Online Resources Help You Plan & Prepare Meals


Published:

Sitting down to a relaxed meal with family members is nourishing in every way. Of course behind that image of serenity, there's often a frantic parent scrambling to plan, prepare and provide the food. Now an avalanche of apps and websites promises to simplify these tasks.

Zeroing in on the one that works best for your family is almost as challenging as finding a recipe everyone likes, so the following list is organized around different needs. Most of these websites and apps are free and offer recipes, menu planning and grocery lists. Subscription plans often offer free samples. Before making a commitment to any particular program, however, try a few meals to make sure they match your family's tastes, lifestyle and budget.

Give me a plan!

Howdoesshedoit.com, a website designed by a husband/wife team, allows users to make a collection of recipes from the team's suggestions or by importing your own ideas. Drag meals into the menu plan, hit a button and get a grocery list. The website is free with sign-up. The site's app is PlanShopEat and costs $2.99. Available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, version 3.0 or later.

Thefresh20.com emails a weekly plan for five dinners that use only 20 fresh, in-season ingredients. Choose from classic, gluten-free, lunch or vegetarian/vegan plans. Cost is $5 per month.

Supercook.com generates a list of recipes that use ingredients and leftovers you already have, based on what you enter into a search engine. You can also filter recipes to eliminate those that include nuts, gluten, meat, dairy, fish or shellfish.

Thescramble.com is firmly grounded in the realities of family life. Subscribers get recipes for five dinners a week with an emphasis on seasonal produce. A newsletter includes tips about problems ranging from picky eaters to tight food budgets. After a two-week free trial, subscriptions cost $7/month for three months or $3/month for three years.

Relishrelish.com sends subscribers 15 tasty, upscale dinner recipes. You pick what looks appealing and create an instant grocery list. For $7 per month or $60 a year, you also get a mobile app that generates grocery lists, scales recipes and nutritional information.

Foodonthetable.com creates a meal plan that takes advantage of specials at local supermarkets where you shop and the foods your family likes to eat.

Recipes galore

Ziplist.com doesn't plan your menu, but it provides one-stop access to thousands of recipes from other websites. Once you make your meal plan, a single click adds the ingredients to your shopping list. Ziplist.com also offers a free app for iPhone (version 4.3 or later) and Android devices (versions vary).

BigOven.com draws its 170,000 recipes from the social network of the same name. Joining the community is free and allows you to build a "Try It Soon" list and comment on recipes. For $20/year or $2/month, you get access to an ad-free version with a grocery-list generator, nutrition information and the "Leftover Wizard." The app is free and available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, NOOK Windows Phone and Windows (versions vary).

PepperPlate.com helps you create a collection of recipes by uploading favorites from other websites and tagging them with your own search terms. A planner encourages you to schedule three meals a day for an entire month. The grocery list can be organized to follow your path around your favorite market. Free for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (version 3.2 or later) and Android devices (versions vary).

AlltheCooks.com is a social bulletin board where passionate cooks post their favorite recipes ala Pinterest. Their app connects you to forums on the website where you can post questions about a recipe or preparation technique and get friendly advice - usually within minutes. Free for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android devices (versions vary).

Myrecipes.com features tested recipes from popular cookbooks and magazines. Use the "My Pantry" feature to identify recipes made with ingredients you have on hand. Sign up to receive weekly or daily menu ideas as well as special features that help you save money, organize and review recipes, create shopping lists and get alerts about deals at the local supermarket.

Dinnerspinner is an addictive game-like app from Allrecipes.com. Fill in a different variable - what you have in the fridge, how long you have before dinner - then shake your phone to find recipes recommended by other home cooks. Free for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (version 4.3 or later), Android and Windows Phone. Dinnerspinner Pro ($2.99) allows you to you share recipes and generate grocery lists.

Cookingplanit.com is ideal for parents who need a cooking refresher course. Each recipe uses simple steps and coordinates with other dishes so your recipes are ready at the same time. The site also suggests well-balanced meals and creates shopping lists based on your choices. $2.99. Available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (versions vary).

