For most kids in the Triangle, summer break starts this week. And that means families have a long summer ahead. A year ago, when I was writing this guide, activities were few and far between. It wasn’t even clear if many public pools would even open.
This year, things are still different. But we’re moving into a better direction, and there are so many more things to do. I hope we all get a lot of play time this summer. Here are lots of ways to have a blast this summer.
Most public pools and spraygrounds are open for the summer. Just know that you’ll need to make reservations in advance to swim in many of the pools. Our public pool and sprayground database has the details.
Pick up a book
We all should be picking up a few summer reads to relax and keep our brains working, especially kids. Libraries and businesses are offering some programs that encourage lots of reading with fun prizes and activities.
Watch an outdoor movie
The pandemic triggered lots of growth in outdoor movie options across the Triangle. And on summer evenings, they can offer a great opportunity for a perfect family night. Triangle Drive-In in Raleigh and the Drive-In at Carraway Village in Chapel Hill have a regular schedule of movies. Raleigh Road Outdoor Theater is another option in Henderson. Bull City Reels in Durham will screen “The Croods: A New Ice Age” in July and “Mrs Doubtfire” in August. And Dix Park will be offering a variety of movies through August.
Explore a museum
Museums are open, but in some cases, you’re going to need to buy your tickets in advance because of safety measures aimed at limiting capacity to encourage social distancing. Follow the links for more information and other details about COVID protocols.
Here are the details:
See some lemurs
Take a special trip to Durham for a tour of the Duke Lemur Center, which reopened in June after being closed for more than a year. You’ll need to plan these in advance. The tours might be fun to do along with extended family or a group of friends.
Go for a walk
Duke Gardens also reopened in June after being closed to the general public for more than a year. Capacity is limited, so if you can swing a weekday visit, you might avoid the crowds. Or check our list of top hikes for families.
Spend a day at the zoo
The N.C. Zoo in Asheboro has been busy, welcoming lots of new animals over the last year. They include a new elephant, red wolf pups, a polar bear and sand cat. It also launched a Snorin’ Safari overnight program.
Looking for ways to help out as a family? Activate Good offers all kinds of in-person and at-home volunteer opportunities for people of all ages. Visit Activate Good’s website and make a summer plan to give back as a family.
Check out a new playground
Cheer for the home team
Sports are back on in the Triangle, and we have lots of teams to cheer on this summer.
Sign up for an I Spy tour
Little ones and their adults can sign up for an I Spy tour at JC Raulston Arboretum. Get a small group of friends (no more than 10 total) and register in advance for an hour-long experience at the arboretum near NC State.
Harris Lake County Park in Wake County has orienteering courses that are perfect for newbies.
Go for a train ride
New Hope Valley Railway has lots of rides lined up through the summer. These open-air car rides take you through rural southwestern Wake County. Just know that rides are popular and can fill up. Get your tickets in advance.
Check out a local farm
Go for a spin
Hop aboard the train and carousel at Pullen Park. Just know that they are operating on a limited schedule and not on the same days.
Color the parks
Check out the “giant coloring books” at two Raleigh parks, and let the kids go wild filling the shapes in with their own designs. Chalk is available (but you might want to bring your own too).
See the flowers
Sunflowers were big at local farms last year, and they are coming back. Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville will host its Sunflower Festival from July 31 to Aug. 22. The popular field will be back at Dix Park this summer too. Firefly Farm in Hillsborough offers pick-your-own flowers of all kinds in the spring and summer. (Book online before you go.)
Go for ice cream
Before the summer ends, see how many of these spots you can get to: