Historic Field Trips and Educational Getaways

Make your next family getaway a learning experience


Published:

Take a horse-and-carriage ride in Williamsburg, Virginia. Below: Enjoying at day at Monticello.

Myra Wright

Make your next day trip, weekend getaway or vacation a learning experience for the kids. From presidential homes to living history museums to historic sites, these destinations can enrich, inspire and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all ages.


courtesy of Visit Cherokee

Explore Cherokee history and culture. 

Cherokee

Cherokee, North Carolina

Learn about the Cherokee people and nation with a variety of educational, outdoor and family activities. Explore the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a living-history museum of an 18th-century Cherokee village. See the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills,” which entertains audiences with its portrayal of the Cherokee people’s past and present. And, with both the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway nearby, you’ll find no shortage of hiking, camping, fishing and sightseeing opportunities in the area.

Hours and Admission: Varies according to museum or attraction.

Don’t miss: Visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian for exhibits, hands-on activities and special events.


Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Virginia

Imagine what life was like in Colonial Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Visit dozens of restored and re-created buildings at this living history museum. Guests are welcomed with costumed interpreters, re-enactments and demonstrations.

Don’t miss: Tour the historic area by horse-drawn carriage, $20.

Hours and admission: $20.49-$40.99 for a single-day ticket.


Duke Homestead State Historic Site

Durham, North Carolina

What was life like on a North Carolina tobacco farm after the Civil War? Explore this historic farm, home and property to find out. Take a 45-minute guided tour or visit on your own.

Don’t miss: Before your tour, be sure to watch “Legacy of the Golden Leaf,” a documentary that highlights the Washington Duke family and how their tobacco manufacturing business began.

Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours are offered daily, as schedule and staffing allows. Typically, the tours leave at 10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. daily. Admission is free.


Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Manteo, North Carolina

Take a step back in time to learn about one of the country’s longest and most intriguing mysteries — The Lost Colony. In the visitor center, watch a 17-minute video that explores the mystery and see artifacts discovered by archeologists. Check the calendar for children’s programming, such as educational walks and arts and crafts.

Don’t miss: Visit Waterside Theatre where the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony” is performed.

Hours and admission: The grounds are open daily, sunrise to sunset. The Lindsay Warren Visitor Center hours are seasonal. See website for more information. Admission is free.


Historic Jamestowne

Jamestown, Virginia

Walk the same grounds of the men and women who settled England’s first permanent colony in North America. Explore the site of the 1607 James Fort, see artifacts in the museum, and learn what life was like for the English and Powhatan people. See calendar for living history tours and children’s programming.

Don’t miss: Visit the Ed Shed, an interactive space where kids can examine artifacts and take part in hands-on activities such as pottery mending or artifact screening.

Hours and admission: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Ages 16+, $14; ages 15 and younger admitted free.


Kings Mountain National Military Park

Blacksburg, South Carolina

Learn about the battle of Kings Mountain on Oct. 7, 1780, a significant victory during the Revolutionary War. Explore the visitor center, exhibits and the 1.5-mile battlefield trail. Visit nearby Kings Mountain State Park for camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing and a 19th-century living history farm.

Don’t miss: Check the events calendar and time your visit to see demonstration groups, such as the Kings Mountain Backcountry Militia. Learn about life in the 1700s with displays of blacksmithing and woodworking.

Hours and admission: Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.


Monticello 

Charlottesville, Virginia

Visit Thomas Jefferson’s estate, tour the original home and explore the grounds where the third president once lived. Explore Mulberry Row, where Monticello’s slaves lived and worked, and enjoy the carefully landscaped flower, vegetable and fruit gardens.

Don’t miss: Visit the Mountaintop Hands-on Activity Center to write with a quill pen or enjoy 18th-century games. Parents, teachers and home educators can also find a wealth of information in the Monticello Digital Classroom including virtual tours, quizzes and guides for young learners. 

Hours and admission: Open daily, except Christmas Day. Hours are seasonal. $10-$26.


North Carolina Transportation Museum

Spencer, North Carolina

The museum is located on what was once Southern Railway Co.’s largest steam locomotive repair facility. Explore exhibits that include antique cars, train depot, a 37-bay roundhouse, locomotives and rail cars.

Don’t miss: Schedule your visit to include a 25-minute train ride, pulled by an antique diesel engine. Rides are seasonal. See website for calendar.

