The wait is finally over. No more longingly checking the calendar. Summer? It's officially here. There's no better time than now to get outside, be active, be an athlete, watch athletes and enjoy some time under the sun in Raleigh, N.C.
We've got baseball teams taking the diamond, soccer teams on the pitch, skate parks to grind in, tree canopies to zip line through and miles and miles of greenways and trails to enjoy—plus a dose of fireworks and delicious ice cream spots to top it all off.
Long days, beautiful sunsets, warm-weather nights, some extra vacation days and plenty to do make summer in Raleigh a magical time. These are our picks for making the most of it.
Take in a ballgame
What screams summer more than America's pastime? The Carolina Mudcats, single-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves, have a full schedule of fun in July with five home series on the calendar. The Mudcats kick off the month with four straight days of post-game fireworks—they'll take on the Lynchburg Hellcats (7/1-3) plus the Salem Red Sox on Independence Day. Don't miss out! Check out the full schedule of upcoming games here.
Also on the diamond this summer are the Holly Springs Salamanders (pictured below)—they'll play ten contests in July just southwest of Raleigh in Holly Springs. Read about the family-friendly atmosphere they've created here.
Bonus: Looking for more info on fireworks displays in Raleigh? Here's everything you need to know.
Photo: The News & Observer and Chris Baird
Cheer on the RailHawks
Here's your chance to be a part of history—the Carolina RailHawks will host Barclays Premier League team West Ham United FC at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary (7/12). This marks the first time an English Premier League team has ever visited the Raleigh area. Approximately 10,000 fans are expected to attend the match, but some tickets remain. Planning a visit around other dates? The RailHawks open up the second half of the North American Soccer League (NASL) season with home games against the Tampa Bay Rowdies (7/9) and Miami FC (7/22).
Find a trail...and go!
More than 170 miles of hiking and greenway trails aren't just for show—they're begging to be used! Find a cool summer morning or evening and walk, hike, bike or jog your way around lakes, through state parks and past public art displays. Get the full scoop on favorite spots to get active in our recent blog post.
Bonus: Work up an appetite? You deserve a reward to help cool off! Check out these cool places for adults to indulge in sweet treats.
Calling all adrenaline junkies! Action sport athletes will feel right at home in the Raleigh area. Skaters and BMXers can get a full indoor and outdoor experience at the 37,000-square-foot Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex in Holly Springs—the largest, family-oriented, year-round training facility in the world. Founded by X Games Gold Medalist Daniel Dhers, the facility has all of the box jumps, ramps, foam pits and other riding obstacles you could possibly want, plus a rental, retail and repair center to serve all your needs.
Camp out and get on the water at William B. Umstead State Park
Up for a true outdoors adventure? Get the full experience of summer in Raleigh by camping out under beautiful Carolina night skies in William B. Umstead State Park. The park offers a tent and trailer campground with picnic tables, grills, drinking water and restrooms with showers, plus two primitive camps for groups that want a more rugged experience. There's no shortage of activities to keep you busy—more than 22 miles of trails are perfect for hiking and another 13 miles of trails are dedicated to horseback riding and biking. Three lakes inside the park allow fishing, and canoes and paddle boats are available to for rent on the biggest of the lakes—Big Lake.
Explore treetops with Go Ape
Zip, swing and climb through the treetops at Blue Jay Point County Park with the help of adventure course experts Go Ape. You'll make your way through numerous rope ladders, Tarzan swings and zip lines as you work your way higher into the canopy, conquering all five individual sections of the course.
Hit the links
Grab some friends and a book a tee time this summer at any of the Raleigh area's 20-plus golf courses. Up for a real challenge? Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University is known as one of the toughest and best-maintained courses open to the public in the area. More of a beginner or just looking to relax and show the family a good time? Knights Play Golf Center offers a fully-illuminated, 27-hole par-three course, plus sixty driving range stations—the whole place is open until midnight!