2017 Holidays in the Parks

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+

NC Parks

  • 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

2015 Holidays in the Parks

IMG_3193With school out for a few weeks over the holidays are you looking for some activities to keep the kids entertained?  Or do you need last minute gift ideas? Check the Leisure Ledger and gift a loved one an experience! From crafts, games, movies and nature hikes, the local parks have fun activities for all ages!  Here’s a list of several indoor and outdoor programs sure to keep the kids busy (and the parents sane) that are happening across different parks through New Years.

City of Raleigh programs (contact local park to register or register online through RecLink)

  • Holly Holidays at Optimist Community Center – Fri, Dec 11 or Sat, Dec 12 at 12:30pm; ages 3-5; make a craft or edible creation; $6 per class; registration is almost full
  • Calling for Owls at Annie Wilkerson Nature Preserve – Sat, Dec 12 at 4pm; ages 3-5; read a story, make a craft and try to call the owls; $3; registration is almost full
  • Holiday Gifts from Nature at Durant Nature Preserve – Sat., Dec 12 from 2-4pm; ages 6+; make a creative gift from items found in nature and sip hot chocolate; $5
  • Holiday Tours at Mordecai – several tour times starting at 5pm on Sat., Dec 12; all ages; take a guided lantern tour through the Mordecai house and grounds to see how the holidays would have been celebrated in the past; $5
  • Kritter Kids at Lake Johnson – several Tuesdays starting Dec. 15 from 4-5pm; ages 4-9; play a game, make a craft and try to spot a different animal in the wild; different theme each week; $5
  • Creative Crafts throughout the Holidays at Hill Street Center – Wed, Dec 16 at 5pm; ages 5-12; make a fun holiday-themed craft; FREE; registration is required
  • Cool Artsy Crafts at Sanderford Road Park – Thurs, Dec 17 at 5:30pm; ages 5-14; enjoy a cool arts and craft experience; FREE; registration is required
  • Ornament Decorating at Pullen Arts Center – Fri., Dec 18 from 5-7pm; ages 5-11; drop the kids off for a fun evening of ornament making and decorating; $10; registration is almost full
  • Santa’s Night Out at Marsh Creek Park – Fri., Dec 18 from 6-9pm; ages 5-12; monthly program with a Santa theme for December including crafts, games, snacks and a movie; $20
  • Snacks with Santa at Chavis Park – Sat., Dec 19 from 10:30am-12pm; ages 1-12; enjoy games, arts and crafts, and take a photo with Santa; FREE; bring two non-perishable food items as donation
  • Kidz Crafty Cooking at Chavis Park – Tues., Dec 22 from 6-7pm; ages 5-8; celebrate the month of December by cooking a tasty treat; $5
  • New Year’s Day Hikes – jumpstart your New Year with a guided nature walk of about 1 mile at one of the following parks:
    • 10-11am at Durant Nature Preserve, Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve or Annie Wilkerson Nature Preserve
  • Friday Night Movie at Lions Park – several Fridays beginning Jan 1; ages 2+; enjoy a family-friendly movie along with popcorn and drinks; $1.50

IMG_3292Wake County Parks

  • Winter Wrap-Up at Crowder District Park – Sun., Dec 13 from 2-3pm; all ages; join a naturalist and identify animal tracks, explore conifers, drink pine needle tea and do a science experiment; $3/individual, $5/family
  • Night Tree & Wildlife Treat Creation at Harris Lake County Park – Fri., Dec 18 from 3:30-5pm; enjoy a reading of Night Tree by Eve Bunting followed by making tasty treats for your backyard friends; all ages; $8/family
  • Wagon Ride & Cocoa with Santa at Harris Lake County Park – Sat., Dec 20 from 1-2:15pm; enjoy a wagon ride while singing Christmas carols and enjoying hot cocoa with Santa; all ages; $10/family
  • Crafts & More for Kids at Harris Lake County Park – Mon., Dec 21 from 10am-2pm; kids will enjoy hikes, crafts, and games for 4 hours while you run errands and do last-minute shopping; $16; send lunch and water
  • Fossil Fundamentals at Blue Jay County Park – Wed., Dec 30 from 2-3pm; ages 5+; learn about fossils and how to start a collection; $3/individual, $5/family
  • New Year Celebrations at Historic Yates Mill County Park – Sat., Jan 1 from 11am-12pm; all ages; learn about New Year traditions around the world and create a Chinese New Year
    lantern to take home; $3/individual, $5/family

img_4946NC Parks

First Day Hikes at NC State Parks – enjoy a guided hike (at varying levels) or explore a park on your own; here are some highlights of guided hikes in the nearby state parks

  • William Umstead Park – meet at the Reedy Creek side of the park at Loblolly trailhead for a photography-focused hike at 8am
  • Jordan Lake State Park – meet at New Hope Overlook for a challenging hike along the 2.7 mile Blue Loop Trail at 10am or meet at Seaforth Recreation Area for a 1.25 mile gentle hike along Pond Trail at 3pm
  • Falls Lake State Park – join a park ranger at Rolling View Recreation Area for a guided .75 mile hike and scavenger hunt; hikes will start at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm; check out our 2015 First Day Hike
  • Raven Rock State Park – join a park ranger for a 2.5 mile hike to Raven Rock at 1pm
  • Carvers Creek State Park – at 1pm choose either a 1 mile Hansel and Gretal hike, a 2 mile nature hike through the Longleaf pine ecosystem or a 3 mile history hike
  • Eno River State Park – meet at the Fews Ford Access for either a 2 mile or 4 mile hike at 2pm

NC Art Museum

Boyce Farms

Looking for a way to spend a gorgeous Sunday Funday outside while celebrating the Christmas season?!  Why not pack up the family (don’t forget the dog) and head out to your local Christmas tree farm at Boyce Farms in North Raleigh. Since volunteering here as part of the Raleigh Jaycees fundraiser, I’ve made choosing our tree at Boyce Farms part of our Christmas tradition.

Boyce Farms is a family-owned and operated farm located at 2813 Mount Vernon Church Rd. The tree farm is open Mon-Fri from noon-7pm and Sat-Sun from 9am-7pm.  You can choose from a huge selection of fresh cut fraser firs from the NC mountains or choose and cut your own tree right on the farm.  Every year I’ve gotten a tree from Boyce Farms, I’ve always been incredibly pleased with the quality of the tree.  The tree needles stay on longer, the fresh fir scent lasts through the New Year, and even with our slack watering the tree doesn’t dry out.  The prices are also incredibly reasonable…this year our 7ft tree only cost $42!

The experience at Boyce Farms wouldn’t be complete without the help from the friendly staff.  Once you pick out your tree, they carry it to the tree shaking machine to clear away the few dead needles, cut off any branches near the trunk, run it through the netting machine, and then securely tie it to your car.  They also have a great selection of pine roping, fresh wreaths or centerpieces, tree stands, and more.

The Raleigh Jaycees will be out there again today selling treats and helping folks find the perfect tree, so be sure to stop by and you’ll quickly make it part of your Christmas tradition too!

Thumbs up: friendly staff, quality trees, reasonable prices, fun Christmas atmosphere

Thumbs down: nothing to report