Ride with Santa on New Hope Valley Railway (12/9/2012)

If you’ve heard about the holiday train at Pullen Park and are still thinking about going, you will probably keep thinking: Tickets are completely sold out for the entire duration. But a good alternative would be the New Hope Valley Railway, which also has rides with Santa this weekend. They are also sold out, but are holding a limited number of walk-in tickets. Make sure you read details before taking the half-hour-drive. (My suggestion would be to get there before or right at 10 a.m., and be prepared to not get tickets for the very first ride. (There is enough to see during the wait…)


Veterans Parade (11/11/2012)

The parade season is upon us, with the Veterans parade this weekend, and the “Christmas parade” (Christmas in November?) one week later. Here some tips from the Daddy for an enjoyable parade:

– Bundle up! Saturday will be sunny and not too cold, but you’ll be standing around for a while. If you’re not hauling lawn chairs, bring a thick insulating something to keep bottoms warm.
– Arrive early! The Veterans parade will not have as much spectators as the Christmas parade, but still.
– If you must drive, use the Alexander Square Parking deck. You enter (by car) from Wilmington St., but you exit (on foot) right onto Fayetteville. If you stay on that block, you and a screaming baby will be back in the car in a matter of minutes. You could even view the parade from the parking deck, but there are no safe, comfortable viewpoints for the littlest ones (30″ concrete wall and don’t even think about sitting them on the railing).
– Bring water and snacks. It would be too bad to give up your coveted perfect spot just to buy some overpriced bottled water. But in any case: The CVS at the corner of Fayetteville and Hargett has everything from water to food to diapers.

The parade starts at 9:30am by City Plaza and then goes up Fayetteville towards the State Capitol (opposite direction to most parades). A wreath laying ceremony at 11:00am and a static display of the parade with music are also planned.

Patriotism by abbyladybug, used under the CC BY-NC license

The image is Patriotism by abbyladybug and used under the CC BY-NC license. Thanks, Abby!

Can I just skip Halloween? (10/31/2012)

I’m sorry, no you can’t. Unless you stay home and hide, which may not be the worst plan given the rainy weekend forecast.

This weekend, you can pretty much go to any of your favorite hangouts and expect to find a Halloween-themed happening. Long-time readers will know that I often have outdoorsy, or science-y, or artsy, so here one event for each of these three categories:

Let’s start with the outdoorsy stuff: There is a haunted hike on Tuesday at Jordan Lake State Park; walk the 1/2 mile trail anytime between 7p-10p and meet real (and not-so-real) nighttime creatures.

New Hope Valley Railroad does haunted rides this Saturday at 4p, 5:15p, 6:30p and 7:45p. (The 7:45p ride not for small kids, I read.)

The NC Symphony is playing spooktacular music at 1p and 4p. Show up early to try out some classical instruments yourself.

Then there is a new event, Raleigh Living Dead taking place on City Plaza. The website states it is for all ages (before 8p at least) and it does have kids activities, but all the grown-ups walking around in zombie costumes might be a little bit too much. Tickets are $10, and $5 for kids.


Kids Band “Sandbox” playing Fred Fletcher Park (9/2/2012)

Fourth of July has fireworks, Labor Day has Concerts in the Park. Right? The lovely weather of September makes it perfect to pack up a blanket and a small cooler and head out to Fred Fletcher Park. If you live downtown and this does not ring a bell, boy, you’ve missed something. Scenery-wise, Fletcher it is probably the nicest, and certainly less crowded than Pullen Park. It does not have a lot of playground equipment, other than a sandbox and swings. And speaking of a sandbox, that is also the name of the band that is playing at Fred Fletcher on Sunday night. Lawn chairs and coolers welcome, alcoholic contents not. Sandbox has a nice website that gives you an idea about their style.

What I like is that they play a combination of traditional children songs as well as their own work. Some of their songs can be previewed on their website.

Sunday, Sept-2, 6pm. Fred Fletcher Park (820 Clay Street, Raleigh NC 27605)

Independence Day 2012

Here some ideas to celebrate Independence Day:

Best fireworks for kids: First, if you can’t wait until tomorrow (or want the kids to see the fireworks and sleep in the next day), don’t be uppity and head out to Garner tonight. Their fireworks are earlier, the symphony is playing, and it is probably less crowded than “The ‘Works” in Raleigh tomorrow. Garner Independence Day Celebration, 5p-8p, July-3rd.

