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17+ Great Things to Do with Kids in Raleigh

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on May 29, 2024.

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A bustling city with incredible restaurants, innovative breweries, and awesome museums, there are plenty of things to do with kids in Raleigh, too! Enrich and engage your kids with educational and interactive exhibits, explore the outdoors, or have some indoor family fun.

Whatever you’re looking to do, Raleigh is a fantastic city for families! In this article, we’ll list some Raleigh museums, kid-friendly hiking, additional outdoor activities, as well as other fun things to do with kids in Raleigh.

Here’s how we’ve organized this guide:

  • Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Raleigh NC
  • Museums in Raleigh
  • Outdoors with Kids in Raleigh
  • More Things to Do in Raleigh with Kids
  • More Things to Do in Raleigh

Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Raleigh area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do with kids near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do In North Carolina (Your NC Bucket List)

Things to do with Kids in Raleigh

The NC Museum of Art ranks high among our favorite things to do with kids in Raleigh.

Museums in Raleigh

Here are a few of the city’s best museums, which happen to double as great things to do with kids in Raleigh.

North Carolina Museum of Art

Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC

Things to Do in North Carolina NC Museum of Art Raleigh

Art museums aren’t typically considered great kid-friendly activities, but at the North Carolina Museum of Art, you can bring the kids! From their fun outdoor movie series to the colorful and engaging exhibits, there are so many reasons why kids love the NCMA.

Walking the trails at the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Raleigh. The outdoor sculptures are inviting for kids of all ages, and it’s a great way to be outside and learn simultaneously! 

You can also bring your bike and ride some of the trails here, forming part of Raleigh’s Art to Heart Trail. It runs from the NC Museum of Art through many of Raleigh’s best-known attractions.

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)

Marbles Kids Museum

Address: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Looking for hours of fun? Marbles Kids Museum is in the middle of downtown and arguably one of the best things to do with kids in Raleigh! An admission fee is required, but it is a good price for an entire fun day.

There are exhibits and activities for everyone, with hands-on interactive exhibits and 3D IMAX theater that make learning come to life for older kids and play areas for the younger ones!

Read More: Central North Carolina (and 100+ Amazing Places to Visit)

NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Address: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC

an interactive experience with clay at the NC museum of Natural Sciences

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is our number one favorite free thing to do in Raleigh! Multiple floors guide you through the history and ecosystems of North Carolina, with real fish tanks, a collection of snakes, and more!

The exhibits are engaging and perfect for children of all ages. It’s hard to believe that this is a free museum because it truly is an outstanding experience! Don’t forget to come back for the amazing events they host as well.

Read More: 15+ Important Tips to Enjoy the NC State Fair

North Carolina Museum of History

Address: 5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC

a crossroads exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural History

Right next to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the North Carolina Museum of History. With permanent exhibits and rotating ones, we always find something new to do and learn here.

Also inside is the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, which gives tributes to icons like Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, and many more famous athletes from this state.

There are also quite a few exhibits dedicated to Black history in North Carolina, which is an important reason to visit throughout the year.

Read More: 13 of the Best Airbnbs in Raleigh (Downtown, Residential Areas, and Nearby Towns)

Outdoors with Kids in Raleigh

Umstead State Park

Address: Raleigh, NC 27617

William B Umstead State Park Raleigh NC Chainsaw Art

Getting outside is a must for us! At Umstead State Park, there’s a variety of kid-friendly trails. We recommend searching for the chainsaw art on the Multi-Use Trail!

The chainsaw art is a 25-foot fallen oak tree that has since become home to carvings of wolves, owls, and more!

It can be difficult to find, but we list directions here. The MUT is flat and easy for children of all ages! 

Read More: 41 North Carolina State Parks Sites and How to Enjoy Them All!

Dorothea Dix Park

Address: 1030 Richardson Dr, Raleigh, NC

the Raleigh skyline from Dorothea Dix Park

The largest park in Raleigh, Dorothea Dix Park, is a great place to get outdoors with kids! The 308-acre park features rolling hills and open spaces that overlook the skyline.

One of our favorite things to do at Dorothea Dix is to pack a picnic and fly a kite on a windy day. Be sure to visit in the summer when their beautiful sunflowers fully bloom!

For more about Dorothea Dix Park, check out our interview with Kate Pearce for NC Travel Chat!

Read More: 13 Beautiful Sunflower Fields in NC (When + Where to Find Them)

Pullen Park

Address: 520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC

the merry-go-round at Pullen Park, NC

Pullen Park has been a staple among the kids’ activities in Raleigh since 1887. With playgrounds, wide green spaces, a mini train, and the original 1911 carousel, Pullen Park is also one of the world’s oldest operating amusement parks!

If you want fun things to do in Raleigh with kids, Pullen Park is one of our first picks!

