Raleigh is a beautiful small city in North Carolina that makes a wonderful vacation destination for families. Raleigh has grown steadily over the past decade and is considered part of the Research Triangle along with nearby Durham and Chapel Hill because of the density of scholarly institutions in the area. The natural beauty of North Carolina combined with the city’s elegant southern charm makes it perfect for a relaxing weekend away. There are plenty of exciting things to do with kids in Raleigh – here are some of the best options to add to your vacation itinerary.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
This is the oldest and most established museum in North Carolina, and it’s a must-see regardless of who you’re traveling with. However, it’s a particularly good way to keep your kids entertained on vacation. This huge museum is home to a very wide range of exhibits, and you can see everything here from dinosaur skeletons to authentic gemstones to a roomful of butterflies. The museum also has an entire building’s worth of interactive exhibits where kids can interact with scientific concepts in a hands-on way. In addition to their permanent exhibits, the Museum of Natural Sciences also hosts several rotating exhibits and events throughout the year.
Located just outside of downtown, Pullen Park was founded in 1887 and is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. This charming historic park features a carousel, kiddie boats, and a miniature train for kids to enjoy. There is also a lake with pedal boats, a theater, a pool, an arts center, and plenty of beautiful open space. It’s an ideal place to take advantage of pleasant weather and enjoy the scenery of North Carolina. Before visiting Raleigh, check to see if there are any events happening in Pullen Park during your trip that your kids might be interested in, such as plays or art classes.
Marbles Kids Museum
The Marbles Kids Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with your little ones. The museum has 15 different exhibits where kids can learn about the world around them in an interactive way. Each activity is designed to spark your kid’s imagination by allowing them to play as a scientist, banker, artist, firefighter, even a pirate. The possibilities are endless, and there are exhibits geared to all ages. The museum is also home to an IMAX theater with plenty of kid-friendly programming.
For a more relaxed day outdoors with your children, consider heading to Lake Johnson, which is located in southwest Raleigh. It’s a beautiful area that makes you feel completely immersed in nature, whether you decide to head out on the water or just enjoy a picnic and some pleasant views. You can opt to rent a kayak or paddle boat if you are visiting with very active kids, or go for a gentle hike through the foliage. While younger kids might get a bit antsy here, older kids and teens will find there’s plenty to do.
Morgan Street Food Hall
If your kids are starting to get hungry, head to the newly-opened Morgan Street Food Hall in the Warehouse District. This exciting food hall features some of the most diverse food options in the Research Triangle, and you can get everything from Southern to Mexican to classic Maine lobster here. Although the culinary options are sophisticated enough to pique the interest of adult foodies, the whole environment is casual enough for kids, and since there are so many options, it will be easy for your child to find something they like. The food hall is also home to many retail shops where you can pick up local souvenirs.
North Carolina Museum of Art
The North Carolina Museum of Art is a large state museum that showcases many different types of art. The reason this museum stands out as a fun place to take kids is because of the huge sculpture park outside. The park features incredible art installations as well as gardens, water features, and walking trails. It’s a great place for kids to run around while still getting some exposure to beautiful art. Inside the museum, there’s plenty of interesting exhibits that may be more appropriate for older children. There’s an extensive collection of classical and historical art from around the world, as well as some contemporary art.
Raleigh Flea Market
The Raleigh Flea Market is a classic town tradition that has been held every weekend since the early 1970s. This is a place where you can go to shop for some of the most unique goods in North Carolina, from classic antiques to handmade accessories and much more. Since not every town has such a big flea market, this will be a very exciting experience for your kids, particularly if they are old enough to have some of their own spending money. Be sure to purchase a few souvenirs to remember your trip by.
Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
If you have a kid who is passionate about extreme sports, you can’t miss the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex. At this complex, people of all ages can enjoy BMX, skateboarding, and much more on a huge course. If your child doesn’t have their own equipment, they can rent some at the complex, and there are also lessons for beginners to help get you started if you’ve never ridden before. They also offer group packages for birthday parties and other events.
JC Raulston Arboretum
This beautiful arboretum is home to a huge collection of flowers, trees, and other plants. It’s a perfect opportunity for your kids to run around and enjoy the outdoors, but it will also be very relaxing for the adults in your group. Best of all, it’s completely free, so it’s a good option if you’re traveling on a budget.
If you are visiting Raleigh from somewhere outside the United States, you will need to plan ahead to make sure you have the proper travel authorization. If you are coming from 37 pre-approved countries (visa waiver countries), you won’t need to apply for a visa, but you will need to apply for ESTA, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. You will also need a valid passport. ESTA applications need to be done at least three days before you leave for your trip so you can board the airplane. The application can be completed very easily because you can check esta status and update online, and once you are approved, it is valid for up to two years. To complete the application, you’ll need identifying documents, contact information, and employment information.
With so much to do in Raleigh, you are in for a vacation that’s both exciting and relaxing. The pleasant southern charm of the city makes it an ideal place to take your family and get away from your everyday life. It’s also quite an affordable vacation when compared to many of the biggest cities in the United States, and the city’s small size makes it feel very manageable as well. Head there in the spring to see beautiful flowers in bloom and experience the most pleasant weather of the entire year.