The Ultimate Spring Break Guide : 10 Cheap (or FREE!) Kid-Friendly Destinations in the Triangle
Updated: Jul 17, 2019
With the time change and the arrival of warmer weather, it also means that spring (and summer) breaks are on the horizon! While many of you may be rejoicing as you jetset off to exotic locations, others will be scrambling to figure out what the heck you’re going to do to keep your kids entertained (and your own sanity intact!) for an entire week! #thestruggleisreal
Hate spending hours planning daily kid-friendly activities while school is out? I’ve got you covered!
Below you’ll find a 10-day school break itinerary of my fav daily activities and destinations in the Triangle area.
You may be asking, what does she know? She’s only lived in North Carolina for a year. Well, upon our relocation, I was originally set to start work in late March, however life is FULL of curve balls and my actual start date was not for an additional 6-months. So what did we do? Better yet, what didn’t we do? For the girls, Rory, and I our social calendar resembled that of a New York socialite (except less booze and more milk and poopy diapers). From story times and play groups to museums and parks, we were everywhere and making new friends along the way. And consequently I discovered some gems — that hiatus from work (although not planned) was perfect and exactly what we needed to acclimate to our new home and explore the best kid-friendly activities.
The best thing about the Triangle is that there is a TON to see and do within a short driving distance - and what’s better is that 8 of the 10 items I’ve listed below are FREE!
If you’re ready to CRUSH your next school break and fill it with FUN, memorable experiences without breaking the bank, read on!
Friday: Duke Gardens | Durham
‘Sarah P. Duke Gardens is widely recognized as a premier public garden, providing extraordinary visitor experiences, horticultural artistry, leadership in conservation, and innovative programs.’ Simply stated, Duke Gardens is stunning. You’ll enjoy strolling through this beautiful expression of nature where kids can run freely across the large green and get a closer look at the brightly colored koi fish. Although it’s a bit early for all of the flowers to have fully bloomed, it’s still worth your time!
Hours | 8 AM daily, 365.
Cost | FREE + parking
Saturday: Fit4Mom 4th Birthday | Southern Village Chapel Hill
Sweating + kids in strollers + #themotherhood + a coffee keg! Sign me up! Get your workout on WITH your kids and be welcomed into the Fit4Mom fam as they celebrate their 4th anniversary!
Hours | 9:30 - 11:30 AM
Cost |FREE Master Class + Stroller Strides + prizes!
Sunday: Fearrington Village | Pittsboro
You will always feel 'comfortable' and welcome at this 640-acre historic farm. The founders of the village were also avid travelers and wanted to create a community in a garden setting. 'The rolling hills and wooded pasture' is now a vibrant bustling village of shops, restaurants and a AAA Diamond Inn (and spa!). As you enter the village you’ll first be greeted by goats, chickens, and the famous 'black and white-belted cows.' Next, explore the grounds and spend some time at McIntyre’s - the most magical bookstore. (They also have storytimes on Fri / Tues @ 1030 AM.) Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, pop into the Belted Goat for a delicious brunch (and more coffee!). And if you’re feeling extra fancy, call ahead and make reservations for a spot of afternoon tea, it was quite the treat!
Hours | Opens at 10 AM
Cost | FREE aside from any purchases
Monday: Notasium | Durham
Notasium was one of the first spots we ventured to during a 'snow day' here in NC last March. Notasium is a music-based play space and music school. Babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages will have fun walking across the life-sized piano, creating their own tunes in the karaoke room, or whizzing down the speed slide. (Be like Avi and use the blanket for an increased adrenaline rush!) Adalyn takes piano on Mondays and following her lesson we always take advantage of the FREE 30-min play time (free to those taking lessons). It’s a great indoor option to burn off some afternoon energy. Not too big but just right to keep a close eye on your little ones - and sip coffee on the sidelines!
Hours |9 AM - 7 PM
Cost | $8 (parents and children under 1 are free)
Tuesday: Johnny’s Gone Fishing | Carbboro
Gosh, am I ever glad I was introduced to Johnnys! Talk about serious nostalgia from my youth and spending long summer days 'upta camp' in the Northern Maine Woods. The atmosphere at Johnny’s is warm, cozy, and inviting. Inside you'll find plenty of comfortable seating, desks and chairs for getting work done, and there's even a small play area in the back with various wooden toys. If weather permits, head outdoors to enjoy the large garden space where kids can run wild! On Tuesday’s they have the MOST adorable story hour. As if they didn’t already nail the camp vibe, the woman who runs the story time is the sweetest elderly lady who sings familiar kid songs to her ukelele, reads several children’s classics, and even acts out with little finger puppets!
