By Guest Blogger Sandy Fielders Harper

If you are struggling to think of fun and inexpensive day trips for you and the family during the two week (or more for some of you!) school holiday break, we’ve got ideas for you! One great thing about living in the Triad is we have many options that are not a far drive away. Below are a few ideas that are entertaining for many age groups and they won’t break the bank.

Click on the name of each venue to visit the corresponding website.

  1. NC Zoo in AsheboroNC Zoo bobcat exhibitOne thing I love about North Carolina is that even in the winter we are blessed with gorgeous days that are warm enough to take a trip to the zoo. The NC Zoo is open year round, making it convenient for most schedules.
  2. Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park (Winston-Salem and Greensboro locations) – This can be a fun activity for even older kids. Not only does this place have a huge trampoline area but it also has dodgeball, a foam pit and an arcade.
  3. Greensboro Science Center – This large center is filled with many science themed attractions that are fun for children and their families. These attractions include: a museum, OmniSphere Theater, an Animal Discovery Zoo, the Carolina SciQuarium and the new Dinosaur exhibit.
  4. Great Wolf Lodge (Concord)- This resort has an enormous 84 degree indoor waterpark, plus other attractions for an entire family. This trip would be more of a two day excursion but there is so much more fun to be had if you spend the night in one of their cabin-feel rooms.
  5. Dino head at SciWorksKaleideum – (Winston-Salem)- This is a great place to take the kids for fun, plus they will be learning without realizing it! There are many different things to see and do, for all ages. You can choose to visit Kaleideum North, which includes a Planetarium, science exhibits, outdoor gardens, and animal habitats. Or visit Kaleideum Downtown, which is an amazing children’s museum with climbing adventures, hands-on exhibits, and plenty of imaginative fun.
  6. Mining in Franklin-Franklin, North Carolina is considered the gem capital of the world! There are many mines to choose from to enjoy the thrill of mining. Though this is often an outdoor activity, there is always the possibility of having beautiful weather even in December in North Carolina!
  7. US National Whitewater Center (Charlotte)- This center is made up of 700 acres and offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for all ages and skill levels. Guests can enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses, a canopy tour, and mountain biking on the 25+ mile trail system. The availability of activities and related operating hours vary with the seasons but they are opened 365 days a year, from dawn to dusk. Check out their activity schedule to find out what activities are available each day.
  8. Greensboro Children’s Museum – Designed to encourage children to have hands-on, fun, learning experiences which contribute to their growth and development through play, creation and outdoor exploration. Enjoy the outdoor play plaza and the edible school yard.
  9. Biltmore House tours (Asheville)- The Biltmore Estate is America’s largest private home, with the Vanderbilt family still residing within the estate, and opening their home to the public every day throughout the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas time, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful times of year to visit. The decorations and lights are overwhelmingly amazing.
  10. Zootastic Park (Troutman)- During regular season, this park is not only full of animal fun and learning, it is also affordable. Some of the attractions here are: a Western town where you can learn about snakes, reptiles, tortoises and coatimundi, a Barnyard Petting Zoo where you can interact with farm animals, a Safari Trail that allows you to get close to goats and a young camel, who love you to feed them by hand, a wagon ride to feed (and pet some) wonderful creatures such as zebras, wildebeests, watusi, more camels and tigers! And a bonus – in the winter they have a wonderland of holiday lights!
  11. Old Salem teapotOld Salem (Winston-Salem)- Visiting Old Salem during the holiday season is a refreshing reminder of what Christmas is truly about. As you walk around all the sights, smells and sounds will no doubt help put you in the holiday spirit. There are many different holiday events happening this month, so visit their seasonal events page to find out more about these events and dates/hours.
  12. Conservators Center (Burlington)- The Conservators Center reconnects people with wildlife by introducing visitors to rare, threatened, and endangered species—up close and personal. They are currently open on weekends and you do have to call ahead to reserve a tour spot. It is a great way to support animals that need our help.
  13. Lights, lights, and more lights – If you missed it, we have a great list of additional light displays in NC. Check it out here.

Be sure to visit our Day Trip category here, which has MANY other options for family fun! Lastly, don’t forget our local event calendar here. There is ALWAYS something to enjoy right in your own backyard. Plus, each Monday we have been highlighting local holiday events. Log on each week to see our list. If you are not already a newsletter subscriber, sign up here so you don’t miss out.