Special circumstances

eMeals.com offers menu plans and shopping lists built around dietary preferences ranging from gluten-free and clean eating to low-carb and Paleo. Plans start at $58 for a year of dinners. Pay extra for lunch and breakfast menus.

Superhealthykids.com is run by two moms with an infectious enthusiasm for getting more fruits and vegetables into their kids. In addition to menus, recipes and shopping lists, the subscription pays for nutrition information and bonus items like a list of best grocery prices and a food and veggie intake tracker. $10/month or $100/year.

100daysofrealfood.com encourages parents to feed their families more natural foods. Calculated for a family of four, the meal plans include breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner menus for less than $170 a week. Grocery lists don't include any food that has more than five ingredients on the label. Get four free weeks when you "like" the site on Facebook.

Onceamonthmom.com offers guidance to cooks who are willing to invest 8-12 hours to create meals for an entire month. For $72/year or $8/month subscribers get menus, instructions, grocery lists and labels so you won't lose track of what's in the freezer.

Fooducate.com rates foods based on ingredients, calories and allergens. An "alternatives" tab suggests better options when your first choice gets a low grade. Free apps for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad (version 5.0 or later) and Android devices (versions vary) allow you to scan bar codes in the store.

Chemical Cuisine, created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, makes sense of unpronounceable ingredients. The app instantly tells you whether an ingredient is benign or should be avoided. Available for 99 cents for iPod, iPhone and iPad (version 4.0 or later) and Android devices (versions vary).

If there's an app that peels vegetables, we couldn't find it. Still, the apps and websites listed here definitely make it easier to give healthy and delicious answers to the age-old question: What's for dinner?

Carolyn Jabs raised three computer-savvy kids, including one with special needs. She has been writing a column about growing up with technology for 10 years.

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May 2020

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Where:
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Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
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Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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Telephone: 833-202-7626
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View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

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Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
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820 E. Williams St.
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

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Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

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Cost: Donation Based

Where:
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Sponsor: Lionheart Fitness Kids
Telephone: 951-347-1555
Contact Name: Godfrey Griffin
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

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


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Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
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Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
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More information

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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Lionheart Fitness Kids is offering fun sports and fitness classes for children ages 2-6!  We usually provide these classes at schools and parks throughout the Triangle.  However, with the...

Cost: Donation Based

Where:
Online Classes
, NC


Sponsor: Lionheart Fitness Kids
Telephone: 951-347-1555
Contact Name: Godfrey Griffin
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

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


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

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Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Race Director
Website »

More information

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Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
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More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
View map »


Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

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The Engage Art Contest is a juried competition for original Visual Art, Music Video, Film and Performing Arts. The topic is the Spiritual Battle described in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online
PO Box 78951
Charlotte, NC  28271
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Sponsor: Engage Art Contest
Telephone: 980-999-1447
Contact Name: Ranika Chaney
Website »

More information

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
Website »

More information

PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

More information

PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

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


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Join one of our talented Mid-South Fencers’ Club coaches for a one hour virtual lesson to the fast paced and exciting sport of Olympic Fencing! This will be a FREE ONLINE class. All you need is...

Cost: free

Where:
Mid-South Fencers' Club ONLINE
125 N. Gregson St.
DURHAM, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Mid-South Fencers' Club
Telephone: 919-286-3100
Contact Name: Jeff Kallio
Website »

More information

It's time to play... TAKEOUT BINGO!!!  Take a screenshot or download the game board. Mark off the locations you visit. Share your progress on Facebook and Instagram using #CRTakeoutBingo. Send...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Crossroads Plaza
Crossroad Blvd
Suite 215
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Plaza/ Kimco Realty
Telephone: 864-979-2291
Contact Name: Katie Earnhardt
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

Get your summer vibes going at the 1st Annual Hubb’s Beach Blast at Hubb’s Farm in Clinton, NC.  Hubb’s Beach Blast will feature two of beach music industry’s top groups, Jim Quick and...

Cost: 20-50

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 US HWY 421 N
Clinton, NC  28328
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Sponsor: Hubb's Farm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
Website »

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