18 Amazing Children’s Museums in North Carolina for All Ages

Last Updated on June 29, 2021

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.

We’ve created a huge list of North Carolina’s awesome museums, but we wanted to focus on the ones specifically made for kids! These places are perfect for rainy days, the “cold” of a Southern winter, or a get-your-wiggles-out pit stop.

Regardless of why you’re seeking them out, these children’s museums in North Carolina will make your day out with the little ones.

This post is a part of our series on places to visit in North Carolina, where we share Bucket List-worthy things to do and more.

Children’s Museums in North Carolina

Asheville Museum of Science

When you’re in the mountains, spend some time at the Asheville Museum of Science. Kids can enjoy their French Broad River Water Table, Southern Appalachian Forest play space, Hurricane Simulator, and more.

Catawba Science Center, Hickory

The Catawba Science Center in Hickory is 35,000 square feet of science and technology for children of all ages! Get up close and personal in the salt and freshwater aquariums or learn more about the skies in the planetarium.

Children’s Museum of Alamance County, Graham

Alamance Childrens Museums in North Carolina Image

While it might look just like “play” at Graham’s Children’s Museum of Alamance County, there’s a lot of serious learning going on in those exhibits! For children up to 10 years old, there are open-ended exhibits that foster exploration and discovery!

Children’s Museum of Wilmington

One of the most unique children’s museums in North Carolina is right along the coast in Wilmington! The Children’s Museum of Wilmington offers tons of hands-on exhibits for children of all ages.

With a nautical theme in the main room, children can pretend they are sailing to the shores and searching for pirates!

Check out the school bus outside, take care of the animals in the vet clinic, and enjoy all the fun to be found at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington!

This museum is one of our favorite things to do in Wilmington and a big part of why we consider it among the best winter getaways in North Carolina! If you’re searching for places to stay, check out these cool Airbnbs in Wilmington and its surroundings.

Discovery Science, Charlotte

At Discovery Place Science in Charlotte, kids can tinker, manipulate, observe, and learn. Future scientists investigate the rainforest, manipulate and experiment in one of the museum’s Explore More labs.

They can also get up-close and personal with the creepy crawlies of the Earth in the Bug Lab!

We mentioned Discovery Science in our guide covering things to do in Charlotte. Oh, and when talking museums in Charlotte, don’t forget about Discovery Place Nature. Discovery Place Kids also has locations in Huntersville and Rockingham!

Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, Fayetteville

Fascinate-U Children’s Museum in Fayetteville is all about hands-on fun, as kids can walk around and role-play in all parts of the recreated city-exhibit. They can go shopping, work with play power tools, and learn about food’s origins on the farm.

All that is just part of why we think this is one of the best things to do with kids in Fayetteville. Spend some time at this awesome museum and you’ll see why.

We enjoyed our time at Fascinate-U and love stopping by during weekends in Fayetteville. It’s also a perfect spot for day trips from Raleigh and also, Durham in the Research Triangle!

Greensboro Children’s Museum

Greensboro Childrens Museum North Carolina Image

20-plus exhibits and an awesome outdoor section make up the Greensboro Children’s Museum. Children can role-play in a grocery store or doctor’s office situations, with fun tools made just for them.

Greensboro Science Center

Things to Do Greensboro Science Center Image

If you want a science museum, aquarium, and zoo all rolled into one, check out the Greensboro Science Center! You can also head outside to SKYWILD, a treetop adventure park where you can zip, slide, climb, and fly through the trees.

These are two of the best things to do in Greensboro, especially with kids!

Kaleideum, Winston-Salem

Kaleideum Children's Museum Winston-Salem Image

Kaleideum in Winston-Salem has two locations (North and Downtown), which were formerly the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem and SciWorks.

Gaze at the stars or walk the nature trails at Kaleideum North and make a “fresh” dozen of Krispy Kreme doughnuts Downtown. Either way, kids of all ages will have a blast exploring!

Fun Tidbit: If you purchase a ticket at one Kaleideum location, you get in FREE to the other as long as you visit on the same day! If this changes, please let us know because we really enjoyed this perk when visiting.

