Old Salem Museums & Gardens whisks visitors to the cozy streets of a reconstructed 18th-century Moravian town that encompasses 100 restored and reclaimed buildings and expansive, pristine gardens. As they stroll through the 90-acre homage to early Americana, visitors can interact with hands-on activities, such as the German paper-cutting art of Scherenschnitte or the colonial tradition of libeling a governor with accusations of actually governing. Old Salem's horticultural marvels include the Miksch Garden—a living illustration of Moravian subsistence farming—and the Family Gardens of Salt Street, which demonstrate the innovative practice of seed saving. In addition to year-round attractions, special exhibits rotate through town, celebrating momentous occasions, notable people, and game-changing presidential pets. After traversing the grounds, visitors can peruse souvenirs at a number of gift shops or sidle into Winkler’s Bakery for a piece of renowned Moravian sugar cake.
• For $60, you get two seats in the back upper level of sections 217–225 (a $99 value before fees, or up to a $123 value online including all ticketing fees). • For $82, you get two seats in the upper level sides of sections 209–216 or 226–233 (a $139 value before fees, or up to a $166.20 value online, including all ticketing fees).
Around the shores of Jordan Lake, a squad of outdoor enthusiasts works to cultivate environmental stewardship in youngsters through discovery-based classes and events that disguise education in a cloak of fun. Codirectors Eleanor Herr and Denise Nelson both possess a passion for nature, degrees in early-childhood education, and the creativity to combine the two into exciting programs.
Lessons and field trips designed for public- or home-schooled children instill a love of nature while adhering to the Common Core State and North Carolina Essential Standards for education. Events for kids and their families, such as a full-moon night hike with a campfire, encourage bonding that can strengthen telepathic communication during future potato-sack races. Weekly nature camps for ages 6–11 keep young brains blossoming in the summer. Jordan Lake Environment Education also hosts birthdays, replete with themed activities, coloring books, and free time for any self-provided cake and refreshments.
Kersey Valley Spookywoods' story begins with a midnight dare. During a campout with his friends in the summer of 1985, 15-year-old Tony Wohlgemuth needled his friend Chuck into sneaking into the abandoned farmhouse that they were camping behind. As he crept up the steps, the other boys nervously waited outside. Shattering the tense energy with sheer terror, they heard Chuck's screams and pleas for help from within. When they ran inside to rescue him, they found his screeches were brought on by an encounter with a family of bats, which convinced them that the house was, in fact, haunted. This inspired the crew to set up their own haunted house in the same barn that October, and in the decades since, Tony and his wife, Donna, owners and operators of Spookywoods, have grown the operation from a small venue run by 10 teenage friends into a sprawling attraction run by upward of 300 staff members.
Nestled on a 65-acre farm, Spookywoods coaxes screams from visitors from the end of September until Halloween. A variety of attractions, such as the Deadly Harvest, Terror Trams, Fright Lights, and The Dreaded Inn—discovered by Chuck so many years ago—test guests’ bravery. The Deadly Harvest corn maze scares explorers silly, thanks to 10-foot-high cornstalks patrolled by a host of masked ghouls, who are really just misunderstood lost souls looking for someone to hug and love them. Along with its signature attractions, Spookywoods hosts other seasonal events such as the Dark Circus Halloween party, replete with fire shows and DJs.
Designed by architect Rafael Viñoly, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University not only houses precious works of art that span centuries; it is a work of art itself. Composed of five separate, rectangular volumes, the Nasher Museum compartmentalizes its 65,000 square feet of space elegantly and efficiently. Two pavilions host rotating exhibits and another pavilion contains the permanent collection. In addition, an auditorium seats 173 people and features lectures and film screenings, whereas the final pavilion houses two classrooms, in addition to the museum's store and café, where members receive discounts.
Fueled by her passion for performance art, fashion, and choreography, Durham native Anjanée N. Bell founded Bellan Performance Centre as a philanthropic organization, and as a destination for those individuals with interests as diverse as her own. The disciplines and fundamentals of dance weave a common thread through the facility's many endeavors, which include aspirations to emerge as a performance-art community by way of engaging live shows. Off stage, Bellan provides various educational programs and fitness classes that encourage participants of all ages to get up and move, even if they lack the experience and spring-loaded toes of many professional steppers.
Phillips Farms of Cary cultivates more than just crops of strawberries and corn. During seasonal events, the farm reaps all-ages fun for families with a variety of attractions and activities. Strawberry season brings about picking sessions where visitors can pluck their own fruit, and as autumn descends on the farm, so to do 40-foot bounce pillows, pedal carts, and a winding corn maze. Guests can make their way through a labyrinthine path that changes every year and celebrate a successful trip with kettle corn baked fresh to order or by high-fiving a pygmy goat in the petting area. October also brings about frightening chills from a two-story Gore House filled with zombies and ghouls around every corner.