Things for Kids to do at the Biltmore

Tour the Biltmore house and then move on for more kid-friendly fun.


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Be sure to bring your camera. There are lots of photo opportunities at the Biltmore in Asheville.

Photo by Michele Huggins

 

Whether it's your first visit or you've been many times before, the centerpiece of Biltmore Estate is the Biltmore House. It's architecture, history, and grand presence make it worth the visit, but in addition to touring the house, visitors can hike trails, see waterfalls, go horseback riding and fishing, take a carriage ride or go whitewater rafting, making the visit just a bit more exciting for active kids. 

My 7-year-old son and I spent two days exploring the Biltmore, spending a couple nights at the Village Hotel. The beauty of the estate's forests, farmland and vistas wow me each time I visit, but I expected some of that awe to be lost on my 7-year-old. Thanks to outdoor adventure, fishing, the specially designed audio tour for kids, and a swimming pool at the hotel, he and I had a wonderful getaway.

And summer is the perfect time to visit the Biltmore, as kids 16 and younger are admitted free with ticketed adult. The summer special runs through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Don't forget your camera! There are so many beautiful spots for family photos.


Touring the House

The house is massive — a castle in the eyes of my 7-year-old son. With 250-rooms, the details can get lost on kids, but it can also spark some funny conversations. The Kids Audio Tour, which is told by Cedric the dog — the Vanderbilt's beloved Saint Bernard — highlights facts and figures about the construction of the house and tidbits on the Vanderbilt's lifestyle in the late 19th century. The tour takes about two hours, which is long for children younger than 6, and trying for children younger than 10 or 11 — something to consider before embarking on the tour that has all visitors follow the same guided path through the house. 

Just when my son's attention was waning, Cedric mentioned secret passages and to look for hidden doors in the room. Game on. The kids audio tour shared highlights of what life was like for Cornelia Vanderbilt, the only daughter of George and Edith Vanderbilt, as a child growing up and playing in the fairytale-like house. He liked seeing the bowling alley and swimming pool, and we had fun looking at portraits of the family dressed in typical 19th-century fashion and talking about how funny it would our family dressed like that. In other words, make your own fun during the tour and sprinkle in reminders that there is more fun to come.

Word to the Wise: Be prepared to climb stairs, which makes maneuvering a stroller tricky. If you have a baby, opt for wearing them in a baby carrier. Also, the earlier you go, the smaller the crowd.

Biltmore House

On the house tour.

Michele Huggins


The Gardens and Trails

After touring the house, we visited the "confectionary" and Toymaker's store in the shops beside the house before going for a stroll in the gardens. Biltmore’s magnificent gardens erupt in bright colors each summer, with towering tropical foliage, flowers that attract both butterflies and hummingbirds, and the heady scent of the historic rose garden. The massive conservatory also has beautiful orchids, banana trees and many other tropical plant varieties.

Just around the bend from the gardens is the Bass Pond and Boat House. The Bass Pond Path is a half-mile loop trail that is easy walking and good for all ages. You can breakaway and extend the hike on the Meadow Trail, a quarter-mile loop that has you climbing hills through the meadow. There is also the Creekside Trail that is an easy quarter-mile trail. The trails are well-maintained and easy for all ages to walk along. There are more than 22 miles of hiking trails to explore, so pick your route and go explore.

Bass Pond at Biltmore

Bass Pond at Biltmore

Michele Huggins


Antler Hill Village

From the Biltmore house, catch a shuttle or drive over to Antler Hill Village where you will find a nook of activity with restaurants and shops. On summer weekend evenings, it comes alive with Live After Five. Live music on the Village Green features jazz and pop. A kids' grape stomp is held nearby, and you can get a scoop of ice cream at the Creamery, as well as a sandwich or salad. This is also where you'll find the Biltmore Winery.

This summer, Lego lovers will be intrigued to see a Lego model of the Biltmore on display in the wine shop at Antler Hill Village. The model features 50,000 toy bricks and 600-plus hours of hard work and comes in at 10 feet in length.

More than 50,000 Lego bricks make up this model of the Biltmore on display at Antler Hill Wine Shop.

Photo courtesy of Biltmore Estate

 

Just down the hill from the Village Green shops is the Antler Hill Barn and Farmyard. Wind your way through the barn and farmyard to see chickens, cows, donkeys and goats. And just steps away is the Pisgah Playground where little ones can swing, slide and climb.

Biltmore_Farmyard

Biltmore Farmyard

MICHELE HUGGINS

 

Also in the Village is the Vanderbilt Travels Railway, a 250-foot model train display handcrafted from leaves, twigs and other natural materials. Enjoy seeing five separate trains threading through miniature versions of well-known landmarks (all stops on past Vanderbilt travels), including the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, London Bridge and more. The railway was constructed by Applied Imagination, which creates an annual holiday train display in the New York Botanical Garden.

Part of the Vanderbilts Travel Railway Exhibit.

Photo courtesy of Biltmore

 

After a walk around the barnyard, stop by the mercantile to see blacksmithing and woodworking demos. There's also an old tractor and carriage that kids can climb on and grab the reins. Throughout the mercantile are historic markers and photos with details on how the community was transformed after the Vanderbilts arrived and built their home, and some toys from the time period kids can try as well.


Bring Your Bikes

Many of the outdoor adventures at Biltmore cost extra, but you can bring your own bikes and explore miles of paved bike trails to ride throughout the estate. You can also rent bikes at the Outdoor Adventure Center nearby Antler Hill Village. 


Fishing and Rafting

Rafting on the French Broad is another adventure available from the estate. The river float is a gentle ride great for first-time rafters. Children as young as 3 can join in on a guided rafting trip.

