Wizard World hall #1By Kristy Stevenson; photos courtesy of Wizard World

The 2015 Wizard World Comic Con is coming to Raleigh! Great news for East Coast fans of pop culture’s movies, graphic novels, cosplay, comics, television, sci-fi, toys, video gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. Read on for 10 reasons to attend this amazing event at the Raleigh Convention Center:

1. Three days of comic con fun, right here in the capital city: Fri., Mar. 13, 3-8pm; Sat., Mar. 14, 10am-7pm; Sun., Mar. 15, 11am-5pm. Spend the weekend with us!

2. Celebrities! From meet and greets and Q&A panels. This year’s lineup features David Tennant (Doctor Who); William Shatner (Star Trek); Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries, LOST); Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf); Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: War of the Damned); WWE® Diva Eva Marie™; John Schneider (Smallville, The Dukes of Hazzard); Cassandra Peterson (Elvira: Mistress of the Dark); Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk); and The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green and Sarah Wayne Callies. Check out the Wizard World Comic Con Raleigh website for the complete and most up-to-date list.

3toSee3. Hard to find, exclusive products and collectibles will be available on the convention floor, as well as new products from trending brands. You can order your own customized lightsaber from Ultra Sabers for your favorite Star Wars: Episode VII enthusiast. And fans looking for unique souvenirs should make the Convention Exclusive booth their first stop!

4. Something for every age and generation. Embrace your inner Creative Genius and bring the whole family.

5. Comic books, comic books and more comic books–and some of the most creative comic artists and writers on the planet.

Comic book fun for all ages6. Visit the Back to the Future DeLorean. Don’t miss your chance to sit in front of the flux capacitor and functional time circuit displays while helping to raise funds and awareness for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

7. Cosplay with costume contests for both adults and kids. Interact and get social with those who love the same pop culture icons you do.

8. Conversations, photo ops and autographs with your favorite celebs, artists and creators, as well as cosplay and fan communities. Watch artists at work.

Watch artists at work!9. Tip: if you want both a photo and autograph, sign up for the photo slot first so the celeb can autograph your pic. Slots can be reserved online with a credit card or with cash at the venue.

10. Freebies: all one-day and three-day general admission attendees will receive a limited edition, exclusive cover variant of The Walking Dead #1 by Dean Haspiel. All VIP attendees will receive two limited edition, exclusive cover variants of The Walking Dead #1–a regular cover and sketch black and white version by Haspiel. The artist will be on-site to sign; autograph fees may apply and quantities are limited. Plus, a zombie sketch for the first 150 kids (16 and under) on Sun., Kids Day, by “Zombie King” Arthur Zuydam.

You don’t want to miss this!

Follow Kristy on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit her website here: Kristy Stevenson Creative.

Historic Yates Mill in Raleigh NCBy Leigh Hines; above photo by @OutaboutNC 

Greater Raleigh is modern in so many ways, and there is also a lot of history in the destination to see. With the help of N.C. Cultural Resources and Raleigh Historic, we put together a list of Greater Raleigh’s oldest sites. Many are open to the public for tours, and those that are not open to the public still make for great photo opps (think Instagram).

Yates Mill
Historic Yates Mill stands on a mill site in operation since ca. 1761 and part of the current mill may date to that time. The frame mill includes a number of generations of construction throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and gets its name from Phares Yates, who operated the mill from 1869 to 1948. The mill has been restored and now sits on a 174-acre county park. Learn more.

Joel Lane House in Raleigh

Photo by Leigh Hines

Joel Lane House
Built ca. 1770 by Joel Lane, an early settler of Wake County, the house is known as the birthplace of Raleigh as Joel Lane sold to the State of N.C. 1,000 acres of his plantation for the establishment of the capital city. The house was moved one-half block to its current site in 1913. In the winter months, the Joel Lane Museum House is open for tours on Sat. afternoons, with set times on the hour from 1-3pm. Beginning in Mar., tours are available Wed.-Sat. with special group tours on Sun. Learn more.

Lane-Bennett House
The Lane-Bennett House, also known as the Joe Bennett House, is a small, beautifully-finished Georgian-style house constructed in 1775 for Joseph Lane, the brother of Joel Lane, and was home to the Bennett family after the Civil War. In recent years it was enlarged with a small wing on the east gable end of the house. This house is now a private residence.

