With the various school calendars in the area, spring break is all over the place right now. But, most students across the region will have a break from the daily grind next week - March 28 to April 1.
If you're wondering what to do with all of that time, here are some ideas!
Check out the checkups and procedures from the Window on Animal Health at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. From 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., weekdays, vets and their assistants will be caring for a few of the thousands of animals in the museum's collection. Two-way audio lets you ask questions and hear more about the squirmy ferret or fish on the table. The museum also recently opened a new 3D movie - "Antartica: On the Edge 3D," with regular showtimes.
Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh will be open all day on Monday (when it normally shuts down at noon). From Friday through April 3, the museum will be celebrating a Spring Break Blast with lots of hands-on activities and opportunities to make things. Those activities are free with admission, which is $5 per person. (The museum is closed on March 27 for Easter). The museum's IMAX theater has several movies (including the feature films "Zootopia 3D" and "Batman vs. Superman"), but I really enjoyed the documentary "National Parks Adventure 3D." It's *almost* (well ... not really) like actually going to one of those amazing parks.
The N.C. Museum of Art recently opened a free exhibit feature the original artwork by award-winning author and illustrator Barbara Cooney for her classic children's book "Island Boy," about a boy who grows up in Maine, travels the world and finally returns home. After a walk through the exhibit, you can let the kids run in the Museum Park. Be sure to check out the Whisper Benches.
In west Raleigh, Prairie Ridge Ecostation (the outdoor classroom for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences) will host some events and also is home to a great nature playground. Events include the regular Citizen Science Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., this Saturday and April 2. These are best for ages 8 and up. Participants can get involved in helping scientists collect and enter data for various projects. Nature Stories, best for toddlers and preschoolers, is 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., March 31, and includes stories and activities. It's all free.
At the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, there's the amazing Hideaway Woods - a perfect place for kids to explore this time of year with multiple tree houses, a creek, trails and so much more. Spring break week also is Brain Week all week at the museum. From 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., March 28 to April 8, the museum will offer a variety of brain-related activities. On Thursday and Friday, scientists from the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences will offer special brain experiments. Admission to the museum is $16 for adults and $11 for kids ages 3 to 12.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill doesn't have shows on weekdays right now, but it will have a variety of shows this weekend and next weekend, including its latest planetarium show - "First Flight." You also can catch "The Longest Winter."
Kidzu Children's Museum, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, will have a variety of special programs during spring break, including a Bubbleology Workshop and a pretzel making workshop. You'll need to register for those. The museum also is just a fun place for drop-in play.
At the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, they'll be presenting a Hip Hopera at 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 30. This "Hip Hop Opera" is, according to the description, about a robot-boy who ants to become a human. "This Afro-Futuristic take on Carlo Collodi’s Classic ‘Pinocchio’ includes hand-crafted puppets by Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins, projections and a live score written by Pierce Freelon."
Go Ape, the treetop adventure park at Blue Jay Point County Park, is open for the season with spots throughout spring break week for an adventure up in the trees. For more outdoor fun, check out Three Bears Acres in northern Wake County and Go Play Outside Now in Garner.
Some newish playgrounds to check out: There's the new playground at Abbotts Creek Community Center in north Raleigh; a year-old one at Powell Drive Park; the new PlayPrints designs at Knightdale Station Park; and some upgrades to Ritter Park in Cary, including new sun shades.
Try an escape room. My daughter and her friends are still talking about our attempt to escape from a room at Cipher Escape in Morrisville. Through various puzzles, participants try to unlock the codes that will unlock the room so they can "escape." This isn't scary at all - but really great fun for tweens and up. Times are available on weekends and March 30 and April 1 during spring break.
The Durham Bulls and Carolina Mudcats don't open their seasons until April 7, but the Carolina RailHawks have games March 26 and April 2 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. These are fun, fast-paced games to watch. Lots of people tailgate in the parking lot before the game. Tickets start at $12.
Take a hike one of the many family-friendly trails across the region. Then, treat yourself at one of these delicious bakeries or ... Treat, a newer ice cream shop in downtown Raleigh about a block from Marbles.
Whatever is on your schedule ... if you're lucky enough to have some time off with your kids ... I hope you enjoy it!