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Winter Break Guide: 16 ideas to get you out of the house when school’s out

December 22, 2018
Courtesy: Our Body: The Universe Within

Winter Break is nearly here for thousands of kids across the Triangle. And while Christmas, for most, will be top of mind as they set down their backpacks for a couple of weeks, let’s admit that those shiny new toys also will get a little tiresome after a few days at home.

So, if at some point during Winter Break, you expect that you’ll be ready to get out of the house, here are 16 events, activities and opportunities across the Triangle.

This popular exhibit at the Raleigh mall opened back in October and is scheduled through at least March. Dubbed an “eye-opening and educational exhibit” that features actual human bodies, the exhibit reveals the “inner workings of the human body by showcasing actual human bodies, anatomical displays, reproductions of historic anatomical artwork and more,” according to the press release, and has drawn crowds around the world.

Tickets are $17. Students, seniors, military personnel and family and kids ages five to 14 can attend for $15 each. Kids four and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online in advance. It is closed on Dec. 25, but open other days, including Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, according to its website.

Now in its fourth year, the festival at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary runs through Jan. 13 and is open daily through Winter Break, including Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. The display features more than 20 new displays, each one comprised of hundreds of parts and thousands of lights. The Chinese cultural performances also are not to be missed. Tickets are $10 for ages 3 to 17 and $15 for ages 18 and up.

We have lots of great holiday light shows around here, and many stay open after Christmas. They include Meadow Lights in Benson, Lake Myra Christmas Lights in Wendell, Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville and Piper Lights in Wake Forest. Our popular post listing 11 spectacular holiday light displays across the region and North Carolina has the details.

I got to see this show in Raleigh again this season and, again, absolutely loved it for its faithfulness to the Christmas TV special and because it’s absolutely perfect for families with young kids. Shows run through Dec. 24. Tickets start at $15. It takes place at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh.

My family sees this every year, and every year it’s absolutely magical. The Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker runs through Dec. 30 this year. You’ll find it at the Duke Energy Center in Raleigh through Dec. 23. It will pick back up at the Durham Performing Arts Center from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30.

These amazing athletes and performers will have one show - at 6 p.m., Dec. 30 - at the PNC Arena. Tickets start at $18.

From First Night Raleigh’s children’s celebration to Night Lights at Morehead Planetarium, the region has a few family-friendly opportunities to ring in the new year.

After a month of celebrations, start 2019 on a more healthful note at organized First Day Hikes at parks across the region. Local and state parks are offering lots of options for everyone - from families with teeny hikers to families with more experienced ones. Some do require pre-registration, so make your plans now if you’d like to attend.

If you haven’t been to Marbles in downtown Raleigh in the last year, there are lots of reasons to visit during break. In 2018, Marbles unveiled several new play spaces, including the outdoor Color Pop Corner, Piece Out, Polar Play and Hit the Trail and a revamped TreeTunes that includes a giant banjo.

When extended family is in town, I like to head over to the N.C. Museum of Art for a walk around its outdoor park and to explore its free exhibits, which includes a small one that features absolutely beautiful photos of science and innovation courtesy of researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill.

You also can check out “The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art,” a ticketed exhibit that explores the work of the revolutionary artist.

The Durham museum always is a popular destination, and it has some special holiday-themed activities in its lab through Jan. 28. They run 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., weekends. Themes include snow science, ice skating physics, arctic architecture and winter animals. Activities are free with admission, which is $20 for adults and $15 for kids ages 3 to 12.

The North Raleigh Model Railroad Club has a fun display on view on weekends through Dec. 30 at Raleigh Union Station. Kids love checking out the N-scale display, following the trains and exploring the teeny tiny scenes that are created throughout. It’s free!

In downtown Raleigh, you get a twofer of free state museums where families can spend hours of time. The natural sciences museum, of courses, offers lots of free daily programs and some ticketed 3D movies. The history museum offers plenty of diversions too, including a very popular exhibit on World War I.

We are so lucky to have so many playgrounds around here. This year, I featured some new and older ones, including Apex’s new train-themed playground, Raleigh’s Forest Ridge Park and Raleigh’s Halifax Park. For other great playgrounds, check out this post that lists 10 playgrounds worth the drive.

If the weather is cold, our list of indoor playgrounds and family fun centers will help you find a warm spot to burn off all of that energy.

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