Thursday, June 9, 2016

Looking for Fun & Free Family Summer Activities? Check Out Your Local Library

Browsing Books at Library by Bonnie Henderson on MorgueFile
As schools begin to pack up for summer vacation, many families are faced with the daunting task of entertaining the family on a shoestring budget. One of the greatest opportunities for free or low cost family fun is likely located just a few miles down the road at the local public library.

Australian Storyteller at Public Library Summer Program © Katrena
Summer Reading Programs

Public libraries often offer summer reading programs with prizes for various amounts of reading. This is a great way to encourage the kids to continue utilizing reading skills learned during the school year. My kids may not particularly enjoy assigned reading during the school year, but they often read much more in summer months because they have more time to read books they wish to read. I encourage my children to read some non-fiction books about topics of interest in addition to non-fiction stories. Some libraries may offer reading programs for adults as well.

MAD Science Program at Local Library © Katrena
Interactive Educational Programs

In addition to reading programs, libraries will often offer group activities. Speakers entertain the crowd while encouraging interaction with a take-home message for folks to read. My family has had the opportunity to see a binturong, an animal that smells like buttered popcorn; heard people play various instruments such as a didgeridoo and concertina; participated in a drum circle; enjoyed puppet shows; saw experiments in MAD science programs; and so much more at the local library. Additional summer programs are often offered that are geared toward specific age groups.

Magic Show During Summer Reading Program at the Library © Katrena
Mobile Libraries

If you do not live close to the library, check to see if they offer a variety of ways to access books. For example, you might check out online versions of books through their web site or the library might offer a satellite library or bookmobile closer to one's neighborhood. Some libraries may schedule visits to the town hall or some other prominent location in an outlying community and offer special programs during warmer months.

Flow Circus Interactive Program at Library Summer Show © Katrena
Various Formats

Libraries offer information in various formats as well. Libraries often offer the ability to check out magazines, which is a great way to save on a subscription or at least determine which magazines are most favored by the kids before purchasing. Books on CD offer a great way to enjoy a book and are particularly useful when traveling together. When we were checking out A Series of Unfortunate Events on CD, the kids couldn't wait to ride somewhere so we could discover what happened next. CDs of various storytellers have been a big hit with my family. Music CDs and movies on DVD are also pretty popular at our home.

Puppet Show at Library Program © Katrena
Educational Classes

Many libraries offer free classes, online and/or in person on various topics. Perhaps the family can strive to learn something completely new together in warmer months. I know the kids are out for summer break, but learning something completely different might spark an interest that lasts a lifetime.

Hands-on Learning at MAD Science Program at Local Library © Katrena
Inter-library Loans

So your nearest library does not have the exact item for which you are searching? Chances are your nearest library may be able to acquire that item from another library through an inter-library loan. You might browse the card catalog a few days before you plan to visit your local library to see if specific items are available or if an inter-library loan is an option - this can save you an extra trip, time, and some gas money.

Libraries are SUPER Places for Summer Fun © Katrena
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Thanks for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog - feel free to share what you've done this summer at the library in the comments section below.

Monday, May 9, 2016

2016 Gem Theatre Summer $1.00 Movie Lineup

2016 Gem Theatre Summer $1.00 Movie Dates
The Gem Theatre, located at 111 West 1st Street in Kannapolis, North Carolina, is offering $1.00 movies in the summer of 2016. Show times for these summer camp movies are at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. Special concession pricing is available for groups of more than 15 if ordered using their online request form before 5:00 p.m. on Monday before the show.

This theatre is particularly nice because of its rich history. My kids love to sit in the upstairs balcony! The Gem Theatre is located less than 5 miles from Village Park, a great park that offers a small train ride, splash pad, and playground.

$1.00 Summer Movies
2016 Dates
The Peanuts Movie
June 14
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
June 21
June 28
July 5
July 12
Hotel Transylvania 2
July 19
The LEGO Movie
July 26
Shaun the Sheep Movie
August 2
Norm of the North
August 9
August 16
August 23

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

2016 Free Summer Movies in City Park, Salisbury NC

Free Movies in City Park 2016
Here is the 2016 lineup of free movies in City Park in Salisbury, North Carolina, which is located at the corner of W. Miller and Jackson Streets. Entertainment begins at 8:00 p.m. and the movie begins at 9:00 p.m. Concessions are available and folks are welcome to bring blankets or chairs.

