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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Summer “Staycation”: What to Do in Wake County


It’s summer time, and the livin’ is easy! Whether you’re planning a “staycation” or just looking for a checklist of awesome things to do and places to go right here in Wake County this summer, AHA offers 10 ideas (in no particular order) for you.

1)  Canoeing and Pedal-boating: Visit Lake Johnson in Raleigh, Bond Lake in Cary, Lake Crabtree County Parkin Morrisville or other area lakes for fun and fitness! They all offer boat rentals, and some have kayaks too, as a great way to get your blood pumping and enjoy the NC scenery! 

NC Art Museum Park

2)  NC Art Museum Park: Explore the Art Museum’s Park featuring 160 acres of fields, woodlands, creeks and trails! Ride your bike, walk the dog, or jog the trails and enjoy the many works of art that decorate the park. You could even pack a picnic for your outing.
3) Natural Playgrounds and Parks: Wake County is home to numerous county-run parks that host trails, playgrounds, gardens and more. Blue Jay County Park in Raleigh is renovating its playground (which is set to reopen any time now) but has a new natural play area featuring Stump Jump where kids can jump from one tree stump to another, Creative Corner with tree cookies to use for imaginative play, and Castle Blue Jay, where kids can use natural materials to build their own forts. Blue Jay County Park also features an Environmental Education Center and offers Discovery Boxes to borrow for exploration in the park. Blue Jay and some other parks in the Wake County system also offer geocaching—a high-tech treasure hunt outdoor adventure.
Raleigh’s Pullen Park reopened last fall and offers pedal boating and a beautifully renovated playground, plus lots of open space for running around and a Sunday night concert series where you can dance. In addition, Pullen Place Café offers lots of healthy and fresh local options for hunger park visitors—this isn’t your usual concession stand, check it out! 

Fort-making at Blue Jay County Park…check out the natural playground!

Curious about all the parks options across the county? Check out AHA’s Parks and Recreation Resources page with links to each of the Wake County municipalities’ web sites.

4) To Market, To Market: Visit one of the county’s numerous farmers’ markets or pick-your-own farms for a fresh taste of local summer flavors and some healthy foods! Many markets are open on Saturdays, and some have mid-week hours. Plus road-side stands and pick-your-own farms have lots of choices too—get a little exercise as you pick in the fields! AHA’s Wake County “Farm to Family” Food Finder is a great tool to see what’s nearby and what options might be fun that are a little further away for you that could make for fun exploring. Then cook up something fresh from the market or the garden with these recipes from Whole Foods Market.
5) Run the Bases at the Carolina Mudcats Games: Kids are invited to run the bases after every Sunday Carolina Mudcats game at home (field conditions permitting)! June 24 is the next chance for this fun “bodies in motion” event, but check out the full schedule. Sometimes Scooby Doo and Yogi Bear are there! The Mudcats play at Five County Stadium in Zebulon.

Dig in to gardening at home, at church, at school, at work or in your neighborhood!

6)  Dig In: It’s not too late to start a garden at home (even a container for tomatoes will work) or learn more about participating in one of the community gardens in Wake County! Another great way to really appreciate locally grown, healthy fruits and veggies –and really understand where food comes from–is to volunteer to work in a community garden or even on an area farm. Get to know your farmers at the markets—many of them host farm working days. They often offer a reward of fresh farm food for in exchange for your labor! Check out the list of community gardens in Wake County on AHA’s web site.

7)  Power 2Play: Fuel your kids’ fun with sports, dance, nutrition and team spirit at the Power2Play exhibit presented by Allscripts at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh! Suit up in hockey gear and skate, pass and score in a realistic rink. Take a shot and practice fancy soccer footwork on a grassy green patch and step inside a supersized basketball net to shoot and swish through different heights of hoops. Jump, spin and balance on fitness ladders and rings and pick power foods in the healthy kitchen to fuel the active fun. Get your heart pumping without ever leaving the museum! Marbles is open Tuesday- Sunday, 9 am-5 pm.
8)  Beat the Heat: Wake County offers a couple of fun ways to beat the heat but keeping on moving! Check out Greystone Recreational Park in Raleigh for a free indoor park and 8-ft traverse Rock Climbing wall. Located in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, this is a unique indoor recreation center that is open Monday-Saturday and offers a break from the heat or a rainy day. 
If you’re ready to get serious about rock climbing, check out Triangle Rock Club in Morrisville, which features 9,000 square feet of state-of-the art climbing walls, 14ft high, free-standing top-out boulder with 3,000 square feet of bouldering and more than 100 climbing routes. TRC offers instruction for all age levels and discounts for Kids Climb Nights on Monday and Wednesdays, plus summer and track-out camps.
Another fun way to beat the heat is with free bowling! Though AMF’s Summer Unplugged Program, you can enroll online, and kids up to age 16 can bowl for free all summer (shoe rental not included). AMF is encouraging families to turn off the TV and turn up the free fun with this program! Just sign up online, and you’ll receive the coupons via email. There is an AMF Bowling Alley in Cary and one in Raleigh.
Two more fun ways to get some exercise but stay cool: go ice skating at area rinks in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest and Garner, or swimming at your community pool or one of the recreational centers in the area!  Check for early hours for laps or enroll the kids in lessons for fun and fitness to beat the heat.
9)   Hiking: Home to an extensive greenway system, including the American Tobacco Trail and the newly opened Swift Creek Greenway, Wake County has tons of trails for hiking! Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots, grab a backpack with a healthy snack and plenty of water, then hit the trails. Did you know Swift Creek Greenway,  a 1.03-mile trail, is the nation’s first greenway built with completely recycled products? It runs along the northern border of Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, and the trailhead is at Ritter Park.  
10)  Biking: Remember much of the greenway system is paved and ideal for biking this summer. The new Upper Neuse Greenway Trail opened last fall and provides more than 6 miles of paved trail alongside the river so you can enjoy the “blueway” as well as you ride!
There’s so much more available to us here in Wake County, but we cannot list it all! Of course, you could run around the yard in the sprinkler, catch fireflies and grill up some local veggies for fun too. We would love to hear from you if you do any of these things or have any other activities/destinations to share! Take your camera along to document the fun and share it with us—we’ll post on our Facebook page! Let us know—we want to hear from you!
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