Monday, November 26, 2012

Sue Helton Park (APEX)

I wouldn't drive from Chapel Hill to visit Sue Helton Park in Apex, but we had a good time. It's a little park for pretty little ones. The sign said designed for ages 2-5, but my 3-year-old wouldn't have lasted five minutes at this park. There are a couple slides, some peak-a-boo spots and a large gazebo (the highlight for the kids).

We really had a great time, and I would go again.
201 Matney Lane
Apex, NC

HIGHLIGHTS: Small and good for little, little ones and the gazebo was good for running around.
LOW LIGHTS: It needed a little maintenance and cleaning, and there were no swings; very small area and not fenced in, no bathrooms. 
COST: Free.

- located on Matney Lane inside the Perry Farms subdivision

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas Tree Lighting & Sleigh Rides in Fuquay-Varina

Last year I went to the Fuquay-Varina for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. I am sure it would have been wonderful, had we got there in time to see the tree lighting or get a sleigh ride for my kids. We didn't. 
December 6, 2012 (a Thursday) I will get a second chance to entertain my kids at this event. The tree lighting and holiday sleigh rides run from 6-8 p.m. But get there early if you want a sleigh ride. In the spirit of giving and helping the Fuquay-Varina community, they are asking all who want a sleigh ride to bring a canned food item as a "ticket" to ride. The line sets up at 5:30 at TR Ashworth and down on Main and Depot Street. The last ride will leave at 7:55 p.m. 

We got there at 7 last year and the ride was all "sold out."
Santa was there last year, but I didn't see if he would be at this Tree Lighting Ceremony. It was a wonderful family event, with free cookies, music and more. Please share if you have any further information about performances or guest appearances. 

Fuquay-Varina Downtown - Fuquay District

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blockfest in Raleigh - Math & Science for Kids under 6!!

Blockfest is back! Blockfest is an interactive exhibit where children and their parents visit stations designed to raise awareness of early math and science by playing with blocks, and it's for kids under 6. This sounds absolutely incredible and has a pre-k teacher's stamp of approval.

The exhibit, which is held November 30 and December 3, is hands on and specifically designed for families with young children.

Wake County's Project Enlightenment is sponsoring this event. Pre-registration is required but the event is free. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Hope Valley Railway Holiday Trail

New Hope Valley Railway in New Hill/Bonsal has tickets for sale for "Santa Rides the trains and visits the New Hope Valley Railway."

Santa will be in New Hill for the train rides on Saturday and Sunday, December 1 and 2, and December 8 and 9. The trains run at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. on all of those days. Adults and children 13 and older are $10 per person, ages 2-12 are $7 and under 2 are free. The train rides go from Bonsal to New Hill and back.

The ride takes about one hour and the website suggests you arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled departure to park and board your train. They also suggest you dress warmly, as the railroad "operates open cars, rain or shine."

Click here to buy your tickets.

Yard Office and Museum
5121 Daisey St
New Hill, NC 27562

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hollyfest in Holly Springs - Great for Kids!

We absolutely lucked out! I was so disappointed Hollyfest 2012 was the weekend we were scheduled to go to the mountains. Guess what!!!??? Hollyfest was rescheduled due to the weather from Hurricane Sandy. So we got to go. I've never been before, but it was so much fun! There were rides for the kids, crafts for sale, yummy food and lots of local vendors with samples and giveaways.

Also, I'm a helicopter geek, and they flew in a helicopter and allowed people to tour it! We couldn't wait in the long line because we had our youngest with us who does not stand still. But I hope they do it again next year because I will be there, and she will be old enough to understand how cool it is to get in a helicopter. Or maybe not, but I will try to explain it to her.

There were fire trucks, rock climbing walls, kiddie rides in addition to several bounce houses and a huge bouncy slide. That looked so fun, and Jordan (3) even tried it - but she got scared and someone had to slide down with her. It was pretty high; I must admit I would have paused myself.

There were photo opportunities, too, and some pretty good music for a while. I love this festival and wish I would have planned to stay longer. We committed the ultimate festival faux pas - we didn't bring cash. I had no idea how much stuff was there to buy, I actually just thought it was a couple of bouncy houses ... boy was I wrong. Luckily a good friend was there to lone us some cash for snacks and fun, but it was sure embarrassing. So if you go next year, which I highly recommend, bring cash. I know that seems like a no-brainer, but I was a rookie and didn't do my research.

Womble Park 
301 Stinson Ave. 
Holly Springs, NC

HIGHLIGHTS: Rides, bouncy houses, good food, local vendors (& I like to support locally), a helicopter and more.
LOW LIGHTS: Duh, this event is cash only and they don't have a cash machine on site. Parking was a disaster, but they handled it well (even though early voting was going on at the Hunt Center next door, which doubled the traffic), and it's at Womble Park (which is a parking mess in itself, in my opinion). 
COST: Free, except for food & crafts.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gone With The Wind at the NC History Museum


We adults were so excited to see the Gone With The Wind exhibit at the NC History Museum in downtown Raleigh. And it was everything we expected. Unfortunately, so were our kids (or at least one of mine). 

It was incredible! They had actual clothing worn in the movie, screen tests for the actors and even some of those who didn't get the parts, the Academy Awards (such as the one Vivian Leigh received) on display. I could have spent an hour there. But my kids would only allow 10 minutes. So we had to leave the exhibit.