Hours and admission: Hours are seasonal. $4-$12.


Old Salem Museums and Gardens

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Explore the life of Moravians and early Southerners living in the 18th and 19th centuries by touring the historic town of Salem and surrounding gardens. Visit the town’s buildings to see historic trades, such as gunsmithing, pottery or gardening. Demonstrations include quilting, 18th-century games, hearth cooking, food preservation and more.

Don’t miss: Celebrate the holidays with the Candle Tea, held on select dates in November and early December. $1-$5. Sing Christmas carols, see how the Moravians make beeswax candles, sip on Moravian coffee and eat sugar cake, and listen to the Christmas story.

Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.; closed on Mondays. $11-$27.


Raleigh

Raleigh, North Carolina

Curious about North Carolina’s government and its history? Visit the North Carolina State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark that has been restored to its 1840-1865 appearance. Small groups can also schedule tours of the N.C. Executive Mansion, N.C. Legislative Building, North Carolina Museum of History, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Don’t miss: Learn about North Carolina’s ecosystem and wildlife in the "Mountains to Sea" exhibit at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

Hours and admission: Hours vary according to attraction or museum, but admission is free to the attractions and museums mentioned here.


Reed Gold Mine

Midland, North Carolina

The first documented gold find in the United States was in North Carolina. The Old North State also led the nation in gold production until the California Gold Rush in 1848. Today, you can tour portions of the underground tunnels of the Reed Gold Mine, see mining equipment in the visitor center and learn more about that first gold find.

Don’t miss: For $3, you can pan for gold, April through October from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is free.


Town Creek Indian Mound

Mount Gilead, North Carolina

In 11th century A.D., a new culture emerged known as Pee Dee, and inhabitants constructed mounds in the earth for their spiritual and political leaders. Town Creek Indian Mound commemorates that American Indian culture. Browse exhibits in the visitor center and take a self-guided tour of re-created structures and mound.

Don’t miss: Savor the scenery and native plants with the nature walk, an easy stroll along the river.

Hours and admission: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 1-5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Admission is free. 


Myra Wright is a North Carolina-based freelance writer. She enjoys traveling and finding educational opportunities for her three kids.

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Calendar

December 2019

Wear your favorite holiday attire and dine with Santa Claus. Enjoy a delicious brunch, stories and crafts, and take pictures with the jolly man from the North Pole. 

Cost: $10/child. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Joyner Park Community Center
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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

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

Girls ages 5-12 take their favorite doll and have a creative time together preparing for the holidays. Register by emailing llpolkhouse2@gmail.com.

Cost: $22/attendee, $20/sister

Where:
Historic Polk House
537 N. Blount St.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Telephone: 919-676-6368
Website »

More information

See dancers and a guitarist from Flamenco Carolina perform a Spanish style of music and dance.

Cost: $3/person

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


Website »

More information

Ebeneezer Scrooge was visited by three spirits, but what about the next Christmas? With heartwarming excitement, discover how the Cratchit family has fared in the year that has passed since old...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

The Durham Medical Orchestra performs with special guest Joseph Alessi, principal trombone, New York Philharmonic.

Cost: Free

Where:
Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University
1336 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

As a Christmas gift to our community and surrounding area, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church delivers the true Christmas story in a stirring virtual “walk” through Bethlehem to the stable...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
12605 Capital Blvd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Wake Forest Presbyterian Church
Telephone: 919-556-7777
Contact Name: Meghan Reynolds
Website »

More information

Fun for the entire family, enjoy this wonderful, witty retelling of a classic fairy-tale. With a score consisting of well-known pop songs, follow Snow White and her Seven Dwarves as they try to...

Cost: $10-$60/person

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 East South Street
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-996-8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
Website »

More information

The choir presents its 49th performance on Handel's "Messiah."

Cost: Free

Where:
White Plains United Methodist Church
313 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

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The first day of winter is right around the corner! Help us welcome the season by making a snow globe to take home. We will bring the materials if you bring the imagination! For all ages (adult...

Cost: For all ages (adult accompaniment required for all children); FREE. Registration

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
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Telephone: 919-662-2850

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Children will enjoy this wonderful book written by John Denver reminding us not to forget about the wildlife this holiday season. We will make a craft then take a walk to look for our wildlife...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

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Join RTOOT as it performs the music of great Italian composers as well as beloved Christmas classics. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $9/adult, $3 ages 12 and younger

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

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Dan the Animal Man brings some of his animals from his vast collection to entertain all ages. 

