By Guest Blogger Kelly Hines
“Hey, what do you think about going on a cruise?” I am talking to my 16 year old daughter, or rather the back of her head, trying in vain to come up with some fun summer ideas that don’t involve staring at a tiny screen.
“Ummm…”, she replies, not looking up from her phone, “Yeah, I’m kind of jammed up this summer, and I really want to have some free time.”
Not if I can help it, I think to myself. She has exactly one thing planned for the summer – a two week stint as a counselor in training at Camp Hanes. It will be a great two weeks, full of character building and hard work and a fair amount of fun. But she’s not exactly what I would call ‘jammed up’ for the summer. As any parent of a teen can tell you, finding fun activities to do together becomes a challenge once family takes a back seat to friends. So here’s some ideas to get your teen off the couch and actively participating this summer.
My daughter laughs at me because I watch anything remotely scary with my eyes covered and ears plugged. The idea of being trapped – however innocuously – terrifies me! But escape rooms are a challenge, not some Saw-esque torture. Great to foster cooperation and teamwork, they pit your wits against a variety of mental and physical obstacles in a timed challenge. For tried and true escape rooms, check out:
One of the great things about teenagers is there are no physical limitations to what they can do! They meet the height requirements, and are confident enough in their abilities to take on physical challenges. There are myriad opportunities for hiking, biking, climbing, and more outdoor activities in the Triad and surrounding areas. Here are a few of the more unconventional ones:
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Offers mountain-biking, running trails, climbing center, kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting. An outdoor recreation and environmental education center.
Cliff Hangers Climbing
Cliff Hangers hosts events in order to help our community meet new friends, learn new techniques, and fine tune their skills. From beginner to seasoned climber, kid to adult, Cliff Hangers has something for everyone.
Triad Eco Adventures
The Triad’s original Segway tour operator with downtown excursions, team-building, special events, group activities, and PaddleFit stand-up paddleboard lessons. E-bike rentals also available.
At the Greensboro Science Center, SkyWild is a treetop ropes adventure course located high above the Animal Discovery Zoo.
Kersey Valley Zipline
One of the largest ziplines in the world, with 14 lines and over 1.5 miles of cable, Kersey Valley also offers a challenging rope course. (see also Kersey Valley Escape Room and Laser Tag)
Greensboro Ice House
Chill out after all that outside time with some ice skating.
Get your teen out from in front of a tiny screen and play WITH them. Here are some ways to bring their love of gaming into an activity you can do together.
A paintball ‘park’ nestled in the woods alongside a creek offers games for all skill levels and abilities.
Laser tag and arcade in Archdale.
Kersey Valley Laser Tag
At the same location as the zip line and escape room, Kersey Valley offers an all day experience! (see also Kersey Valley Escape Room and Laser Tag)
Over 40 lanes, arcade, laser tag, late night bowling and more – and plenty of food and beverages! Pretty much teen heaven!
Indoor go kart racing, arcade, laser tag, rock climbing wall, black light mini-golf, billiards and more make The Pit an all day excursion.
Camel City BBQ Factory
Hot ‘que and cool games, from arcade style video games to air hockey and giant Jenga, Camel City is a fun stop in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem.
Box Car Bar & Arcade
Yes, it’s a bar but it’s also a casual eatery that features food trucks and fresh, free popcorn alongside a lineup of classic and modern video games. You will have as much fun as the kids. Plus, dogs are welcome too! Located in downtown Greensboro.
Reboot Arcade Bar
Also another bar (this one in downtown Winston-Salem) but all ages are welcome (if accompanied by an adult) to play in their “authentic 1980’s arcade, featuring over 60 classic arcades and pinball machines.” The website says they are opening soon, but they are already open and operational.
There are so many opportunities to enjoy live theater, music, movies, and museums in the Triad! Consider the usual suspects (Old Salem, Reynolda House, Triad Stage, Greensboro Symphony, etc), and maybe try something new, like:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Located in the building which formerly housed Woolworth’s, and the site of one of the south’s most famous non-violent protests of the U.S. civil rights movement.
Featuring foreign, indie, documentary and festival films. It’s downtown Winston-Salem location puts it in close proximity to dining and shopping, making a movie the centerpiece to a whole day of activities.
One of those hard to describe places, Elsewhere is an artist residency museum space interactive collaborative thingy. From picnics to ‘radical seders’ to travel trips to Cuba, it’s a space that’s sure to get your creative juices flowing and open up some great conversations.
Summer reading programs for teens are scarce, but if you and your child love reading – why not start a book club of your own? Hold meetings poolside with lots of snacks, and invite some other parent/teen friends to join you.
If sports is your teen’s thing, there is no shortage here in the Triad. Summertime is made for baseball, and you can check out minor league teams in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point.
Bowman Gray Racing
Saturday nights are made for short track racing in downtown Winston-Salem. Since 1949, Bowman Gray Stadium has been the definition of “unpredictable” excitement!
We are so fortunate to live in an area with easy access to hiking, biking, rivers, and lakes. Plan a day trip and check out:
Hanging Rock State Park
Camping, picnic grounds, stocked lake for swimming and fishing, canoe rentals, hiking trails, paddling, mountain biking, and rock climbing.
Camping, picnic grounds, fishing, pool, paddleboats, hiking trails, mountain biking, golf, tennis, horseback riding.
Picnic grounds, fishing, aquatics, biking, hiking, golf, tennis. Bike rentals available.
Stone Mountain State Park
The massive granite dome at Stone Mountain State Park keeps watch on park visitors enjoying nearly every type of outdoor activity – camping, hiking, climbing, fishing, picnicking, horseback riding and more. There are more than 18 miles of trails, matched by more than 20 miles of designated trout waters in this park that spreads below the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Virginia Creeper Trail
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34.3-mile rail-to-recreation trail starting in Abingdon, Va., traveling through Damascus, Va. and ending just past Whitetop Station at the Virginia-North Carolina border. The trail offers horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, and running opportunities, as well as camping sites.
Get to Work
My parents loved to involve me in manual labor to “build character”. As a teen, I thought they were just the worst, but now I know they were onto something! Come up with a summer project (or five). Wake your teenager up way too early, make them sweat, and then watch the pride and satisfaction they have when the job is done. Spread mulch, plant a garden, paint the house, clean the garage – the possibilities are endless. Work together to create a sense of teamwork, and make sure to lay on the praise. You might just find that you both get more than a clean garage out of the deal.
Want More Ideas?
Go back and read my blog on Ways to Connect with Your Teen for other experiences guaranteed to bring you closer together. Be sure to check out Rachel’s Summer Bucket List for Families , Katie’s list of local Outdoor Pools and Summer Swim Clubs, and TMoM’s Day Trip blogs for even more ideas on things to do this summer! Local destinations, festivals, and more promise to make this summer the best one ever!
*Baseball image credit to Winston-Salem Dash