Magical Caffe Driade: Coffee in the Woods in the Heart of Chapel Hill

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Everyone I know who has been to Caffe Driade practically rhapsodizes about it, and for good reason. Locals often say that Caffe Driade’s coffee is among the best in the world! If you haven’t been to Caffe Driade yet, go for a visit and you can see why the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) recently named Caffee Driade One of America’s Best Cafes.


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In a nutshell, Caffe Driade is a very COOL coffee house, featuring exceptional coffee (roasted locally), whole leaf teas, amazing fresh-baked pastries from Guglhupf.and a selection of wine, beers and European sodas. The baristas make amazing swirl designs in the lattes: sometimes a fern, sometimes a heart, or a heart-flower. Beautiful!


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But the thing that makes Caffe Driade so appealing and unique is the lush forest setting, tucked away far away from the street, yet in the heart of Chapel Hill (at 1215 East Franklin St.) There are tables both indoors and outdoors, surrounded by woods, in front of Caffe Driade, to the sides of the cafe, and on the café’s back patio.

Just off the back patio, terraced steps lead to a clearing in the woods, where you will find a woodland patio with French-style bistro chairs and tables, and festive twinkling white lights strung up in the trees. (A magical setting both in the day and at night!)

We like to sit outside at the tables in the forest clearing, enjoying our coffee and the company of a charming chipmunk who lives and works nearby (gathering nuts).

Although it is more of a grown-up atmosphere (especially inside the café), our children love Caffe Driade too (especially the tables in the woods), and the Guglhupf pastries are a wonderful treat! There is also a hiking path nearby for a walk in the woods.

From May through October on most Friday and Saturday evenings enjoy live music on Caffe Driade’s outdoor stage (click for Calendar). Magical!

More images from the Caffe Driade Gallery.  Find more great local coffee houses in the COFFEE & CAFEs GUIDE

Caffe Driade
1215 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 942-2333

Fun at the Eno River Festival: July 4th, 7th and 8th

Yesterday we spent a sunny 4th of July at the Festival for the Eno, mostly in the shade, and splashing in the Eno River. (For more click here for our recent blog about the Festival for the Eno.) We found some teeny tiny frogs, delighted over them, and then let them go. Our kids could have stayed in the river all day long, but there are lots of fun things to do and see at the Eno River Festival, so we made sure to visit the exhibits and activities throughout the festival.

Our favorite Festival exhibits this year feature animals and critters, including salamanders, snakes, lizards, and turtles, who live at the Eno River, as well as rescued owls and birds.

Screech Owl named Jess – Piedmont
Barred Owl named Athena –

At the Piedmont Wildlife Center’s tent we were especially taken with a beautiful barred owl, and a charming little screech owl named Jess with a wonderfully memorable face, and big amber eyes. (I want to write a children’s book about this little screech owl! She has amazing character. She was sitting perched on the shoulder of a friendly volunteer, and one of the owl’s eyes was raised higher than the other, in a quizzical expression, inspecting our faces as we gazed at her.) Learn more about the Piedmont Wildlife Center animals.

The children also enjoyed gently petting and holding a pretty dove. We were intrigued by an elegant green/black/yellow striped snake (black snake family). She seemed so relaxed and gentle.

Eno River State Park Water Mill

Then we were off to see the River Mill! We never tire of visiting the Eno River Mill and watching the mill’s water wheel churning and turning. It is a fascinating and rare opportunity to watch the river mill and all of the moving, turning parts inside the mill house, harnessing the power of the river as it transforms whole grain (wheat, yellow corn and white corn) into flour, corn meal and grits. (You can purchase bags of freshly ground flour, corn meal and grits in the mill.)

The annual Eno River Festival sand castle sculpture was in its first day of progress yesterday. As the sand sculptors worked on the giant sand sculpture, we could see tree tops emerging from the trunk of a huge tree, and a caterpillar was taking form. This weekend at the festival you will be able to see the sand sculpture getting closer to its final form until it is completed. There is a sandbox area right next to the shaded sand sculpture tent, where little ones can dig and scoop sand and make their own sculptures.

As every  year, the festival food options include festival fare and lots of gourmet options from local restaurants, including crepes, vegetarian options, and a very cool looking Baguette-Mobile.

The Festival for the Eno will continue on Saturday & Sunday, July 7th and 8th, 2012, featuring live music on four stages, a great range of food options, artisans’ booths, fun activities and games, river stomping, and lots of fun for everyone. Read our recent blog for more about the Festival for the Eno.
Have fun at the festival!

Fun Ways to STAY COOL in Chapel Hill!

Even in the midst of this unusually HOT heat wave (105 degrees!), there are still lots of fun things to do in Chapel Hill and the NC Triangle! Here are just a few ideas.

Our kids cooling off at the creek (Hiking trail at NC Botanical Gardens – a woodland paradise just a few minutes from University Mall!)

