Triangle Places for Family Fun in Winter


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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. See our readers'Family Favorites Places to Visitfor details on some of our readers' picks for places to go.  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). Through April 28, you can see aspecial exhibit about the Titanic. 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's Marbles 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 children in its current "KidZoom: The Power of Creativity" exhibit, where they're invited 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:

* City of Raleigh Pools & Aquatic Facilities

* Durham Parks & Recreation Aquatics

* Town of Chapel Hill Aquatics


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 Story Time

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

Photo courtesy of 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. Asheboro; nczoo.org. The zoo is home to one of the largest chimpanzee troops in U.S. zoos, and has recently added four new chimps.( Pictured: 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 Thursday. N.C. Zoo Photo by Tom Gillespie.) 

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.

Updated Jan. 9, 2017

 

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Calendar

February 2017

Take a magical journey through China's divine culture. Classical dance, music and storytelling highlight this live show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70-$150

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


Website »

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Enjoy a nature-themed fairy tale and build a fairy home. Ages 2-10. Register online. Choose course #200057.

Cost: $3/child

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Website »

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Chase away the winter blues with a hike through the winter garden. After the walk, warm up inside with a book and winter craft. Meet at the visitor center. Ages 3-12. Register online.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

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Hear the old-time folk band based in Raleigh that plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and other instruments, including the saw. Free tickets for the concert are distributed while they last beginning at...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Ages 3-5 enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

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

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Teens in grades 6-10 read, create and take on challenges.  March is the month of movie release parties, including "Logan" and "The Beauty and the Beast." Build circuits and...

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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You will be looking out your window when something wonderful comes your way. You will want to keep him. You and your alien will strike up a fabulous friendship and all will go well. Until bedtime....

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Website »

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Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Camp S.W.A.G. (Students With Ambitions & Goals) will be hosting a series of free Girls' Group Mentoring Seminars open to all middle and high school girls 13-19 years of age. Register...

Cost: Free

Where:
West Regional Library
4000 Louis Stephens Dr.
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: Camp S.W.A.G. (Students With Ambitions & Goals)
Telephone: 919-443-5866
Contact Name: Sherry Pulcher
Website »

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Celebrate Mardi Gras with a parade at 7 p.m., followed by live entertainment at area venues. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
CCB Plaza
201 Corcoran St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Mardi Gras
Contact Name: Kathy Violette
Website »

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Toddlers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy storytime.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore colonial life for kids and their families during the Revolutionary War. Ages 6-9. Register online.

Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919-807-7988
Website »

More information

Join others for an easy paced hike around the greenway. Ages 3 and younger; older siblings, strollers and leashed pets welcome. Register online. Choose course #199060.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Babies enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover nature with a story, followed by outdoor, hands-on nature exploration and a craft. Meet at the Beech Shelter. Ages 2–5. Register online.

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 »

More information

The library's Teen Leadership Corps hosts an opportunity for kids of all ages to come build something special with Lego and Duplo bricks, and play games to improve reading and math skills.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

More information

Create a barrel necklace. Ages 12 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $22.50 plus $8 materials fee

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris St.
Durham , NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2726
Website »

More information

Adam Savage, co-host of the hit TV show "Mythbusters," and Michael Stevens, creator of award-winning YouTube Channel “Vsauce,” can’t wait to unleash their collective...

Cost: $39.50 and up

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

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Learn what choices folks made in North Carolina before and during the Revolutionary War. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Join others on an easy-paced hike around the park to explore what's happening in nature. Ages 5 and younger. Register online. Choose course #200087

Cost: Free

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Enjoy a craft, activity and a guided walk along the greenway. Ages 2-6.  Register online. Choose course #199101.

Cost: $3

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Preschoolers enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

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Enjoy auditioned choral students from Durham Public Schools performing a wide variety of music. The show includes both choral and choreographed numbers. This is the 37th year of this musical...

Cost: $12-$35

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

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Dig In to community, healthy food access and learning. The 8th Annual Dig In informs adults about how to start and maintain community, school and child care gardens, along with local trends in...

Cost: $15 early bird registration; $25 regular rate

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Advocates for Health in Action (AHA)
Telephone: 919-210-0310
Contact Name: Michele McKinley
Website »

More information

Join bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ Meet at the Waterwise Garden.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Kids learn how to make a beaded wind chime  Best suited for ages 3 and older  (though some of the little ones might need a little more parental assistance). Register online. This class...

Cost: free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919-460-7747
Contact Name: Gretchen
Website »

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Enjoy demonstrations, youth safety preparedness activities, solar cooking and more. Register online.  

Cost: Free

Where:
St. Paul AME Church
402 W. Edenton St
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Youth Exploration Services, PreparednessMojo Media & Triangle Tribune
Telephone: 919-832-2709
Contact Name: Flo Avery
Website »

More information

Make your own candle.

Cost: Free. Suggested donation of $1/person.

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


Sponsor: Historic Stagville
Telephone: 919-620-0120
Website »

More information

Families enjoy stories.

Cost: Free

Where:
East Regional Library
946 Steeple Square Ct.
Knightdale, NC  27545
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the history of pigs in North Carolina and cast your vote for what you think is the best kind of pork barbecue. All ages with adult. Registration required.

Cost: $5/family

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy the story about hardworking trucks that get ready to say goodnight.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

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Durham Bulls fans can take batting practice on the field, enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the DBAP and photo opportunities with Wool E. Bull, purchase single-game tickets at the ballpark and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
409 Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about what lives in a vernal pool. Peek into the ponds with dip nets, meet live critters, and learn about the wonders and mysteries of life in this environment. Ages 6 and older with adult....

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolia Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3370
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Take part in a fun family-friendly scavenger hunt to look for things found around the preserve in winter. Warm up inside after the hunt with a cup of hot cocoa and a craft. Ages 5 and older with...

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about the interesting life cycle of these elusive amphibians, see some up close, then head out to search the temporary wetlands along the trail for eggs, larvae and adults.  Register...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Seven delightful stories come to life in a music revue performed by Theatreworks USA. Books featured in the show include "Teacher from the Black Lagoon," "Dogzilla,"...

Cost: $12/person

Where:
Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27695
View map »


Sponsor: NC State LIVE
Telephone: 919-515-1100
Contact Name: Mark Tulbert
Website »

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Annual Guides

GPS [Go. Play. See]

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Education Guide

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The Triangle Go-To Guide

The Triangle Go-To Guide will replace the GPS in 2017 and continue to connect you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.