Photo by B.Fullington for N.C. Cultural Resources

Photo by B.Fullington for N.C. Cultural Resources

Mordecai House
This home is in the heart of downtown Raleigh and was once the site of Greater Raleigh’s largest plantations. It is also the birthplace of 17th President Andrew Johnson. Joel Lane built a one-and-a-half-story hall-parlor plan house for his son Henry in 1775, and in 1826, Henry’s daughter, Nancy Lane Mordecai, added the two-story Greek Revival-style section featuring a handsome two-tiered front porch designed by William Nichols, the English-born architect who had designed the State House (predecessor to the current North Carolina State Capitol). This is also the site of the Ellen Mordecai Garden. Learn more.

Haywood Hall House and Gardens
John Haywood, a long-time Treasurer of the State of N.C. during the late 18th and early 19th century, began construction of this fine Federal-style house ca. 1800 and its elaborate interior woodwork showcases the early architecture of the state. The house museum contains family portraits, original furnishings and a permanent doll collection. The gardens are open all year, and the house is open Mar.-Dec. and is a popular site for weddings. Learn more.

Crabtree Jones House
Built ca. 1810, the Crabtree Jones House, home of the influential Wake County Jones family, is one of the few remaining early Federal-style plantation houses left in the county. It is distinguished by its well-executed exterior and interior detailing, including marbleized baseboards and a Federal-style mantel with a landscape panel. The house was moved from its original site nearby to the north by Preservation North Carolina in 2014 to save it from demolition. The house is not open to the public.

State Bank of N.C.
The main branch of the State Bank of N.C., constructed in 1814 to house the bank as well as the banker’s residence, is Raleigh’s only surviving early 19th-century commercial building. The Federal-style building was executed in Flemish-bond brick with matching two-tiered classical porticos. In 1968, it was turned 90 degrees and moved 100 feet southeast from its original site to its current location. The bank is open during normal operating hours of the State Employees Credit Union.

Elmwood, built ca. 1813, is a Federal-style side-hall plan dwelling, two rooms deep and two-and-one-half stories tall, with a number of mid-nineteenth-century additions. It was built for John Louis Taylor, chief justice of the state’s first supreme court, and his wife Jane. Originally, the land between the house and Hillsborough St., now occupied by two buildings, was Elmwood’s front lawn. Elmood now serves as private offices.

White-Holman House
The original portion of the White-Holman House, built ca. 1798, is two stories in a side-hall plan and features stone foundations, modillion cornice and molded weatherboards and window sills that mark it as one of the best houses of its era in the area. In 1896 it was enlarged with the addition of the two-story gable-front wing on the east side of the house. It was moved from 209 E. Morgan St. in 1985. It is private and not open to the public.

Photo by: Leigh Hines

Photo by Leigh Hines

Click here to see a list of even more historic sites in Greater Raleigh

Leigh Powell Hines is founder of the N.C. travel community #outaboutnc on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Follow her the lifestyle and travel blog, Hinessightblog.

USA Baseball-Irish ClassicThe third annual USA Baseball-Irish Classic swings into action in Cary this weekend, bringing together eight NCAA teams for a jam-packed three days of baseball at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. USA Baseball and the University of Notre Dame have partnered up again to bring one of college baseball’s premier early-season events. The event is presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

The 2015 event has added two additional teams from previous years, and 12 games in total will be played over the weekend. University of Notre Dame will be joined by University of Cincinnati, East Carolina University, University of Iowa, North Carolina State University (NCSU), Penn State University, Richmond University and Seattle University.

“I think we’re looking for the same things we are every yearto have a really highly competitive field and to try and work toward making this, year-in and year-out, one of the best early season tournaments in the country,” said Notre Dame coach Mik Aoki on the upcoming event.

USA Baseball-Irish ClassicGames will be played Fri., Feb. 27, through Sun., Mar. 1. Each day features four games, with Sat. seeing more than eight full hours of baseball in Cary. NCSU will play East Carolina, primetime, Sat. evening on Coleman Field, which offers stadium seating for 2,000 spectators.