1. Creek Stomping at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens hiking trails; wonderfully SHADY and a quiet woodsy paradise in the heart of Chapel Hill. (Just off 15-501; parking area at Mason Farm Rd. and surrounding streets.) Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more creek stomping images.

2. Go on an outing to the Chapel Hill Public Library at University Mall; choose from a wonderful selection of books, picture books and movies. (Both children’s selections and a selection of movies for grown-ups).

3. Enjoy LOCOPOPS hand-crafted, gourmet popsicles near Whole Foods on S. Estes in Chapel Hill — YUMMY! Locopops is more of a social outing than just a frozen treat. They have lots of comfortable Adirondack chairs in the air-conditioned Locopops shop for hanging out and lollygagging on a HOT Chapel Hill Summer Day! Delectable flavors include Mexican Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Chocolate Brownie, Strawberries and Cream, Pomegranate Tangerine, Cherry Lime, Mojito, Mango Chile … (Locopops also has locations in Durham and Raleigh, NC)

4. Take the gang out to the cool, air-conditioned movies without spending a fortune: Movies at the Blue Ridge Carmike in Raleigh (near the NC Fairgrounds) are only $2.00 a ticket, all shows, all times! Located at 600 Blue Ridge Road  Raleigh, NC 27606. (919) 828-8007.  Sometimes before or after movies at the Blue Ridge we drive a few minutes for dinner or lunch at Fat Daddy’s in Raleigh – burgers, veggie burgers with a GREAT build-your-own burger bar with fresh lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions, pickles, THE WORKS, in a fun, easy-going festive atmosphere. It feels a bit like a 1950’s soda shoppe, in modern garb. Fat Daddy’s is located at 6201 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, North Carolina 27612. (919) 787-3773.

Meadowmont Swimming Pool Chapel Hill NC YMCA5. Go for a swim at the beautiful Meadowmont Swimming Pool in Chapel Hill! Relax on a beach chair in the shallow end of the beach-design pool, with your feet in the cool water, and cool off under the umbrella sprinkler in the shallow end. Kids and adults have a great time zipping down the giant, twisty water slides. Meadowmont also features an olympic size lap pool (in addition to the beach pool),  a volleyball court, and a play ground, as well as an air-conditioned snack bar area. You can swim for the day or purchase a season pass. The Meadowmont Pool now is run by the YMCA, so that if you purchase a YMCA membership, you can opt for a membership that includes a Meadowmont Pool membership as well.  For more public swimming pool options, the Town of Chapel Hill has several indoor swimming pools and an outdoor pool with open swim hours. Town of Chapel Hill Pool Schedules.

Maple View Ice Cream6. Go for a family drive to Maple View Ice Cream in Hillsborough (Dairyland Rd.) for delicious, nationally acclaimed and locally made  ice-cream (the farm is literally across the road)! There are lots of rocking chairs on the expansive front porch, where you can enjoy your ice cream and gaze upon the beautiful farm land surrounding you in all directions and the Maple View dairy cows in the distance. A CLASSIC local tradition! (It’s so much fun to meet new people there and run into old friends. Everyone loves Maple View for a reprieve from the heat!)

7. Cool off in the BRAND NEW NC Museum of Life and Science (NCMLS) permanent activity/exhibit, INTO THE MIST, a Mist Zone Play Garden featuring a misty rolling landscape, misting tunnels, Rain Tree, gopher tunnels to crawl through, sand sculpture area, and lots of impromptu rainbows! (See Into the Mist Youtube clip.) In addition to acres of outdoor fun, the NC Museum of Life and Science offers endless INDOOR (AIR-CONDITIONED) fun things to do, learn, experience, and play inside the spacious museum, including high-tech weather, science, and multi-media exhibits, hands-on, man-on-the-moon/NASA exhibits, fun play areas (with elaborate ball runs and games), a huge Kapla blocks building area, and a mini-indoor-zoo featuring all kinds of amazing animals and critters.Then head over to the Butterfly House to check out gorgeous butterflies, and exhibits featuring fascinating insects of all kinds. The NC Museum of Life & Science is a great outing in any kind of weather thanks to the wonderful indoor and outdoor exhibits with SO MANY FUN THINGS to do and experience.

8. Enjoy a shady respite from the heat on the banks of the Eno River. There are numerous parking areas at the Eno River State Park in Durham, NC; we enjoy visiting all of the different hiking areas – it’s hard to choose a favorite hiking path! Most of all it’s nice to relax in the shade while the kids splash around in the shady river areas. Our kids have great fun at the Eno River: no bells and whistles required. Just kids + shady Eno River + discovering rocks & critters & other treasures = endless SUMMER FUN! Our kids never want to leave. Bring a picnic lunch and a picnic blanket. It’s still HOT, but so much nicer in the shade with the cooling breeze by the river.

