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Ideas For Now Thru New Year’s

Okay: The boxes and gift wrap are in the recycle bin. One more bite of turkey or ham and you’ll explode. And your holiday guests? They could have saved these days for a blowout summer vacation.

But no. They’re. Still. Here.

If you have a new appreciation for the old truism about friends, family and fish having one thing in common after three days (they all stink), you might be looking (desperate?) for something to get you (them?) out of the house between now and New Year’s. You might be even be thinking about ringing in 2016 somewhere other than your place, if only so someone else cleans up the mess.

Fear not, dear reader. The Guardian is here to help.

Get Outta Town! (Or At Least Out of the House)
Sometimes a change of venue works wonders. With gas prices at longtime lows (and December temperatures at all-time highs), there are outdoor options close by, and attractions which you might not have considered just a tank full (or less) away, as you seek to keep your guests entertained between now and New Year’s.

Here in town, Greenville offers some of the finest municipal parks you’ll find in any city. Just one is River Park North, a great place for the kids to work off their sugar highs, while adults walk the stuffing off their thighs.

A diorama at the nature center

A diorama at the nature center

River Park features a sand volleyball court, five ponds and two piers for fishing, three hiking trails and 40 picnic tables, and lots of wide open space. It’s a great place to get some fresh air. Inside the park’s science and nature center you’ll find a 70-seat theater, a 10,000 gallon freshwater aquarium, live turtles and snakes, wildlife dioramas and a “Shells Are Everywhere” exhibit. Admission to the park is free; nature center admission ranges from $1 to $3 depending on age and residency status.

The park is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this time of year, the nature center Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 5 (it’s closed Mondays). Click here for more information, and be sure to check out Greenville’s other parks in the list at the left of that webpage. They feature world-class skateboard and bike ramps, championship golf, arts and crafts, tennis and trails. And speaking of trails, don’t forget the city’s growing greenway.

A Day (Or Two) At the Beach
If 10,000 gallons of aquarium isn’t enough for you, how about 300,000?

All of North Carolina’s aquariums are open for business this holiday week, including the centerpiece location at Pine Knoll Shores, with its giant tank. The Crystal Coast is an easy day trip from Greenville—and with temps this warm, why not shed your shoes and take a walk in the sand while you’re there?

The PKS Aquarium is open 9 to 5 all week, including New Year’s Eve and Day. Kids and grownups alike will love the huge variety of marine animals, the touch tanks with starfish and rays, and the outdoor boardwalks to views of salt marshes.

For views of a more seasonal sort, point your car northeast instead.
Billed as the “largest grand illumination display on the Atlantic Seaboard,” Virginia Beach’s “Holiday Lights at the Beach” event runs through Jan. 2. Its 30 blocks of animated nautical and holiday-themed light displays include festive fish, jumping dolphins, and surfing Santas, set against the blackness of the Atlantic Ocean. Best of all, you view them while driving on the boardwalk! Very cool.

New Year’s Nears. How Hardy To Party?
For those wanting to get out New Year’s Eve to meet some new people and have a good time, there’s no place better than Crave’s NYE 2016 Dinner and Tasting.

The site’s transformation from the much-loved Tipsy Teapot now complete, an eclectic mix of party goers is expected New Year’s Eve. Reservations include a three-course meal, bottle of wine or champagne, and admission to the 2016 countdown party with a liquor tasting. The cost is $42 per person ($75 per couple); a range of dinner seating times is available. Make your reservation here or call (252) 413-0087. Crave is at 409 S. Evans Street in the heart of downtown.

Maybe you want a New Year’s Eve without all of the drinking and partying that typically goes with it. Consider a Watch Night service at the church of your choice. There are plenty of options, so check with your house of worship–but for music lovers, here’s one that’s hard to beat:

English Chapel Free Will Baptist Church at 101 Arthur Street will again feature its New Year’s Eve Gospel event, beginning at 8 p.m. The lineup includes Big James Barrett and the Golden Jubilees, Tammy Edwards and the Edwards Sisters, Little Willie and The Spiritulaires; The Junior Consolators; The Fantastic Johnsonnaires, the English Chapel’s own Male Chorus, and two groups out of Kinston: Long John and the New Silver Stars, and The Gospel Starlites. Breakfast will follow.

First Night Raleigh is another option, Acornand this marks the family event’s 25th year on the streets of the state’s capital city. A full slate of activities is planned, and the “City of Oaks” celebration culminates with the Giant Acorn Drop and fireworks at midnight (plus an early pyrotechnic display at 7 p.m.). First Night features over 100 performing artists and events inside 35 venues and on outdoor stages.

Does the lack of cold weather have you pining for a winter tableau? Why not take in a hockey game before the First Night festivities?

The Carolina Hurricanes host the Washington CapitalsCanes at PNC Arena Thursday evening at a special 6 p.m. start, leaving plenty of time for New Year’s merrymaking. The team has put together a family package including four game tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, four popcorns, four Marbles Kids Museum ticket vouchers, and admission wristbands to Raleigh First Night. Call the Hurricanes’ ticket office for more info: 866-645-2263.

Then Again…
…who says you have to go anywhere at all? If your guests have headed home, a “staycation” could be just the thing, and perhaps all you can muster.

Go to your favorite grocery store, stock up on party snacks, drinks and goodies, and plan to watch the ball drop on TV. Or how about a four-hour video marathon, featuring “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown”?

Whatever you do, have fun and be safe—and happy 2016 from the Greenville Guardian.

As you consider your New Year’s resolutions, look for our guide to local volunteer opportunities, going up New Year’s Day.

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