Fishing is another option for outdoor adventure, and the option my son and I chose. We met our guide mid-morning at the Outdoor Adventure Center in Antler Village. Our guide drove us to the lake where a rowboat, gear, bait and tackle was ready to go.

Biltmore_Fishing

On our fishing expedition at the Biltmore. 

MICHELE HUGGINS

Just the three of us floated for two hours on the small lake. Our guide patiently instructed my son on casting and reeling in a catch. Four catches later, he was hooked on fishing, and I was happy to have simply watched and enjoyed the view of the Biltmore House from boat. The fishing adventure is limited to one parent and one child (ages 7-11 must be accompanied by an adult). Note: Fishing without a guide on the Biltmore property isn't allowed.

Biltmore_Fishing_2

One of the Bass caught on our fishing expedition.

MICHELE HUGGINS

 


Horseback and Carriage Rides

Biltmore Carriage

The carriage can set up to 12, and affords a great view of the back of the Biltmore House along the way.

Michele Huggins

 

For a different view of the property, sign up for a carriage ride. The 45-minute carriage ride ends with a stunning view of the back of the Biltmore House. Along the way, our guide shared an immense amount of history with us about the Biltmore family. 

One-hour horseback ride tours are available as well to anyone age 8 and older. Call in advance to make reservations.


Village Hotel

The Village Hotel is just beside the Winery and Antler Hill Village, which makes it easy to walk over to Pisgah Playground or the Farmyard. It also has a heated swimming pool and hotel restaurant. There is so much to do on the estate, it's easy to make it a two-day visit. 

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November 2017

Step back in time with a 19th-century costumed interpreter and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Registration encouraged online. Tickets available at the...

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

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Raleigh, NC
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Celebrate the wonderful world of exotic animals and reptiles. Enjoy live specimens, presentations, raffles, vendors and much more. Purchase tickets online.  

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

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N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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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

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Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Kicks off the holiday season with local art, music, food, and family activities at various locations in Durham’s historic downtown district. Presented by the Durham Arts Council with support...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

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Downtown Durham
120 Morris St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
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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
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Celebrate the natural world and where favorite Thanksgiving foods come from. Make a craft. All ages with adult. Register online.

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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
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Search the preserve for hidden holiday-themed clues and learn about native wild turkeys. Make a turkey decoration. Ages 5 and older with parent. Register online. Choose course code...

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Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC
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Search for salamanders, owls and more. Ages 10-13. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in the District. This year’s event will take place the weekend of November 17th. Take the family to enjoy train rides, magical winter lights, live...

Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

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Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-234-6710
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See ponies, hunters and jumpers compete in an event that benefits Duke Children's Hospital. Visit the website for hours and fees.

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Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
4601 Trinity Rd.
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Make crafts celebrating turkeys. All ages with adult. Meet at the Cardinal Shelter. Registration not required. 

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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn what it was like to be a kid at the first Thanksgiving. Play games and make a food collage. Choose either the 10:30-noon and 2-3:30 p.m. session. Ages 7 and older. Register online.

Cost: $6/child

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
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Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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Explore the woods and shoreline for signs of nature and collect treasures to make a craft. Take a full water bottle, snack and a bag lunch. Ages 6-11. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Advance...

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Harris Lake County Park
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New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Jackie Trickel
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Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Listen for the sound of silver bells and climb aboard in your pajamas for a first-class journey on the Polar Express. Come early to meet Santa and enjoy kid-friendly activities and a traditional...

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Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Athletes improve their flexibility, balance, joint mobility, as well as body and breath awareness. Special attention will be paid to core strength and posture and its importance in performance and...

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Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
Website »

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Celebrate what you're thankful for. Play a game and make a pine cone turkey craft. All ages with adult. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Shop more than 20 local vendors offering amazing gifts this holiday season. Enjoy daily raffles with proceeds benefiting local animal rescue Paws in the City. Kids can enjoy crafts...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

More information

Children ages 18 months-4 years and their parents enjoy free creative movement and music classes. The creative movement class focuses on the development of gross motor skills and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: St. Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Sarah Rapp
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
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Read the story by Karma Wilson and make a Thanksgiving-themed craft. All ages. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

See a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovky's timeless music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See a contemporary re-imagination of Tchaikovky's timeless music. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $35-$55

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


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Fit & Able Productions presents the Turkey Chase trail festival at Umstead Park. Take part in a 5K, 10K or 20K. After the race, enjoy fruit, brownies and other...

Cost: $25-$45

Where:
Umstead Park
8801 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Fit and Able Productions
Telephone: 919-673-4689
Contact Name: Travis
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More information

Celebrate what you're thankful for. Play a game and make a pine cone turkey craft. All ages with adult. Drop-in program. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Toddler Time is a special time for ages 5 and younger to bounce under the supervision of their parents, and without interference from the big kids. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd., Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Shop more than 20 local vendors offering amazing gifts this holiday season. Enjoy daily raffles with proceeds benefiting local animal rescue Paws in the City. Kids can enjoy crafts...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Crossroads
333 Crossroads Blvd
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

The Raleigh Boychoir makes an appearance before its big Christmas concert.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Kids ages 6 and younger enjoy stories. Take part in an optional arts and crafts session after storytime for $5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Read With Me Book Shop
111 E. Hargett St., $110
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a 30-minute tour to view the main power drive and milling machinery. Tickets available inside the park's visitor center. Online registration encouraged.

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

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
Website »

More information

See the classic holiday story brought to life onstage featuring favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and...

Cost: $15 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Catch this comedy classic on the big screen—as the symphony plays the charming and delightful score by John Williams live. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $14-$29

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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