Shelley Lake 

Address: 1400 W Millbrook Rd, Raleigh, NC

out little girl near the fence looking out over Shelley Lake Park

We’ll find ourselves at Shelley Lake Park at least once a week during many parts of the year. The paved trail loops 2.2 miles around the lake, providing a refreshing mix of shade and sun.

The biggest appeal of Shelley Lake for our kiddo is the bridge where many ducks and turtles congregate. We always bring a snack, sit on the bridge, and count the turtles as they swim by! 

Shelley Lake also features among our favorite hiking trails in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill!

RDU Observation Park

Address: W International Dr, Morrisville, NC

Do you have an airplane-loving kiddo? Then, the RDU Observation Park is for you! Overlooking the 10,000-foot runway near Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s Air Traffic Control Tower, kids can watch as the planes take off and land.

There’s also a sandbox to play in while in between flights. Bring your own toys and enjoy the excitement of flight!

Sassafras All Children’s Playground

Address: 3808 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC

a park and playground in Raleigh to visit with kids

While there are plenty of playgrounds in Raleigh, we think that the Sassafras All Children’s Playground at Laurel Hills Park is one of the best.

The 3.5-acre playground is inclusive for children of all ages and abilities, featuring zip lines, climbing structures, and playground equipment that guarantees a fun day!

Page Farms

Address: 6100 Mt Herman Rd, Raleigh, NC

We’ve made Page Farms an annual tradition during the fall to look for pumpkins, but Page Farms offers family fun in the spring and summer, too.

Join them for strawberry picking in the spring, blackberries in the summer, and pumpkin picking in late summer/early fall, and say hello to the farm animals!

Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Address: 1671 Gold Star Dr, Raleigh, NC 27607

If you are looking for something with outdoor play in Raleigh, then Prairie Ridge Ecostation is the place to be! An extension of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the Ecostation has an outdoor classroom, plant garden, and programs for nature-based exploration.

Free and open daily, this is one of the best things to do with kids in Raleigh!

More Things to Do in Raleigh NC with Kids

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

Address: 330 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC

Boxcar Raleigh Pinball Area

Located in Downtown Raleigh, Boxcar Bar + Arcade is a great place to bring kids! With plenty of room and hundreds of games, this arcade mixes new and classic games for children and parents alike. From air hockey to Mario Kart, great memories are made with the push of a little competition.

Note that only visitors 21 or older are allowed after 9:00 pm.

Frankie’s Fun Park

Address: 11190 Fun Park Dr, Raleigh, NC

Carl playing angry birds at the arcade in Raleigh

We aren’t ashamed to say that we first visited Frankie’s Fun Park when I was 40 weeks pregnant, so *technically* we were there with a child! Frankie’s is a fun-plex of arcade games, mini-golf, go-karts, laser tag, and batting cages, perfect for a day of adventure and action.

Parking is ample and easy. You can spend the whole day playing and eating from their indoor restaurant!

Spin Art Raleigh

Address: 8204 Tryon Woods Dr #116, Cary, NC

Spin Art Raleigh is the perfect thing to do with kids in Raleigh! It is an immersive art experience where you can get messy and creative. They have spin art tables as well as a splatter room. It is open by appointment only- so secure your time and choose your experience!

TreeRunner Ropes Course

Address: 12804 Norwood Rd, Raleigh, NC

Have a kid who loves to climb? Then you need to check out the TreeRunner Ropes Course! This aerial adventure park has over 70 obstacles, ropes courses, and zip lines at various difficulty levels.

Accessible for children as young as 4 years old, spend some time with your kids up in the trees! 

United Skates of America

Address: 2901 Trawick Rd, Raleigh, NC

Kick it old school with some classic roller skating at United Skates of America, a place so large that it can accommodate up to 500 skaters! Teach your younger kids to rollerblade here, or let your older kids show off their skating skills.

If you are looking for a deal, then make sure to come for $2 on Mondays. 

Greystone Recreation Center

Address: 7713 Lead Mine Rd, Raleigh, NC

In the heat of summer or on a rainy day, it’s always hard to find fun things to do with kids in Raleigh. Greystone Recreation Center is the answer to that struggle!

The first of its kind in the city, the playground features 9,600 square feet of indoor play space, a rock climbing wall, and even classrooms. The best part–it’s all free!

What are Your Favorite Things to Do with Kids in Raleigh?

There are plenty of free and fun things to do with kids in Raleigh! Enjoy the outdoors at Umstead State Park, climb the walls at Greystone Recreation Center, or spend a day playing at Marbles Museum.

We hope you enjoy spending time as a family in Raleigh, whether you explore the outdoors or have a fun go-kart competition!

If you’re based in the area or visit our Capital City often, we’d love to know about your favorite things to do with kids in Raleigh. Let us know here in the comments section and keep the conversation going!

More Things to Do in Raleigh

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