Both of these museums are among our favorite things to do in Winston-Salem!

Kidzu Children’s Museum, Chapel Hill

Kidzu Children’s Museum in Chapel Hill mixes long-standing (Farm to Fork) with rotating exhibits for kids who come through. There’s a big emphasis here on STEAM and “maker education,” where kids craft with real materials.

Kidzu is looking to expand its space and we’re really looking forward to seeing them grow.

A visit to Kidzu is included in our guide covering a weekend in Chapel Hill and Orange County, too!

Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh

Play, learn and discover at Marbles Kids Museum in Downtown Raleigh. With large interactive play exhibits, an IMAX Theater, cafe, and more children experiment through play and are encouraged to “use their Marbles.”

Marbles is the first of a few museums in Raleigh that also appear in our guide covering things to do in Raleigh.

Museum of Life and Science, Durham

At Durham’s Museum of Life and Science (MLS), you can see baby red wolves, build a tornado with your hands, and climb in a spaceship. You can also hang with bears in this interactive science museum.

With 84-acres of space, you’ll find treehouses, a butterfly garden, lemurs, a train, spray ground, and so much more!

A visit to the Museum of Life and Science is easily one of our favorite things to do in Durham, definitely with kids!

North Carolina Aquariums, Multiple Locations

Childrens Museums NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island
NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

Operating for over 40 years, North Carolina Aquariums offers education, resources for rehabilitation, and research for marine creatures. Locations include the following:

If you have a museum membership elsewhere, check to see if there’s a reciprocity agreement supported by NC Aquariums and save yourself some cash for more snacks!

Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

NC Museum of Natural Sciences Raleigh NC Image

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is North Carolina’s most-visited museum and great for all ages and is especially awesome for kids.

Permanent exhibits include natural North Carolina from the mountains to the sea, a butterfly room, prehistoric specimens and recreations, and the really cool Arthropod Zoo.

We also love this Raleigh museum for date nights. It’s one of our favorite free things to do in the city and during the “cold” months, it’s a crucial part of our guide to winter things to do in Raleigh.

North Carolina Transportation Museum, Spencer

You’ll find trains, trucks, and tractors galore at the NC Transportation Museum, which commemorates the Spencer Shops, Southern Railroad’s largest steam locomotive repair facility on the East Coast.

Within this 60-plus acre complex, you can go on a train ride or attend special events like the Fire Truck Festival, Days Out with Thomas, or The Polar Express Train Ride!

North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro

It’s not fair that we’re adding the NC Zoo in Asheboro to the mix, but this is the state’s ultimate outdoor learning space. Oh, and it’s the world’s largest natural habitat zoo, with 1,800 animals native to North America and Africa (Asia coming soon).

There’s even a ropes course for the adventurous, and paddle boats for those seeking some watery relaxation.

We think you’ll love the zoo during your weekend in Asheboro and beyond in Randolph County, too! For more tips, check out our guide to the NC Zoo.

Notasium, Durham and Cary

Do you have a budding musician or a kiddo who loves to groove? Notasium in Durham and Cary is an interactive musical experience as well as a music school.

They can slide down a giant guitar or stop their feet to the beat. Singing loudly is encouraged and picking up a drum stick is required!

Wilmington Railroad Museum

The Wilmington Railroad Museum is truly a museum for everyone who loves trains, but especially little ones. Here, you can learn about the history of train transport, climb inside a retired boxcar, and spend hours watching 20-plus model trains go around the track.

We also think the Wilmington Railroad Museum is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Wilmington and shared more about it here.

Ready for These Awesome Children’s Museums in North Carolina?

We’re going to continue searching for fun children’s museums in North Carolina because we know more are out there. If you’ve been to any that we didn’t mention, we’d love to know more.

In the meantime, we look forward to sharing our adventures through North Carolina here and on our social media pages, especially on Facebook and Instagram. And we hope you’ll follow along, too!

More Things to Do in North Carolina

1 thought on “18 Amazing Children’s Museums in North Carolina for All Ages”

Leave a Comment