Scheduled Date
Rain Date
Inside Out
May 27
May 28
June 10
June 11
June 24
June 25
Penguins of Madagascar
July 8
July 9
The Good Dinosaur
July 22
July 23
August 5
August 6

If the weather is iffy, they will typically wait until Friday afternoon to make a final decision regarding a rain date and will update their web site accordingly. City Park has some beautiful walking trails, picnic tables, playground, lake, and Patriots Flag Concourse and Memorial. I highly recommend coming early to enjoy a picnic, take a walk, and give the kids a chance to play before the entertainment and movie begin.

If you have questions about the movies in the park, feel free to call the City of Salisbury 704-638-5295.

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

2016 Mocksville Cruise-in Dates: Free Car Show That is Family Friendly

2016 Mocksville Cruise-in Dates and Times - Free Car Show in Davie County

2016 Mocksville Cruise-in Dates and Times © Photo by Katrena
Mocksville, a town nestled in Davie County, offers many fun family activities, but one of the favorites is the Cruise-in, sponsored by the Piedmont C.A.R.S. Association.

Mocksville Cruise-in Dates and Times for 2016 © Photo by Katrena
Folks from all around drive classic cars and a few other types of unusual or vintage vehicles into Mocksville and park them near the square on Main Street. Many owners readily offer the history behind the treasured piece.

See Vintage Cars in Mocksville NC © Photo by Katrena
A D.J. plays music for people to enjoy as they walk around and view the nice variety of cars in the event. Many restaurants and shops are open for those who are looking for a tasty meal or treat while at the Cruise-in.

Fun Family Activities in Davie County © Photo by Katrena
The 2016 Cruise-in dates are scheduled for the first Monday of each month beginning in April and ending in October and runs 5:30 p.m. until dusk or about 8:30 p.m. There is no admission charge to look at the vehicles in this event. See the 2016 dates below the next picture:

Free Summer Activities in Mocksville © Photo by Katrena

  • April 4
  • May 2 (Moved to May 16 rain date)
  • June 6
  • July 4
  • August 1
  • September 5
  • October 3

Free Car Show in Mocksville © Photo by Katrena
At this time I do not see rain dates on my sources, but if I get information about rain dates, I'll be glad to post them. UPDATE: rain dates are scheduled for the third Monday of the same month in case the originally scheduled date is rained out. May 16 is the rain date for the missed May 2 Cruise-in. Some cars and trucks come in a little early. When the weather is perfect, you can expect a pretty large number of vehicles for this event.

See Old Cars in Davie County © Photo by Katrena
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Family-friendly Free Car Show by Piedmont C.A.R.S. Association © Photo by Katrena
Thank you for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog - I hope you find my articles informative and interesting!

North Carolina Zoo Aviary - So Much Beauty Under One Roof!

My family has traveled to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro quite a few times over the years. One of my all-time favorite spots is home to beautiful birds and a plethora of plants.

Pink Flamingos in front of NC Zoo Aviary © Photo by Katrena
Before you enter the aviary, you'll see several pink flamingos to the right. They can be a lot of fun to watch.

Panama Poison Golden Dart Frog © Photo by Katrena
The aviary has two entrance doors; between the doors one can see colorful frogs. My nephew is in Panama with the Peace Corps and I recognized a picture of a frog he saw and photographed because I had seen one in the zoo frog exhibits.

Victoria-crowned Pigeon © Photo by HMW
I particularly like the aviary because folks have the opportunity to stand within the exhibit while the birds fly, walk, hop, and swim all around visitors.

NC Zoo Aviary © Photo by Katrena
Visitors have the opportunity to see birds we are unlikely to see without extensive traveling. Sometimes a zoo staff member will offer additional information about particular birds or flowers, conservation and protection efforts, and more.

Learning About Birds at North Carolina Zoo © Photo by Katrena
The lush landscaping offers a meandering trail with quaint bridges, overlooks, and lots of twists and turns. It is paved and handicap accessible. If a storm puts a damper on the trip, the aviary provides a great place to get out of the rain.