The full schedule:

Fri. (Feb. 27)
Cincinnati vs. Iowa – 1pm (All times ET)
Seattle vs. Richmond – 2pm
Penn State vs. NCSU – 3pm (Doak Field, NCSU)
East Carolina vs. Notre Dame – 5:30pm

Sat. (Feb. 28)
Cincinnati vs. Penn State – 12:30pm
Seattle vs. Notre Dame – 1pm
Iowa vs. Richmond – 2pm
NCSU vs. East Carolina – 5pm

Sun. (Mar. 1)
Seattle vs. Cincinnati – 10:30am
Penn State vs. Notre Dame – 11am
Iowa vs. NCSU – 1pm (Doak Field, NCSU)
Richmond vs. East Carolina – 2:30pm

**All times subject to change

Tickets can be purchased by visiting UND.com/IrishClassicTickets or by calling 574.631.7356 Mon. through Fri., 8:30am to 5pm. Tickets will also be on sale on-site at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. Note: Tickets to games at Doak Field are sold separately. Prices for a one-day pass are $12, a tournament pass is $30, and children under 12 get in free. Parking at USA Baseball National Training Complex is free.

USA Baseball-Irish ClassicFor the latest news on tickets, the schedule and more, follow @USABaseball, @NDBaseball and @raleighncsports on Twitter, plus use the hashtag #IrishClassic when posting your own updates to join in on the conversation.

Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh NCBy Kristy Stevenson

There’s no “Shhhh,” or “Don’t touch,” at this museum! Delivering purposeful play in a big way, Marbles Kids Museum is an interactive experience in downtown Raleigh with themed exhibits for kids ages 10 and under. The setup allows children to imagine, discover and learn through daily educational programs, special events and giant-screen IMAX films. Through core initiatives and rotating exhibits, the museum is never the same place twice! Kids are excited to learn through play, and there’s something for the whole family. Here are the nine exhibits your little ones can explore:

Kid Grid
Powerful play at work; this is an energy exhibit where kids are in charge. So energize your electricity smarts and take charge to power a bright future.

Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh NCAround Town
Exploring a pint-size version of a community–bringing a child’s world down to size–where kids take charge with opportunities to imagine and explore how people work, live and play together. Includes Speed Zone; Let’s Fight Fire; Get Well; Peek-a-boo Bay; On The Farm; My Market; Let’s Eat; Act I; All Aboard!; Pet Vet; Exploration Station; Backstage Studio; Ready, Set, School; and News Around Town.

Check out Around Town’s new fire truck coming Feb. 28th. Visitors may remember that the current truck is one of the last remaining pieces from the museum’s merger with Playspace. Marbles is excited to unveil the new vehicle.

Discovering the power and fun of water, both indoors and out, this is overflowing with hands-on experiences and experiments. Includes The Lighthouse; Hideaway Grove; Under the Waves; Science Submarine; The Blue Marble; Castaway Cove Kids Garden; and Power Flower.

The popular Kids Garden will be undergoing a transformation; look for new fruits and vegetables soon.

Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh NCIdeaWorks
Dream, Design, Do! Your child’s imagination takes center stage as kids design, create and build structures, vehicles, simple machines and everyday products. Includes Go Zone; Super Structures; Work Bench; Studio Style; and Toddler Tools.

Art Loft
Encouraging free expression and creativity through painting, drawing, sculpting and exploring different types of artwork. Includes Exploring Fine Art Techniques; and Displaying Your Work.

Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh NCBB&T Toddlers Hollow
A special place where little ones under the age of three are invited to discover the magic of the woods and explore at their own pace. A great place to practice crawling, walking and balancing on the meandering bridge; uncovering a pixie hideaway; or dressing up as a favorite forest critter.

Bringing to life the importance of establishing healthy money habits through innovative and high-energy activities. Kids play with smart ways to spend and save while having a wealth of fun learning to earn. Includes Pay Day; Banker Ben & Betty’s Money Movers; and Freddie Frugal’s Spending Smarts.

Providing play environments that promote physical activity and healthy choices for kids and families. Includes Center Ice; Workout Zone; Little Leaguers; Healthy Kitchen; Tumble ‘n Twirl; and Center Court.

Hands-on play with colorful learning about science, technology, engineering and math. Includes brain teasers, science challenges, puzzles, math games and more.

Family fun (it’s our go-to spot on particularly hot or inclement weather days), and makes a great field trip or birthday party!