Hours | 1045 -1145 AM
Cost | FREE
Wednesday : cocobean | Chapel Hill
If you hadn’t gathered that I love all things coffee + FREE play - well, I do! And cocobean is another EPIC find. They offer a cute story/craft time AND provide the kiddos with FREE hot chocolate and snack pouches! Cocobean is known as a 'creative hub,' offering a variety of vegan (and non-vegan) specialty drinks, tea, and delicious baked goods - one of my favs for sure!!
Hours | 11 AM
Cost | FREE
Thursday: Museum of Life and Science | Durham
We have visited the Museum of Life and Science half a dozen times and STILL haven’t explored the entire property (or any of the indoor exhibits for that matter)! Pack a lunch and be prepared to enjoy hours exploring this 84-acre space! Just outside the museum doors you can first explore Gateway Park and Hideaway Woods, a massive tree house village. Next, the Dinosaur Trail is where you can get an up-close look at prehistoric predators and dig for their fossils too! And for the animal lovers there is also the Farmyard, as well as the Black Bear, Red Wolf, and Lemur exhibits. Need a break? For a small extra fee you can take a load off and climb aboard the Ellerbe Creek Railway, a 10-minute train ride taking you through the nature park. Lastly, cool off at Into the Mist, 'a one of a kind mist landscape' where you can watch rainbows appear then disappear!
Hours | 10 AM-5 PM
Cost | Adults $20 | Kids 3-12 $15 | Under 3 free
Train Ride $5 pp
Friday: Chapel Hill Public Library
If you’re seeking a laid back 'quiet' Friday AM activity with your littlest, this is it. The baby time at the Chapel Hill Public Library is perfect for all ages and includes stories, music, and early literacy activities. If you haven’t been, the children’s library is HUGE, super cute, and also has a large play area with over-sized pillows! We always leave feeling satisfied with a stroller full of new books...and well-caffeinated as we hit up the Grey Squirrel coffee stand on the way out too!
Hours | Story Hour 1015 or 11 AM
Cost | FREE
Saturday: The Streets at Southpoint | Durham
Just like milk and cookies or spaghetti and meatballs, a Graves fam staycation and the Streets at Southpoint go hand-in-hand. We LOVE the mall! Whether we’re going there with an objective (i.e. purchase new rain boots) or simply spending an afternoon meandering the indoor/outdoor shops, we always have a memorable time. And when you (and your kids!) need a break you'll be pleased to take advantage of the FREE semi-enclosed play area. It's the perfect space to let tiny crawlers and walkers escape the stroller and stretch their legs. Before heading home, stop into Uncle Julio's for authentic Mexican food, featuring table-side guac and stellar service. A great way to end your fun-filled day.
Hours | 10 AM-9 PM
Cost | FREE
Sunday: Parks! | Everywhere!
It’s no mystery that the Triangle is dotted with parks all over the map! So. Many. Parks! Each has it's own unique flare and something to love. Cap off your spring break with a visit to a local park - kids can burn off the final bits of energy before reality strikes!
Some of our favs -
Wilson Park (Carrboro) spacious with two sets of play equipment, sandbox and walking trails
Anderson Park (Carrboro) we love Anderson! Makes sure to take a walk on the .25 mi path that encircles the serene, calming man-made pond.
Southern Village: (Chapel Hill) massive facility with new equipment. The playground area receives a lot of sunlight BUT it’s completely enclosed!
Oakwood Park (Chapel Hill) smaller but with plenty for everyone. A good mix of equipment for young and older kids, a sandbox, ample shade, AND it’s fenced in!
Hours | dawn to dusk
Cost | FREE
That’s it - your survival guide to Spring Break! Tons of fun experiences, jam-packed into 10-days, AND in a cost effective manner!
How are you spending your Spring Break? And what are your favorite school break activities and destinations??
Follow us @destinationgraves to see what shenanigans we get into next week!