We are always on the lookout for fun things to do with our little one and have discovered tons of kid-friendly events in North Carolina. While it may sometimes seem that happenings are typically geared towards adults, we figured we’d share our favorite family-friendly activities.
With a mix of indoor and outdoor fun, museums, fairs, and more, here’s our kid-friendly NC bucket list for the entire year!
More than a few things mentioned in this post appear in our NC Bucket List, which you can preview below.
Also, this post is part of our series on seasonal events in North Carolina.
Things for Kids to Do in North Carolina Throughout the Year
If you’re wanting more information on each event or looking for more ideas of things to do, click on the month heading to see more!
- Continued from November (see below), see the lights at the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary.
- Watch the animals enjoy the enrichment during the Animal Tree Toss in Burlington.
- Learn all about the universe at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Astronomy Days. Throughout the year, a visit here is a great free thing to do in Raleigh.
- Go ice skating at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, one of our favorite outdoor places to visit in Queen City!
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Wearin’ ‘O the Green Festival in Raleigh is a great way to celebrate the holiday for kids.
- Walk the plank at PirateFest in Greenville. Grab some food at the area’s awesome restaurants while you’re out there!
- Get your fill of the big dill! NC Pickle Fest in Goldsboro is fun for the whole family!
- Start them young! The BBQ Capital Cook-Off in Lexington is smoked fun for aficionados of all ages.
- Eat more ‘cue at the BBQ Fest on the Neuse in Kinston!
- Celebrate Brevard‘s famed rodent at the White Squirrel Festival!
- Ever been to a Chicken Pickin’? Butner’s chicken cook-off will introduce you to it, with family-friendly events and lots of live music!
- Get out of this world at the Spruce Pine Alien Conference and Expo (SPACE).
- Durham‘s Festival for the Eno is a rocking good time for the whole family!
- Take flight at the Wright Kite Festival in the Outer Banks!
- Take adorable Instagramable photos in the Raleigh Sunflower fields at Dorothea Dix Park. We mentioned this in our guide to a weekend in Raleigh, too!
- I can’t make a cantaloupe pun, but believe us when we say the Cantaloupe Festival in Ridgeway is a great kid-friendly North Carolina event!
- Watch as the young gold champs rule over Pinehurst! The US kids Gold World Championship brings 1,450 6- to 12-aged golfers from around the world to tee off.
- For over 65 years, Moore County has been celebrating Robbins Farmers Day with music, food, carnival rides and more.
- Aye! Aye Matey! The Pirate Invasion in Beaufort offers sword fighting and events for all ages.
- With a massive Kids Zone, the 7th Inning Stretch Festival in Uptown Shelby is guaranteed to be a good time.
- While the beer is for the adults, we’ll say the choo is for the kiddos! Spencer’s Brew and Choo Beer Festival combines fun for everyone.
- Enter your kiddo in the Fig Cake Bake-Off at the Ocracoke Fig Festival in OBX. Next step? Masterchef Junior!
- Street dancing, amusement rides, and tons of fun! Head to Roxboro for the Personality Festival.
- Skip down the yellow brick road in Beech Mountain! Open for only two weekends in September, Autumn at Oz is a must-attend family-friendly event in North Carolina.
- I’m all out of pirate puns, but shiver me timbers. The City of Oaks Pirate Fest in Raleigh is plenty of fun, you salty sea dogs!
- Celebrate the end of summer in Wilmington with the Summer Harvest Festival.
- Get your pride on in Gate City! The Greensboro Pride Festival features a new KidZone to celebrate love for everyone.
- All aboard the ghost train! Tweetsie is great for families all year long but their Ghost Train is especially fun for those kiddos who love a little scare.
- Check out all of the local art at CenterFest in downtown Durham, complete with bounce houses and entertainment for the kiddos!
- Creepy crawlers take over the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at BugFest.
- Corn mazes and pumpkin patches start opening up for the season! Check out Sonlight Farms in Kenly (Johnston County) for hayrides, a giant slide, and a full day of fun.
- 10 Days of fun and a huge midway, Wayne Regional Agriculture Fair is a must for over 70 years!
- Riverbend Farms in Cabarrus County has acres and acres of pumpkins and climbing structures for kids. It’s seriously the most impressive farm we’ve seen in NC!
- What’s cooler than a “Chew Chew” Food Truck Rodeo? The annual Railroad Days in Selma is great for young train enthusiasts.
- Head to Spring Hope Pumpkin Festival in Nash County and show off your pumpkin decorating skills.
- Carolina Renaissance Festival in Huntersville is a must-attend event for those of all ages. Live ye olde best life!
- Watch the fireworks and have a blast at Riverfest in Wilmington!
- The North Carolina State Fair is the state’s biggest agricultural fair and a family tradition for many.
- Carolina Balloonfest fills the skies of Statesville with hundreds of hot air balloons and has a kids zone for the littles and wine and beer for the parents.
- There’s nothing better than puppies. Add in the regionally delicious livermush and you’ve got a rocking good time at Shelby’s Music, Music and Mutts Festival.
- Fly a kite with hundreds of your friends! The Carolina Kite Festival at Atlantic Beach is a beautiful and memorable experience for kids. In nearby Pine Knoll Shores, we recommend a stay at the very kid-friendly Atlantis Lodge!
- Lexington’s Barbecue Festival draws over 100,000 people each year. There are carnival rides for kids and plenty of delicious food!
- The Whirligig Festival in Wilson is by far the best kid-friendly festival in November. Not only is it FREE, but there are tons of bounce houses, food, and even an American Ninja Warrior course.
- Speedway Christmas in Concord is a great way to kick off the holiday season! 4 million lights twinkle around the oval and ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Make sure to enjoy the slides, carousel, and Ferris wheel, too. This kid-friendly event is also one of our favorite ways to enjoy Christmas lights in North Carolina.
- Make it a family event with Elizabeth City’s Holiday Parent/Child Golf Tournament.
- Get ready to glide at Hendersonville’s Iceless Skating Rink.
- It starts in late November, but throughout December and into January, you can see the lights at the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary.
Kid-Friendly Christmas Events in North Carolina
- Enjoy the holidays at Tweestie Christmas in Blowing Rock.
- Polar Express Train on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
- Choose and Cut your own from one of these Christmas tree farms in North Carolina.
- Light up the Holidays in Thomasville.
- Christmas on Main in Andrews.
- Christmas at the Museum in Bryson City.
- Downtown Lenoir Christmas Festival in Lenoir.
- Downtown Lights up in historic Goldsboro.
- Mooresville Christmas Parade.
- Christmas in the Country in Rocky Point includes 175,000 lights and delicious hot chocolate.
- Christmas in the Park in Blowing Rock.
- Hangin’ with Santa and Kites with Lights at Jockey’s Ridge.
- Christmas Train & Light Spectacular at the Wilmington Railroad Museum.
- See beautiful lights at Airlie Gardens during Enchanted Airlie in Wilmington.
- Light Up Cornelius is a rocking good time with local entertainment and children’s activities.
- Watch the beautiful water parade at the NC Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach.
- Millstone Creek Christmas Hayrides in Randolph County are a fun way to enjoy the holidays!
Our Thoughts and Yours, Too!
There are plenty of ways to enjoy traveling in our state with children. We hope this bucket list of kid-friendly events in North Carolina gives you some ideas on how to enjoy yourselves all year long!
If you had to choose, which of these fun things top your “to do” list? Also, is there anything we missed? If so, please kindly let us know in the comments section or send us an email.