with beagles. All leashed dogs welcome.

Cost: $10 for adults; $5 for children under 12

Where:
Sunny Acres Pet Resort
5908 US-70 BUS
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Beagle Rescue of NC
Telephone: 919 760 0025
Contact Name: Leann
Website »

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Learn about the history of candy at a display table. Taste penny candy and take a trip around the globe to explore the world’s favorite sugary treats. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Explore the vegetable patch for pumpkins, hear stories about gourd life cycle and uses, try roasted pumpkin seeds, and decorate a mini-pumpkin to take home. Ages 5-10 with adult. Register...

Cost: $9/member, $12/nonmember. Free for accompanying adult.

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
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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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Website »

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Mark your calendars! Our annual Halloween event, Creepy Crabtree, will return in October! This free park wide event will investigate the darker side of nature. Join the freakish festivities,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

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Join us on October 20, 2018, for the Harmony Playground Gala fundraiser at the Farm at 42, 1075 Lynchburg Road,  Selma, NC, from 5 pm - 9:30 pm.  The event will benefit the first...

Cost: $100 per person

Where:
The Farm at 42
1075 Lynch Road
Selma, NC  27576
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Community Recreational Foundation
Telephone: 919 589 2523 x707
Contact Name: Jacqui Pomales-Moody
Website »

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Take a walk with a park naturalist to explore the woods and fields at this special time of day.  Preregister online.

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson Nature Preserve staff
Website »

More information

Join the Raleigh Community Orchestra as it presents its fall concert, “Where Have I Heard That? Music from Cartoons, Commericals, and Classics” for all ages.

Cost: $10/adult, $5/youth, one free youth per adult ticket

Where:
Providence Baptist Church
6339 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Community Orchestra
Website »

More information

Each year over 35,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. Interact with entomologists and other scientists so you can continue learning about the...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: BASF, Terminix, and Walmart
Contact Name: Kari Wouk
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