It's the unofficial start of summer.
Here's some fun to squeeze in between cook outs and days at the pool (speaking of, check our public pools database. Many are open for the season or will be opening this weekend and it looks like it's going to be hot). At the end of this post, you'll find Memorial weekend hours for favorite family destinations.
Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham will remember and honor American soldiers with a special free program from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. The tribute is for military personnel over time. Re-enactors will represent some of the first soldiers from the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and War of 1812. Union and Confederate Civil War soldiers, Rough Riders from the Spanish American War, and soldiers of World Wars I and II, and Vietnam, will be represented. Visitors will see period dress, weaponry and more. There also are nature trails and a picnic area on site.
Duke Gardens in Durham will have its nature ranger cart out from 10 a.m. to noon, Friday. Take part in special nature-based activities. It's free. No registration is required.
It's a busy weekend at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary.
On Friday, the outdoor venue will screen the PG-13-rated "Crazy Stupid Love." Tickets are $3 (kids 12 and under are admitted for free, though note the rating). Gates open at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, the N.C. Symphony's Summerfest series opens at Booth with Play with the Pros. The concert features classic favorites such as Mussorgsky's "A Night on Bald Mountain;" Grieg's Suite from "Peer Gynt;" and Schubert's Symphony No. 9, "Great." Local musicians will play along with the professional musicians. Gates open at 5 p.m. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $28. These concerts are very popular with families.
And on Sunday at Booth, the Triangle Wind Ensemble will perform An American Celebration. The 42-member adult ensemble will play a variety of patriotic pieces. Gates open at 5 p.m. The concerts starts at 7:30 p.m. General admission lawn tickets are $15. Kids 12 and under are free. Picnics are allowed.
Other outdoor music series continue. They include Music on the Porch at Mordecai Historic Park in Raleigh on Friday; Fridays on the Front Porch on Friday at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill; and Six Sundays in Spring in Wake Forest on Sunday.
In Chapel Hill, Southern Village will kick off its Lumina Outdoor Movies series on Friday and Saturday. They'll screen "The Lorax," rated PG starting at dusk each night. Tickets are $4. At 6 p.m. Sunday, the neighborhood will feature Magnolia Klezmer Band, Jewish party music from Bucharest to Broadway. The concert is free. Click here for the details on both.
The International Ballet Academy will present "Sleeping Beauty" at the Cary Arts Center in downtown Cary. Shows are 7 p.m., Friday, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday. Tickets start at $10 for kids ages 12 and under.
The Barnes & Noble at 760 SE Maynard Rd. in Cary will kick off its summer reading program with a special event at 7 p.m., Friday. Kids in first to sixth grade can earn a free book when they read eight books this summer. This summer's theme is Pirates Read Too.
Ackland Art Museum will hold one of its free Family Days starting at 2 p.m., Sunday, with a family tour, followed by story time at 3 p.m. There are hands-on activities at a creation station and scavenger hunts in the galleries. Activities are best for kids ages 4 to 8.
Here are the holiday weekend hours for favorite family destinations:
Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh is open all weekend and on Monday (when it is usually closed). Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, including Sunday. Marbles will have plenty of activities this weekend, including one of its Family Fit series with Raleigh CrossFit from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, and a Science Solvers program about pond critters from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday. All day Monday, Marbles will salute Memorial Day with everything from a 21-soda geyser salute to patriotic pinwheels. At 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, they'll have a Bubble Blast with all kinds of bubbles. Everything is free with admission, which is $5 per person.
The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and its new Nature Research Center, which I highly recommend, in Raleigh is open all weekend. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday. Don't forget that the museum opened a new 3D theater last year.
The N.C. Museum of History is open all weekend. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday.
The N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. It's closed as usual on Monday, though its Museum Park and trails are open from dawn to dusk (and are a great place for a walk and picnic). The museum will offer one of its free family tours at 10:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. The half-hour tours are best for kids ages 5 to 10 and their adults. The museum recently opened an exhibit called Rhythms of the Heart: The Illustration of Ashley Bryan, which highlights the bright and colorful illustrations of the children’s book author.
Pullen Park's grounds are open from dawn to dusk all year. The carousel, boats and train at the Raleigh park are now open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, including this long weekend. I'm guessing this will be a popular destination this weekend. Remember that overflow parking is available on the weekends at Cates Avenue Parking Deck at N.C. State. On weekdays, parking is available until 5 p.m. at the Hunt Drive Soccer Fields on the Dorthea Dix campus. City code does not allow parking on Western Boulevard. Down By Avalon, playing songs reminiscent of AM pop radio of the 1960s, will perform a special concert at 6 p.m., Sunday.
The Museum of Life and Science in Durham is open all weekend. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has shows scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No shows on Monday.
Kidzu Children's Museum will be open during its normal hours - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday (when admission is free).
Happen Memorial Day weekend!