By Kelly Hines
I don’t know why my kids wouldn’t want to spend every waking moment with me – but something happened as soon as they hit the tween stage. They started wanting to hang out with their friends all the time! Lucky for me, I have a great list of stuff to do with my tweens and teens guaranteeing I maintain my ‘cool mom’ status.
If you’re struggling on ways to connect with your older child, here’s a few ideas to get you started. Click on the name of any listing below to go directly to the web site for more information. Make sure to add your suggestions in the comments!
Watch YouTube – even when you don’t get it.
Play a Game – Mancala, Othello, Electronic Battleship, Curses, Telestrations, Headbanz, Apples to Apples, Pictionary, Jenga, Sorry, Operation, Trouble, Clue, Life, Quirkle, Quelf, Cranium, Parcheesi, Gloom, Forbidden Island, Settlers of Cataan, Cribbage, Farkle, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, Checkers, UNO, Skip Bo, Suspend, Pie Face, and card games are some reader favorites!
Cook a Meal – my middle child would spend all day in the kitchen with me. As a solitary cooker, it’s sometimes difficult for me to give up control! But she loves it and is so proud when we’re done. Plus, she’s learning a life skill! Learning how to cut and cook and burn stuff is part of growing up!
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:
Also check out M1ND 6YM, which is an entertainment center with a focus on mental fitness.
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:
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.
Gnarwall Bouldering Gym The Triad’s newest climbing gym is suitable for kids (and adults) of all ages!
Level-Up Fitness Ever wanted to see how you’d match up with your favorite ninja warrior or beastmaster? Do you look at the warped wall on TV and think, meh – no big deal? Here’s your chance unleash your inner beast (and watch your kid beat your pants off!).
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.
SkyWild 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.
Kersey Valley Axe Throwing A new attraction and one not to be missed! Requires a minimum age of 13, and they offer both an outdoor course spanning 40 acres as well as an indoor location.
Soft Golf – Families, groups, couples and friends all enjoy this unique game that’s exclusively at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons.
Greensboro Ice House Chill out after all that outside time with some ice skating.
YMCA There are few organizations that reach as many people, in as many different areas, as the YMCA. From sports to classes to age specific and family themed events, the Y offers so many ways to be with your child in a relaxed, judgment free, fun environment.
Rockin’ Jump With two locations in the Triad (Winston-Salem and Greensboro), Rockin’ Jump offers fun AND exercise. You can find a Slam Dunk Zone, an arcade, Lazer Frenzy (in Winston-Salem only), a Rock Climbing Wall, X Beam Jousting, Dodge Ball – and best of all – After Dark jumping on weekend nights!
Surge – Another great trampoline park located in Winston-Salem. Enjoy the Maincourt, Battlebeam, Ninja Course, Laser Maze, Climbing wall, and party areas.
Ultimate Climbing Gym – The Ultimate Climbing Gym at Ultimate Kids is a state-of-the-art rock climbing facility with 40 feet of “cutting edge” surfaces, as well as one of the largest bouldering areas in the Southeast. Plus, they host Teen Nights at Ultimate Kids on Thursday and Saturday nights. The Hive Comes Alive at the Ultimate Team Training Center (UTTC)! Ultimate Kids offers Teen Night every Saturday. Jump on our trampolines, climb the rope, wade through the foam pit, flip on the bars and more!
Disc Golf – Some of our favorites for disc golf are Horizons Park in Rural Hall, Triad Park in Kernersville, Barber Park in Greensboro, and Springwood in Burlington.
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.
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)
Spare Time Over 40 lanes, arcade, laser tag, late night bowling and more – and plenty of food and beverages! Pretty much teen heaven!
The Pit 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.
Reboot Arcade Bar Show your kids how YOU used to video in this old school arcade. Make sure you check the website or Facebook page for info on kid-friendly hours.
Boxcar Bar + Arcade This arcade and bar in downtown Greensboro is kid friendly before 9 p.m.
