What to Ask About Maternity Leave


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Just found out you are expecting a baby? Now is the time to learn about your company's maternity and paternity leave benefits and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Here are five key questions to get the conversation started with your company's human-resources professional.

1. Does your company have a maternity and paternity leave policy?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (see sidebar). In addition, some employers provide leave benefits to their employees over and above the minimum required by the FMLA, says Angela Cummings, an attorney in the Charlotte office of Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm.

In addition, many employers not covered by FMLA voluntarily provide maternity and/or paternity leave benefits to their workers. For example, Triangle Community Foundation in Durham has 17 employees, so it is exempt from FMLA. However, the organization pays a new mother's full salary for her paid leave. An unpaid six-week leave is first, but it is usually covered by short-term disability, which pays two-thirds of the employee's salary. The monthly premiums for short-term disability are paid by the Triangle Community Foundation, one of Carolina Parenting's Family-Friendly 50 honorees for 2010. All benefits continue while the employee is on leave.
Expectant parents should contact their company's human-resources representative for information about any maternity/paternity leave policies as well as FMLA.

2. Does your company offer short-term disability coverage for maternity leave?

Many companies offer short-term disability for employees to use for maternity leave. Using short-term disability, the employee can be paid all or a percentage of her salary while on leave.

Lori Mayette, the director of human resources for Raleigh-based Luihn Food Systems, says salaried employees with the company can take short-term disability and be paid a portion of their salary. This runs concurrently with FMLA leave. Luihn employs about 300 salaried employees and a total of 2,200 employees in three states. The time period for short-term disability can vary, but generally is six weeks for a typical delivery and eight weeks for a cesarean delivery.

Some larger companies pay an employee all of her salary while on short-term disability, while smaller companies often pay a percentage of the salary. The timing for when short-term disability coverage begins depends on the employer's policy. Many policies have a seven-day waiting period before starting. During this waiting period, the employee can often use accrued paid time off such as vacation time or can take unpaid leave. Employees also can buy private short-term disability policies.

3. If you want more paid time off than what short-term disability provides, can you use accrued vacation time and sick leave?

Whether an employee may, or even must, use vacation or sick time while on leave depends on the individual company's policy. Some companies allow employees to use their paid time off after the short-term disability leave period ends, says Alison Nolan, the site human-resources manager with BASF Corp. in High Point. For example, an employee could use short-term disability for six weeks and then take additional paid time off by using vacation time and sick leave. In addition to short-term disability of six to eight weeks for new mothers, Hewitt Associates in Charlotte, a 2010 Family-Friendly 50 company, offers one additional week of paid time off within the 12 weeks of the FMLA. Extended personal leave of absence also can be requested if an employee is eligible.

4. Do companies typically offer paternity benefits?

Similar to maternity leave policies, paternity leave options, beyond what the FMLA mandates, vary by company. At UNC-Chapel Hill, the faculty-leave policy allows faculty, both men and women, 15 weeks or one semester off within a year of a birth or adoption, says Melanie Joyner, the director of academic personnel at UNC. The popular leave policy was adopted in 1997 to increase faculty recruitment and retention. Most other public university campuses across the state have similar leave policies for fathers and mothers. Hewitt Associates in Charlotte offers new fathers and adoptive parents one week of paid time off within the first year after the birth or adoption of their child, outside of one week of paid parental time. Fathers also have access to extended leave beyond FMLA if they are eligible.

5. Does your company offer any other benefits that may ease the transition from maternity leave to a return to full-time employment?

Other than what is required by the FMLA, companies operating in North Carolina do not have to provide maternity-related benefits. According to Cummings, though, many companies have voluntarily adopted policies that allow an employee to take an extended unpaid leave, allow an employee to telecommute for a period after a leave, or even allow an employee to return to work on a part-time basis after maternity leave has been exhausted. In addition, a growing trend among larger companies is to provide onsite child care for employees and/or employee discounts at national day-care providers. Employees should review company policies and contact their human-resources department to find out more information on what policies and benefits are available to them after the birth or adoption of a child.

Jane Paige is a Triangle-based freelance writer.

FMLA Explained

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of covered employers to take off up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in any 12-month period to care for the employee's child after birth, or for placement for adoption or foster care. It also can be used, among other things, to care for the employee's, or a close family member's, serious health condition.

An employee is only entitled to 12 weeks of leave per year under FMLA. Time taken off work because of pregnancy complications before a birth counts toward, and can lessen, the number of weeks of leave an employee may take after the birth.

An eligible employee is one who has worked for a covered employer for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. The 12 months do not have to be consecutive. Also, to be eligible, the company must employ 50 or more people within 75 miles of the worksite. Government employees are eligible for FMLA leave.

FMLA also requires that the employee's group health benefits be maintained during the leave. Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be restored to their original job or to an equivalent position.

"Some states have additional leave laws that provide greater coverage than the federal FMLA. However, North Carolina does not have any state law equivalent of the FMLA," says Angela Cummings, an attorney in the Charlotte office of Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm. "North Carolina employers and employees should become familiar with their rights and responsibilities under the federal law."

