History Comes Alive at These Family-Friendly Sites in the Triad
Family outings can be just as educational as they are fun. There are lots of interesting places throughout the Triad that provide glimpses into our rich, historical past. These venues engage all the senses, making learning history and bonding with the family enjoyable and memorable.
Boone’s Cave Park, Lexington
Let’s begin by transporting all the way back to 1750. What child could resist retracing the footsteps of Daniel Boone? At Boone’s Cave Park in Lexington, your family can explore the same rivers and woodlands Boone traversed as a teenager when his parents settled beside the Yadkin River. Smell the Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel he smelled. Look way up into the branches of North Carolina’s tallest Eastern Cottonwood tree. Hide in the cave where Boone retreated for some alone time.
For older children, hiking, canoeing and kayaking serve to bring alive the exciting adventures Boone experienced as he transitioned into manhood. Picnicking, birding and camping are also popular activities at Boone’s Cave Park, where you can let go of modern stressors and enjoy the unadulterated beauty of the mid-18th century.
The park is located at 3552 Boone’s Cave Park Road, Lexington. From May through September, it is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Sundays. From October through April, the park closes at 5:30 p.m. Call 242-2285 for more information about the park and special events held throughout the year.
Old Salem, Winston-Salem
When you enter the manicured grounds of Old Salem, the Moravian community located at 900 Old Salem Road in Winston-Salem, you will find yourself transported back to 1766. And that’s just the beginning. From period architecture to townspeople dressed and living the parts, your family will be immersed in pivotal Southern history leading up to post-war mid-1800s.
During the summer months, children love to participate in Salem Sleuth. A brochure guides them through each building, where they must obtain a special stamp. At the end of the sleuth tour, a prize awaits. Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer include hands-on activities, such as quill pen writing.
Old Salem also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. Tickets range in price from $11 to $26 for adults and from $5 to $13 for children depending on how much you want to see and how many days you plan to visit. Visit oldsalem.org. For hours, tickets, event details and more, or call 721-7300.
The Outdoor Performing Arts Center, Snow Camp
Before making our way into the 20th century, let’s take a short break with some historical fiction. While technically spectators, the audience is drawn into the 1880s nautical world of the young Jim Hawkins at the production of Treasure Island at the Outdoor Performing Arts Center in Snow Camp. Hawkins is the only person able to successfully navigate a schooner to the legendary island known to possess buried treasure. But along the journey, the ships cook, John Silver, works to break down trust onboard the vessel. This play, adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, sweeps everyone into a world of deception, greed and adventure. While this version was adapted for youth audiences, the humor spans generations ensuring patrons of all ages are thoroughly entertained. Beginning July 8 and running through Aug. 1, performances are held Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. Matinees are also planned during drama camp sessions. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children age 11 and younger for children’s shows. For more information, call 800-726-5115 or visit snowcamptheatre.com.
Greensboro Historical Museum, Greensboro
Having already spanned 150 years, we find ourselves at the Welcome to the Gate City hands on exhibit at the Greensboro Historical Museum. This permanent exhibit allows your family to experience firsthand typical duties of a turn-of-the-century druggist, fire fighter and more in a life-sized, working “set” of Greensboro. Featured as a permanent exhibit at the Greensboro Historical Museum, located at 130 Summit Ave. Stroll through the streets, take in a silent movie and relive Greensboro’s emerging city life as it was opened to the rest of the country thanks to the railroad system that wove prosperity and connectivity through the burgeoning cities of a proud young country.
The museum is part of a campus that includes the David and Rachel Caldwell Historical Center and the First Presbyterian Cemetery. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information on exhibits and events, call 373-2043 or visit their website at GreensboroHistory.org.
The Mill House Museum, Cooleemee
The Mill House Museum stills time in 1934, during a simple era in which a mill hand paid $.25 a week for a room in a multigenerational home. Salt cured meats and canned vegetables were staples for the mill townspeople. The museum is a restored Erwin Mills home built in 1934. While the home was modest, families were big. In a close-knit community like Erwin Mills, children who acted out could be reprimanded by not only their parents and grandparents, but also any of the neighbors.
As you take in the simplistic lifestyle, leave the smartphones and tablets behind and watch as your children imagine what chores they might take on in 1930s Davie County. Would they feed the chickens? Gather eggs? Bring in coal? Chop wood? The museum is located at 163 Cross St. in Cooleemee. For more information, call 284-6040.
The Hoover House at Linbrook Heritage Estate, Randolph County
North Carolina’s agricultural landscape experienced post war prosperity followed by depression-era dearth in the first half of the twentieth century. Small, family operated farms were the norm. The Hoover House at Linbrook Heritage Estate, nestled in the northwestern corner of Randolph County, sweeps visitors back to those tumultuous years of rural farm living from 1905 to 1944.
Built by current-owner Jerry Neal’s great grandfather and restored to its original condition, the venue offers glimpses into the sometimes difficult but oft-rewarding lives farmers lived a century ago. Guided tours of the Hoover House, located at 5502 Snyder Country Road, Trinity, are provided by appointment only. Admission is $3 for children under 12 and $5 for adults.
Neal’s Industrial and Agricultural Museum is located on the estate as well at 5507 Snyder Country Road. The museum boasts fully restored period farm equipment, a sawmill, a sugar cane mill, agricultural demonstrations and a gift shop. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with group tours scheduled by appointment. Admission is $3 for children under 12 and $5 for adults. For more information on Linbrook Heritage Estate and its offerings, call 336-861-6959 or visit their website at LinbrookHeritageEstate.com.
Micki Bare is the assistant editor/web editor for Piedmont Parent. She draws from her early childhood career, parenting and life experiences to feed her passion for writing. In addition to working for Piedmont Parent, she is the author of the Hubbleville series children’s books, writes a weekly newspaper column and maintains a blog. She lives in Asheboro with her husband, sons, mother and a handful of pets.