There's a governing principle in my house regarding winter precipitation. The normal laws of life no longer apply, and new ones take over: Snow Rules. Snow Rules mean that you can eat whatever you want, stay up late and ignore household and workplace responsibilities.
Kids intrinsically understand Snow Rules. It's why they obsessively check the status of school cancellations on the local ticker—at least, they did before school systems had Twitter accounts (and yes, Wake County was the last to announce cancellations a decade ago, too). But why should kids have all the fun? Forget lemonade stands and lounging poolside: Let's take a snow day in Raleigh this summer.
All good snow days begin with a sugary breakfast. Start at 8 a.m. with a Videri Chocolate Factory hot sipping chocolate (327 W. Davie St., www.viderichocolatefactory.com), which is on offer year-round. The 2-ounce drink is made from 70 percent dark chocolate, simple syrup and heavy cream, with a consistency between whole milk and pudding. And since no hot chocolate is complete without marshmallows, travel three blocks for lucettegrace's Little Spoon (235 S. Salisbury St., www.lucettegrace.com). It's the patisserie's refined take on campfire s'mores. A crunchy base of puffed rice and milk chocolate is topped with sorghum-sweetened Big Spoon peanut butter and homemade toasted marshmallows. Yum.
Once your blood goes saccharine, it's time to play outside. Me and my best friend, Maria, were 9-year-old Florida transplants already fascinated by the "North" in North Carolina—to us, it promised year-round winter sports, and we weren't going to let the summer heat slow us down—when we discovered cardboard box sledding. All you have to do is paw through a recycling bin for a sturdy box (to find refrigerator packaging is to hit gold) and climb a hill. Then, sit on the box and slide down. You'll be surprised by how fast you go, especially if the ground is slick with pine needles. Repeat until the box is worn out, or you are.
If gardening's more your speed, Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden (5217 Atlantic Ave., www.atlanticavenuegarden.com) carries several plants to winterize your yard. Consider the Snow-In-Summer, a sprawling groundcover that sprouts dense white flowers when the weather gets hot, or the similarly named Snow N Summer, a vine that produces small tubular flowers under mottled white and green foliage. When in bloom, both plants look like snow on the ground, which is soothing when you're sweating enough to fill a kiddie pool. Decorate your garden with an ice sculpture from Ice Occasions (330 Sherwee Dr., www.iceoccasionsofnc.com) to complete the illusion—for a few hours, at least.
Now that you've worked so hard, it's time to refuel! Mingle with dusty construction workers while waiting on a bowl of homemade Brunswick stew at Community Deli (901 Oberlin Rd., www.thecommunitydeli.com), a mom-and-pop operation in a modest old house. For dessert, visit one of several area locations of Pelican's Snoballs (1611 New Bern Ave.; 3304 Capital Blvd., www.pelicanssnoballs.com) for a colorful snow cone. The shaved ice runs two bucks a pop and comes in 100 different flavors, from the traditional cherry to the more adventurous dill pickle. For the fearless, there's the seasonal Flavor Challenge: Try every flavor, win a t-shirt. It's good to have aspirations. (If you try to knock 'em all out in one Snoball fight, wear dark colors so the syrup won't stain.)
Finally, try some alpine mountaineering in Morrisville at the Triangle Rock Club (102 Pheasant Wood Ct., www.trianglerockclub.com), a 27,000-square-foot facility with staggering 55-foot climbing walls. The gym offers more than 200 vertical routes as well as top-out bouldering. If you're not quite Everest-ready, that's OK. The club is open to members and non-members alike, and offers gear rental and training for first-time climbers.
Triangle Rock Club is open until 11 p.m. on weekdays (except Fridays, when it closes at 10), which leaves you just enough time to breathe in the crisp atmosphere of your favorite bottle shop's walk-in cooler. Remember, Snow Rules expire at midnight.