Dani (almost 2) doesn't sit still and she doesn't listen well. So she wouldn't allow me to keep her in the stroller, nor would she stop hitting things and screaming. In fact, she insisted on pushing the stroller, and a security guard asked me to please stop her. He was very nice, but unfortunately it threw Dani back into a horrendous temper tantrum. Bummer!

After a few photo opportunities with the Academy Awards from the movie, we headed downstairs to an incredibly kid-friendly exhibit. The Story of North Carolina exhibit was wonderful for kids! There was a cow the kids could milk, building replicas from NC Native Americans and the 4th oldest home in North Carolina with furniture on display. I wish I could remember the name of the specific display that kept my kids the most entertained. But it was a series of buttons you could put and each one would light up a portion of North Carolina and an activity would move around and make noise (pictured last here on the lower left). All the kids loved it and spent a bit of time there. I say "a bit" because we were really only at the museum for an hour or so.

When I go back with the girls, I'll go straight there and just let them run around. In this exhibit there were a lot of "Please Touch" signs, which was excellent because Dani will do it whether you like it or not. She's a pistol!

Also, I'm not much for pageants but there was an exhibit on the main floor of dresses and costumes from the Miss North Carolina's over the past 75 years. It's not my thing, but we took the girls. I'm happy to say my Tom Boys weren't impressed. That doesn't mean yours won't be!

5 East Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC

HIGHLIGHTS: There is so much to see and learn from this place, lots of hands-on activities and things to see, The Story of North Carolina exhibit was a "please touch" area.
LOW LIGHTS: A lot of this museum is not kid friendly, specifically most of the areas outside The Story of North Carolina exhibit. You cannot touch most things, and the security guards were rightfully a little nervous about the toddlers and watched us pretty carefully.
COST: Free! Parking was $1/hour on the street during weekdays.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jaycee Park in Apex - A Surprise in the End

I have driven by Apex Jaycee Park no less than 100 times and had no idea what exactly was there. The truth is, not much is there. But it was enough to entertain two preschoolers and two toddlers for almost two hours!

We pulled up and saw a little playground. Unfortunately, it was really little. The oldest kid in the group said, "Is this the only playground?" There was a sign there that said it is ideal for ages 2-5 but the preschoolers (3 & 4) were bored within 5 minutes. There is a little walking trail which I believe shoots you out to Apex Peakway, two large soccer fields and a softball field that we passed to get to the playground. I didn't see it, but there is a batting cage, too, according to the website.

The kids ran up and down the sidewalk/trail a couple times, climbed on the wooden fence and ran up and down the little hill right next to the playground. There is a beautiful tree which looks perfect for climbing at the top of the hill, but our little ones were just a bit too small to reach the branches. Another year or so and they'll outgrow the park completely, but they'll be able to climb the tree. Go figure.

Honestly, this park isn't much, but if you have a really little one the playground is great, low to the ground and built for toddlers. I knew what I was going to write until Jordan (3) said to me that she wants to go back to that park and she had a great time. I think it was because the kids ran around the soccer fields and played a little "football" with two boys, two older boys who were brothers, and they were so good with the kids they had a blast. It just goes to show you, you don't have to have the best park to have a great time - just an imagination and some wide-open spaces (and maybe a football).

451 West Williams Street  
Apex, North Carolina 27502

HIGHLIGHTS: Lots of places to run and burn some energy, a great little playground for toddlers (very safe) and no parking issues, right off of Williams Street (Hwy 55), nice trail that runs through it and out to Apex Peakway, and the climbing tree.
LOW LIGHTS: There were fire ants everywhere. I counted 15 mounds outside the playground area. Some of them had clearly been treated and were not active, but the ones along the fence for the soccer field were crawling with fire ants! It's pretty tame, just a small playground for the really little ones.
COST: Free!

Monday, November 5, 2012

NC Arboretum in Asheville - Gorgeous Views!

It's a little off season for this place, but the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville was great to let the little ones run around, check out the changing leaves and get some much-needed vitamin D when we visited the mountains.

We went to the arboretum the last full week in October and walked the trails, picked up leaves and saw gorgeous mountain views. Also, they have a fun little exhibit called After The Dinosaurs, which cost $3 per adult. Kids under 5 were free. My little ones loved it!

There was a "dig" where the kids took paint brushes and swept rice off of very old bones they buried in a sandbox-like enclosure. Jordan (3) loved it. Dani put the rice in her mouth, spit it out and swung her paint brush around (flinging rice around the room). It was rather embarrassing but still fun.

We had such a great time, and the wide-open spaces allowed our kids to run some energy out of them for another car ride. I would recommend it.

100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way  
Asheville, North Carolina 28806-9315

HIGHLIGHTS: Most of it is out doors, but there is an indoor section, too, the exhibits were fun, and the view is incredible, also there are a lot of wide-open spaces for kids to run around.
LOW LIGHTS: Parking was $8, the bathrooms were kind of spread out, and it wasn't clear where you could get a map of the place, so we went to the wrong building and got a little lost (but it wasn't hard to find our way).
COST: $8 for parking & exhibits were extra (such as After The Dinosaurs, which was $3 per adult). General admission is free.