By Ryan Smith
Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau
Summer is historically known as the time to spend relaxing in the sun and sand or taking in the cooler temperatures in the mountains, but what if you don’t have the time, money or energy to plan an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink vacation? Easy. When you live in Greater Raleigh, there’s plenty to see and do in your own community by being 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 the Raleigh area is the place to be.
There is a reason Greater Raleigh has been called the “Smithsonian of the South.” High-caliber attractions open free-of-charge run the gamut from science and nature to art and history. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art and the North Carolina Museum of History are great places to keep the learning going throughout the summer, while Pullen Park is the perfect place to spend an afternoon burning energy off.
Additional no-cost attractions include the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame (located within the Museum of History), JC Raulston Arboretum, Historic Yates Mill County Park, Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden and the North Carolina State Capitol. Low-cost attractions include Marbles Kids Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the North Carolina Railroad Museum.
In addition to the abundance of free and inexpensive attractions to visit, there is also a calendar of summer events full of fun things for all ages to do.
For music lovers, the weekly Midtown Beach Music Series (Thursdays) at North Hills, Oak City 7 and Pickin’ in the Plaza alternate Thursdays in City Plaza and Music on the Green (Wednesdays) at Lafayette Village.
Head to First Friday in downtown Raleigh where local art galleries, art studios, alternative art venues, and museums stay open late the first Friday of every month, and bring the family for a free outdoor movie during the PNC Downtown Raleigh Movie Series where it’s a #flashbackfriday to the ’80s with titles like “Back to the Future” (June 12), “The Karate Kid” (June 19) and “King Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” (June 26).
And don’t forget visiting local farmers’ markets are a fun activity for teaching kids about healthy eating and also supports the local farming community. The Wake Forest Farmers Market (Saturdays) and the State Farmers Market (daily) are two great options.
Fourth of July festivities are right around the corner, and The Works! is the area’s largest celebration with live music, kids’ rides and games, street performers, eating contests, food and art vendors and much more on the 4th. The night will end as fireworks will light up the sky over The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Closer to home, Rolesville celebrates Independence Day on the 4th with a family-friendly celebration with fireworks and the 42nd Annual Wake Forest Fourth of July celebration includes a fireworks spectacular on July 3, and a children’s parade and games in the park on the 4th.
There are many more events taking place throughout the Raleigh area this summer, and visitRaleigh.com has a full listing of all the things to see, do, participate in and experience all year long.