Cool Summer Fun Out of the Hot Sun

14 ways to chill during the Triangle's warmer months
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Photo courtesy of Beth Shugg
TreeRunner Raleigh, an aerial adventure park offering seven different courses, hosts night climbs and other themed events throughout the summer under tall, shady trees.

Looking for ways to spend some time outdoors with your kids this summer, but don’t want to swelter under the hot, midday sun? The Triangle is full of fun, family-friendly activities you can embark on in the early morning or evening, when it’s cooler.

To get you started charting a fun (and educational) summer, we’ve compiled a list of places to go and things to do. And since we’re moms, we’re compelled to remind you to wear sunscreen and bug repellent, be sure you’re back to your car by dusk, and check for ticks after spending time in grassy or woodsy areas.

Try the following activities — many of which you can do right at home.

1. Go on a Treetop Adventure.

Get the kids moving while keeping them in the shade at TreeRunner Raleigh, an aerial adventure park offering more than 70 obstacles and seven different courses. Experience ropes courses, zip lines at three difficulty levels and a junior park designed for ages 4-7, which makes this a popular destination for the entire family. TreeRunner Raleigh also offers birthday parties, team building activities and school field trips.

Throughout summer, TreeRunner Raleigh is hosting themed events, night climbs, glow nights, water wars and more. Here are the remaining themed events planned for summer 2019:

  • Wednesday, July 24 and Wednesday, Aug. 7: Date Night
  • Saturday, July 27: Water Wars
  • Wednesday, July 31: College Night – Night Climb
  • Saturday, Aug. 10: Color Fest

Photo of a TreeRunner Raleigh night climb courtesy of Beth Shugg


Up next, catch fireflies!


2. Catch fireflies. 

If you use a jar, punch holes in the lid so the fireflies have oxygen, and release them after a short time. Also called lightning bugs, fireflies are actually beetles. The cold light they produce comes from a chemical reaction that occurs in a light-emitting organ located in their lower abdomen. 

Photo courtesy of Suzanne Tucker/


Up next, make homemade ice cream or smoothies.


3. Make homemade ice cream or smoothies. 

Making the old-fashioned, hand-cranked kind of ice cream may take longer, but it gives everyone a chance to slow down. Add strawberries, peaches or peppermint candy for an added treat. Try this ice cream recipe. If you want to introduce a nutritious frozen snack to your kids, try making these healthy smoothies.

Photo courtesy of Shaith/

Up next, cool down in an indoor water park!


4. Cool Down in an Indoor Water Park.

This summer, Great Wolf Lodge in Concord announced the availability of day passes to its popular indoor water park. The passes cost $65 per person (kids under age 2 get in free) for a full day of sliding, coasting, racing and relaxing in 84-degree water. Day pass access starts at 10 a.m. and guests can stay through the end of the day.

An outdoor pool and Howlers Peak Ropes Course is open daily during the summer as well (weather permitting), if you decide you want to mix some outdoor pool action into your day. If your kids already have MagiQuest wands, bring those along. For the cost of a game, they can open treasure chests and slay dragons for hours of cool, air-conditioned fun. 

Photo courtesy of Beth Shugg


Up next, look for wildlife.


5. Look for wildlife. 

Visit one of the many parks in our area to hike a trail that leads to forested lands or that borders a body of water to see a variety of wildlife native to the Triangle area. 

Photo of Hemlock Bluffs in Cary courtesy of Bill Stice


Up next, go camping.


6. Camp out. 

Whether you pitch a tent in your own backyard, or head to a state park campground for a full weekend of camping activities, there's nothing quite like enjoying a summer night under the stars. Which leads to our next suggestion … 

Photo courtesy of RonTech3000/


Up next, stargaze.


7. Stargaze.

Just lie back for a moving experience gazing up at the nighttime sky. All you need is a beach towel or old blanket, and a relatively unobstructed view of the sky. Morehead Planetarium and Science Center offers indoor and outdoor star-gazing activities. 

Photo courtesy of Allexxander/


Up next, hike and bike.


8. Hike and bike. 

Take a family hike or bike around your neighborhood, or a local greenway early in the morning or when the sun is past its peak. The Triangle has an abundance of city, county and state parks located right around the corner or less than an hour’s drive away. Check park websites for hours of operation and activities.

Photo of Capital Area Greenway courtesy of Raleigh Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services


Up next, try geocaching or letterboxing.


9. Try geocaching or letterboxing. 

If you like treasure hunting, you’ll get a kick out of geocaching, or the more kid-friendly letterboxing. For the uninitiated, geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt in which participants use a GPS to locate a small, waterproof container filled with treasure that has been placed there by other geocachers. Proper etiquette requires that you bring a treasure to replace what's in there, so there will be a prize for the next geocacher to find. To locate geocaches close to you, visit and type in your ZIP code, or city and state.

Letterboxing actually predates geocaching and does not require a GPS, since other navigational methods are used. For more information and locations near you, visit

Photo of the American Tobacco Trail, a popular geocaching site, courtesy of Beth Shugg


Up next, watch out oudoor movie or concert at night.


10. Watch an outdoor movie or concert at night. 

Outdoor movies and concerts are offered at many Triangle venues and are typically held during the evening hours. Read our summer movie deals and outdoor concert roundups for locations and details. 

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Symphony


Up next, explore a museum.


11. Explore a museum. 

Between Raleigh and Durham, there are numerous, state-of-the-art museums to explore. From Marbles Kids Museum's air-conditioned indoor exhibits to the Museum of Life and Science's shady "Hideaway Woods" playspace, you'll have plenty of options to keep the kids entertained, and educated, all summer long.


Photo courtesy of the Museum of Life and Science 


Up next, take an art walk.


12. Take an art walk. 

Triangle towns offer the perfect opportunity for families to see a variety of art one evening a month, when galleries stay open later than usual. While other areas have started to offer similar versions, two well-established art walks in the Triangle are First Friday Raleigh and 2nd Friday Art Walk in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.


Up next, take the kids to a baseball game.


13. Take the kids to a baseball game. 

What better way to spend a summer evening than watching one of the Triangle’s professional baseball teams? Check out the Durham Bulls and Carolina Mudcats for some wholesome, all-American fun. 

Photo of the Durham Bulls courtesy of Andrea Catenaro/


Up next, check out a farmers market.


14. Support local farmers.

Some farmers markets open early in the morning, and many stay open in the evening when it's cooler. Shop for fresh produce and meet the people who grow your food by exploring one of the Triangle's many farmers markets.

Photo of the State Farmers Market in Raleigh courtesy of Eric Krouse/

Cathy Downs of Cary hopes to participate in many of these cool activities with her husband and son.

Categories: Family, Food + Fun, Outdoors, Parenting, Things To Do, Travel