Plan a Triangle Family Staycation


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Does summer travel conjure images of highway traffic, flight delays or long lines at amusement parks? One way to avoid such hassles and make the most of lazy summer days - while also saving money on hotel and transportation costs - is to plan a "staycation" instead of a vacation.

There are many reasons to spend your vacation in the Triangle, not the least of which is that there are so many things to do with kids. Approach your staycation as you would any other family trip: Research your options, think creatively, and explore new activities and attractions. Here are some suggestions for themed summer staycations that will show you a good time close to home.

Cook up some funa-staycation-carrboro.jpg

Summer's bounty makes this a great time to explore local foods. With so many Triangle farmer's markets and farms there are myriad options for sampling, purchasing and picking fresh summer fruits and veggies. The Carrboro Farmer's Market offers regular family events throughout the season, including storytellers and the Tomato Day festival July 13. At right, The Carrboro Farmers Market hosts Tomato Day in July. Photo courtesy of the Carrboro Farmers Market

Molly Gold, Raleigh mom of three, frequently visits the State Farmers Market. "It's fun to time a visit with special activities that they are celebrating, like Watermelon Day, where you might meet the North Carolina Watermelon Princess and get to see prize-winning watermelons weighing more than all the rest," she says. Gold allows each child to pick fresh fruits and vegetables to use in a recipe they will cook together. "We always start with the ingredients for homemade salsa," she says.

Find an extensive list of farmers markets in the Triangle area at in our roundup, Farmers Markets Grow in the Triangle.

You can also go directly to the farm to purchase or pick your own food. Dorette Snover, co-owner of C'est Si Bon cooking school in Chapel Hill, recommends Maple View Farm in Hillsborough, where you can not only see the cows, but purchase milk and ice cream.

Another option is to sign up for a family cooking class at a local cooking school. Snover says she can plan a weekend cooking trip for your entire family. "We'd begin with a family lesson on Friday evening, then send you off to a farm stay and exploring, or cooking with local ingredients," she says.

Snover recommends Fickle Creek Farm in Efland for a bed and breakfast experience that includes seasonal produce, pigs, sheep and livestock.

Explore art for all

f-paperhand-puppet_1.jpgIf budding Van Goghs live in your house, spend a week exploring and making art. The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh offers indoor and outdoor viewing opportunities. Browse inside the museum, then head outdoors to Museum Park, which features 160 acres of woodlands and creeks, biking and walking trails, and works of art installed throughout. Take sketchbooks and encourage your children to sketch pictures and sculptures they like.

The North Carolina Museum of Art also hosts free family tours Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m., preschool classes on Thursdays at varying times, and themed Family Fun Saturdays twice a month at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (Above, at left, The Paperhand Puppets entertain visitors with a parade at the N.C. Museum of Art.  Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art; Christopher Ciccone, photographer)

Other art museums in the Triangle, such as the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, also offer family tours, programs and events.

Another artistic option is to visit the Golden Belt in Durham, a reclaimed mill space where working artists open their studios monthly on the first Wednesday and second Saturday of each month. Jessie Brown, a management assistant at Golden Belt, recommends that parents stroll through the studios first, "to make sure they're comfortable with the work on display. Some pieces may be a little mature for younger audiences, but I think kids can be diverted around the building easily enough."

Golden Belt also offers a free, outdoor, family-friendly concert series on the third Friday of each summer month.

Brown also recommends visiting The Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit, creative use center in Durham that offers a make-and-take room for budding artists, programs and events.

At the end of your art week, host a gallery opening at your house, complete with sparkling grape juice for the kids. Hang a large sheet of white paper on the wall and invite young guests to create a decorative mural.

Get close to nature

Consider a staycation focused on nature. Find field guides at your local library or online (allaboutbirds.org/guide/search) to identify local flora and birds. Go on a scavenger hunt for flowers and trees at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, Coker Arboretum in Chapel Hill or Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham. Snap photos and encourage your children to create their own field notebooks.

Ilina Ewan, Raleigh mother of two, likes to take her school-age boys on hikes along the trail at the Eno River State  Park in Durham and Umstead State Park in Raleigh. Go on a hiking expedition at some of the many trails in the Triangle (search Hiking Trails at carolinaparent.com for a list of kid-friendly trails), and throw in a camping "trip" in your backyard. The kids will love it - especially if you make s'mores.

For animal life, visit the black bears, red wolves and lemurs at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, visit the

North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, or schedule a tour at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham or Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro. Public tours are also available at Carolina Tiger Rescue on Saturdays and Sundays.

Relive history

a-staycation-duke-homestead.jpgNorth Carolina is a cradle of U.S. history. Consider planning a staycation to learn more about the role of the Tarheel State during the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Check out books from the library about both wars and read them together. Visit the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh to explore its Civil War and "Call to Arms" exhibits, which present overviews of the state's involvement in the wars and military heritage.

Learn about the Civil War's history in Durham at civilwardurham.com. Print Civil War trail markers (in the website's "Experience" section) and visit sites such as Bennett Place, where the negotiation for the biggest Civil War troop surrender took place, and Duke Homestead, with the early home, factories and farm where Washington Duke first manufactured tobacco products. Duke (Photo at left shows agrarian re-enactments at Duke Homestead State Historic Site. Photo courtesy of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources) Don't forget Historic Stagville, the site of one of the largest prewar plantations in the South.

In Raleigh, visit the Raleigh City Museum and take a historic trolley tour to learn more about historic sites such as Mordecai Historic Park, the site of Andrew Jackson's birthplace. Stop by the Joel Lane Museum House to learn more about "The father of Raleigh," a Revolutionary War patriot.