Eno River State Park water mill.
Avery creek stomping in the shady creek at the NC Botanical Gardens (hiking trail).
Avery at the NC Botanical Gardens


Little Dylan at the creek (NC Botanical Gardens hiking trail).

MORE COOL FUN ideas coming soon … meanwhile we’re off to have more Summer Fun in Chapel Hill!


Katie Beth’s Garden at University Mall: Homeschooling Classes & Books, Natural Toys, Crafts

Calling all Homeschoolers & families who love natural, creative toys, science kits and crafts! Katie Beth’s Garden at University Mall offers Homeschooling Classes – a great opportunity for homeschooling kids to get together with their peers to learn science, math and other subjects incorporating creative, interesting projects. (Homeschooling parents often take the opportunity to spend some time at the library or relax in University Mall’s bench areas and sitting areas while their children are in Katie Beth’s classes. So convenient!)

Katie Beth’s shop also specializes in homeschooling books and curricular material covering a broad range of subjects including hands-on math, spelling, & science. (Both new and consigned).

Katie Beth’s offers fun, classic natural toys, craft kits, and unique imaginative gifts: hardwood tops, jacks, marbles, wooden yo-yos, cup and ball toss, high quality science kits, board games, modeling beeswax, wool roving, wool felt, drop spindles, handkerchief doll kits, weaving kits, decorating wax, kite paper, origami paper, wax crayons, beautiful stone and gem treasures, and lots more! A great mix of fun, creativity and learning for all ages!

Katie Beth’s is located in Chapel Hill’s University Mall just a hop and a skip down the hall from the Chapel Hill Public Library’s temporary location in University Mall, at the University Mall entrance near Alfredo’s Pizza and the NC DMV in University Mall.

Katie Beth’s Garden at University Mall, 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 929-2118

RETURN of the Chapel Hill Fireworks in 2012; Raleigh NC Fireworks MOVE to Downtown Raleigh

The Chapel Hill Fireworks at Kenan Memorial Stadium are back in 2012 after a one-year hiatus. (In an unusual move, Chapel Hill did not have fireworks in 2011 due to the expense. However by fortuitous happenstance, it rained heavily in Chapel Hill on the evening of July 4, 2011, so it was the best possible scenario for fireworks canceled in advance.  All’s well that ends well!)

The 2012 Chapel Hill fireworks will be held at Kenan Memorial Stadium, with gates opening at 7:30pm.  The festivities will include Uncle Sam on stilts, contests and face painting, live music beginning at 8pm, and fireworks to begin at 9:30pm. For more info visit

For Raleigh, NC fireworks connoisseurs, please note that, in a BIG CHANGE from prior years, the Raleigh, NC Fireworks display will be held in DOWNTOWN Raleigh this year (2012), rather than at the NC Fairgrounds. ELEVEN HOURS of festivities are scheduled in Downtown Raleigh on July 4, 2012, from 11am to 10pm. See schedule and more info for Raleigh Downtown Fireworks – “The Works” Celebration

See the ChillKids Chapel Hill, NC 4th of July Fireworks Guide for more fireworks displays, parades, and festivities throughout the Triangle.

The Carrboro 4th of July Parade is probably about as close to Mayberry as you can get in this modern age, but better than Mayberry too, due to the ultra-coolness factor of Carrboro, the Weaver Street Market, and great live music at the Carrboro town hall (along with fun kids’ crafts, activities and bouncy houses). Mayberry meets Paris of the Piedmont!

We LOVE, love, love to see all of the fantastic handmade parade floats while our family joins in the Carrboro 4th of July Parade every year. Last year one family made a terrific red-white-and-blue rocket ship on wheels, with a cool celestial mobile suspended above the rocket, and cheerful children peeking out of the rocket’s windows. Excellence in independence design abounds at the Carrboro 4th of July parade!

As listed in our Fireworks & 4th of July Guide, there are many more fun, family-oriented 4th of July festivities scheduled throughout the Triangle, including fireworks in Cary, NC at the Koka Booth Amphitheater, choreographed to the LIVE musical performance by the NC Symphony.

In prior years we have enjoyed the fireworks in Cary, NC at Koka Booth Amphitheater, on the banks of the lake, so that we could see the reflections of the fireworks on the surface of the water. So beautiful! It was worth the (long) walk back to our car with throngs of fellow fireworks watchers.

The Cary, NC Koka Booth fireworks, concert and festivities are free, but if you pay for special seating tickets – rather than watching for free in the general audience as we did – you get premium picnic-style seating under the stars/fireworks with a great view of the NC symphony, along with some picnic treats (a pint of Ice Cream from Lumpy’s Ice Cream and a loaf of Star Spangled Swirl Bread from Great Harvest Bread.)  Tickets for the premium seating with treats can be purchased in person at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre Box Office. General admission is FREE.

See the Cary, NC Koka Booth Amphitheater Independence Day Celebration Schedule for more info.

See our Chapel Hill, NC 4th of July Fireworks Guide

Happy Fourth of July!