Dave and Busters – Now open in Winston-Salem, they have hundreds of arcade games, big screen TVs, and a great menu of food and drinks. Check out the website for coupons.
Wet ‘n Wild – Wet ‘N Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro is great when you have a mixture of thrill-seekers in your house. If one of your teens would rather sit by the pool while another wants to try out “daredevil drop,” it can be done here! It features over 36 water rides and includes plenty of dining options on the premises.
Paintball Central A paintball ‘park’ nestled in the woods alongside a creek offers games for all skill levels and abilities.
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.
a/perture cinema 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.
Elsewhere 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.
Carolina History Haunts Ghost tours!
Take a Cooking Class at:
Take an Art Class at:
Or Create Your Own Masterpiece at:
Start a Book Club Summer reading programs for teens are scarce, but if you and your child love reading – why not start one of your own? Hold meetings poolside with lots of snacks, and invite some other parent/teen friends to join you. Click HERE for some great book suggestions!
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.
Looking for something a little less predictable? How about –
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.
Tanglewood Park Camping, picnic grounds, fishing, pool, paddleboats, hiking trails, mountain biking, golf, tennis, horseback riding.
BurMil Park 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.
Haw River Canoe and Kayak Co – Here you can enjoy kayaking on the rapids, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, or even fly-fishing. Located in Saxapahaw, it’s close by!
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.
You can also find fun things to do with a short drive from the Triad…
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.
U.S. National Whitewater Center Offers mountain-biking, running trails, climbing center, kayaking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting. An outdoor recreation and environmental education center.
The Quarry at Carrigan Farms – Carrigan Farms is located in Mooresville, and offers open swim time in the spring fed quarry. You can enjoy just hanging, jumping, or rope swinging while there. It’s $15 per person and you can stay all day if you wish!
Top Golf Charlotte – Topgolf has three floors of climate-controlled hitting bays for all levels – even if you’ve never played. Each bay includes HDTVs. There is also a sports bar, restaurant and rooftop terrace. Walk-in guests are welcome, but we suggest making a reservation before you go because it can get quite crowded.
Carowinds – Another one of our favorite places to hit in Charlotte is Carowinds amusement park and their waterpark, Carolina Harbor. If you think you will go more than once, a season pass is definitely worth the money. You can easily spend a full day just in the water park or just in the ride section.
Busch Gardens – This theme pack is about 4 – 5 hours away from most Triad areas. Busch Gardens is located in Williamsburg, VA and hosts a theme park and water park. This is a fun overnight for your teens if you want to tackle both sections of the park over a two-day period. There are lots of special events coming up this summer, so check their website to see their calendar of events.
Dollywood – Although you may think of this amusement park as a place for little ones, my teens quickly found that it hosts some of the best roller coasters around! They also have a waterpark, nearby cabins and resort, and theater shows. It was hands-down one of the cleanest amusement parks I have visited! It is a four – five hour drive depending on your Triad location.
iFly – iFLY is located in Charlotte and gives you the opportunity to experience flying with modern indoor skydiving. Your iFLY experience includes a brief training session and your time in the air. Watch the videos on their website to see the fun!
ACE Adventure Center – Just three hours from the Triad, this is located in Oak Hill, WV. The main draw to ACE is white water rafting on the New River. You can choose between the challenging rapids, or can even float or kayak in the more gentle section. ACE also has zip line tours, rock climbing, guided fishing trips, catwalk tours on the New River Gorge Bridge, hiking, ATVs, horseback riding, biking, rappelling, kayak instruction, stand up paddle boarding, team challenge courses and more. You can also enjoy ACE Lake, which has inflatables, a zip line and a water slide.
K1 Speed Concord – Indoor go-cart racing with all-electric karts. They have a professionally designed indoor track that is perfect for small or large groups. They have a “Pit Cafe” so you can grab a bite to eat while there as well!
*Baseball image credit to Winston-Salem Dash