Follow Kristy on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit her website here: Kristy Stevenson Creative.

romantic restaurants in Raleigh. Fine dining By Leigh Hines; photos by @hinesightblog

Feb. is the time of year that Cupid strikes his bow and arrow and aims to bring out your romantic side. Greater Raleigh has exquisite options for dates, and here are five of many:

Dine at one of America’s most romantic restaurants
Raleigh is home to one of the most romantic restaurants in America. Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern (pictured above), a charming Second Empire-style mansion in, downtown, has been bestowed this honor by Open Table voters for 2015. For those who want to experience the gourmet cuisine on its formal menu, but do so in a less formal environment, the downstairs tavern at the restaurant allows diners to dine off of both menus. When Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern knows you’re celebrating a special event, expect a little something extra, so let them know those details in your reservations. Arrange for a carriage ride down Fayetteville St. before or after dinner.

chocolate at NC State Take a romantic stroll through Pullen Park and the campus of North Carolina State University (NCSU)
Dates don’t have to break the bank. Start your adventure with a little spin on the romantic and historic Victorian-era carousel at Pullen Park, enjoy a picnic basket by the lake with goodies that you bought from the nearby State Farmers Market, Raleigh, and be sure to stop by NCSU’s own Yates Mill Bakery at Tally Student Union to enjoy some NCSU-molded chocolate. Share a kiss under the striking Bell Tower that illuminates the color of love: red.

Dinner and a show
Be entertained with North Carolina Theatre’s production of Billy Elliot The Musical (2/10-15), Black Pearl Sings (2/6-22), presented by Theatre In The Park, or Casablanca (2/13-14), which will be presented on the big screen with Max Steiner’s Oscar-nominated score played live by the North Carolina Symphony. Before or after one of these shows, have a romantic dinner at Irregardless Cafe, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary and received the prestigious N.C. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award.

Let your heart beat to a different drum
Enjoy Greater Raleigh’s live music scene. Celebrate with coffee, sweets and a show by Danny Stanley (2/14) at Lorraine’s Coffee House, or enjoy swingin’ jazz at the Halle Cultural Arts Center with Lenore Raphael and Guests (2/14). Also, catch Shelby Merchant (2/14) at My Way Tavern in Holly Springs. The Raleigh area has a vibrant music scene, so be sure to check themostnc.com for the latest performances at all of the area’s live music venues. No doubt, Greater Raleigh has the most live music in N.C.

Bring out your artistic side
Declare your love the old-fashioned way, but with a modern twist, and create handmade valentines for each other over a glass of wine or craft beer at Art Bar. At a cost of $60 per couple, you can create something from your heart while having an unforgettable experience. Every Fri., the venue hosts an Art Party. You can also buy a bottle of your favorite wine or beer from an area wine and beer shop and paint a masterpiece together at Raleigh Wine & Design. It’s also a great way for singles to celebrate Cupid’s holiday, too. There are three Raleigh Wine and Design studios in Greater Raleigh (Wake Forest, Cary and downtown Raleigh).

Leigh Powell Hines is founder of the N.C. travel community #outaboutnc on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Follow her the lifestyle and travel blog, Hinessightblog.

By Kristy Stevenson; video courtesy of the Town of Wake Forest

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” reflecting the carnival-like practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods. It begins on or after the Epiphany, or King’s Day, culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday, or the beginning of fasting for Lent. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions and parades. And here are three ways you can celebrate in Greater Raleigh:

Mardi Gras Street Festival in Wake Forest
Wake Forest
will host the Mardi Gras Street Festival on Sat., Feb. 14. For both adults and children, the event invites visitors to the heart of downtown Wake Forest for music and entertainment, face painting and a walking parade. Teens and adults can participate in the King & Queen costume contest prior to the start of the parade. Judging will take place at noon and winners will serve as grand marshals and lead the walking parade. A Prince & Princess costume contest will also be offered for younger participants, as well as Best Baby, the ever-popular Bubblegum Blowing contest and more.

Fat Tuesday on Fayetteville St.
For a Mardi Gras party all day long, check out Feb. 17th’s Fat Tuesday on Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh. The party starts at noon and will feature live music on an outdoor stage from 5-10pm, street performers, artisans and food trucks. Then check out The Big Easy for authentic, soul-satisfying Cajun and Creole recipes, plus bona fide zydeco and traditional New Orleans jazz from 8:30pm-2am.

Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball
Join the revelry of the Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball to Benefit Education and raise funds for educational programs in the process. Celebrate in Cary on Feb. 14, 7-11pm, with your best semi-formal or costume attire and enjoy a three-course meal of traditional New Orleans recipes with unlimited beverages, live music and a dance floor. VIP packages available.

Know of any other celebrations in Greater Raleigh? Submit them here!

Follow Kristy on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or visit her website here: Kristy Stevenson Creative.

The World's Largest Dinosaurs exhibition in Raleigh NCBy Leigh Hines

There’s something BIG in town, and you don’t want to miss it. I took the kids to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences recently to see The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, a new exhibition about the super-sized sauropods, the most colossal animals to walk the earth.

