Family-friendly summer things to do around Raleigh

Posted on July 4, 2023 in LIVING IN NC,NEWS

Ahhhh…summer. The season with so much to do and kids who suffer boredom (wouldn’t you love to be bored?). Are you looking for ways to add more fun? New Home Inc.has done the research and come up with ideas for family-friendly summer things to do around Raleigh.

This summer, escape the city for a day, a weekend, or longer. You don’t have to go far to explore the beautiful areas just outside North Carolina’s capital. 

Celebrate the 4th of July twice.

What are you doing for Independence Day? Even if you’re having a backyard party during the day, you’ve got to see the skies light up with fireworks, right? You can start with a sparkling spectacle on Saturday, July 1, at theFuquay-Varina Independence Day Celebration, starting at 6pm. Come to South Park to feast from an array of  food trucks, cool off in the splash pad, and sit back and take in live music and fireworks when the sun goes down. 

Continue your 4th of July fun on Sunday, July 2, at your choice of two other celebrations in the area.Smithfield’s Independence Celebrationtakes place at the Neuse River Amphitheater on Sunday, July 2, starting at 6pm. Plan for a full evening of food trucks, live entertainment, activities, and, of course, fireworks.Lillington 4th of July Festivalalso happens on Sunday, July 2, at the Lillington River Park, from 4 to 10pm, with plenty of things to do, eat, and enjoy.

Spend some days and nights at Raven Rock State Park.

Lillington is 31 miles south of Raleigh, and sits on the banks of the Cape Fear River. Although the town is just 5 square miles, it offers some sizable attractions.Raven Rock State Parkis a place where you can experience all sorts of outdoor recreation for all ages. There are so many things to do here that you can keep coming back for a guaranteed boredom buster.

Take a hike as far as you want to go along the 26 miles waiting for you, or ride a bike along almost 14 miles. Or how about taking the family horseback riding? It’s all available at Raven Rock State Park. The Cape Fear River runs through the park so you can swim, paddle, or fish. And the areas are handicap-accessible. The natural scenery will reward you, no matter how you choose to explore the area.

Campingat Raven Rock State Park lets you and your family get a taste of outdoor living beyond the backyard. Tent and RV campsites and cabins can be rented, so you can take your pick of how rough you want to rough it. Imagine sitting by a campfire and night while you gaze at the stars, tell stories, and listen to the sounds of nature.

Take your pick of farmers markets.

Bring kids to a farmers market and teach them about the importance of supporting local farms—many of which have been here for generations—eating fresh foods, and trying new things. You’ll all enjoy seeing (and buying) the fresh-picked produce, homemade specialty foods, and locally made cheese, confections, and products from regional artisans. You and your family can talk to the farmers and artisans and learn what it takes to make something from scratch.

TheGrowers Market of Fuquay-Varinais held in Downtown every Saturday through September 9, rain or shine. TheDowntown Smithfield Farmer’s Marketbrings the farm-fresh products and more on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, from July to October.

Get the scoop on National Ice Cream Day.

Americans consume an average of 23 gallons of ice cream every year. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared the third Sunday in July to beNational Ice Cream Day! What better day to plan a family event? And what’s better than FREE ice cream?Ice Cream Socialto celebrate with free scoops and drinks. Sunday, July 16, 4-6pm at Fuquay Mineral Spring Park in Fuquay-Varina, ranked #6 on’s “Top 20 Best US Suburbs to Move To”. 

Set sail in the Smithfield River Rat Regatta.

TheSmithfield River Rat Regattais a truly unusual race that takes place annually on the Neuse River in Smithfield. This year, mark your calendar for August 12. Your watercraft may be made ONLY from cardboard, duct tape, and glue. That alone tells you this is something you don’t want to miss, whether you enter the race or watch from the riverbank. The Smithfield River Rat Regatta begins at 5pm. Award categories are Fastest (Youth and Adult), Best Decorated, and Titanic, the award for the most memorable sinking.

Make a splash at the Smithfield Aquatics Center.

TheSmithfield Recreation and Aquatics Centeris the ideal destination on a summer day—rain or shine! Cool off in either the indoor or outdoor pool. There’s also a fitness and aerobics center where you can fit in a workout or take a class, like chair yoga, zumba, or cycling. The 71,000-square-foot facility also houses an indoor track, double gymnasium, and racquetball courts. 

Here’s another bonus to visiting the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center. You can have your child’s birthday party here or take a class in the Arts & Crafts Workshop.

