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Karen from Washington, DC asked

Family-friendly places to dine, things to do, places to go?

My family is relocating to Cary, NC, in August. We have two girls, ages 9 and 14. I would love to get some ideas of great places to eat and fun things we can do as a family. We enjoy music, hiking, art, theater, dancing, waterparks, science and museums. We are flexible in regard to budget.

Cary (North Carolina)

1 Answer
top answer by
Ruth from Southern Pines

You are moving to a great area!  Cary is part of the Triangle area which includes Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. In response to your family interest....All of the above are within an hour drive! I only scraped the surface and have listed enough things to do that I went through the alphabet and more! 

Before your girls get any older, please take them to Pullen Park. It is located off Western Blvd. in Raleigh.  (right next to NC State University...Go Pack!). It has one of the oldest, most beautiful carousels existing. Pullen Park Carousel Ticket Office. My 25 yr old Daughter and I just went there to ride it again! I first rode it 50 years ago! Take a picnic lunch to enjoy. Your girls will go back with friends many times in years to come.

Raleigh has a great museum collection. Marbles Kids MuseumNorth Carolina Museum of Art,North Carolina Museum of HistoryNorth Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences just to list a few. 

Durham has North Carolina Museum of Life and Sciencewhich has a walking trail with life size Dinosaur sculptures and a zoo type exhibit of animals, seen from a train ride around the park. Magic Wings Butterfly HouseFossil Dig 

There is also a fabulous museum in Greensboro, Greensboro Science Center that just opened the SciQariuim building. It is about 1 hour 20 minutes from Cary. Greensboro also has a great water park. Wet 'N Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park . Guilford Courthouse National Military Parkcommemorates the Battle of Guilford Court House during the American Revolution.

North Carolina State Fairgroundshost many different events through out the year. Check out their venue events.  A must for you is the NC State Fair  in October each year. One of the best in the US. There are featured concerts each night of the fair. Look at the website for all the information.  We go almost every year! Plan to spend an afternoon and evening. End your day on the Ferris Wheel to see the fireworks!

Raleigh has the Duke Energy Center For The Performing Arts which has three auditoriums that features music, theatrics and every genre of entertainment you can think of. It is home to the incredible  Carolina Ballet. They always do children focused performances each season as well as new ballets created by the director Robert Weiss. It is a well respected company, always spectacular and entertaining. Their Nutcracker performance each year is riveting with gorgeous costumes and amazing original choreography.   The Raleigh Ringers Central performances are a must for the holiday season.

Durham has Durham Performing Arts Center which is also known as DPAC. It is rated as of the top 5 performance centers in the US.

Durham Bulls Minor league baseball is a favorite of families for inexpensive family entertainment. Durham Bulls Field

Duke University is in Durham.Duke University Chapel  Sarah P. Duke Gardens The campus is gorgeous.

There are also 3 large lakes close by for boating, fishing and camping. - B. Everett Jordan Lake, Falls Lake State Recreation Area,Kerr Lake. Several smaller lakes are around the area for water activities and more. 

If you love golf, Pinehurst (North Carolina) is about 1 hour south of Cary. We have over 50 golf courses here in the Sandhills area of NC. We just hosted the 2014 US Open Men and Women's Golf Tournament in June.

There is Ice Skating and Roller Skating in Cary. Polar Ice House Cary   Jellybeans. There also is Triangle Curling Club. They have classes and competitions now at Polar Ice Housein Wake Forest. (about 35 minutes from Cary). Great fun! The folks are great to new comers. They are building a new facility in Durham. (about 25 minutes from Cary)

These are our favorites!  There are 100's more to explore.

I hope you love the area as much as my family does. We call North Carolina God's country. It has everything! Don't forget to visit the Smokey/Blue Ridge Mountains and our beautiful coast. They are easy weekend trips for the family.

Comments (3)

Wow, Ruth -- amazing ideas! :)

Amazing State! I am proud to call NC Home!

Ruth, thank you so much! I am delighted that you took time to provide such a thoughtful and detailed response. I am going to print this all out and start planning our family calendar! :-)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pullen Park (attraction)
  2. Pullen Park Carousel Ticket Office (attraction)
  3. Marbles Kids Museum (attraction)
  4. North Carolina Museum of Art (attraction)
  5. North Carolina Museum of History (attraction)
  6. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (attraction)
  7. North Carolina Museum of Life and Science (attraction)
  8. Magic Wings Butterfly House (attraction)
  9. Fossil Dig (attraction)
  10. Greensboro Science Center (attraction)
  11. Wet 'N Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park (attraction)
  12. Guilford Courthouse National Military Park (attraction)
  13. North Carolina State Fairgrounds (attraction)
  14. NC State Fair (attraction)
  15. Duke Energy Center For The Performing Arts (attraction)
  16. Carolina Ballet (attraction)
  17. Raleigh Ringers Central (attraction)
  18. Durham Performing Arts Center (attraction)
  19. Durham Bulls Field (attraction)
  20. Duke University Chapel (attraction)
  21. Sarah P. Duke Gardens (attraction)
  22. B. Everett Jordan Lake (attraction)
  23. Falls Lake State Recreation Area (attraction)
  24. Kerr Lake (attraction)
  25. Pinehurst (North Carolina) (city)
  26. Polar Ice House Cary (attraction)
  27. Jellybeans (attraction)
  28. Polar Ice House (attraction)
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