How Kids Can Make Neighborhood Friends

Help kids connect with their community


Published:

Playing outdoors is a great way to connect with neighbors.

Photo by Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock.com

Neighborhoods matter. Where children live, play and attend school impacts their long-term social, emotional and physical health. According to research presented in the American Journal of Community Psychology, kids in disadvantaged neighborhoods get less physical activity and underperform at school compared to those in wealthier areas. Neighborhood connections matter too. The same study also shows that “social embeddedness,” or a strong connection to social and cultural relationships within a neighborhood, can help protect families from some of these negative outcomes. Like growing a garden, cultivating a richly connected neighborhood may take time and effort, but families can reap rewards for years. Here’s how to create social connectedness in your corner of the world.


Early Years

Neighborhood Knowledge

Creating a connected community starts with getting to know your neighborhood and your neighbors, says Catherine Bagwell, professor of psychology at Oxford College of Emory University in Georgia.

“One of the most important ways to foster relationships with neighbors is to create opportunities for children to have frequent, positive contact and interactions with them,” she says. Often, this simply means playing outdoors, from riding bikes and scooters in the driveway to spending time at a local park. Investing in your own sports and play gear like a simple soccer goal or basketball hoop can attract neighborhood children to your yard.

Help children get to know their area by creating a scavenger hunt that includes specific neighborhood landmarks and ask other kids on the block to participate. Young children are usually generous and enthusiastic about giving. Offering neighbors baked goods or a handpicked bouquet of backyard flowers can help facilitate introductions and build friendships over time.


Elementary Years

Safe Spots

Remember long hours spent roaming your childhood neighborhood? Many adults do, but kids today don’t get nearly as much unsupervised outdoor time as their parents did mainly because of concerns about safety. When neighborhoods are viewed as less safe, kids spend more time inside, get less exercise and are less connected to their communities. According to Bright Horizons Family Solutions, a child care provider with locations throughout the Triangle area of North Carolina, helping kids feel safer in their community fosters a healthier, more balanced perspective to counteract the sometimes scary world depicted by news reports.

Families concerned about neighborhood safety can establish guidelines for outdoor play like requiring kids to check in with parents every hour or always coming home by dusk. They also can allow kids to explore community centers where they can play with peers in a more supervised setting. Devices like the GizmoGadget, GizmoPal or Tinitell watches provide GPS tracking and basic phone service to give parents peace of mind while kids enjoy free-range neighborhood play.


Teen Years

Grass Roots

For teens motivated by earning some extra cash, starting a neighborhood business can build community connections along with independence, social skills and earning power. A quick look around the neighborhood can help teens determine which types of businesses might flourish. Are there lots of lawns in need of care? Young families who need babysitting? Professionals who travel and need pet- or house-sitting services? Or would a car-washing or dog-walking business work best? Handing out business cards or flyers around the neighborhood can help teens make face-to-face connections with people in their immediate area. Meeting neighbors and earning money are the immediate benefits, but learning about neighborhood needs and figuring out a way to fill them is an exercise with long-term learning value.


Malia Jacobson is a nationally published journalist. Her latest book is “Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades.”

 

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Calendar

February 2019

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Come by the park center any time during the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count to view a free slideshow of the birds of Yates Mill Pond. Over 150 photographs of birds are featured in the...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Join park staff in collecting data for the 22nd annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

Celebrate all things cats at the Tica Time Cat Show. Watch judging, learn about the different cat breeds, interact with the breeders and exhibitors, cheer on favorite cats, shop...

Cost: $5.00 adults; discounts for children and families

Where:
NC State Fairgrounds: Holshouser Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 9194774221919-477-42
Contact Name: Ruth Willett
Website »

More information

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
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Take your favorite Valentine to the farm and join all the animals for some Valentines fun. Meet Peppa Pig and Annie the Donkey, and feed the horses and other animals. Take...