Finally, be sure to collect souvenir brochures and maps and take lots of photos during your staycation adventure. Scan printed items and upload pictures to make a scrapbook. It will be just the thing to pull out when you and the kids want to relive warm memories on a cold January day.

Mara Gorman is a freelance writer who blogs about family travel at motherofalltrips.com.
This article was updated July 3, 2013.

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Calendar

August 2019

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day. Come to the Finley Center anytime during the day to share some jokes with the park community. A large board will be set up in the Exhibit Hall where...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

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Enjoy live music, kid activities, a taco eating contest and The Best Taco contest.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

See the Game Grumps play games, make jokes and more in this stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 11-17 learn how to make foods inspired by Asia. Register online. Choose course #124729.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

More information

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Enjoy storytime with Amy Godfrey. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Locopops Dessert Cafe
2618 Hillsborough St.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Dragonflies love to eat flying bugs, especially mosquitoes and gnats!  Discover the different parts of a dragonfly's body through a colorful craft, learn about its life cycle, and play fun...

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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Join us at Harris Lake County Park as we explore the wonders of water through educational activities and some for just plain fun! We will dip for critters in our pond to discover what lives...

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

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Come to Learning Express Falls Pointe for an instructive class on how to make your very own Do-A-Dot Art creation.

Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Falls Pointe
9660 Falls of Neuse Rd
#130
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Express Falls Pointe
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
Website »

More information

Enjoy tea time for the whole family. Samples of hot tea, cold tea, and kombucha will be provided, along with games and family fun.

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
Website »

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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Bring your own poles or borrow one of ours through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are provided. All...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

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Take the fast track to nature in this hands-on study of ecology. Ages 8-12. Register online. Choose course #124972.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Design a T-shirt. Materials provided. Grades 3-5. Register at the library or call 919-245-2539.

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 »

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We are so excited for our next Durham Night Market at Pine & Poplar at The Wine Feed. Over 40 local makers will be selling their handmade products. There will be food trucks, live music...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Wine Feed
307 S Roxboro St
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
Website »

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Film to be announced. *Actual time to be determined by sunset. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics to enjoy a movie under the stars in our beautiful garden!

Cost: Free

Where:
GREGG MUSEUM OF ART & DESIGN
1903 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Sponsor: Gregg Museum of Art & Design
Telephone: 919-515-3503
Contact Name: Gregg Museum
Website »

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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Personality Festival is a Roxboro tradition. Enjoy amusements rides along Main Street, food vendors, singers, dancers, craft and merchandise vendors, local businesses and more. Little Miss...

Cost: Free

Where:
Uptown Roxboro
211 N. Main St.
Roxboro, NC  27573
View map »


Sponsor: Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 336-599-8333
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

More information

Bring your friends and family to Learning Express for a Family Game Night. There will be several games available to play including popular board games, card games, arcade games, and dice...

Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Falls Pointe
9660 Falls of Neuse Rd
#130
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Express Falls Pointe
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
Website »

More information

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. Choose course #124903.

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Take the family for a night of jigs, reels and anything Celtic. 

Cost: $3/person

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

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Shop for local handmade arts and crafts from local vendors. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

More information

Hundreds of artisans from across the Southeast, festival foods, demonstrations, a kids' play area and live music highlight the town's signature arts and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Town Hall Campus
316 N. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

The North Carolina Boys Choir and Girls Choir Half-Day Camp and Music Workshop is open to public (all children in our community between 7 and 14 years of age). Register online. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
Binkley Baptist Church
1712 Willow Dr
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Boys Choir and Girls Choir
Telephone: 919-239-9083
Contact Name: Robert Unger
Website »

More information

Celebrate North Carolina farming culture and history at Duke Homestead. Don't miss the looping contest and Hornworm Race. This event features live music, local arts and crafts vendors, hands-on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate North Carolina farming culture and history at Duke Homestead. Don't miss the looping contest and Hornworm Race. This event features live music, local arts and crafts vendors, hands-on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Personality Festival is a Roxboro tradition. Enjoy amusements rides along Main Street, food vendors, singers, dancers, craft and merchandise vendors, local businesses and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Uptown Roxboro
211 N. Main St.
Roxboro, NC  27573
View map »


Sponsor: Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 336-599-8333
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

More information

Play children's games from the past. No registration rquired. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are...

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for treats, music, art and more. See a special exhibit showcasing the work of Artspace's talented young artists.

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30 & 3:00 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

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


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Come into Learning Express North Hills for a trading event. Socialize with others who collect Pokemon and/or LOL dolls and negotiate for rare cards.

Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Falls Pointe
9660 Falls of Neuse Rd
#130
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Express Falls Pointe
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
Website »

More information

Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online. Choose course #124931.

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

Join Horne Memorial UMC & First Baptist Church of Clayton for an evening of Christian fellowship, inspirational music, free food and family fun. All proceeds benefit Clayton Area Ministries...

Cost: Free

Where:
Clayton Town Square
100 W. Main Street
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: First Baptist Church of Clayton and Horne Memorial UMC of Clayton
Telephone: 919-218-4010
Contact Name: Melissa Dooley
Website »

More information

East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
Website »

More information

North Carolina State University celebrates the beginning of a new academic year with good, music and family-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC  27607


Website »

More information

Caribbean culture and cuisine showcase this 7th annual festival that features masqueraders, arts and craft vendors, live music and a kids corner. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
400 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC
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Website »

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.