Looking For Fun Things to Do in Raleigh with Kids? Look no further…I’ve got you!
Raleigh is probably not the first destination you think of for a family vacation. But the capital city of North Carolina has a ton of fun things to do with kids, is quite affordable, easy to access, and is a budding foodie haven.
Raleigh is the second largest city in North Carolina after Charlotte. The closest airport is Raleigh Durham International (RDU) and is an easy and efficient option to get here. You may want to consider renting a car since the city is quite spread out, but Uber and Lyft are readily available too.
Although this post is mainly about fun things to in Raleigh with kids, I try very hard to find activities that the entire family will enjoy! So…whether you’re traveling with kids to the area, in town for just a day, or a local trying to come up with fun hometown adventures, here are some ideas to get you started!
Our Top 10 Picks for Family Fun in Raleigh NC
Our family lives about an hour east of Raleigh in Rocky Mount, NC. So although we aren’t locals, we spent a fair amount of time in the City of Oaks over the past twenty plus years. We love Raleigh and would probably move there if we could!
Marbles Kids Museum is my top pick for kid fun in Raleigh NC!! This children’s museum is incredible! I truly can’t say enough good things about Marbles. Let your kids imaginations run wild with endless hours of hands on educational play. Water play, crafts, tools, sports, outdoor gardens, pet vet, money, supermarkets, and shopping are just a few of the play areas you can find at this museum. At Marbles, you can find things to do with a baby, toddler activities, and fun for children up to around ages ten to twelve years old.
Marbles is open daily from 9 am – 5 pm. Admission costs: Adults, children, and seniors are $7 per person, free for children under 1 year old, and $6 for military. Best option for locals: get the membership!
BONUS: There’s an attached IMAX at Marbles, gift shop, and cafe which always tends to appeal to the older kids and adults in your family!
2. Catch a Show or Concert
There are so many options for entertainment throughout the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill). But, specifically to Raleigh, check what’s playing at:
- Raleigh Little Theatre – They truly offer some of the best children’s shows in Raleigh NC!
- Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts (Raleigh Memorial Auditorium) – We love to catch holiday shows or plays here!
- PNC Arena – This is the best place to catch anyone from your big name stars to the monster truck show!
- Red Hat Amphitheater – We personally love this outdoor concert venue with kids since it is less overwhelming for little ones.
Concert and event tickets are not only one of our favorite things to do in Raleigh with kids but to gift our children as well!
I grouped these two museums together because of their physical proximity to each other. However, just because they are located directly across from one another doesn’t mean they both don’t deserve equal time and attention! Depending on you and your children’s interests, these museums provide the perfect indoor kids activities in Raleigh! And did I mention they are FREE! Yay! Who doesn’t love free things to do??
The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is the largest natural history museum in the southeast United States. They offer exciting permanent and rotating exhibits, programs, tours, and special events throughout the year. My children always loved the butterfly room and discovery center for hands on play in the Nature Exploration Center.
The NC Museum of History tells the intriguing history of the state of North Carolina. To be honest, we didn’t visit this one as often since my kids have been fortunate to travel most of the state and visit a lot of historical sites individually. It is certainly still a fun museum full of interesting exhibits, informative programs, and fun family events.
I just love a farmer’s market. But, the North Carolina Farmers State Public Market takes it to a whole different level. It’s huge! Over 30,000 square feet of fresh produce, plants, and other locals items in the outdoor building and over 15,000 in the Market Shoppes inside selling items like local cheese, meats, crafts, bakery items, and more! There’s also a ton of interesting finds like pottery, furniture, and more at the Market Imports section.
Why do I consider this a children’s activity? Our family values supporting small and local businesses. It’s such a wonderful treat for our children to speak to the farmers and learn about where the food comes from.
BONUS: My kids LOVE the samples! Peach season is our favorite time of year!
5. Pullen Park
Pullen Park is another one of my favorite things to do in Raleigh with kids. It’s one of my top recommendations for friends visiting the area. Walk the trails or check out the playground for free or for a few dollars rent a pedal boat, ride the train, or take a spin on the carousel. There’s also a small cafe or bring your own picnic!!
Fun Fact: Pullen Park was the first public park in North Carolina and the fifth oldest amusement park in the country. In addition, the carousel was built around 1900 and is designated a Raleigh Historic Landmark.
