Triangle Places for Family Fun in Winter

The Triangle offers lots of play escapes where kids can create and learn — and many outings are free


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North Carolina Museum of History lobby

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of History

Winter may seem like a tough time to find play escapes with your kids, but not in the Triangle. Here are suggestions for fun outings with kids during the colder weather months.

Play and Learn at a Museum

Photo of the Museum of Life and Science's Hideaway Woods exhibit courtesy of the Museum of Life and Science


Many museums in the Triangle are designed to inspire children's imagination and learning with hands-on exploration. Here's a look at some current exhibits at a few local museums.

The Museum of Life and Science, in Durham, has indoor and outdoor exhibits that bring science to life for kids. Head to the insectarium, where an "insect-cam" lets you watch and hear as caterpillar eats food. Climb to the top of a treehouse at Hideway Woods, a 2-acre, forested escape featuring eight interconnected treehouses. Venture into the tropical paradise of the Butterfly House, where 1,000 butterflies flit among exotic plants. Explore the wild to see black bears, red wolves and exotic lemurs up close. Step back in time millions of years ago with your little ones for a walk along the Dinosaur Trail

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh has four floors of exhibits featuring different parts of North Carolina (free admission) and special traveling exhibits (for a fee). The Nature Research Center, an 80,000-square-foot free-admission wing, makes scientific research accessible with hands-on activities. Visit the center's SECU Daily Planet, a three-story multimedia space that links virtual to real nature and offers live programming on breaking science news. The center houses a 40 x 40 foot-high definition screen, where scientists present their work, offering impressive views of the universe.

In downtown Raleigh, Marbles Kids Museum's exhibits encourage imaginative play and creativity. In Around Town, children have a chance to slip into the lives of grown-ups, from bus drivers to firefighters and farmers. They can shop at a grocery store, be a chef or act on Broadway, all in pretend settings. Other areas of the museum include Splash! offering hands-on experiences with water, and IdeaWorks, where children can design, create and build structures, vehicles, simple machines and everyday products. Learn about more exhibits here. The museum also offers an IMAX theater.

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh offers special programming for children, from crafts to tours, and a museum park that covers 160 acres of fields, woodlands, and creeks, with trails that feature outdoor art on a grand scale. Admission to the Museum's permanent collection of art from around the world and access to the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is free. There is a charge for some special exhibitions and programs, such as concerts, films, classes, and performances.

Kidzu Children's Museum in Chapel Hill offers creative play for with exhibits that invite them to engage in real-life activities, from gardening and construction to painting and puppetry. Visit Kidzu's website.


Attend Free Carolina Hurricanes Practices

Are your children hockey fans? Catch a Carolina Hurricanes practice session at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. Check the schedule to see when public practices are in session.


Splash in a Public Swimming Pool

What better way to escape on a cold and dark day than to jump into a sparkling light-filled pool? If your family likes to swim, head to a pool for inexpensive exercise. Some facilities offer special equipment for kids. In 2012, The Buffalo Road Aquatic Center opened with a three-story waterslide, lazy river, water vortex, water basketball, water volleyball, and three lap lanes. The zero-depth entry has a tot-size play area including water tumble buckets, a water curtain, and tot-size slide.

Find a public pool that's open year-round near your home:


Venture Out on a Nature Hike or Bike Ride

Photo of American Tobacco Trail courtesy of Carolina Parent staff


Outdoor activities offer a way to get moving if it's not too cold or rainy out. Check out one of these nearby hiking trails kids will enjoy you can see things you normally can't because many of the trees are bare. Visit our Daily Calendar for special nature outings geared for children any day of the week and browse our Readers' Favorites for the Best Family Places to Get Moving and Be Active for more ideas.

If you like to go on outdoor excursions with just your family, check out the growing Capital Area Greenway Trail in the Triangle. Winding through the woods, the Capital Area Greenway Trail offers a network of public open spaces and recreational trails, where any day you'll find families walking, jogging, skating, hiking, bird watching, studying nature and fishing. Take a picnic for more outdoor fun. The trails connect many of Raleigh's parks.


Head to a Storytime

Local public libraries and bookstores feature lots of story times each week, some with crafts, music and discussion. Story times help children make new friends, and provide a chance for parents to meet each other. They're usually free! Search "storytime" in our Daily Calendar to pull up a slew of options.


Step Back in Time at a North Carolina Historic Site

Visit the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources website to learn more about state historic sites that host activities and living history events for kids. In Durham, you'll find these three fascinating places:

  • Bennett Place in Durham, which is home to a simple farmhouse that was the site of the largest troop surrender of the American Civil War.
  • Duke Homestead in Durham, where you can see the early home, factories, and farm where Washington Duke first grew and processed tobacco. (Pictured at right, photo courtesy of N.C. Department of Cultural Resources)
  • Historic Stagville in Durham, where you'll find the late 18th-century Bennehan House, four rare slave houses, a pre-Revolutionary War farmer's house, a huge timber framed barn, and the Bennehan Family cemetery.

Get Out of Town

chimps-added-2013nczoo.jpg

One-year-old chimpanzees Genie (left) and Gigi (right) press their faces to the glass in the N.C. Zoo's chimp exhibit during their first day on exhibit.

Photo courtesy of Tom Gillespie/North Carolina Zoo


Visit the North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro offers 500 acres of exhibits with more than 1,100 different animals from North America and Africa. The zoo is home to one of the largest chimpanzee troops in U.S. zoos, and has recently added four new chimps.

Find Out Where to Ski, Tube and Snowboard

One of the best things about living in the Triangle is our proximity to the mountains. In less than five hours, snow lovers can find skiing, snowboarding and snow-tubing fun. Browse this roundup of different ski and/or tubing resorts in North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia within a six-hour drive of the Triangle.

Check Out 15 Must-Visit Small Towns in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to many quaint towns rich in history and natural beauty that provide an opportunity for relaxation and family togetherness, without the noise and traffic of larger cities. If you love the small-town vibe, pack a suitcase to discover the irresistible charm of these road-trip worthy destinations.

 

Updated Jan. 13, 2018

 

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Calendar

March 2019

The Cary Kennel Club, Alamance Kennel Club, Durham Kennel Club, Raleigh Kennel Club and Fayetteville Kennel Club join forces to bring dog lovers a variety of dog competitions, obedience and rally...

Cost: $5/person

Where:
North Carolina Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

The Vernal Equinox signals the beginning of Spring. It is the point when there are exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness at the equator. Mark the change of seasons by heading to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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More information

Enjoy the museum's annual celebration of flowers. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13/members and $18/nonmembers. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
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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The Raleigh Boychoir will reach new heights as our choristers and community present Dr. Tim Sharp’s “High Lonesome Bluegrass Mass.” Welcoming area boys to perform in...

Cost: Free

Where:
First Baptist Church
99 N Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Boychoir
Telephone: 919-881-9259
Contact Name: Erin O'Hara
Website »

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Join park staff on an easy hike to look for early wildflowers, blooming trees and singing birds. Learn how to identify some common spring species and enjoy the park as it comes to life!​...

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 »

More information

Excite your neurons and discover brain science. Enjoy lab tours, a kids' corner, games and much more. Free and open to the public. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
Duke University
308 Research Dr.
Durham, NC  27708
View map »


Website »

More information

Ziggy is a shy boy who would rather stay at home and watch television than explore the island of Jamaica. Over the course of his onstage journey, with some help from his friend Nansi, he...

Cost: $18/adult, $12 ages 12 and younger

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

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Ages 6-9 years create a fairy house in the woods for a mouse, bug, toad or other woodland fairy. Natural materials provided, which participants can use to build the fairy house of their dreams...

Cost: $4

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
Website »

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Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist...

Cost: $25 and up

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist...

Cost: $25 and up

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Enjoy a fun-filled family- and dog-friendly event that starts at Carrboro Town Commons and winds through diverse neighborhoods and the UNC campus. The route measures about 4 miles but can be...

Cost: Free; optional t-shirt purchase/donation

Where:
Carrboro Town Commons
301 W. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: Interfaith Council for Social Services/Church World Service
Telephone: 919-942-6571
Contact Name: Mae McClendon
Website »

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Dan Breeding brings his beloved animals to Carrboro. 

Cost: $3/person

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

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Enjoy two Grimm's fairytales as told by youth musicians, actors, and artists with original music by R. Michael Daugherty. Presented by Philharmonic Assoc. Chamber Ensembles. Purchase...

Cost: $8/person

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Using cutting edge lighting technology, Lightwire Theater brings the beloved story to life in a blaze of color. The result is an unforgettable theatrical experience blending electroluminescent...

Cost: $12/person. Free for ages 3 and younger.

Where:
Stewart Theatre, Talley Student Union
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Ziggy is a shy boy who would rather stay at home and watch television than explore the island of Jamaica. Over the course of his onstage journey, with some help from his friend Nansi, he...

Cost: $18/adult, $12 ages 12 and younger

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


Website »

More information

Ziggy is a shy boy who would rather stay at home and watch television than explore the island of Jamaica. Over the course of his onstage journey, with some help from his friend Nansi, he...

Cost: $18/adult, $12 ages 12 and younger

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


Website »

More information

Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist...

Cost: $25 and up

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Parent and child experience a music and movement class. Enjoy Orff and percussion instruments and do a little jumping and jamming.  Please call ahead to hold your space for the class.

Cost: Free

Where:
Millbrook Baptist Preschool
1519 East Millbrook Road
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Millbrook Baptist Preschool
Telephone: 919-876-4030
Contact Name: Suzanne Holleman
Website »

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Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization.

Cost: $15 or use your package/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Website »

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Spring is here and the winter snow is melting away. Create a weather craft to celebrate the new season. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult accompaniment...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Ages 5-13. Homeschool Yoga is a one-hour class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness. Weave in art and journaling before or after...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Ages 5-13 enjoy a one-hour yoga class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness, encourage the development of communication and social...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Website »

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Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization and more.