— Jane Paige

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Calendar

May 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
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Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Cost: $18

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Fayetteville St.
, NC  27601
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Andia's Homemade Ice Cream and its owners Andia and George Xouris offer a day of family fun to thank patrons for their unwavering support since the shop's opening in July...

Cost: Free

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Andia's Homemade Ice Cream
10120 Green Level Church Rd.
Cary, NC  27519
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Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Park
2200 Laura Duncan Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: Town of Apex
Telephone: 919-249-3507
Contact Name: Allie Prelaske
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Carolina Ballet presents the beautiful fairytale featuring stunning visuals and musical compositions. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $32 and up

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


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Take the family to play bingo and enjoy prizes. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Green St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Emma Katz, the toughest Viking in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, who goes on a quest to save her town -- and herself. Purchase...

Cost: See website for fees

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

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Enjoy a Zumba Kids class as a fundraiser for the future Carolina Children's Museum in southwest Wake County area. Enjoy movement, music, instruments and fun...

Cost: $10

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Devils Ridge Golf Club (Homestead Room)
5107 Linksland Drive
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Carolina Children's Museum
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Children with special needs and their families enjoy an afternoon of boating. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111595.

Cost: $7/resident, $10/nonresident

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Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
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Children with special needs and their families enjoy an afternoon of boating. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111595.

Cost: $7/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
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Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
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Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
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Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Website »

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Children with special needs and their families enjoy an afternoon of boating. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #111595.

Cost: $7/resident, $10/nonresident

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Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
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More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
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Learn all about frogs and toads while investigating real live tadpoles. Ages 3-5 with adult. Register online at http://apm.activecommunities.com/wakeparks/Activity_Search/2711.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Join us at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro every Thursday at 10 a.m. for a casual storytime on the porch or even out in the yard. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Sponsor: Chatham Marketplace
Telephone: 919-542-2643
Contact Name: Craig Kolman
Website »

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Enjoy an easy-paced and stroller-friendly walk along the greenway. Suggested for ages 3 and younger with parent. Register online. Choose course #219869.

Cost: Free

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
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This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
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Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Learn parenting strategies to help a child with special needs. Register online. Choose course #111592.

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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Decorate a walking stick to use on your nature hikes. Repurpose some invasive bamboo canes to paint and wrap with string. The result will be a personalized walking stick perfect for using to...

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
Telephone: (919) 870-2871
Contact Name: Nikki Jones
Website »

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For families and visitors requiring special accommodations, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Exploration Center will stay open late for visitation during a quieter...

Cost: Event free; $3/person for featured exhibition

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
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Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Explore the gardens to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. Dress for the weather. Ages 3-5 with...

Cost: Free for Arboretum Family members, $5.00 per child for nonmembers.

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Campus Box 7212
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

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
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Website »

More information

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

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Bats are the world's only flying mammals, and having wings is only one of the adaptations that make them unique. Discover just how special bats are during this evening program.

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 191-946-03355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise and unique artwork at this Japanese animation and culture convention. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $70/person

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


Website »

More information

​CraZBrain Science Track out and Summer Camps has expanded to Holly Springs. Tour the facility, try out some activities and meet staff members This drop-in event is free; parental...

Cost: Free

Where:
CraZBrain - Holly Springs
333 Earnie Lane
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: CraZBrain
Telephone: 919-357-2200
Contact Name: Aaron Rothrock
Website »

More information

Learn what geocaching is all about and find a geocache in the park. Take your own unit or smart phone with a geocache app or borrow one from the park. Ages 6 and older. Meet at the Cypress...

Cost: $1/person

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

Ratty, Badger, and Mr. Toad love spending leisurely summer days going boating. Folks coming to Yates Mill did, too! One never knows what sorts of adventures a simple day on the water can bring....

Cost: $2.00 per person

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

The VFW Post 7383 honors veterans by handing out Buddy Poppies, the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, answering questions and providing other information, in front of...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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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), Age 6 & under free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Ride on a diesel-powered train and enjoy festivities in the rail yard. Enjoy a beach-themed cookout complete with grilled shrimp, chicken, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and non-alcoholic tropical...

Cost: $12/adult, $10 ages 2-12. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Rd.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Join a nature instructor to look for signs of deer like antler rubbings, tracks and scat.  Decorate deer tracks to take home and play fun games to learn more about these magnificent mammals....

Cost: $6/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: Durant Nature Preserve
Telephone: 919-870-2871
Contact Name: Nikki Jones
Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Learn how salamanders compare with their reptile cousins. Ages 5 and older. Register online at http://apm.activecommunities.com/wakeparks/Activity_Search/2724.

Cost: $1/participant

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Children in grades K-5 enjoy an art-filled afternoon. Materials provided. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Eva Perry Regional Library
2100 Shepherd's Vineyard Dr.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

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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 provided,...

Cost: $10.00 per boat

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy an old-fashioned Memorial Day event on the lawn of the historic house that includes  barbecue (chicken or pork) and fixins, old-school relay games, prizes and fun. Tickets must...

Cost: $20-$25.

Where:
CocoFARM
960 Luther Rd.
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: CocoFARM
Telephone: 919-985-1865
Contact Name: Corrie Burton
Website »

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Celebrate the season opener by enjoying live music under the pines. Purchase tickets online. Kids 12 and under are admitted free on the lawn.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC
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Website »

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.