Summer is the prime time for family bonding, memory making, and experiential learning! With the warmer season right around the corner, many parents are wondering how to make the most of this time with their kids. Thankfully, the Raleigh area is full of fun opportunities for all age groups.
The faculty and staff at GRACE Christian School in Raleigh, North Carolina have created this summer “bucket list” of their favorite summer activities to help you plan for an exciting and meaningful break.
Picnic in the Park
Pack a picnic and head out to one of the amazing park systems in the area. The City of Raleigh’s Pullen Park or Dorothea Dix Park are great options. North Cary Park has hiking trails, play structures, large slides, and a boulder that kids love to climb on, as well as access to the Black Creek Greenway which connects to trails around Lake Crabtree and through Umstead Park.
Go on a Treasure Hunt
Geocaching is an exciting outdoor activity that not only allows students to enjoy nature, but also promotes valuable skills such as problem solving and navigation. A real-life treasure hunt, geocaching involves using GPS to discover “geocaches” (usually a hidden box with a small toy or trinket) placed by volunteers. When a geocache is found, you sign the attached notebook, and leave something for the next treasure hunter. We’ve heard there are hidden geocaches at Kids’ Together Park in Cary, MacDonald Woods Park, and Lake Johnson.
Have Some Water Fun
Beat the heat with a day of swimming, splashing, or sailing. Raleigh is only two and a half hours from some of the best beaches in the Carolinas. Visiting Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher gives you access to the ocean, restaurants, an aquarium, and a civil war site. Don’t forget to try Britt’s Donuts if you go to Carolina Beach. If you’re not a beach lover, check out the Splash Pad in Southern Pines or Wet-N-Wild in Greensboro for water-related fun. Closer to home, the Bond Park Boathouse, Lake Crabtree, and Lake Johnson all offer inexpensive watercraft rentals including sailboats, canoes, paddle boats, and paddle boards. Note: check each lake for what they offer.
Try a New Sport
Consider trying some unconventional or “niche” sports that can foster fun and healthy competition while keeping the whole family active. White Oak Park in Cary features three pickleball courts. Take up frisbee golf at Kentwood Park or Cedar Hills Park in Raleigh. If it’s a rainy day, head to one of the many bowling alleys in the area.
Write a Pen Pal
Connecting with a pen pal over the summer can be exciting, nostalgic, and a great way to maintain writing skills. Perhaps your child could exchange letters with a cousin who lives across the country, or, if you’re a subscriber to Focus on the Family ClubHouse magazine, a pen pal program is offered for children ages 8-12. There is also the opportunity to sponsor a child through an organization such as Compassion International, and to bless a student in an undeveloped country by exchanging monthly letters.
Plan a Movie Date
Who doesn’t love to catch a good flick? For a more traditional experience, check out the summer movie programs at local theatres, some of which offer $2 tickets for morning showings. For an exciting, outdoor movie experience, check out the NC Museum of Art or the Raleigh Little Theatre in Raleigh or the Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. You can even host an outdoor movie night in your neighborhood by using a sheet and projector. Don’t forget the popcorn and candy!
Take Cooking Lessons
Cooking is a valuable life skill. Getting boys and girls into cooking can foster creativity and empower them to be healthy eaters for years to come. It’s always fun to try a new recipe at home, but for more guided coaching, check out cooking lessons for kids and parents offered by Flour Power at Parkside Town Commons, Whisk Kitchen Store in the Waverly Place Shopping Center, Taste Buds Kitchen at Beaver Creek in Apex, or Williams and Sonoma at Crabtree Valley Mall.
Jordan Lake is perfect for first-time campers or big groups. Offering large campsites, bathrooms/showers, and RV sites, it’s an ideal experience for families. If you’re a backpacker, check out Raven Rock State Park, where campsites are about 2.5 miles from parking, and can be reached by hiking or canoeing. William B. Umstead State Park also offers both campsites and a variety of hiking trails. If you love fishing, check out Eno River State Park. Last but not least, Falls Lake State Recreation Area has something for everyone, with a range of camp sites including RV camping, family tent camping, and hike-in backpacking.
Visit Local Museums
The Raleigh area is filled with must-see museums. We’ve compiled the following list to help you beat the heat or rainy-day boredom.
- North Carolina Museum of Art
- Marbles Kids Museum
- NC Museum of History
- NC Museum of Natural Science
- CAM (Contemporary Art Museum)
Enjoy the Arts
Add a couple concerts or plays to your summer bucket list to help your kids experience the joy of the arts. Check out the lineups at Koka Booth Amphitheater, Raleigh Little Theatre, Red Hat Amphitheatre, or Walnut Creek Amphitheatre. The NC Art Museum also has outdoor theater events and concerts in the summer, and the Town of Apex has summer music and movies at the Apex Historic Depot and at the Apex Nature Center.
Take everyone out to a ball game! Whether you choose to support the Durham Bulls, Carolina Mudcats, or Holly Springs Salamanders, kids of all ages will enjoy experiencing “America’s pastime.” Check the schedules for events like family night, post-game fireworks shows, or other promotions that amp up the fun.
Cool off With a Treat
Even if you’re on a healthy eating mission this summer, an occasional cold treat is well deserved. Here’s a list of our favorite spots to cool off in a delicious way.
- Goodberry’s – this Raleigh frozen custard shop has been around since 1986, has nine locations across the Triangle, and is known for their “flavor of the day”
- Howling Cow – ice cream made on campus at NC State with fresh milk and cream from their Raleigh farm is available at the Talley Student Center on NC State’s Campus and some local supermarkets
- Pelican’s SnoBalls – incredible shaved ice with hundreds of flavor options in Apex and Raleigh
- Sunni Sky’s – Angier’s nostalgic homemade ice cream stand is worth the drive (cash only)
- Kilwins – A confection shop with chocolates, ice cream, and more with multiple locations in Cary and Raleigh
- Two Roosters Ice Cream – visit one of their Raleigh shops or their food truck location for beloved classics and unique flavors
- Maple View Farm – fresh ice cream featuring classic and monthly specialty flavors located in Hillsborough
Last but certainly not least, summer is a great time for parents to teach their kids to live missionally by creating opportunities to give back. Thrift2Gift always welcomes volunteers, and Rise Against Hunger relies on helping hands to pack meals to send overseas. The SPCA of Wake County welcomes junior volunteers to love on dogs and cats while they wait for forever homes. Even without a specific organization, children can bless neighbors or the elderly by offering to mow grass, clean up yards, or wash a vehicle.
If searching for the best private school is on your family’s to-do list this summer, schedule a tour at GRACE. We look forward to welcoming you to campus!