Check Out Museums, Music and Movies for a Summer Staycation


By Stephanie Spaulding

Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau

Just because you live in the Raleigh area doesn’t mean you’ve experienced all there is to see and do in your own backyard. With kids putting away their backpacks this month and summer vacation officially here, now is the perfect time to gather family and friends to be a tourist in your own town.

Families looking to explore more for less this summer will appreciate the value of their own backyard, where more than 40 free attractions offer summer fun for any age group. Family-friendly entertainment and eateries, festivals galore, blockbuster museum exhibitions and a schedule packed with live music, will prove why just named the Raleigh area to its Top Ten list of U.S. Value Destinations for 2014.

Experience why our area is called the “Smithsonian of the South” by visiting any one of our world-class museums free-of-charge. Free is a great price to pay for a day of fun whether it’s at the N.C. Museum of History, N.C. Museum of Art or the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences where kids can observe “science in action” at the new Nature Research Center, recognizable by its three-story, multimedia globe.

While you’re there take a walk on the wild side at the special Rainforest Adventure exhibition and explore one of the least-known habitats on earth in a fully interactive maze.

For a small fee you can also visit the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM Raleigh) or Marbles Kids Museum, where kids can discover and learn in dozens of interactive exhibits, including their newest exhibit, Kid Grid, which encourages kids to energize their electricity smarts and power up a brighter future.

If museums aren’t your thing, then discover for yourself why the city you live in is the state’s hottest live music destination. In addition to so many music venues, the Raleigh area is host to numerous outdoor music offerings.

North Hill’s Midtown Beach Music series is being present in a brand new park and amphitheater and the Oak City 7 summer series in downtown Raleigh are great ways to spend a Thursday evening out on the town for free. And if you don’t feel like venturing out too far from home, bring your lawn chairs and blankets for the Six Sundays in Spring concert series at E. Carroll Joyner Park Amphitheater in Wake Forest for not only music but festive activities, food and craft vendors.

Enjoy an evening under the stars at Koka Booth Amphitheatre’s Movies by Moonlight for a mere $3 and watch Hollywood blockbusters like “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” or classics like “Caddyshack.”

The N.C. Museum of Art also makes for a reasonably priced date night with their great outdoor summer movie selection of award-winning films. And if you’re looking for something fun and free on a Friday night, the PNC Downtown Raleigh Movie Series transforms City Plaza into “the living room of Raleigh” with a great lineup of movies made in North Carolina along with local food trucks and live music.

Use this summer as a way to explore more and spend less by taking a vacation in your own town. With a calendar chock-full of family friendly and inexpensive activities and exhibitions, you can experience firsthand why the place you call home is one the most dynamic and affordable destinations in the Southeast.

For a complete calendar of summer events visit