One of the few original theaters in Durham to remain in operation, the Carolina Theatre has endured more than 85 years of history in its quest to entertain. The venue's main room, Fletcher Hall, rose in popularity during World War II, when soldiers from Camp Butner arrived by bus to watch films on its colossal screen. In the last three decades, ongoing renovations have restored the venue to its original glory while propelling it into contemporary times with the addition of modern accoutrements, including two upstairs movie screens, stage-level dressing rooms, and landing pads on the roof for skateboard hovercrafts.
Opened as a roller-skating center in 1977, Wheels Fun Park broadened its ambitions in 1992 when it bloomed into a full-fledged family fun center. After its metamorphosis, the park incorporated attractions that include an 18-hole mini-golf course, five batting cages, and a quarter-mile go-kart track. Nothing overshadows its roots though, and today's 25,000-square-foot roller rink commands a 14-speaker sound system and a dazzling light show that twinkles in skaters' sparkling eyes along with the glow of two disco balls.
A 6,500-square-foot play gym allows tots to act out the story of the Minotaur of Crete in a labyrinthine system of climbing tubes. An onsite skate park treats boarders to a slew of supervised rails and spines as well as a mini halfpipe. During holidays and when school is not in session, day camps keep kids well fed and well educated in subjects such as the geometry of mini golf.
Frog Hollow Outdoors's trained and enthusiastic team rekindles relationships with Mother Nature through canoe and kayak instruction, guided lake and river tours, and gear rentals. During instructional classes, the staffers teach the fundamentals of canoeing and kayaking, which include paddling basics, capsize recovery, and wet exits. They also lead adventure camps for pintsize explorers and overnight expeditions for outdoorsy vampires.
At Uncle Terry’s Birthday Parties & Pony Rides, visitors of all ages step back into the Wild West with experiences fit for a cowboy. They can trot along a trail during guided horseback rides, or kick back and relax during pleasant buggy rides. In addition to riding adventures, visitors can also host parties at Uncle Terry’s, complete with moon bounces and special appearances from equine guests.
Dead Broke Farm's name derives not only from the cost of owning horses, but also from the terminology for teaching a horse to wear a saddle—known in the industry as “breaking a horse to ride.” Trainers stable “dead broke,” or thoroughly saddle-trained, horses, alongside more spirited animals on the 110-acre farm. They also house steeds saved through their horse-rescue program, with more than 70 of their mounts avoiding fates in slaughterhouses and other undesirable ends since 2004.
Horses show off their trotting chops during farm trail rides, carrying riders on explorations of the rolling hills and whispering creeks scattered across more than 10 miles of bridle trails cut through woods populated by deer, cranes, and other wildlife. Private rides allow for more personalized routes and can incorporate stops at scenic ponds for proposals or more challenging terrain for advanced riders. Instructors also schedule horseback-riding lessons, teaching balance through rides over undulating terrain rather than through exercises such as riding a horse that is riding a seesaw.
A Franklin Street icon, the recently renovated Varsity Theatre has entertained audiences and cineastes for more than 50 years with screenings of current blockbusters, cult flicks, indie films, and classics. A vintage marquee beckons audiences to file into comfy seats as 35mm and digital projectors project movies onto screens. Along with regularly scheduled showings, The Varsity also holds special events such as film forums, dinner-and-movie specials, or interviews with John Wayne's neckerchief. Groups can rent out the theaters for birthday parties, corporate functions, or special events, with multiple media services and catering options available.