Fun In The Piedmont
NC Piedmont Reunion Activities
The Piedmont is full of vibrant cities, exciting public parks and unexpected sources of fun. Families can find activities around the corner from their house or hotel or just a quick trip away.
Minutes from Durham, the state’s capital, Eno River State Park is a must for any family who loves to fish and explore nature. Eleven miles of river run through this 2,600-acre park, which has one of the best fishing streams in the Neuse River Basin. If you’d rather be paddling on the river instead of putting a fishing line in it, Frog Hollow Outdoors offers day trips, rentals and instruction for both kayaks and canoes. When you’re done exploring the river, hit the trails that run through the park. Keep an eye out for owls, deer, raccoons, chipmunks, beavers and even river otters.
Only 2.5 miles away from the Raleigh Durham International Airport is one of the best places in the Triangle to have a family picnic. Lake Crabtree Park has three shelters available to rent. Each comes equipped with a cooking grill, tables and its own horseshoe pit. The park allows you to check out horseshoe, volleyball, badminton, and softball equipment for no extra charge. During the summer, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats and pedal boats are available for rent on the park’s waterfront.
One of the largest Planetariums in the United States is located on the campus of the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Morehead Planetarium offers a chance to take a break from the action and learn about space. Children of all ages can find a show to enjoy and adults just might learn something too. The planetarium also offers free monthly sky watching sessions at Lake Jordan. For a unique experience, Morehead teams with a local outfitter to offer nighttime canoe or kayak trips for teens during the spring and summer.
Only a short drive from Winston Salem, Tanglewood Park has many options for an active family. Winding trails along streams and through grassy pastures provide a scenic place for hikes, bike rides and leisurely strolls. For sports enthusiasts, two golf courses and a well-priced par-3 are open year round. View the Yadkin River on horseback during a guided trail ride or let the little kids enjoy time on a pony. The Arboretum, Fragrance Garden and Rose Garden are open all year and are home to native flowers and herbs. Kids will love cooling off in the pool, riding the water slides and playing in the children’s spray area. Paddleboats are available along the lake to rent and playgrounds and picnic areas are scattered throughout the park.
The Piedmont is packed with family friendly city parks that offer tons of fun at a very affordable price. Burlington City Park has five athletic fields, tennis courts, picnic shelters, a relaxing, winding stream and a summer concert series, but the thing that will most impress your kids will be the amusement rides. An historic carousel, miniature train, planes, cars and boat rides all cost only 75 cents.
If your family’s idea of fun involves slides and thrilling rides, Wet N’ Wild Emerald Point Water Park in Greensboro is your destination. Emerald Point is the largest water park in the state and has 36 rides, a lazy river and a huge wave pool. Little kids will love climbing on a half-sunken pirate ship in one of the park’s two large children’s areas while parents will enjoy the option of renting a cabana complete with its own private menu.
J. Baynard Clark Park, known to locals as Clark Park, is a great place to spend the day exploring nature with your family. Call ahead and arrange for a guided tour of this 76-acre park or set off on your own and explore the trails that wind along the Cape Fear River. The Nature Center houses displays of live reptiles and amphibians and knowledgeable park rangers are on hand to answer questions. Eight picnic tables on the back deck of the Center beckon you to eat lunch while enjoying views of the woods and waterfall.
If you want to spend the night, the park’s semi-private campground is available to rent. The low fee includes a fire-ring, outdoor restrooms and a cold shower.
While Charlotte is known for its professional sports, shopping and exciting city life, it also offers a wonderful parks system. Freedom Park, located so close to downtown you can see part of the city’s skyline, hosts movie nights, concerts and festivals throughout the year. A large lake with ducks and fish to watch, nature trails and an extensive playground with a train to play on makes this park a hit with families. Not too far down the road is Latta Park Sprayground, one of the city’s five parks that combine playgrounds with water features that spray, spurt, bubble and shower kids with fun. Charlotte’s spraygrounds are open from May to September.
Back on dry land, kids can try to strike it rich while gold panning at Reed’s Gold Mine in Midland, 20 miles east of Charlotte. Reed’s is the site of the first documented gold find in the US. Portions of the underground tunnels have been restored for guided tours. Picnic areas and trails are also available.
Charlotte’s ImagineON children’s library is the perfect place to spend a rainy afternoon. Dress-up clothes, stages, interactive stations and, of course, a wide selection of children’s books keep young kids entertained while older kids can escape to The Loft, a teen-only area. The building also houses Children’s Theater’s main stage, where you can watch a variety of fantastic plays throughout the year.
added: March 26, 2010
updated: April 1, 2010