By Rachel Hoeing

*Note that this is an older blog written in 2014 and some info may be out-dated. 

Durham is a quick trip from anywhere in the Triad. Depending on the age of your children, you can do either, or both of the ideas I will write about below.

Last spring I took my daughter to the Museum of Life & Science and then The Streets at Southpoint, both located in Durham. It was a girls’ day with just the two of us and we thoroughly enjoyed a mix of kid time and shopping time!

The NC Museum of Life & Science has enough differences from the Triad Museums in order to constitute the longer drive. There is a large outdoor area as well as indoor exhibits to visit at the Museum of Life and Science.

The outdoor area includes a playground, music-making stations, a train car to explore, a water station, and a huge sandbox with all the dump trucks a kid could want! Past that, you will find a small farmyard with sheep, goats, rabbits, a pig, a steer, turkeys, chickens, and a donkey. As you continue along the path, you will find the butterfly house. This was my favorite. It reminded me of an indoor rainforest. As you walk through the exhibit, you have to look closely at first to find the butterflies, but then out of nowhere you will look up and see ten of them flying above you. My daughter loved trying to spot them and took lots of pictures of them with my camera.

Continuing outside the museum, you will find a six-acre outdoor exhibit of wild animals and plants. I would pretty much describe it as a mini-zoo! There were lemurs, wolves, and bears. It reminded me of the outdoor exhibits at the Greensboro Museum. Also, there is a restaurant on the grounds, Grayson’s Café, in case you are there during lunch or dinner hours. There is also a sailboat pond, which looks really cool in the brochure, but somehow we missed that part!

The inside of the museum was just as fun as outside! There are many stations for kids to use their creativity and do hands-on activities. There was a weather exhibit which had a really neat replica of a cloud, along with other interactive stations. For your outer-space lover, there is a whole section on aerospace, with a full-scale lunar lander, space gear and moon rocks. My daughter loved the Carolina wildlife section because there was an owl who watched us forever! There are many other activities, including a Play to Learn section especially for kids age 6 and under.

After we exhausted all sections of the Life and Science Center, we headed to The Streets at Southpoint, which is about 20 minutes away. I am not sure if it is because there is a PF Chang’s across the street, or if it is because of the outdoor section of shops, but I just love to visit this mall! There is a terrific play area for the kids with the soft structures to climb. The outdoor area has tons of fountains and benches, and they often have street performers, so it is great even if you have tiny ones who will just ride in the stroller and look at all the action around them.

The mall has plenty of great shopping as well. There is a Destination Maternity store for all you expectant mommies. A few of my personal favorites are Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn Kids, Anthropologie, Ann Taylor Loft, Lucky Brand and Abercrombie Kids. I must admit I was a little bummed when I noticed that the Talbots Kids store was gone, but nonetheless, I still enjoyed the afternoon of shopping, and my daughter enjoyed the play area in the mall, the street performer who juggled fire, and all the toys in Pottery Barn Kids. I am sure you will not be surprised when I tell you she was asleep in the car before we even exited the mall. Mission Day Trip to Durham was a success!

If you have any other kid-friendly places to visit while in Durham, please share!