Best neighborhood parade: If you’re lucky enough to live in University Park, you have your very own Independence Day Parade right in your heighborhood. Firetrucks and Locopops; need I say more? University Park Independence Day Parade, 9:45am, July-4.

Best children’s parade: A bit out of the way, but specifically dubbed a children’s parade: Wake Forest Independence Day Children Parade, 10:30am, July-4.

Best parade that includes a splash-down from a fire truck: The Apex festivities include karaoke, inflatables and street performers in the morning and end with a parade and an opportunity to “cool off under the spray of the Apex Fire Department’s fire hose“. Town of Apex Olde Fashioned Fourth of July, activities 9a-12p, parade 12:00pm, July-4.

Best “let’s turn Independence Day into a three-day-festival”: As every year, Durham is hosting the Festival for the Eno with tons of activities. Festival for the Eno. Wed July-4, Sat. July-7, Sun. July-8.

And of course, there is also the Independence Day Celebration of the City of Raleigh which, following the overall trend, has moved from the fairgrounds to downtown and will take over Fayetteville Street and surrounding areas. Everything will be there, from a Reading of the Declaration of Independence to Arts Vendors to Circus to Music to Beer Tasting to, of course, at the end, Fireworks. This year, the Rotary Club will release 100 firefly lantern as a special treat at 9:30pm just before the fireworks. The ‘Works, 11am-10pm, July-4.

Also note that while the downtown museums (Science, History, Marbles) are open, the Art Museum is closed.

Fireworks Finish Up Raleigh Wide Open by abbyladybug, used under the CC BY-NC license


Father’s Day (6/17/12)

This is going to be a great one for The Daddy, since there are now two kids wishing Happy Father’s Day!

“The Perfect Father’s Day” is a personal choice, and to not make this based on just my perspective, I reached out to a couple other dads and Daddy Weekly readers. Here the compiled results of the non-scientific, non-representative Father’s Day survey:

The Day: Two common attributes were “outside” and “relaxed“. Whether grilling in the backyard, sitting by the pool or taking an easy hike: Dads like to get out, and “relaxing” can get quite active when kids are involved. (However, few would turn down a cold drink and a game on TV once the kids are in bed.

The Gift: Hmm, socks? a tie? One thing to remember is that guys like things that can be used. (Socks are worn, not used. An automatic fairway range finder with built in golf ball detector, that’s something you use.) So something practical is always a winner. And with 67% of dads doing at least some of the cooking these days, this just might be a cookbook. Another theme was a personalized gift from the kids. Believe it or not, but a coffee mug (practical) with a photo of the kids (personalized) may be all that daddy is hoping for. (And I can personally attest how nice it is to have a kids’ photo in the office.)

The Hike: But enough lofty talk – here comes my practical tip for the day: Pack up the kids and go for a hike in a nice park. Here are three options, complete with maps – so dad can relax and mom as well. All three are at lakes and at least partially in the shade:

0.80 miles in Oak View Park – what a nice park! http://goo.gl/maps/JXlt
1.12 miles in Yates Mill Park – what a nice mill!  http://goo.gl/maps/5Tup
2.36 miles in Bond Park – yes, Cary has park too! http://goo.gl/maps/Ong0

For directions to each park, just click on the P symbol and then “directions”.

Mother’s Day – Two Quick Outings (5/13/12)

Opinions differ about how Mother’s Day is best celebrated: Dad takes care of kids, and Mom has a relaxing Sunday? Or the family spends time together celebrating their beloved mother?

Both versions can work, and the two events below fit that program; they are “quick and easy outings”, that to keep the kids occupied while mama is at the spa. Or they can be family outings that keep everybody together without being too stressful for the parents.

One option is the Mother’s May Day Hike at Yates Mill park. A one-hour stroll (11am-12pm) around the lake, with a focus on baby animals and their mama in this park.

The second option is Open Bounce at Pump It Up, the indoor party place with the inflatable bouncy houses. (From noon – 2pm, a short drive out to Brier Creek. I recommend buying advanced tickets for that day, you can get them on their website.)

Both event are early in the day, and leave plenty of time to come home and cook a yummy dinner for mommy!