Cost: $13.50/person

Where:
Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919-407-1806
Contact Name: Andrew
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Zuri's Paint and Read Party is a event to bring awareness to young girls who have natural hair to let them know how beautiful they are and that being natural is perfectly acceptable. Paint...

Cost: $15-$25

Where:
Abbott's Creek Community Center
9950 Durant Rd.
Raleigh , NC  27614
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Sponsor: Classy Hair Products
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Cost: Free

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


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

More information

Search for salamanders, birds, deer and more. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #121683.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Search for salamanders, birds, deer and more. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #121683.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Join a park naturalist on a one-mile hike around Yates Mill Pond and help to identify and count the birds that we see along the way. Learn how to identify backyard birds by sight, sound, and other...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Enjoy afternoon tea in a beautiful Victorian home. Refreshment and light fare will be served and consist of tea sandwiches, scones, fruit and cakes. Unplug and experience the luxury and...

Cost: $25/person

Where:
Morning Glory Inn Bed & Breakfast
507 East 2nd Street
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Website »

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Walk along the trails and ponds to discover creatures in nature as they settle down for the night. Look for owls and other birds at dusk. Take a flashlight. All ages; children...

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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The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Is it true that Turkey and Eagle once faced off to see who would be our national bird? Find out the answer and discover the natural characteristics that made each bird a contender. Celebrate...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Help staff add to the Great Backyard Bird Count data by walking along the trails and shoreline to identify birds in different habitats of the park. Free for all ages. Suggested for ages 4...

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

Come by the park center any time during the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count to view a free slideshow of the birds of Yates Mill Pond. Over 150 photographs of birds are featured in the...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Join park staff in collecting data for the 22nd annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization.

Cost: $15 or use your package/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

Family Wildlife Series: ​Counting is for the Birds! Monday, February 18 10-11 a.m. Join Blue Jay staff to hear a bird story (or two), try a fun bird activity (or three)  and count how many...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 191-987-04330

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Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Ages 5-13 enjoy a one-hour yoga class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness, encourage the development of communication and social...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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More information

Spend the afternoon learning all about birds and why it is important that we help conserve them. We will go on a bird behavior scavenger hunt, play the migration game, and learn how to identify...

Cost: Free

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


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

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Learn about the history of the Eastern Bluebird and how you can attract them to your yard. Hike along our bluebird trail to check the park boxes and prepare them for the coming season. Then make...

Cost: Free

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

More information

William Peace University presents its final concert of the 2018-2019 year of the Manning Music Series in partnership with the North Carolina Symphony.  The concert features the String...

Cost: Free

Where:
William Peace University
15 East Peace St.
Kenan Hall
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Website »

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Join us on a winter bird scavenger hunt! Search for common birds of the park and count them along the way. Practice using binoculars and learn how to identify these animals by shape and color. For...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Is it true that Turkey and Eagle once faced off to see who would be our national bird? Find out the answer and discover the natural characteristics that made each bird a contender. Celebrate...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization and more.

Cost: $15/child, use your package/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt Carmel Church Rd
chapel hill, NC  27517
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy "Planes" on a big screen. Take snacks and blankets. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Can you believe there are active beavers building dams and lodges inside Raleigh’s beltline?? Bring your budding naturalist to the park to learn about these awesome creatures that call our park...

Cost: $2

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


Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood

More information

Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department and Shaw University Men's & Women's Soccer teams offer spring soccer clinics for youth ages 5‐7 who are interested in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road (Softball Field)
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

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Celebrate Black History Month with a poetry reading featuring Ashley Harris, Fred Joiner, and members of the local youth and teen poet community. Ashley Harris is a former youth-slam competitor and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Show More...
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The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Is it true that Turkey and Eagle once faced off to see who would be our national bird? Find out the answer and discover the natural characteristics that made each bird a contender. Celebrate...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Connect with your baby, other parents and yourself during this adult-focused postpartum yoga class. Recommended for babies newborn to walking. Take a mat, a blanket for your little one, and...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

Meet other families in your community in a recreation setting. The play room will be reserved for parents and their young children. Sports and recreation equipment will be available...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

This program is designed to move at a toddler’s pace: Run. Stop. Pick dandelions. Run. Climb on a rock. Find an interesting leaf! Join others for an easy-paced hike around the greenway...

Cost: FREE

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


Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood

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Sharpen your culinary skills and learn some new ones during this cooking class for would-be chefs. Call or stop by to register 919-245-2532 to register. Space is limited.

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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This after-school class for kids in grades 3-5 offers fun learning yoga poses and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. Grades 3-5. 

Cost: $15/class, or use your class pass/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt. Carmel Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person, $2 for ages 2 and younger

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


Website »

More information

Learn to recognize warning signs of unhealthy dating relationships and potential dating violence. In addition, participants will learn current sexting statistics and trends as well as North...

Cost: Free

Where:
Poe Center for Heath Education
224 Sunnybrook Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Website »

More information

Parents learn ways to discipline and communicate with a toddler to increase cooperation and reduce power struggles. Register online.

Cost: $22/person, $33/couple

Where:
Project Enlightenment
501 S. Boylan Ave.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Show Less...

The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

Chase away the winter blues with a hike through the JC Raulston Arboretum's Winter Garden! Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center ready for a fun time outside. From there, we will go to the...

Cost: $5.00 per child for Arboretum family members, $7.00 per child for nonmembers (no

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


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

More information

Put on your fanciest clothes and come to the royal ball! Don your crowns, dance the night away, and enjoy other royal activities fit for tiny kings and queens.

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Whooo’s active in the park after dark? Find out during a night hike at Crowder! Learn about owls and other birds that are active at night. Bundle up—it is cold outside!  For all ages (adult...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »

More information

Enjoy fun, games, friendship and more every Friday.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Yates Mill has served as a source of artistic inspiration for more than two centuries and continues to be the subject of numerous local works of art. Help us to celebrate the opening of the...

Cost: Free

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

More information

Ages 5 and older investigate what's up in space this month. Program begins with an indoor presentation and (weather permitting) moves outside after sunset to view the moon, stars, and more with...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

Ages 15 and older with disabilities enjoy dancing, music, games and refreshments. Take a camera for a photo in front of a winter scene background. Register online. 

Cost: $3

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


Website »

More information

This class is a chance for adventurous women to get together for a fun-filled workshop where we explore the basics of aerial silks. No need for a background in aerial yoga, this is a workshop...

Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
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The Flying Biscuit Café celebrates National Pancake Month by bringing back its Red Velvet Pancakes. The delicious red velvet pancakes, complete with hand-made cream cheese...

Cost: Dine-in purchase required

Where:
Flying Biscuit - Raleigh
2016 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27605
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

The sixth annual Marbles Future Me Kids Career Fair introduces children to architects, dentists, engineers, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs and many other...

Cost: $7 ages 1 and older

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online. Choose course #121613.

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

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Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Bible Fellowship
9043 Chapel Hill Road
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Telephone: 919-468-4590
Website »

More information

Poets everywhere are speaking out about what they believe in. In this generative workshop, we'll examine techniques used in poems that tackle tough topics like racial inequality, immigration,...

Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

Artist Pinkie Strother is known for her three-dimensional figures that place everyday people in historical scenes, as was Ernie Barnes, whose work is on exhibit. In this hands-on workshop, see...

Cost: $20 for non-museum members

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy a docent-led tours through exhibits that highlight the contributions of African-Americans to North Carolina.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. Discover how animals prepare for cold weather and which ones...

Cost: Free

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

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

Gather 'round the campfire for an evening of storytelling, nature, and marshmallows. As dusk falls, we'll come together to meet new friends, enjoy quality time, and share a tale connected...

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

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