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Your guide to summer fun across the Triangle :: WRAL.com

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.

Get wet

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.

Outdoor movie at Dix Park

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:

Blue-eyed black lemur 'Brady' from the Duke Lemur Center.

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.

Payton, the polar bear, at the N.C. Zoo

Give back

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

We have a few new playgrounds in the Triangle, including the big one at Blue Jay Point County Park, in Pittsboro and at River Bend Park in Raleigh.

Playground at Blue Jay Point County Park

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.

Try orienteering

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.

New Hope Valley Railway

Check out a local farm

For fun outdoor memories, head to Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville, Spring Haven Farm in Chapel Hill and two new spots – Lazy Hound Farm in Zebulon and Eno River Farm in Hillsborough.

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.)

Sunflowers at Hill Ridge Farms

Go for ice cream

Before the summer ends, see how many of these spots you can get to:

Try a ropes course

Both TreeRunners and Go Ape, outdoor ropes courses in Raleigh, are open for the season. Just know that you will need advanced tickets for both.

Hit the road

Check out our list of family-friendly road trips. Or take a quick road trip to Wilson for its Whirligig Park.

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