Your kids are tired of watching you read law books and you are tired of reading your law books. Treat them to a day of fun at one of these family friendly outings, as recommended by students in the Parents Attending Law School student organization.
Best place to take your toddler on a Sunday morning
Elmo’s Diner, Durham
Best low-cost, low-effort reward for your toddler
the Carousel in the Northgate Mall, Durham
Best tasty treat
Locopops, 2600 Hillsborough Road, Durham
Parks and Recreation
Some favorite parks include Indian Trails, north of town (off Indian Trail St, next to Hillandale Golf Course) and Piney Woods Park (south of town, near the Parkside at Woodlake Apartment complex off of Fayetteville and Woodcroft Parkway). Solite Park is a nice playground at Fayetteville and Barbee. Rockwood Park, near Shoreham and University, has a huge, updated, shaded park/playground. Not far from there, Forest Hills Park on University, east of South Square by about a mile, has water squirting from the ground and pumping out onto sand-bedded rivers! There are also many playgrounds and some pools in subdivisions and apartment complexes, many of which are widely used by non-residents or guests of residents… so make some friends and enjoy. Dogs are frequent visitors to most of the more wooded, open parks; walking the trails of Duke Forest is dog-friendly, too.
In Chapel Hill, Umstead Park is a nice place to spend an hour, and if you want to gear up for a trip to Raleigh, you can visit Pullen Park. Your children will marvel at the beautiful old-fashioned merry-go-round, and beg you for another adventure in the paddle boats, or a ride on the train. Finally, all will enjoy walks in the Duke Gardens and hikes along the trails at Duke Forest (very near school, on 751) and at Eno River State Park or Jordan Lake (south on 751/Hope Valley Road about 40 minutes, complete with Bald Eagle sightings, beaches, and boat ramps).
Some families have enjoyed swim and Kindermusik classes for kids 6 months and up at the downtown and Lakewood YMCAs. While on the subject of lessons, 9th Street Dance Studio is kid- and parent-approved, and some like The Little Gym on University Drive. There are highly-recommended children’s dance and karate classes available right near the post office on Shannon Road, across from the Southwest Branch public library. All this stuff and more is advertised in Carolina Parent.
Last, but by no means least, a Durham Bulls baseball game makes for a really nice and fairly inexpensive family outing (tickets at 919-956-2855). Besides the joy of introducing your child to junk food like funnel cakes, there is playground equipment at the stadium if the game doesn’t captivate as expected. Most Friday games during the season end with a wonderful fireworks show (always a thrill for kids!) The Admissions office will typically organize a Bulls game in the summer and the fall, and tickets are usually sold in blocks through their office. Watch for more information later! However, don’t think this is the only time to go! Seats are only a few dollars each and are often still available on game days – play starts around 7p.m. for most games.
Toy and book stores
On Ninth St., check out the Playhouse. It offers a small collection of good and educational toys. Out on 15-501-S, the New Hope Commons shopping center hosts Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, and Wal-Mart. Every week at B&N, storytellers read books for children, and musicians perform. Nearby, Target and Toys ‘R’ Us provide easy access to kid staples.
Of course, for variety and budget-consciousness, Durham’s libraries also offer every book imaginable, puzzles, books on tape, tapes, CDs, videos, story times, a phone number to call for a free story over the phone, etc. Spend time at the Southwest Branch library, on Shannon Road, near South Square, for a smaller version of all of this. The main library is downtown; it offers a huge children’s room, with the puzzles for check-out, and three floors of everything else. Its AV department offers many videos, not just for kids. The yearly (or twice yearly) book sales also offer some great bargains, but people line up before the doors open. Libraries also host children’s story hours.
There is an excellent museum in North Durham, called the Museum of Life and Science, (follow the signs off N. Duke St. or I-85N). It offers fog and hurricane simulations, North Carolina wildlife like snakes and owls, outdoor play equipment including music-making on drums and barrels, a barnyard type children’s zoo, a train ride opportunity, and a butterfly house where several species fly free and may visit children’s fingers. You can also find rockets, a model of the space shuttle capsule, a children’s are with bubble makers and fun mirrors, and skeletal comparative biology (“bones!”). It’s marvelous. Admission to the museum is free to Durham residents on Wednesdays, after 1:00 PM, but good membership deals are available too. Kidzu in Chapel Hill is a small but wonderful kid’s museum with changing hands-on exhibits.
Local malls are great sources for kids’ goods and Northgate has a carousel. Durham now has the hottest (mid to upscale) shopping with the addition of The Streets at Southpoint. The mall also includes an exciting (for kids) food court play space and many kid-enchanting sculptures (including a hand controlled fountain that is sure to please bored kids for hours). Cary and Raleigh offer lots of other shopping options as well, like Crabtree Valley Mall, and Cameron Village for slightly upscale stores.
At least two stores in town will receive your consignments, and provide you with a reasonable selection of used toys and clothing for your kids (best for newborns through age two). Check out Baby Bear, on University Drive, near South Square, and the even better but farther north Kangaroo Pouch, at 2913 Guess Road, voted Durham’s favorite children’s consignment store.