Beautiful Landscaping at NC Zoo Aviary © Photo by Katrena
If you take the time to look, you will see vertical gardens on the walls and nice little surprises like orchids peeking from the shadows.

Purple Glossy Starling © Photo by Katrena
We have visited the zoo in all seasons. When outside temperatures are 100 degrees in the shade, the aviary offers an oasis from the relentless sun and heat. Several vents on the floor blow air that feels great on a hot summer day.

Mousebird © Photo by Katrena
When outside temperatures are very chilly, this indoor exhibit has always been open. Some animal exhibits, particularly on the Africa side, close on cold days. The temperatures in the aviary remain comfortable year-round.

Blue-crowned Laughing Thrush, a Critically Endangered Bird at NC Zoo © Photo by Katrena
Even on very crowded days, and we've been to the zoo at super busy times like Easter week, it is nice to be able to see the animals and landscaping up close without waiting in a line. When the zoo is very crowded, it can be difficult to get up close to viewing areas on some outdoor exhibits.

Scarlet Ibis Photo by HMW
The aviary includes benches. This can be quite helpful and relaxing after walking through Africa or North America at the NC Zoo.

Paradise Tanager © Photo by Katrena
The aviary is especially fun to visit during feeding times. The birds become quite animated as zoo employees refill the food supplies in various locations throughout the exhibit.

Eclectus Parrot Photo by HMW
Many of the birds have their favorite spots, and it is interesting to slow down and look around at the various feathered friends. Don't forget to look on the ground, particularly near feeding areas.

See Unusual Geese, Teals, & Ducks at NC Zoo © Photo by Katrena
The zoo does a great job with educational exhibits and includes photo guides including pictures and names of the birds. An aviary bird guide can also be found on the zoo web site.

Favorite Places at NC Zoo in Asheboro © Photo by Katrena
Some of the plants also include labels, which is very helpful to those of us who don't know many of the plant names. The labels include interesting tidbits about those plants as well.

Indoor Exhibits at NC Zoo © Photo by Katrena
If you are visiting the zoo, I would highly recommend going in the aviary unless you are scared of birds. The exhibit is located on the Africa side near Junction Plaza. There is no extra charge to visit the aviary.

Crested Coua © Photo by Katrena
Another indoor exhibit, the Sonoma Desert, is similar to the aviary but has a very different mix of fauna and animals. That exhibit includes a roadrunner, owl, a few elusive hummingbirds, and other birds and animals one might see in a desert setting.

Orchids in the NC Zoo Aviary © Photo by Katrena
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Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot © Photo by Katrena
Thanks so much for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog. If you have ever been to the NC Zoo, have you visited the aviary? What is your favorite bird? The comment section is at the bottom of the article.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Pilot Mountain State Park's Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail Offers Beautiful View with Little Effort

Pilot Mountain State Park Big Pinnacle as seen from Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail © Katrena
My family has been hiking trails in North Carolina State Parks for years. Some trails are much harder and longer than others. Most of the best views are enjoyed by those hikers willing to go the extra effort to hike a longer distance with more challenging terrain.

Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail is very easy and short walk with a great view © Katrena
Pilot Mountain State Park is one of the exceptions where visitors can enjoy a short, easy hike that reaps great benefits. The pinnacle of Pilot Mountain is the iconic shape that looms near Hwy 52 north of Winston-Salem. This beautiful, majestic landmark is impossible to miss when traveling on Highway 52. On a clear day, I have seen the unique shape of Pilot Mountain from Interstate 77 near the North Carolina/Virginia border. Pilot Mountain is definitely distinct.

View of the Piedmont from the parking lot at Pilot Mountain State Park © Katrena
A few months ago, I decided our family would visit Pilot Mountain. Many of the state parks in North Carolina require a fair amount of driving off the main road; however, I was surprised to see that the park entrance is very close to Hwy 52. Visitors can drive up to a parking lot that delivers visitors up close and personal to a gorgeous view without hiking at all. This would be a great park for those with mobility challenges!

