This Three-fer Thursday we head up by Duke University to check out some great kid-friendly stops. To start out, pick a day with beautiful North Carolina weather and head on over to the Duke Gardens. The Duke Gardens are sprawling and beautiful, and there are so many things you could choose to do--run on the lawn, marvel at the beautiful flowers and plants, watch the birds in the lake, or just wander and see where a path takes you. It's a great place to wear out some kids.
After wearing out your kids at the first stop, head on over to Ninth Street for a little refreshment. While Duke Gardens is at West Campus, Ninth street is a block away from East Campus. Fortunately, it's only about a mile down the road. Once there, park in the lot and head to Blue Corn Cafe for lunch. If the kids have any energy left, there is actually a kids' play area in the back of the restaurant (or at least there was the last time we were there). So, you can sit and enjoy your meal, and if your kids get twitchy, they can head to the kids' area and play.
Once you have had your fill of deliciousness, you might be craving a little something for your sweet tooth. That's easily accomplished on Ninth Street. Just head out of the restaurant and walk a few doors down to Francesca's for a little gelato, yum!
Variations: Wow, there are so many variations on Ninth Street that you could add to this Three-fer. If the weather is bad and you can't make it to the gardens, don't completely avoid this Three-fer, just head to Ninth Street and start at Playhouse Toys or The Regulator Bookshop. You can easily spend some decent time at both of these stops. Then, if Latin American food at Blue Corn Cafe is not your thing, you can head up Ninth Street and have a meal at the equally kid-friendly Elmo's Diner. For dessert, if you're not feeling the gelato, you can stop by The Ox and the Rabbit for some shakes. There are so many options, so prepare to have some fun!
When to go: You could head to this Three-fer in the morning with your meal at lunch. Or, you could do this Three-fer in the evening for a dinner meal. Keep in mind that Blue Corn Cafe is not open on Sundays and Playhouse Toys is not open on Sunday or Monday.
What it'll cost you: You will have to pay to park at the Duke Gardens, and that cost will vary depending on how long you stay. So, plan on bringing around $5 for parking. Then, entrees at Blue Corn Cafe will cost you $5-10 for lunch or $10-15 for dinner. Francesca's will be another couple of dollars for your gelato.
What to bring: Bring money and your diaper bag. You may want to bring a blanket to lay on the lawn at the Gardens or a ball to kick around, and definitely bring your camera for some cute kiddos in the picaresque gardens. For the Ninth Street park of the excursion, just bring your appetites!