7 Family Outings to Make December Fun
Shopping for gifts. Wrapping. Baking. Cleaning. Cooking. As the holidays approach, our to-do lists get longer, and family fun seems to take a backseat to obligations and chores. Each December, I try to find time for spontaneity and joy by heading back to nature with my family. Here are some outings — offered at Wake County Parks and Recreation areas — that let you and your family relax and enjoy the season together.
1. "Geocaching 101" – Friday, Dec. 4, 3-4:30 p.m. Learn about geocaching and then search for some newly placed geocaches along the American Tobacco Trail. GPS units will be provided, and instruction will be given on how to use them. Pre-registration is required as space is limited based on available equipment. This program is for ages 6 and up, and the cost is $5/family. Participants meet at the New Hill Parking Area, 1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Road in Apex.
2. "Take a Photo with Santa at the Old Mill" – Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Have your picture made with Santa inside Historic Yates Mill County Park, play some "reindeer games" in the mill yard and try out a variety of old-time toys. Enjoy free seasonal refreshments. You'll also find handmade crafts for sale. Photo packages are $15 and up, and a digital image ia $35. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. on Dec. 5. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Yates Mill Associates’ ongoing efforts to keep Yates Mill operating. Throughout the day in the park center, visitors can also participate in an Art in the Park: Handmade Holidays program and make hand-crafted greeting cards for family and friends. Historic Yates Mill County Park is located at 4620 Lake Wheeler Road in Raleigh.
Photo at right courtesy of Historic Oak View County Park Staff
3. "Sleigh Rides and Cider" – Saturday, Dec. 5, 5-7:30 p.m. Get in the holiday spirit at Historic Oak View County Park's annual Sleigh Rides and Cider event. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage, play a game of holiday bingo, and listen to fun stories and entertaining music. Enjoy free hot apple cider and cookies, and help support Oak View's holiday crafts and bake sale fundraiser. End your night by visiting Santa Claus. Historic Oak View County Park is located at 4028 Carya Drive in Raleigh.
4. "Family Feature: Winter Wrap Up" – Sunday, Dec. 13, 2-3 p.m. Bundle up and join a naturalist at Crowder District Park to learn how to identify tracks, explore conifers and drink pine-needle tea. Observe snow and ice through hands-on science experiments, and don't forget to bring your scarf and mittens. This program is for all ages. The fee is $5/family, and pre-registration is required. Crowder District Park is located at 4709 Ten-Ten Road in Apex.
5. "Geminids Meteor Shower Viewing" – Sunday, Dec. 13, 6-9 p.m. View the Geminids Meteorite Shower, which is caused by the tail of an extinct comet, 3200 Phaethon, passing through the earth’s atmosphere. Dress warmly and take a reclining chair or warm blanket to Blue Jay Point County Park to spread on the ground for seating. Telescopes will be provided to look at other objects in the sky. Poor viewing conditions will cancel this event, so call (919) 870-4330 for a recorded message or check the park's Facebook page after 5 p.m. Sunday for updated conditions. Blue Jay Point County Park is located at 3200 Pleasant Union Church Road in Raleigh.
Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com
6. "Winter Waterfowl Workshop" – Saturday, Dec. 19, 9 a.m.-noon. Lake Crabtree County Park is a birding hotspot, and a great place to observe both common and uncommon winter waterfowl. Learn to identify various species by looking at field markings, behaviors and more. Participants will spend time observing waterfowl on the lake, so dress warmly. This program is free and for adults only. Pre-registration is required.Lake Crabtree is located at 1400 Aviation Parkway in Morrisville.
7. "Crafts and More for Kids" – Monday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Finish shopping while your kids enjoy four hours of crafting, hiking and games at Harris Lake County Park. Your child's crafts make wonderful holiday gifts. Send a lunch and water bottle. Park staff will provide a snack and all the supplies. This program is for ages 6 to12, and the program fee is $16/child. Pre-registration is required, and participants meet at the park office. Harris Lake County Park is located at 2112 County Park Drive in New Hill.