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Marbles Kids Museum | Raleigh, NC


Photo credit: Marbles Kids Museum

Please, Take the Children

It’s the perfect destination for little ones (ten and under) and the adults who love them. The museum is hands-on, minds-on and offers that rare combination of play and learning that makes everyone happy. It’s been recognized nationally for creative exhibits and bold approaches to play-based learning. There are themed exhibits, summer camps, and daily programs, plus IMAX educational and feature films, and dozens of special events. Perfect.

Want to introduce your little ones to music? Invite them to dance up and down the “stairs” in Stepnote. With each step, a musical note is heard, accompanied by colorful lights. Or, visit a new exhibit, Tree Tunes, and watch the young ones create an outdoor orchestra with chimes, xylophones, and bells. It’s a percussive musical playground. My piano teacher would have loved them both!

For budding artists, the Art Loft allows kids to unleash their free expression and creativity through painting, drawing and sculpting. In IdeaWorks, imagination takes over as children design, create and build all kinds of things, from everyday products to vehicles – and more.

Future gardeners will embrace Sun Sprouts, with its real garden. Dirty hands are a must here, as little ones explore herbs and investigate worm excavation. (No worms are hurt in this hands-on exhibit.)

And what about tomorrow’s business leaders? They’ll learn smart ways to spend and save with Moneypalooza, a colorful world of high energy and great fun.

Think your cuties are too young to learn about earning money, building budgets and spending wisely? It’s all in the realm of the possible at this imaginative exhibit.

WOW Factor: You simply can’t pass up the opportunity to expose children to intelligently conceived playtime that teaches them important lessons. In a fun-filled environment.

Hint: Dress for the weather. There are two outdoor adventure areas. You can enjoy food at the museum, or bring your own for outdoor seating. Moore Square Park is across the street and is great for a picnic. Visit the Marbles Corner Store for exclusive gear, plus toys, games and gadgets.

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Southern Season | Raleigh, NC

Raleigh NC Southern Season

Photo credit: Courtesy of Southern Season

Gustatory Delight

That’s what renowned New York Times food critic, the late Craig Claiborne, called Southern Season. He was on the money! A recent visit to the Charleston shop convinced us all that this was a worthy Carolina Adventure. Bright, airy, beautifully appointed – but that’s not the point. It’s got the good stuff and my credit card is here to prove it.

Grab a cup of mocha or perhaps a flavored latte from the coffee & tea bar, then stroll on. You’ll pass the coffee section, with 50+ varieties from which to choose. A picky gourmet could stand there for hours. The pastries and deli offer delights, but it was the cheese department I was interested in seeing. How good was it? Very good indeed, with a trained staff who knew their way around cheese.

And then there’s wine. I stepped inside the climate-controlled fine wine room and was helped by another staff member who reverently showed me their bottle of Petrus French Merlot from the region of Pomerol – yours for a mere $3,755. No, I didn’t succumb to the temptation of learning how something like that really tastes, but I did inquire about a nice Portuguese red. He led me straight to the source and one of those beauties traveled home with me where it awaits Saturday night.

And then the candy section – another knowledgeable staff member showed me the dazzling choices. I passed by the barbeque sauce section (remember, we’re in the South), and counted 168 different kinds of sauce and an equal number of hot sauce bottles. Could’ve stayed there for hours. And the salt, sugar and pickles. And the home accessories, cooking school, flowers. So much to love.

WOW Factor: This is not a grocery store in any sense of the word. It’s a top-shelf destination for specialty foods and products. Open since 1975, I just want to know why I’ve never been to this paradise before. With more than 70,000 items sold in-store and online, it will take some time to cover it all – but I’m willing to make the commitment. Be sure to check out Chef Vivian Howard’s favorites, on display as gift baskets.

Hint: Take a list and don’t go hungry, or you’ll simply graze your way through the cheese and around the tasting station. On second thought, go a bit hungry, so you’ll pause to savor the tastes. Take a cooler. I didn’t, but the staff provided an ice pack to accompany my cheese on its trip back home.

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