Where to Hike in the Triangle

Family-friendly green spaces, trails, walkways and where to find them


Published:

Take your kids on an educational trek through one of the Triangle's many kid-approved hiking trails.

Abundant green spaces and temperate weather attract many families to the Triangle. What better way to experience the outdoor opportunities this region has to offer than by enjoying a hike through one of its many forests and natural areas?

Here are some family-friendly hiking opportunities in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area — several of which offer recently upgraded trails, and some of which are registered with the “Kids in Parks” program (kidsinparks.com). Starred trails are staff favorites.


Durham


Eno River State Park

6101 Cole Mill Rd., Durham
A popular spot for fishing, swimming, kayaking and hiking, Eno River State Park includes many of the region’s best hiking trails. Here are a few that are perfect for families:
Cole Mill Trail* – This easy 1-mile loop trail is accessed from the Cole Mill picnic area and runs along the Eno River for part of the way. An offshoot from this trail leads to Bobbitt Hole, an excellent swimming hole. (Note: This swimming hole is a lot of fun — but quite deep. We only recommend it for supervised children who alredy know how to swim.)
Cox Mountain Trail – Families interested in a slightly longer hike will enjoy this 3.75-mile loop trail that begins and ends at Fews Ford, a shallow area perfect for wading and picnicking. It includes views of some of the best whitewater areas in the park.
Pump Station Trail – This easy 1.5-mile loop trail is known for gentle hills and beautiful spring wildflowers that will provide colorful scenery during your family’s hike.


Duke Forest

800 White Pine Dr., Durham
This 7,000-acre forest owned by Duke University includes many family-friendly forest trails that are easy to access from central Durham.


The Durham Transportation Department has released a 2018 pdf version of the Durham Bike and Hike Map that also provides ideas for where your family can hike together. As of July 6, 2018, you can access this map online via a mobile device here


Cary/Apex


Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary
Hemlock Bluffs hosts a unique ecosystem of plant life more often found in the mountains, such as the preserve’s Eastern Hemlock trees. The .8-mile Swift Creek loop trail is perfect for families because it includes educational markers and offers scenic creek and bluff views.


Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

280 State Park Rd., Apex
The large natural area surrounding manmade Jordan Lake offers numerous hiking trails with lake views. They include:
Children’s Nature Trail  – This 0.5-mile loop trail crosses old farmland and a pond. Sharp-eyed hikers may even spot old tobacco rows. 
The Jordan Lake Track Trail* (a Kids in Parks TRACK Trail) – This 1.25-mile trail includes self-guided, family-friendly educational adventures.
Ebenezer Church Old Oak Trail – This 1-mile loop trail can be cut down to a 0.5-mile trail if necessary due to a shortcut that makes it user-friendly for families with young children.


Fred G. Bond Metro Park

801 High House Rd., Cary
The 2-mile trail around Bond Lake is pleasant and easy. The park includes several shorter forest trails as well, and a stop by the Lazy Daze playground is a fun way to end the day.


Raleigh/Wake Forest


William B. Umstead State Park

8801 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh
This park has numerous trails of varying lengths. Two of the most popular trails for families include:
Oak Rock Trail* (a Kids in Parks TRACK Trail) – This 0.6-mile loop trail offers educational adventures for kids. It features a big rock and crosses a small stream.
Potts Branch Trail – This 1.3 mile round-trip trail follows the course of three streams and provides excellent picnicking spots.


Prairie Ridge Ecostation

1671 Gold Star Dr., Raleigh
An outdoor extension of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Prairie Ridge Ecostation is designed to preserve and teach visitors about North Carolina ecosystems. Its Forest Trail and Prairie Trail (both very kid-friendly), lead hikers through native forest and grassland ecosystems. Families can pick blackberries along the trails during summer.


Falls Lake State Recreation Area

13304 Creedmoor Rd., Wake Forest
Falls Lake State Recreation Area has many hiking trails of varying lengths, including the Duck Cove Trail, a 1.5-mile Kids In Parks TRACK Trail offering lake views.


Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve

5229 Awls Haven Dr., Raleigh
This preserve offers three family-friendly trails: the Epps Forrest Loop (0.7 miles), the Hidden Rocks Trail (0.9 miles) and the Pond Loop (0.6 miles). Visitors can borrow nature-themed backpacks at the preserve’s education center for use on the trails.


Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve

7800 Holly Springs Rd., Raleigh
Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve's family-friendly loop trail is just over 1 mile. It follows Swift Creek and climbs a picturesque bluff.


Historic Yates Mill County Park

4620 Lake Wheeler Rd., Raleigh
This park has several trails, including the family-friendly Millpond Trail, a 1-mile loop that encircles the pond and begins (or ends, if you go the other way) with a view of historic Yates Mill.


Blue Jay Point County Park

3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh
This park features numerous short trails, including a 1-mile loop that opens up to beautiful views of Falls Lake.


Durant Nature Preserve

8305 Camp Durant Rd., Raleigh
Formerly a Boy Scout camp, this preserve was created with kid-friendly hiking in mind. It contains 5 miles of trails that trek through forests and wetlands, and alongside creeks and lakes.


Hillsborough/Ayr Mount


Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail

320 Elizabeth Brady Rd., Ayr Mount
A 1-mile oval loop, which is part of 4 miles of trails, takes visitors alongside the Eno River and around the last surviving racetrack from NASCAR’s first season in 1949. It’s a forested hike now, but you can still see the stands and an old race car, in addition to the track itself.


Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

625 Virginia Cates Rd., Hillsborough
This park brings a Western North Carolina feel to the Piedmont. Families with older kids can comfortably hike the 2.2-mile Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail for scenic views and a walk alongside the Eno River. Families with younger kids might prefer the 0.9-mile Chestnut Oak Trail.


Chapel Hill


Johnston Mill Nature Preserve

2713 Mt. Sinai Rd., Chapel Hill
The 3-mile Johnston Mill Loop trail takes visitors around the preserve, following New Hope Creek for a while and later allowing hikers to look down on the creeks and meadows from a bluff. See fall colors and spring wildflowers along this trail.
For a shorter hike, take the 0.6 mile Beech Loop trail through a resplendent beech forest. (Note: New Hope Creek is pretty, but not clean enough for swimming or wading.)


Piedmont Nature Trails

100 Old Mason Farm Rd., Chapel Hill
Part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, Piedmont Nature Trails include the family-friendly Streamside Trail and Oak-Hickory Trail, both short forest loops. These are good hikes for families who want to learn about trees, since many on the trail are labeled.


George and Julia Brumley Family Nature Preserve

3055 New Hope Church Rd., Chapel Hill
This nature preserve includes the family-friendly 1.2-mile Wood Duck Way trail. George and Julia Brumley purchased this property during the 1990s to prevent it from becoming a subdivision. After the Brumleys passed away, the Ziest Foundation sold the land in 2010 to Triangle Land Conservancy to create a model for sustainable land management practices.


Elizabeth Brignac is a freelance writer and mother of two adventurous boys who lives in Cary. Read Brignac's 2017 feature on Kids in Parks trails .

 

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Calendar

August 2019

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

Cost: Free

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


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

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

Cost: Free

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


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

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

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

Cost: Free

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

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

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

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


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

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
Website »

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

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


Website »

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

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

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

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Enjoy storytime with Amy Godfrey. 

Cost: Free

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


Website »

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

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

Cost: Free

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

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


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

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

Cost: FREE

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

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

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W. Margaret Ln.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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

Cost: Free

Where:
The Wine Feed
307 S Roxboro St
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Raleigh Night Market
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Film to be announced. *Actual time to be determined by sunset. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics to enjoy a movie under the stars in our beautiful garden!

Cost: Free

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

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Uptown Roxboro
211 N. Main St.
Roxboro, NC  27573
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Sponsor: Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 336-599-8333
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

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

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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

Cost: $3/person

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

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Shop for local handmade arts and crafts from local vendors. 

Cost: Free

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

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

Cost: Free

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

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

Cost: Free

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


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

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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...

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

This event is FREE and open to the public! Join Read-a-roo and her PBS KIDS friends for a music-filled day of concerts, hands-on activities and more, Saturday, August 24, from 10 AM to 2 PM, at...

Cost: Free

Where:
University Place
201 S. Estes Dr
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: UNC-TV

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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

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

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


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

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

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

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

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

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

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


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

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
400 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC  27607


Website »

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