I’m not well-educated on dinosaurs at all. In fact, most of my knowledge comes from the public television show, Dinosaur Train. I knew dinosaurs were big, but man, that sauropod is BIG. Some sauropods reached lengths of 130 feet. This is a fun, educational exhibit that the whole family can enjoy. It’s not scary for little children at all, but I do think elementary-aged children would enjoy this exhibit the most. I have a five-year-old daughter, and she almost wanted to run through the exhibit quickly, however, the museum does an excellent job of keeping younger children engaged through interactive play areas. It’s fun to see if you can fit in the gigantic dinosaur footprint.

I personally got a big kick out of seeing how many greens the sauropods ate daily.

They weren’t kidding when they said BIG. Talk about an enormous salad bar.

The BIG highlight of the exhibition is the detailed model of a 60-foot-long Mamenchisaurus. You actually see this fellow breathe and watch him digest food. The World’s Largest Dinosaurs takes visitors beyond the bones and into the bodies of these titans, shedding light on how heart rate, respiration, metabolism and reproduction are linked to size.

Your future paleontologists (your kids!) will enjoy digging in the exhibition’s fossil pit before heading into the gift store where they can take home their own baby dinosaur (the soft and cuddly kind).

This is a ticketed-admission exhibition in the museum. Get $4 off adult tickets here! Tickets are free for museum members.

The World’s Largest Dinosaurs will run through Apr. 12. In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum is holding a special lecture series through Mar.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog


Wake Forest Historical Museum in Wake Forest NCBy Kristy Stevenson

The Wake Forest Historical Museum, on North Main St. in Greater Raleigh’s Wake Forest, is adjacent to the Calvin Jones House and provides an innovative look at the history of a quaint town, its college and subsequent university.

Calvin Jones was a physician, founder of the N.C. Medical Society and mayor of Raleigh who moved to northern Wake County around 1820, purchasing the farmhouse on 615 acres of land and calling what had previously been known as the Forest District: Wake Forest. The two-story Greek Revival house is the birthplace of Wake Forest College (now Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.) and the town’s oldest dwelling. Here he saw patients, performed surgeries and even established the area’s first post office. Dr. Jones was the first to use “Wake Forest” as an address on a letter sent through the U.S. mail.

Wake Forest Historical Museum in Wake Forest NCThe property was sold in 1832 to the N.C. Baptist Convention, which was seeking a suitable location to educate young ministers by way of a manual labor institute. By 1834, students as young as 12 could work the land in exchange for a religious education. Under the guidance of first president Samuel Wait, the college began to develop a flourishing student body (eliminating the farm chores), advanced curriculum including Schools of Law and Medicine and a new brick campus. The college even transitioned to co-ed during the war.

Wake Forest was born as a college town populated with shops, pharmacies, restaurants, department stores, pool halls and movie theaters. For more than a century, the town and the college grew up together. It acquired new residents, businesses and even a railroad.

Wake Forest Historical Museum in Wake Forest NCThe Wake Forest Historical Museum depicts it as “five towns in one” back then: the Business District, the college area/North Main St., Mill Village, East End and the Harricane.

The Wake Forest College Birthplace Society, the museum operators, have spent more than half a century working to keep the story of Old Wake Forest alive, collecting more than 15,000 pages of documents, 5,000 photographs, 1,000 books and hundreds of artifacts.

Today, the Calvin Jones House is part of a four-acre campus that includes gardens, pathways, an old well and a museum annex. The house is furnished to reflect the period of its various residents and the museum’s extensive exhibits depict the history of the college and town.

Follow Kristy on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or visit her website here: Kristy Stevenson Creative.

thingsfeb1By Mary Brooks; Photo by @keepingup_llc

Go BIG with The World’s Largest Dinosaurs

Allow yourself a vacation of epic proportions. Through the beginning of 2015, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences goes big with The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, a new exhibition about the super-sized sauropods, the most colossal animals to walk the earth. You must go big too. Start the new year off in a grand way with a trip to the exhibition, other Greater Raleigh museums and historic attractions, big-flavor dining and a cozy hotel stay.

When you’re here, explore the area’s selection of 80-plus historic attractions and see the past come alive through in-depth exhibits, costumed docents or hands-on workshops. Film buffs won’t be able to get enough of the North Carolina Museum of History’s Starring North Carolina! exhibition, featuring costumes and props from Iron Man 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Blue Velvet and more. Can’t miss: The World’s Largest Dinosaur’s Lecture Series where you can explore dinosaur reproductive habits and growth rate with Dr. Mary Schweitzer (2/5) or hear from the exhibit’s curator Mark Norell (2/19) :: All Lifelong Learner events

2,400 Calories. 12 Doughnuts. Five Miles. One Hour.

