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

June 2017

Bee populations are in decline in North America. Learn how to attract pollinators to your very own pollinator hotel. Discover why pollinator hotels are important and how to create pollinator...

Cost: $30 (Tuition + Materials)

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 191-921-31278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
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Watch a brief slideshow and explore the inner workings of the mill. All ages. Online registration encouraged.

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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he Durham Bulls host a Touch A Truck event in conjunction with local public safety agencies. The event will precede the team’s game that evening at 5:05 p.m. Blackwell Street,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Children with disabilities discover what's happening in nature on a stroll through Hemlock Bluffs. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #104850.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Take the family for a drop-in creative workshop for kids ages 5-10. Free with admission.

Cost: Free with admission. Free for ages 15 and younger

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Learn how to help your baby excel in motor development. This class focuses on standing/walking and offers a variety of ways to help your baby master motor development. Register online.

Cost: $15

Where:
Baby + Co
226 Ashville Ave.
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Ages 5-12 learn about healthy fruits and vegetables, kitchen and food safety, and enjoy a healthy snack. Meet in the bakery side of the cafe. Email sherry.thrasher@wholefoods.com to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods North Raleigh
8710 Six Forks Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Telephone: 919-354-0350
Contact Name: Sherry Thrasher

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Ages 3-6 enjoy fun games and drills. Call to RSVP.  

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Fitness4Life
6701 Glenwood Ave.
Suite 103
Raleigh, NC  27612
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Sponsor: Fitness4Life
Telephone: 919-787-2250
Contact Name: George Whitten
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Learn about rocks and soil by digging in the dirt. Find hidden rock treasures, make a mud painting, and plant a seed to take home and grow. Dress to get dirty. Ages 3-5 with an accompanying adult....

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson Nature Preserve
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Join others for an easy-paced walk along the greenway accompanied by a naturalist. Registration encouraged. Choose course #203541.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Listen to nature-themed books and enjoy hands-on explorations in the garden. Ages 3-5 with caregiver. Register online.

Cost: $3/child

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Sponsor: North Carolia Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3370
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
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Ages 6-8 investigate the habitats and behaviors of some of the mammals that call the nature preserve “home.”  Dressed for outdoor fun.  Register online....

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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Parents of children ages 3-18 months learn how to prepare quick and easy meals for their little one, learn about weaning and when to transition into the next nutritional step....

Cost: Free

Where:
Guidepost Montessori at Spruce Tree
12600 Spruce Tree Way
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: Guidepost Montessori at Spruce Tree
Telephone: (919) 825-1771
Contact Name: Holly Vincitorio
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Attend a private pop-up event with Songs for Seeds at SnickerDoodles. Enjoy a concert plus 30-minutes of private use of play space for all attendees. Ages infant-6. Call to...

Cost: $15 per child and $10 for each additional sibling

Where:
SnickerDoodles
3721 Lynn Road, #112
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Sponsor: songs for seeds
Telephone: 984.219.2022
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Learn about beetles with a craft, games, stories and a guided walk through the wetland. Ages 2-6. Register online. Choose course #203552. 

Cost: $3

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

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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
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

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
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Hear the Grammy-winning band based in the North Carolina mountains take to the stage with the North Carolina Symphony.  Purchase tickets online. Kids 12 and younger admitted free on...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC
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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
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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The 38th Annual Festival for the Eno features over 65 music performances, a juried craft show, interactive arts, environmental and backyard farming demonstrations, a wide variety of local food...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
West Point on the Eno
5101 N Roxboro Road
Durham, NC  27712
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Summerfest Celebration features an autograph session, inflatables, games, free giveaways, guest speakers from the Hurricanes, appearances by Stormy and the Pepsi Storm Squad, discounted...

Cost: Free

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Enjoy storytime with a community farm member, a book swap via Little Free Library, and free play in a natural playground.   

Cost: Free

Where:
The Community Farm at Camp Chestnut Ridge
2902 Mount Willing Rd.
Efland, NC  27243
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Contact Name: Sandy Straw
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Celebrate the wonderful world of exotic animals and reptiles. Enjoy live specimens, presentations, raffles, vendors and much more. Purchase tickets online.  

Cost: $12 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 5-12.

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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In this new book from acclaimed author Ryan T. Higgins, all Rupert the Mouse wants is to star in a beautiful, wordless picture book. He has plenty of ideas about what makes a great book, but his...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble Cary
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Telephone: 919-467-3866
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American Dance Festival favorite Pilobolus returns. "On the Nature of Things" explores the birth of desire and its intertwined connection to shame and revenge....

Cost: $16/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: American Dance Festival
Telephone: 919-684-6402
Contact Name: Mollie O'Reilly
Website »

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Explore the historic nature of Leigh Farm Park with a friendly guide. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while being captivated by tales about life at Leigh Farm throughout the years.

Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
Website »

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Hear the music of U2 performed by the North Carolina Symphony. Purchase tickets online. Kids 12 and younger admitted free on the lawn. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC
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