It can be hard to find someplace to go that the whole family will enjoy — especially in our house. My son, David, loves to play outside, but my daughter, Kathleen, prefers to keep her nose in a book. Play outside? No way. Sweat? Unthinkable! Hang with her family? Right. Middle school is a special time when nothing is fun, and your family is an embarrassment (especially your sixth-grade brother).
Oddly enough, we found a great balance of stuff to do at Cedarock Park and Historical Farm in Alamance County. Everyone came home wanting to go back again soon. And the best part? It’s free!
For the history buff, there’s Cedarock Historical Farm. Originally home to John and Polly Garrett, the farm is like taking a step back in time. The couple’s original one-room log cabin was built in 1830. Five years later they built a two-story farmhouse. At that time, the cabin was used as the kitchen, but if you take a look inside today, you’ll see what it would have been like as a home.
Step into the farmhouse, and you’ll enter the 1870s. There’s usually an activity for the kids to try, such as churning butter in the house’s kitchen. The living room is also open for viewing. For the next several months, visitors will learn about women and quilts. A quarter of the room is taken up by a functional loom. A foot-operated sewing machine sits near a window. Women dressed in period costumes share what life would have been like for each member of the family.
In addition to the house, you can also visit the blacksmith’s forge (working the day we were there), the farm animals and one of the area’s first post offices. Work is currently being done on the farm house to restore one of the upstairs bedrooms. The buildings are open two Saturdays each month with live demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
After visiting the historical farm, we moved on to the disc-golf course. Disc golf uses special discs — not a Frisbee like I assumed — and players have several to choose from depending on the shot they’re trying to make. There are two courses at Cedarock, both a par 3. Discs can be bought at sporting-goods stores and are also available for purchase at the Cedarock Store and Park Office.
The day we visited there was a disc-golf tournament going on, but the kids still enjoyed playing in the practice area. We have every intention of going back to play on a non-tournament day (check the website for scheduled events).
There are hiking trails in one section of the park. The main loop is 1.4 miles. The trail is wide, well-marked and an easy walk through the woods. Follow it all the way, and you’ll have a lovely stop at the Old Mill Dam. The mill is long gone, but the dam that diverted water to the mill remains. It’s a great place for picnic.
Cedarock has plenty of space for kids to run off their energy. There’s also a playground, mountain-bike trails and equestrian trails. Bring a volleyball and enjoy the sand court. Bring a kayak or canoe (or rent one onsite for $8 or $10) and enjoy rowing up and down the creek. Fishing is allowed at the fishing pond and is free, but you need to have a license if you’re over 16. Primitive camping is also available, but you must call in advance.
Looking for a place to have a family reunion? This is it. There are seven picnic shelters on the property with various amenities. Shelters are free to rent for Alamance County residents, $30 for non-residents. Everyone is charged a $50 cleanup fee, but it is refundable as long as guests clean up before they leave.
Alcohol is prohibited on the property, dogs are allowed as long as they’re on leashes, and horses must stay on the equestrian trails. Swimming is not allowed.
Whether you want a quiet hike with your kids, to study nature or play an intense game of volleyball, you’ll have a great time with your family at Cedarock Park. So pack a picnic and head out!
If You Go
4242 R. Dean Coleman Road
Burlington, NC 27215
Hours and Admission
Cedarock Park is open daily, year-round. Hours vary by month: May through August, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Admission to the park is free.
Open House Days
Cedarock Historical Farm Open House Days are planned for May 14 and 28, June 11 and 25, and July 9 and 23.
Kim Justen, a freelance writer, lives in Advance with her two children.
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