Hiking Trail to see great view at Pilot Mountain State Park in NC © Katrena
I have seen loads of pictures of Pilot Mountain's Big Pinnacle that appear quite close up. I had assumed the hike might be a bit challenging to get to that photo spot. I was wrong! The Little Pinnacle Overlook Trail offers an easy 0.1 mile hike to a lookout deck that begs for pictures. I did not zoom on any of my photos posted in this article, and all of the photos I featured in this article are sites that can be seen from the parking lot or the Little Pinnacle Overlook trail.

Great view from Pilot Mountain State Park © Katrena
When we visited, one man mentioned that the park gets quite full when the leaves peak, and there may be a long line of cars waiting to get a parking space. The parking lot at the top is small, so you might want to plan for less crowded times of the year if you want to simply drive to the top without a wait like we did. The trails we hiked were well-maintained when we visited.

Learn about nature and more at Pilot Mountain State Park © Katrena
This state park offers quite a few other trails, a campground, picnic areas, educational programs, rock climbing and rappelling with a permit, and more. Restroom facilities were near the parking lot. We hiked a few other trails, but I wanted to feature the Little Pinnacle Overlook with this article.

Beautiful View from a Mountaintop - No Hiking Required! © Katrena
Pilot Mountain State Park offers a beautiful view with very little effort of those who visit the park. People who are looking for more challenging trails won't be disappointed either. Feel free to visit the official Pilot Mountain web site for hours, maps, and more.

Enjoy Natural Beauty with the family at Pilot Mountain State Park © Katrena
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Thanks so much for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog. I hope you find my articles to be helpful as you plan your own family outings in North Carolina. Have you visited Pilot Mountain State Park? Feel free to post comments in the comment section below.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

2015 Mocksville Christmas Parade Pictures

An Elf Makes a Special Delivery of Candy at the Mocksville Christmas Parade © Katrena
Mocksville's 2015 Christmas parade was packed with loads of holiday fun for the whole family.

Pink Fire Truck at Mocksville Christmas Parade © Katrena
Just in case you missed the parade or would like to see some of the entries again, I've compiled a collection of my photos to share with all of you.

Tractors at 2015 Christmas Parade in Davie County © Katrena
The 2015 theme was "Plowing Through the Holidays." Of course, lots of the people who have tractors came out this year. Mocksville has a large tractor parade on July 4 every year.

Davie County 4-H Float "Plowing Through the Holidays" © Katrena
Davie County 4-H also showed their agricultural heritage.

Fun Entries in 2015 Mocksville Christmas Parade © Katrena
This parade was filled with lots of fun and unexpected twists and turns.

Unusual Entries in Christmas Parade in Mocksville © Katrena
Not everybody was riding - some groups walked, or danced, or slinked down the street.

Davie County High School Marching Band © Katrena
Of course, Davie County High School band entertained the crowds with music.

Bagpipes at Davie County Christmas Parade © Katrena
A group played bagpipes and drums.

Sickle Cell Anemia Awareness at 2015 Mocksville Holiday Parade © Katrena
This group encouraged folks to learn more about sickle cell anemia.

Davie County Public Library Shoveling Snow in Parade © Katrena
Is that snow? Of course, you can find just about anything at the Davie County Public Library!

Star Trek at Mocksville Christmas Parade 2015 © Katrena
This year, I think the force was with us in the parade.

KITT at Christmas Parade on Main Street in Davie County © Katrena
And it looks like KITT came and spoke to folks who lined the streets.

Fire Fighter at 2015 Mocksville Holiday Parade © Katrena
Mocksville is blessed with many fire fighters, EMTs, police officers, and other folks who provide a variety of services to the community.

Horses at Mocksville Christmas Parade © Katrena
Of course, the horses came out to say hello at the end of the parade line.

Walking Soap Bucket at Davie Christmas Parade © Katrena
You never know what you might see at a Christmas parade.

Lots of Cars at Davie's Christmas Parade © Katrena
A lot of the cars in the parade can also be seen at the Cruise In during warmer months.

Chickens at Parade in Mocksville © Katrena
These guys were also in the bed race the night before.

Davie County Humane Society Brings Dogs to Christmas Parade © Katrena
And these furry friends are looking for loving homes.

Old Cars at Mocksville Christmas Parade © Katrena
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Mocksville Lions Club at Christmas Parade © Katrena
Thanks so much for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog, where I often feature fun, family-friendly, and often free things to do in the Tarheel State.