6. Get Outside!
Visit one of the many outdoor parks and recreation areas. From camping to hiking to canoeing to cycling to picnics, there’s literally something for everyone no matter what your age!
- Historic Yates Mill County Park – visit the fully restored, circa 1756 gristmill- tours available on the weekends!
- Lake Johnson Park – Find boat rentals, fishing, hiking, and picnic areas.
- Umstead Park – Camping, hiking, bicyclist, and even equestrian fun! Every Raleigh bucket list should include visiting the famous chainsaw carvings at Umstead Park- find specific directions HERE.
- Neuse River Trail – 33 miles of paved scenic trails!
- Dorthea Dix Park – Psst…if you’re looking for sunflowers fields…this is it!! Check out the SunFest every July!
- JC Raulston Arboretum – One of my favorite free things to do in Raleigh!
Know Before You Go: Professional photography in any City of Raleigh Park requires a permit- contact the Parks Department directly for more information!
7. Visit Downtown Raleigh
Downtown Raleigh isn’t just for adults! There are a ton of fun things to do in downtown Raleigh for both kids and adults! Visit Moore Square, take a self guided tour of the Videri Chocolate Factory, get your art fix at Artspace or just take in some local street art, do some shopping and don’t forget to try some fabulous foodie options. Fayetteville Street is the center of the action and often hosts local festivals and events. It’s also a fun place to explore on foot to see the State Capitol Building!
Insider Tip: Our favorite areas to shop in Raleigh besides downtown are North Hills, Crabtree Valley Mall, and Cameron Village.
8. Attend a Sporting Event
Adding a sporting event to your Raleigh itinerary is an easy option! Choosing which event to attend may be the hard part. Check out these nearby team’s schedule and cheer them on!
- NHL Carolina Hurricanes
- NC State Athletics
- UNC Athletics
- Duke Athletics
- Professional Soccer- Carolina FC
- Minor League Baseball- Carolina Mudcats or Durham Bulls
The NC Museum of Art is unique in that it offers not only indoor kids activities in Raleigh, NC, but outdoor opportunities as well! The Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park has miles of trails and outdoor sculptures and exhibits you can enjoy. So, depending on the weather, you can enjoy family friendly fun for free inside or burn off some energy exploring the exciting outdoor exhibits.
The outdoor museum park is open daily from dawn to dusk. The museum permanent exhibits are free and open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. There is often a charge to see special exhibits and events. In addition, on site you can find a museum store, restaurant, and coffee bar.
10. Parent AND Kid Fun in Raleigh NC
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is to play with my kids. So instead of just paying to let your kids play, try some of these activities with your child. I know it’s easier to sit back and watch your kids bowl or jump or ice skate…and I get it, we all need a break sometimes. But if you have the energy and the option, these moments can become so much more memorable when you do them together!
- Kings Dining & Entertainment– the perfect place to eat, bowl, and play together as a family!
- Defy Gravity– our favorite place to jump until we can’t jump anymore!
- Frankie’s Fun Park– a mini amusement park sure to entertain the whole family. I often take my kids the day after school gets out as a welcome to summer treat.
- Adventure Landing– get competitive with your kids at a game of laser tag, miniature golf, or go karts.
- Drive Shack– you don’t have to be good at golf to have fun here! (Trust me, I know!)
- Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex– just outside of Raleigh in Holly Springs, this is the largest family friendly action sports training facility in the world! Try your hand at BMX, scooters, skateboarding, and more!
- Ice Skating- year round you can visit the Iceplex or during the winter there is a small outdoor rink downtown on Fayetteville Street!
Raleigh NC For Kids!
As you can see, there are so many options for kids activities in Raleigh that are great for the entire family! We’re always able to find something to do and never get bored!
Insider Tip: Watch out for rush hour traffic (it can be a beast)!
Trying to decide where to stay in Raleigh NC?
When staying in Raleigh with kids for more than a night or two, we typically like to have a little more space than a hotel room. We love renting houses depending through VRBO or AirBnb. But we also love the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills and the Residence Inn Downtown Raleigh.
There really are a ton of fun things to do in Raleigh with kids! Which one will you choose first?