Send the kids to summer camp.

Do you remember summer camp? Whether it was a day camp or overnight, you had fun and met other children your age. Give you children the same kind of memories. 

TheLillington Community CenteroffersLP&R summer day campsfor ages 5 through 13, through August 18.

Fuquay-Varina Community Centeris hosting weekly themed summer campsthrough the first week of August, for kids from kindergarten through fifth grade. Children can choose from a variety of themes,  like Under the Sea, Party in the USA, and Olympics. 

Go on a scavenger hunt.

There’s nothing like a scavenger hunt to capture the attention of children and adults! Pick a destination among the Raleigh suburbs. Smithfield, Fuquay-Varina, and Lillington have picturesque and historic downtown districts (Fuquay-Varina has TWO!). You can wander along the main streets and parks and visit some of the historic sites. Put together a list of things to find on ascavenger hunt. Give every member of your group a little notebook, pencil, and plastic container or bucket to collect their treasures. You’ll not only have a fun day, but you’ll explore local history, meet people, and maybe even uncover your new favorite place to go!

Take a class at the Fuquay-Varina Arts Center.

TheFuquay-Varina Arts Centeris a must on your list of family-friendly summer things to do near Raleigh! The FVAC will inspire your creativity with a full schedule ofsummer classes and workshopsthrough August, for all ages, from 4 through adult. Every Saturday, children between the ages of 6 and 12 can take a different craft class, including Popsicle Stick People, Canvas Paintings, and Model Magic Food Miniatures. Teens have their own choices, like Self-Portraits and Collage.

Visit and revisit museums.

Sure, your children aren’t in school for the summer but you can keep them learning while they have fun. Plan visits to the many museums in the Raleigh suburbs.

The Fuquay-Varina Museum Complex is the perfect destination. In one place, you can explore 6 museums:

  • TheCentennial Museumtakes you through 100 years of changes, and includes artifacts from local history, like items from the oldest drug store in town, which closed after 99 years in business. Give your children a close-up view of how children had fun long before cell phones, television, and video games.

  • TheSchoolhouse Museumis a two-room building that’s almost 250 years old! See what learning entailed in the years when the country was also growing up.

  • ThePost Officepays tribute to the days when “snail mail” was the only way to send messages. 

  • TheTobacco Barnis a 100-year-old log building that was dismantled, brought to Fuquay-Varina, and reassembled. This mini-museum documents tobacco farming, which contributed dramatically to the region’s economic growth.

  • Your children will love theJohnson Playhouse, a small log playhouse filled with toys from long ago.

  • TheCabooseis an actual train caboose that used to run through Fuquay-Varina. The town bought and is restoring the antique engine. 

Your children might not know who Ava Gardner was, but anyone in Smithfield can tell you about the Hollywood megastar of the middle of the 20th century. TheAva Gardner Museumpays tribute to the hometown heroine, with costumes from some of her most treasured movie roles, photographs, letters, and memorabilia. This year, they’re celebrating her 100th birthday with the Ava Gardner Festival.

Discover the joys of your local library.

Don’t forget your local library where summer reading programs encourage and reward young readers! Public libraries host storytime for budding readers and often present a variety of programs to encourage children of all ages to discover the many services offered for free—like books, ebooks, and audiobooks, computer access, classes (both in person and online), and knowledge that you can see and touch, without the need to surf. 

Harnett County Public Libraryin Lillington offers a full schedule of activities, from story time and Summer Reading to arts and crafts activities for kids and teens. ThePublic Library of Johnston County and Smithfieldencourages a love of reading and creativity in kids of all ages.

Come home to the Raleigh suburbs.

While you’re exploring all the family-friendly summer things to do near Raleigh, think about the benefits of living here. Like brand new and very affordable homes. Bigger yards. Good schools. Small-town hospitality and the sense of safety that comes with it. And an easy commute to the bigger cities nearby.

New Home Inc. is buildingnew homes for salenear Raleigh—and townhomes, too. Take a look at what’s coming toSmithfield,Fuquay-Varina, andLillington. Every home is designed for the way you want to live. New Home Inc.’sFuture-Proof” approach to building looks ahead. We include standard features that represent a higher standard:

Include a visit to one (or more) of ourcommunitiesalong with the other family-friendly things to do near Raleigh. Browse ourmove-in ready homesandcontact New Home see what your life can be like in one of these beautiful towns!