By Corbie Hill
The climate may not be the only reason folks move to Raleigh (or the reason those who were raised here stick around), but it’s a powerful motivator. Winters are relatively mild, and spring is easy. If you’re looking for excuses to go outside now that it’s warm again, we’re right there with you.
Below, find a few ideas for outdoor fun between now and May. This isn’t everything by any stretch, but it should at least get you started.
To find a Western Wake list of festivals and spring events, please pick up a copy of our sister publication, Cary Living.
WHAT: Raleigh Little Theatre/Raleigh Rose Garden
WHERE: Pogue Street, Raleigh
THE SCOOP: Raleigh Little Theatre’s community productions run the gamut from children’s plays to performances with mature themes. In the coming weeks, family-friendly entertainment includes the play Big Bad in area libraries until March 24th. Beanstalk! The Musical! runs from March 16th to April 1st, and Alice @ Wonderland runs April 13th to 22nd, with a special sensory-friendly performance on April 28th. As for drama for mature audiences, local playwright Mike Wiley's adaptation of Blood Done Sign My Name opens May 11th and runs through the 27th. On the RLT campus, visitors will also find the Raleigh Rose Garden, one of only three accredited rose gardens in the state.
WHAT: Prairie Ridge Ecostation
WHERE: Gold Star Drive, Raleigh
WHEN: Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday: noon to 4:30 p.m.
THE SCOOP: Once upon a time, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Prairie Ridge Ecostation was a cow pasture. Nowadays, you can find a pond, a bottomland forest, and a prairie grassland—all native North Carolina ecosystems—on its placid grounds. The Ecostation is convenient to most parts of Raleigh, too—it’s basically across Blue Ridge Road from the North Carolina Museum of Art.
WHAT: St. Patrick’s Day Weekend
WHERE: Downtown Raleigh
WHEN: March 17th and 18th
COST: See details
INFORMATION: RaleighStPats.org; NCcomicon.com/oak-city
THE SCOOP: Two distinct events draw crowds downtown on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. One, the Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade, wends through downtown at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Immediately after the parade, the Wearin ‘O the Green Festival hits the 400 block of Fayetteville Street. Admission is free to both parade and fest.
Practically next door to the green-clad St. Paddy’s revelers you’ll find people playing dress-up for a very different reason. North Carolina Comicon: Oak City hits the Raleigh Convention Center March 17th and 18th, meaning superheroes and other elaborately outfitted cosplayers will also be promenading through downtown. If you're into comics—or if you simply adore pop culture—and you want to see what all the fuss is about, NC Comicon admission is $30 on Saturday or $20 on Sunday, with kids nine and under admitted free.
WHAT: Seventh Annual Spring Egg Hunt
WHERE: J.C. Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh
WHEN: March 27th to 31st
THE SCOOP: Just across the tracks and on the far side of the beltline from Meredith College, J.C. Raulston Arboretum is an oasis of calm, almost despite the buzz of nearby traffic. Every spring, this arboretum hosts its own version of an egg hunt. Here’s how it works: Kids stop by JCRA’s visitor center to pick up an answer sheet, then scour the grounds for colorful, hidden eggs. Each egg has a letter written on it, and once kids collect the letters and unscramble the secret word, they return to the visitor center to claim a prize. This hunt is free and self-guided.
Even when the egg hunt isn't taking place, JCRA remains one of Raleigh’s outdoor jewels. Its 10 acres include a serene Japanese garden, a desert-like scree garden, and a lath house full of fascinating and unusual plant varieties. It’s the ideal spot to clear your head and capture a moment of Zen.
WHERE: South White Street in historic Downtown Wake Forest
WHEN: April 20th to 22nd, and April 27th to 29th; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday
THE SCOOP: Just a short drive north of Raleigh proper, Wake Forest’s HerbFest is an excellent destination for those who want to grow their own heritage and heirloom herbs—as well as tomatoes, peppers, and other vegetables. So check this out and put some variety in your garden. Your palate will thank you later.
WHAT: Out! Raleigh
WHERE: Fayetteville Street, Raleigh
WHEN: May 5th, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
THE SCOOP: Out! Raleigh is a huge, inclusive block party that raises funds for the LGBT Center of Raleigh. There’s a KidsZone for families, assorted food vendors, a beer garden, and entertainment. Indeed, since Out! Raleigh started in 2011, it has become a fixture in Raleigh’s festival scene, drawing 30,000 attendees in 2017. It’s fun, yes, but there’s an opportunity to support social issues, too: Out! Raleigh’s mission is to promote diversity awareness and inclusiveness for LGBT folks and their allies in the Triangle and beyond.