Besides having the opportunity to learn some words in another language, kids will be treated to a thrill during the reading of El guardián del pantano (The Keeper of the Swamp): A live alligator will be on hand to bring this slimy tale to life! Spanish Story Time starts at 12:30 p.m., NC Museum of Natural Sciences 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh. 733-7450. Free.
The Joel Lane Museum House's Annual Fourth of July Open House will offer tours of the 1770 house that is Raleigh's oldest building, living history demonstrations from the Revolutionary War era, doll making, spinning, gardening programs (on fruit trees and the herb garden, and children's hands-on potting instruction; reservations required) and a girl's tea (reservations required; small fee). 10 a.m.-3 p.m., corner of St. Mary's and West Hargett St., downtown Raleigh. 833-3431. Free.
Explore the tobacco heritage of Durham through the tales of local residents. The one-mile Durham Tobacco Heritage Walking Tour begins at 10 a.m. takes about 1 1/2 hours to complete. Meet at the Durham Farmer's Market, Morris Street, downtown Durham. 682-3060, www.preservationdurham.org. Free.
Take the scenic route through Wake and Chatham counties on the New Hope Valley Railway, located at Bonsal's North Carolina Railroad Museum, two miles southwest of New Hill. The ride takes about an hour and provides a quiet, nostalgic repose from city life and a memorable adventure for children. All proceeds go toward the restoration of the Museum's Heisler locomotive Number 7. Trains run the first Sunday of every month through November at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m., and 4 p.m. 362-5416, www.nhrvy.org. $8 adults and seniors; $6 children 12 and under.
See how many hands it takes to make a fabulous theater production happen at Backstage Night at Raleigh Little Theatre, an open house for lighting, sound, costumes, props and office volunteers. RLT wants you, and no experience is necessary. 7:30 pm, 301 Pogue St, Raleigh. 821-4579, www.raleighlittletheatre.org .
If you can't make it to the ocean and you're singin' the Piedmont blues, get a taste of Myrtle Beach that will tide you over until you can hit the road. Shag dancing lessons are offered locally on Tuesdays at Loafers Beach Club, 1625 Capital Blvd., Raleigh, 754-9490 or www.shaglessons.com (beginners 7 p.m.; intermediate 8 p.m.), and at The Tavern at New Hope Commons, 5504 Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham, 598-9722 (beginners 7 p.m.; intermediate 8 p.m.; advanced 9 p.m.).