Day Trips for Triangle Families to Cap Off the Summer

All within about three hours of Durham

Want to savor the final days of summer break with your kids? Pack the car and the cooler for a day of fun. Here are 8 family-friendly options, all about three hours or less from Durham.


  1. North Carolina Zoo

Enter the world’s largest natural habitat zoo through its North American Entrance, and stroll through to the end at Junction Plaza before taking the return tram.

Please note that indoor habitats, indoor dining areas, seasonal attractions, education smart carts, Kidzone, playgrounds, Keeper Talks and animal feeding times, and tram services in Africa are currently suspended. The North Carolina Zoo does not offer discounts, including reciprocal zoo memberships, at this time.

  • Location: 4401 Zoo Pkwy., Asheboro, NC 27205
  • Distance from Durham: 1 h 25 min (86.8 mi)
  • Admission: $11-$15, ages 2 and younger free
  • COVID Restrictions: Guests are required to reserve a time slot or purchase a timed entry ticket prior to their visit. Face coverings are required in some areas, and social distancing and handwashing are expected. Staff wear face coverings and clean frequently touched surfaces. Guests follow one-way traffic patterns where possible, and tram runs one-way.


  1. South Mountain State Park

See an 80-foot waterfall at North Carolina’s largest state park. Pack a picnic, and enjoy more than 40 miles of trails. The High Shoals Falls Loop Trail has waterfall views, but the 2.7-mile loop is strenuous, especially for little legs. The park lies well within daytrip range, but campsites are also available with reservation.

  • Location: 3001 South Mountain Park Ave., Connelly Springs, NC 28612
  • Distance from Durham: 2 h 49 min (173.1 mi)
  • Price: Free
  • COVID Restrictions: Group camping is currently prohibited. The park opens at 7 a.m., and on weekends, the park typically reaches capacity by 10 a.m. Expect park entrance delays of 30 minutes to one hour.


  1. The Quarry at Carrigan Farms

Visit The Quarry at Carrigan Farms for Open Swim. Children 11 and younger must wear a life vest in the water; ages 12 and up may take a swim test to swim without a life vest. Carrigan Farms has widened the boardwalk to help with social distancing.

  • Location: 1213 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy., Mooresville, NC 28115
  • Distance from Durham: 1 h 57 min (124.3 mi)
  • Price: $15 per person, $5 deposit required for reservation which is applied as food purchase credit, cash or check only
  • COVID Restrictions: Capacity is limited, so make a reservation. Groups are limited to 10 people or less. Staff has increased cleaning, guests are encouraged to maintain social distance. When six-foot separation is not possible, Carrigan Farms requests that all guests who are not strenuously exercising wear face coverings.


  1. Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

Riders control the speed of their sled, and young children ride with adults ages 16 and older who can control the speed. The coaster is open 7 days per week, but Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays require registered check-in times. Be sure to check social media accounts prior to arrival for any updates or closures.

  • Location: 3265 Tynecastle Hwy., Banner Elk, NC 28604
  • Distance from Durham: 3 h 6 min (180.1 mi)
  • Pricing: $5-$16 per person, bundle packages of rides available
  • COVID Restrictions: Staff wears masks, frequently disinfects hard surfaces, and sanitizes sleds between uses. Guests must wear facemasks while in line and in the gift shop, but they are not required during the coaster ride.


  1. Bush-N-Vine Farm

Peaches are available for picking on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. through early September. Pumpkins will be available in late September through October. Be sure to also check out the picnic area, observation beehive, and farm stand, which is stocked with fresh fruits, vegetables, and ice cream.

  • Location1650 Filbert Hwy., York, SC 29745
  • Distance from Durham: 2 h 49 min (186.2 mi)
  • Price: Free, cost for peaches and purchased items
  • COVID Restrictions: Guests are not required to wear masks while picking produce. Staff wear masks in the farm stand, and all checkout counters have plexiglass barriers. No more than 10 customers are allowed to shop the stand at a time.


Categories: Things To Do