Test your physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude with more than 2,400 calories, 12 doughnuts, five miles and all in one hour during Krispy Kreme Challenge 2015 (2/14). Starting at the North Carolina State University Bell Tower, participants will race to the downtown Raleigh Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen doughnuts and race back to the finish. If you are feeling festive, run in costume and take part in the 2015 Krispy Kreme Challenge Costume Contest prior to the beginning of the race. Can’t miss: The University of Notre Dame returns to USA Baseball in Cary for its second year to host the USA Baseball-Irish Classic (2/28-3/2). This three-day tournament features collegiate baseball favorites UCLA, North Carolina State University, Michigan, Appalachian State and more :: All Adrenaline Junkie events

Raleigh Celebrates the Bard

During the first half of 2015 take part in Wherefore: Shakespeare in Raleigh across the area, as a convergence of arts organizations present work written or inspired by William Shakespeare. This series celebrates the impact and timeless popularity of Shakespeare by offering everyone–from the expert to the neophyte–an opportunity to experience the Bard’s great work. This month see Romeo & Juliet (through 2/15) at Burning Coal Theatre, Much Ado About Nothing (2/13-3/1) at Raleigh Little Theatre and The Tempest (2/27) at North Carolina State University. Can’t miss: Enjoy the North Carolina Symphony as they perform the music of the Oscar-nominated film Casablanca (2/13-14) at Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts :: All Creative Genius events

Culinary Creativity

Lifelong Learners and Foodies will enjoy hands-on culinary instruction during a cooking class with 214 Martin Street executive chef Matt Thompson (2/12) in downtown Raleigh. This will be an evening to remember. Learn how to prepare a new recipe with step-by-step instruction and receive secret tips on making a masterpiece dinner for a special someone. You may also join Chef Arthur for a cooking class (2/10) at Irregardless Café. Can’t miss: Have a little taste of Greater Raleigh’s best cuisines on one of the area’s food tours. Ready your belly for the Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour (Fri. and Sat.) covering downtown Raleigh restaurants, or walk, talk and taste on the downtown Raleigh (Sat.) or Cary (Sat.) Triangle Food Tour :: All Foodie events

Love’s in the Air. And so is the Music.

Let your heart beat along with the music this Valentine’s Day with some of Greater Raleigh’s live music venues. Celebrate with coffee, sweets and a show by Danny Stanley (2/14) at Lorraine’s Coffee House, or enjoy swingin’ jazz at the Halle Cultural Arts Center with Lenore Raphael and Guests (2/14). Also, catch Shelby Merchant (2/14) at My Way Tavern in Holly Springs. Can’t miss: The Music of the Carolinas series at the North Carolina Museum of History, featuring local artist Scott Ainslie (2/8) :: All Music Maniac events

Click through to see all Greater Raleigh events in February 2015.

Ice skating in downtown Raleigh; Photo courtesy of Ipreo Raleigh WinterfestBy Leigh Hines; Photo courtesy of Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest and Carolyn Scott Photography

Grab your family and hit the ice for a fun-filled afternoon of ice skating in downtown Raleigh before the ice “melts away.” You still have time before Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest closes for the season on Feb. 1.

Thousands of visitors have already enjoyed Raleigh’s only outdoor ice rink since it opened in late Nov. 2014 for the season. The Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest ice rink is located in City Plaza, situated on the southern end of the 400 block of Fayetteville St. The cost is $9 per person, and that includes skate rentals. Even if you have your own ice skates, admission will be the same cost. Children and adults are charged the same price to skate.

The Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest offers events and specials throughout the week. Fri. nights offer late-night skating with a DJ on-site. You can also skate late on Sat. nights. To view the full ice rink schedule, see the weekly schedule. Schedules can change quickly due to inclement weather so always check before heading out.

If the weather isn’t perfect, you can still have fun in the area! Within a few blocks, you’ll find Marbles Kids Musuem, lots of BIG dinosaurs at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and a look into blockbuster films made in North Carolina at the North Carolina Museum of History. There’s always something good playing at the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles, too. Check out the Greater Raleigh Museums section on visitRaleigh.com to plan your agenda before or after ice skating.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog

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