With the cold, dreary weather we've had this winter, it's hard to wrap my head around the fact that spring break is actually here for most public school students and many preschools across the region. But here we are.
Of course, it's hard to write about the typical school schedule what with all of the year-round, modified year-round, private, charter and homeschools around here.
If you'll be home with the kids for spring break and wondering how you'll pass the time, here are some ideas. If you fall into the second category, consider this your track-out or spring fun guide.
- Knightdale opened up the new Knightdale Station Park last year. The 76-acre park features a pretty awesome playground with a farm and railroad theme. It's great for toddlers to grade schoolers. There's a pretend silo, railroad crossing and even a (concrete) cow. It's worth a drive.
- The Easter Bunny will begin making appearances at local malls starting this Saturday, March 29. Find out where to find the bunny and details about other Easter events across the region in our Easter event database.
- The N.C. Science Festival has more than 750 events across the state from March 29 to April 13. You'll find fun and educational activities for all ages, including Statewide Star Parties on April 4.
- Marbles Kid Museum celebrates spring break all week from March 31 to April 4 with special activities. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, including Monday when it's usually just open in the morning. Starting March 27, Marbles also is staying open until 7 p.m. every Thursday. Admission is just $2 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on those Twilight $2 Thursdays. Also, Marbles' IMAX theater opens "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D" on April 4. And you can sign up to catch a free screening as part of Marbles and Go Ask Mom's Kid Critic Challenge on April 5.
- Speaking of lemurs, I can't say enough about the Duke Lemur Center, which played a role in the making of the new documentary, and the programs it has for the public, including daily tours at the Durham facility. These are fantastic and offer an up close look at a variety of lemurs. They are by appointment only. So be sure to call ahead before you go.
- Baseball! The Durham Bulls opens for the season with games April 3 to April 6. Fireworks are Thursday and Friday night. Kids run the bases on Sunday. And the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon also has home games April 3 to April 6.
- Kidzu Children's Museum has much bigger digs at University Mall in Chapel Hill and a great exhibit featuring Clifford the Big Red Dog. There's also The Makery where grade schoolers will enjoy creating all kinds of things.
- Make a birdhouse. JC Raulston Arboretum's 14th annual birdhouse competition is April 5. Entries are due on April 4, which gives you all week to craft a home for the birds. Categories start at age 4 and go up to teens and adults. The Raleigh arboretum, part of N.C. State, also has a family festival on April 5.
- Durham's Museum of Life and Science, which is closed on Mondays through the winter, will be open on Mondays starting March 31 for the season. And you can spend a day at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and take in the new "Great White Shark 3D" in its theater.
- Up for a drive? The Greensboro Science Center made some massive improvements last year, including the addition of a small aquarium. Knightdale Station Park to open Sept. 19
- For preschoolers, the N.C. Museum of Art offers its What's in the Box preschool program at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., April 3. These 30-minute programs will focus on creative movement and include discussion of art in the museum. I love this program, which is $3 per person. On April 5 and April 6, the museum will offer free family tours designed for kids ages 5 to 11 and their adults. These are a great way to learn more about what you're seeing. If your kids love baseball, be sure to check out Bull City Summer, an exhibit of photographs taken during last year's Durham Bulls season.
- Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill has a schedule with public programs on weekends, but some shows are scheduled on April 1, April 2, April 3 and April 4 for field trips. Seating for the public is sometimes available depending on how big the field trip group is. It's always worth checking.
- The N.C. Zoo in Asheboro, about 90 minutes from Raleigh, is opening some big new exhibits on March 29. They include Bugs: An Epic Adventure, which features giant animatronic bugs. Its popular Kidzone play area is completely remodeled. And "Rio: The 4D Experience" opens in the zoo's new 4D theater. A grand opening, 40th anniversary celebration is planned March 29 and March 30.
- Head to a new storytime. In the last year, the N.C. Museum of History and Prairie Ridge Ecostation have started new weekly storytimes. And there's always the long-running program at Quail Ridge Books & Music. While you're at Prairie Ridge in Raleigh, be sure to check out its new Nature Playground.
- The Cary, the reopened movie theater in downtown Cary, will screen "Mary Poppins" at 10 a.m., April 5. For older kids and teens, there's the PG-rated "Man on the Wire," on the evening of April 3. It tells the story of the Frenchman who, in 1974, walked on an illegally rigged wire between the New York World Trade Center's twin towers. The documentary includes Philippe Petit's own footage.
- Carolina Puppet Theater will offer its shows, great for toddlers to seven-year-olds or so, in both Wake Forest and Holly Springs. They'll be at Wake Forest's Renaissance Center at 11 a.m., April 2. Also catch them at Holly Springs Cultural Center at 11 a.m., April 1.
- Go Play Outside Now in Garner and Three Bear Acres in Wake County are open for outdoor play. In Durham, Stay & Play Snack Cafe offers a place for young kids to play and parents to relax.
- Pullen Park and its carousel, train and kiddie boats in Raleigh are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- And if it is actually spring on this spring break and you need more ideas, check our posts on local parks and playgrounds and Triangle family destinations.