Cost: $3/person

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

More information

Help find candy canes hidden in Bond Park before the Grinch turns them green. Ages 6-12. Registration required online. Choose course #127871. 

Cost: $10/child

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

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

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

Get into the holiday spirit by decorating cooking, making a craft and enjoying a holiday children's show.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

The Wake Forest Abilities Choir will present an evening of holiday music under the direction of director.

Cost: Free

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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Celebrate pecans at the State Farmers Market.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

More information

Join us to learn about how Habitat for Humanity helps build houses, hear a Christmas tale and then build a graham cracker house of your own. Call to, 919-245-2532. Best for ages 4 and up with a...

Cost: free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Is there a man in the moon, and is the moon made of cheese? Sip on some hot cocoa and listen to some of the stories people have told about the moon and find out if there is truth to them. Then...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for everyone, and adult accompanime

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Discover family traditions from North Carolina and around the globe. Create art, enjoy free access to Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism, and have a special visit with Santa.

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art East Building and Museum Plaza
Raleigh, NC


Website »

More information

Bundle up and enjoy an evening around the campfire learning about creatures of the night and listen to Native American tales about some of our favorite nocturnal animals. Roast marshmallows and go...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Kids ages 5-12 enjoy indoor activities while parents enjoy a night out. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Wear white clothing and play games, tumble and dance. Enjoy pizza, drinks and more. Ages 5-10. Registration required online. Choose course #127487.

Cost: $18/child; $28 for two children per family

Where:
Middle Creek Community Center
125 Middle Creek Ave.
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Website »

More information

Friday, December 13, 6:00pm, at both the Millbrook and Wake Forest Campuses. Put on your Christmas jammies, grab a blanket and come out for a  festive night to watch the classic animated...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crossroads Fellowship
2721 E Millbrook Road
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Crossroads Fellowship
Telephone: 919-981-0222
Contact Name: Lorraine Entwisle
Website »

More information

Have some fun and make something great at the Clay studio (and parents can sneak away and grab a bite or do some shopping at Northgate Mall). Each kid will complete and paint a piece of pottery...

Cost: $18 per child per workshop

Where:
1058 West Club Blvd
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Telephone: 919-560-2726
Contact Name: Lauren Tannenbaum
Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Sing along with the band as they perform holiday favorites of Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and more. 

Cost: Free

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

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Celebrate the love and joy that this season brings by creating art inspired by a Christmas tree. Register online. Choose course #126761.

Cost: $32/resident, $42/nonresident

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


Website »

More information

Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

More information

Our Reindeer Romp is open to the entire community and our Girls on the Run families. So join us! Celebrate as nearly 1,000 girls reach their end-of-season goals – the finish line is only the...

Cost: $30 - $35

Where:
Koka Booth Amphitheater
8003 Regency Pkwy
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Girls on the Run of the Triangle
Telephone: 919-401-6307
Contact Name: Jamie Botta
Website »

More information

Ages 5-12 make a picture frame for the holidays. Snack provided. Register online. 

Cost: $30/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver delight in the discoveries of nature. Register online. 

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

Travel with us to Puerto Rico with books, games and arts and crafts!  Join the staff of ISLA (Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition) for a fun filled hour! Best for ages 3 and up with a...

Cost: Free Gratis

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

One ticket admits the entire family to decorate a special gingerbread house. Supplies provided. Workshops available at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Allergy-free workshop available at 11 a.m....

Cost: $40

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Sue Henson
Website »

More information

Family Wildlife Series: Holiday Habitat Helpers Saturday, December 14, 2-3 Attract winter wildlife to your backyard by providing or improving their habitat.  Create simple outdoor decorations...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Embark on a wild ride with favorite Disney characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and many others in this fun-filled getaway featuring unexpected hijinks and character interaction. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we watch for meteors during the Gemenids Meteor Shower. Local astronomers will help us observe these shooting stars and other phenomena in the night sky. As a bonus we may see or hear...

Cost: Free

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

Favorite Christmas songs are presented in authentic Nashville country style with dazzling guitars and fiddles along with soaring harmonies. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Wake Forest Renaissance Centre
405 S. Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

See the choir perform beloved Christmas songs with guest vocal group AVANTE. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

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


Website »

More information

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