Situated about halfway between Raleigh-Durham and Greensboro, the city of Burlington is in Alamance County, right in the center of the state. For families, the city’s well-maintained natural resources and active civic programming offer plenty of year-round activities.
Visit a Farm
North Carolina is farm country, and visiting a farm makes for a fun family outing. During the holidays, visit Hall Tree Farm (no website; 336-421-0060) to choose your tree from the farm’s cypress, fir and pine trees. Isley Farms (iseleyfarms.com) is worth a visit any time of year, but kids are most likely to be enthusiastic about pick-your-own strawberries in the spring and pumpkins and hayrides in the fall.
Get Out on the Water
Alamance County is dotted with creeks, streams and ponds, and the Haw River flows right through it. All these waterways make Burlington an ideal place to explore by boat. Pick up the Haw River Paddle Trail (hawrivertrail.org) at the Indian Valley paddle access points -- it has restrooms in case anyone forgot to go before you got in the car -- and follow the river for a few hours. The trail is easy enough for beginners, so you can give the kids their first paddle lesson. Wake the kids up early one morning and take a canoe or kayak out on Lake Mackintosh -- early morning is the right time for fishing and bird watching.
Enjoy a Special Event
Check the special events calendar on the city of Burlington’s website (ci.burlington.nc.us). The city has a roster of special events throughout the year, including Easter egg hunts, free concerts, fireworks and river paddles. Long before European settlers started farming the Piedmont region, the Saponi Indians roamed the land around Burlington. Today, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation (obsn.org) has a family friendly annual powwow, complete with American Indian music, dance, food and crafts.
See a Show
The minor league Burlington Royals baseball team -- a farm team for the Kansas City Royals -- plays at Burlington Athletic Stadium (milb.com) during regular baseball season, and the 3,500-seat stadium is an affordable place to see a game -- kids tickets are just $4 for general admission. Check the schedule of upcoming shows at the Paramount Theatre (burlingtonnc.gov) -- productions include classics such as “Father of the Bride,” “The Music Man” and “The Sound of Music,” and there’s frequently a kid-friendly show on the schedule.
Learn origami, build with Legos, make a craft or just catch story at the Alamance County public libraries (alamancelibraries.org). The library has a themed story time and activity just for families every month. Unleash your artistic side and join the kids for a pottery painting session at the Mad Platter (madplatterstudio.com), a paint-your-own pottery studio. Firing your finished masterpiece can take up to a week, so plan accordingly. If you need to burn off some energy, hit the roller skating rink at Roll About Skate Center (no website; 336-227-7769) or play a round of miniature golf at Putt-Putt Golf and Games (no website; 336-228-6217).