Ride the Bus
I have to admit right off that this was not my idea. My friend, Cate, is a long-time Chapel Hill resident and a very savvy mom. She told me about this excurstion and it is great. This is a free activity for those of you in Chapel Hill and Durham. In Raleigh you can still ride the bus, of course, but it is going to cost you. Somewhere around a dollar or so. Yeah, not too bad!
parade). To keep things simple for us (and because I was still pregnant at the time), we had a someone drop us off in downtown Chapel Hill on Franklin Street. After lunch at a favorite, Med Deli, and a coffee at Caribou, we caught the NS bus to the Southern Village park & ride where we had a car waiting for us. But you can easily make this a round-trip excursion.
Getting on the bus and getting off is so easy. The ride is smooth and kid-friendly. Honestly, the hardest part is figuring out what bus you want to take and where you want to go. I was a city girl for years who took public transportation like any good wanna-be-Democrat-living-poor-in-the-city should. Yet I had a hard time figuring out what bus route I wanted. Add in a whole new level of anxiety given that I didn't want to get "stuck" anywhere with a toddler and the planning of this excursion got a little stressful.
Just relax. The bus routes online are easy to follow, accurate, and make sense if you just spend a second with them. Also, you can use the online trip planner (or see link below) that integrates ALL area transit systems to get where you want to go. This planner is so detailed that it will even give you walking directions to the station from the park & ride. You can do this.
If you feel overwhelmed or get out there and can't figure out if you are at the right bus stop...ask. We asked some folks waiting on a bus where our bus was goign to be and they were so on the ball they knew exactly where we needed to go and at what time.
Waiting for the bus was half the fun for C. Added benefit for mom was that the bus was on time.
What was so great about this outing? We got to pair it with another enjoyable activity and spot we love, it wowed my kid, and it was free! We were on the bus a total of maybe 15 minutes, and my child kept talking about it for days.
I wouldn't do this outing during primetime commuting hours. But if you have the flexibility to go during "off" hours, I recommend this trip! Learn more about how great our transit system actually is in this area while entertaining your kids with a cheap outing.
Ride the Bus
Trip Planner: http://www.gotriangle.org/
Cary Transit: http://www.gotriangle.org/go-local/partners/cary-transit/
Chapel Hill Transit:http://www.chtransit.org/
Duke Transit: http://parking.duke.edu/buses_vans/bus_sched/index.php
Durham Area Transit Authority: http://www.gotriangle.org/transit/data-schedules-maps/
NCSU Wolfline: http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/trans/
Raleigh, Capital Area Transit: http://www.raleighnc.gov/transit
Triangle Transit: http://www.triangletransit.org/