Minor League Baseball is major fun for kids of all ages. As if the thrill of the game weren’t enough, Durham Bulls Athletic Park offers all the classic ballpark food (and some surprises, too), sections of covered seating, a playground and plenty of fun and games in Wool E’s World. “Who could possibly not love this baseball park and this team?” asks Nancy McMeekin of Morrisville. “The park is perfect. There isn’t a bad seat. Wool E. Bull is hilarious and the games with kids between innings are hilarious. And the baseball is just great. We love going with friends, eating great park food and waiting for the smoke to come out of that outfield bull’s nostrils!”
Info: Ticket prices vary, but are generally under $10. 409 Blackwell St., Durham; 919-687-6500 or durhambulls.com
Cradle of Forestry
North Carolina was home to America’s first forestry school, and the 6,500-acre Cradle of Forestry, inside Pisgah National Forest, offers a trip back in time to the origins of forest conservation. Two trails with informational signs guide you to seven historical buildings, a 1915 logging locomotive and an antique portable sawmill. On weekends, craftsmen demonstrate toy making, weaving, woodcarving and more to enthralled audiences. “Children will love the scavenger hunt inside the Forest Discovery Center, crawling through the cave and taking a ride with firefighters on a simulated helicopter ride,” says Lisa Pettus of Weaverville.
Info: Admission is $5 for visitors 16 and older, free for 15 and younger. Everyone enters free on Tuesdays. Open 9 a.m-5 p.m. April through November. 11250 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest. 28768; 828-877-3130 or cradleofforestry.com
Beaufort Pirate Invasion
What kid doesn’t dream of parrrrr-tying with pirates? For two glorious days in August, pirates overrun Beaufort, arriving by land and by sea, for a weekend of swashbuckling and mayhem. Shiver your timbers with dinner and a show at The Buccaneer Revue, poke around a pirate encampment, search for treasure all around town, let your little one gussy up for a kids’ costume contest and maybe sneak a little grog while you’re at it.
Info: Aug. 9-10. Some events require tickets. See beaufortpirateinvasion.com for prices and schedule.
Marbles Kids Museum
Marbles calls itself a “hands-on, minds-on museum” geared toward children 10 and younger. It’s packed full of exhibits that encourage kids to touch and play – with no shushing required! Let your kids go nuts in a pint-sized grocery store (that sneakily teaches about nutrition), a mini-hospital and veterinarian’s office, the exciting and industrious world of Moneypalooza, a gigantic water-play area and a fast-paced Go Zone where kids can build and test their own cars. Among it all, there’s plenty of room to play.
Info: $5 for adults and children 1 and older; $4 for military. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh., 919-834-4040 or marbleskidsmuseum.org
Museum of Life and Science
By all accounts, if you’ve only been here once, you haven’t seen it all. The museum’s 84 acres house indoor and outdoor exhibits on everything from weather and space to farm animals and dinosaurs. The butterfly conservatory, one of the world’s largest, delights kids and grownups alike with the chance to be surrounded (and quite likely landed on) by butterflies by the hundreds. Nuzzle a farmyard cow or take a look (from a safer distance) at the museum’s rescued black bears, lemurs and red wolves. The Catch the Wind exhibit challenges kids to captain a remote-controlled sailboat and learn about how seeds use the air around us to get around. When you’re ready to catch your breath, sit back and enjoy the scenery during a ride on the Ellerbe Creek Railway or have a nice lunch at the Sprout Café.
Info: $14 for adults, $11 for seniors (65 and older) and active military with ID, $10 for children 3-12, under 3 free. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Closed Monday (except most Monday holidays). 433 Murray Ave., Durham. 919-220-5429 or lifeandscience.org