Cost: $15/child, use your package/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt Carmel Church Rd
chapel hill, NC  27517
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Website »

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Discover Historic Yates Mill—a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Kids 6 & under are free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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More information

Dance 2 Get Fit is a high energy, calorie blasting dance fitness workout. Each dance routine is fun and exciting, yet easy to follow. The dance moves will target your hips, thighs and strengthen...

Cost: $5 per class

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Road
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

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See Captain Jim perform magic and deliver a few words of wisdom. 

Cost: $3/person

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

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Connect with your baby, other parents and yourself during this adult-focused postpartum yoga class. Recommended for babies newborn to walking. Take a mat, a blanket for your little one, and...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Website »

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Meet other families in your community in a recreation setting. The play room will be reserved for parents and their young children. Sports and recreation equipment will be available...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Discover the joy of cooking with storybook characters. Ages 3-5 with parent. Register online. Choose course #120082.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

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

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This after-school class for kids in grades 3-5 offers fun learning yoga poses and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. Grades 3-5. 

Cost: $15/class, or use your class pass/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt. Carmel Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Website »

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Parents learn help children with special needs build skills to encourage independence and confidence. Register online. Choose course #121426.

Cost: $11/resident, $15/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy a night of bingo, food and fun. Wear green clothing. Drinks and light snacks provided. Register online. Choose course #121060.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Dance 2 Get Fit is a high energy, calorie blasting dance fitness workout. Each dance routine is fun and exciting, yet easy to follow. The dance moves will target your hips, thighs and strengthen...

Cost: $5 per class

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Road
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

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Families with rising kindergartners or little ones hoping to get into early entry to stop by our informational fair for free kindergarten screenings and fun educational activities for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wynns Family Psychology
130 Preston Executive Dr
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Wynns Family Psychology
Telephone: 919-467-7777
Contact Name: Kristen Wynns
Website »

More information

Read and Feed is an after-school literacy program that provides meals, tutoring and books to children from low-income families in Wake County. The Feed the Reader Breakfast is the...

Cost: $25

Where:
The Umstead Hotel
100 Woodland Pond Dr.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

More information

Ages 15 and older with disabilities enjoy dancing, music, games and refreshments. Wear spring attire. Register online. 

Cost: $3

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Greensboro
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy popcorn with a family-friendly movie while being comfy in your pajamas. Refreshments provided.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Enjoy fun, games, friendship and more every Friday.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

This class is a chance for adventurous women to get together for a fun-filled workshop where we explore the basics of aerial silks. No need for a background in aerial yoga, this is a workshop...

Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
Website »

More information

Go on a night hike with a park naturalist to test your sensory skills after dark. We’ll hike past the pond's edge and through forests, wetlands, and fields to discover what happens in these...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Go behind the scenes at the veterinary school, get up close and personal with animals, and meet the faculty, staff and students who make our institution one of a kind. Animal lovers of all sizes...

Cost: Free; no registration required

Where:
NC State College of Veterinary Medicine
1060 William Moore Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Sponsor: NC Stqte College of Veterinary Medicine
Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Ninth Street
Durham, NC  27705

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Widow's Son Lodge #4, is hosting an annual free community health fair. Area health care provider and services are organized in one larger location to offer free screenings, information, one on...

Cost: Free

Where:
First Cosmopolitan Baptist Church
1515 Cross Link Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Widow's Son Lodge #4
Telephone: 252-367-7111
Contact Name: James Purington
Website »

More information

Discover the fascinating world of pond critters by scooping in the pond to observe who lives there up close. View some of the tiniest critters under a microscope. All ages with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), kids ages 6 & under: free

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

More information

Larger-than-life puppets and the North Carolina Symphony bring the animal kingdom to life for a performance of Saint-Saëns’ magnificent music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

*This sensory-friendly performance is designed especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, sensory sensitivities or other disabilities. Ziggy is a shy boy who...

Cost: $18/adult, $12 ages 12 and younger

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


Website »

More information

Talented dance students present "Swan Lake Act II". Purchase tickets online for either the 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. show.

Cost: $15 in advance, $18 at the door

Where:
Fletcher Opera Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See talented dance students perform their spring repertoire in "Swan Lake Act II". Purchase tickets online for either the 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. performance.

Cost: $15 advance tickets, $18 at the door

Where:
Fletcher Opera Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Larger-than-life puppets and the North Carolina Symphony bring the animal kingdom to life for a performance of Saint-Saëns’ magnificent music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

The Triangle Rock Paper Scissors Showdown is a bracket-style competition of the age-old game we all know and love. Teams of 4 will compete head-to-head to decide whether throwing a risky rock,...

Cost: $100/team of 4 ($25 per person), VIP: $400/team of 4 ($100 per person)

Where:
Big Boss Brewing Company
1249 Wicker Dr., Ste. A
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Together
Telephone: 919-856-7453
Contact Name: Colleen McDevitt
Website »

More information

Talented dance students present "Swan Lake Act II". Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $15 in advance, $18 at the door

Where:
Fletcher Opera Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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