Even though Pullen Park’s Holiday Express has been sold out since July, there’s still plenty of other Holiday happenings in local parks. If you can’t make it to an event, explore a park soaking up Raleigh’s inevitable sunny winter days (remember Christmas Eve two years ago when it was almost 80 degrees). Grab coffee (and goldfish) to go and meet friends at a park, meet a friend for a bike ride or run on the greenway, or take a solo walk around a lake. Here’s a list of several indoor and outdoor programs sure to keep the kids busy (and the parents sane) happening across different parks through New Years including First Day Hikes.
City of Raleigh Programs
- Wednesday, 12/13 (8-10pm) – Skywatching at Dorothea Dix Park – join volunteers and staff from several local astronomy clubs and the Morehead Planetarium to watch the Geminid Meteor Shower of 2017; Free; Meet at the Big Field
- Thursday, 12/14 (5-6pm) – Creative Crafts Throughout the Holidays at Hill St Community Center: create a Christmas-themed craft; Free; program barcode #210494; ages 5-12
- Friday, 12/15 (5-7pm) – Holiday Pajama Party at Greystone Community Center: bring the entire family dressed in your pajamas for a holiday movie, cocoa and cookies; $2 per participant; program barcode 210518; all ages, not many spots left
- Saturday, 12/16 (7am-noon) – Christmas Bird Count at Walnut Creek Wetland Center: stroll along the greenway looking and listening for birds. 2016’s Christmas Bird Count netted 49 different species. Please bring your own binoculars, or you can borrow a pair of our children’s binoculars. Free; ages 12+; registration required; program barcode 217570
- Saturday, 12/16 (10am-12pm) – Snacks with Santa at Chavis Community Center: enjoy holiday games, arts and craft activities and story time with Santa. Bring your camera to capture a photo with Santa. Please bring two nonperishable food items for this event; Free; ages 12 and under; program barcode 211028
- Saturday, 12/16 (1-2:30pm) – Gingerbread House Decorating Competition at Method Rd Community Center: they provide the gingerbread houses and supplies and you build; $20 per family; program barcode 211845
- Saturdays in December, January and February (11:30am-12:30pm) – Yoga at the COR Museum – bring your yoga mat and water for a free yoga class instructed by yoga studios from around Raleigh
Wake County Parks & Recreation
- Sunday, 12/17 (2-3pm) – Family Feature: Winter Wrap Up at Crowder County Park: winter is a great time to explore nature at the park! Join a naturalist and learn how to identify tracks, explore conifers, and drink pine needle tea. Then, observe snow and ice through hands-on science experiments. Don’t forget to bring your scarf and mittens! For all ages; $1/person; Registration is required for all family members and children must have an adult accompaniment.
- Dec 22 (10:30-noon or 2-3:30pm) Field School: The Ingalls Long Winter at Historic Yates Mill County Park – Learn what Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family did to survive one especially long winter and find out how the family celebrated Christmas. Taste an old-fashioned peppermint candy stick and bring home a home-made holiday craft. Feel free to dress in your best pioneer outfit! For ages 7 and up; $6/Child. Registration is required. This is a drop-off program but adults are welcome to stay – however, seating is limited.
- Dec 30 (2-3pm) – FWS: Green and on the Scene at Blue Jay County Park – Join Blue Jay staff for an outdoor adventure hunting winter plants and trees that are green and on the scene. All participants must be independently mobile or in child backpacks. No strollers please!; $1 per participant; open to all ages though most appropriate for ages 5+
- Sunday, 12/17 (2pm) – Holiday Sing-a-Long at Eno River State Park: Join a park ranger at the historic Piper-Cox House for cookies, hot chocolate and the chance to sing historic carols sung by the inhabitants of the Eno River Valley.
- Saturday, 12/23 (2pm) – Happy Holidays to You & the Birds at Falls Lake State Recreation Area: meet at Shelter 24 at Beaver Dam Lake area to make bird feeder ornaments and decorate a tree in the park with wildlife friendly decorations.
- Thursday, 12/28 (2pm) – Winter Wonders at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area: explore the nothern portion of the lake with a Ranger! Observe bald eagles, winter birds and water fowl. The deck is located approximately 150 yards from the gravel parking lot with the walk being very easy. Dress for the weather as it’s usually colder on the deck. Meet at observation deck off Martha’s Chapel Rd.
- Friday, 12/29 (2pm) – Winter Wonders at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area: explore the southern portion of the lake with a Ranger! Observe bald eagles, winter birds and learn about the lake’s history. Meet near the volleyball court at the Ebenezer Day Use Area.
First Day Hikes on Monday, January 1, 2018
- William Umstead Park (9am): meet at Reedy Creek parking lot off Harrison Ave exit on I-40 for a moderate 4-mile hike that will be a bit off trail, on the Company Mill Trail; highlights include two millstones in the woods that were never finished, the old Craggy Garden Scout camp and the biggest rock formations in the park. Please call the park for more info or to register.
- Walnut Creek Wetland Park (2-4pm): Jump-start your New Year’s resolutions and join our staff for a scenic guided walk along the Walnut Creek Greenway. Be prepared to walk at least a mile. Strollers are welcome! Preregistration is helpful but not required. FREE; all ages; program barcode 209308
- Falls Lake State Recreation Area (10am & 2pm start times) – Meet at the Rolling View Recreation Area for a hike on the kid-friendly Neuse Bend Trail; join a park ranger for an easy scavenger hunt/hike on the 0.75 mile Neuse Bend Trail in Rolling View Recreation Area. The Scavenger Hunt Hike is designed for ages 6-12 but all ages are encouraged to participate; Pre-registration is required and spots are limited: 919-676-1027
- Eno River State Park (2pm) – meet at Fews Ford Picnic Shelter and choose between two hiking options: easy 2 mile hike or moderate 4-5 mile hike
- Jordan Lake State Recreation Area Hike #1 (9-11am) – meet at the New Hope Overlook Recreation area and hike the challenging 2.7 mile Blue Loop Trail; no pre-registration
- Jordan Lake State Recreation Area Hike #2 (1-3pm) – meet at the Ebenezer Church Recreation Area shelter #8 for an easy 1 mile hike along the Old Oak Loop Trail; great for families; no pre-registration