Things To Do in Raleigh With Kids

by Erica Landis
Originally Published: 
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Raleigh, North Carolina, will leave your family energized after a visit to this capital city. There are fun family activities to do year-round. Check out these top things to do in Raleigh with kids, start filling the Igloo with juice pouches, and gas up the car. You can practice your best Southern Belle drawl in the mirror first. Mint Julep optional.

Indoor Attractions With Kids

Raleigh has been nicknamed the Smithsonian of The South because of its top notch museums for families.

In Raleigh, you’ll find museums kids will love. Start at The Marbles Kids Museum where you’ll be shouting with your kids instead of at them. With dozens of hands-on, family fun exhibits located indoors and outdoors, your kids will be busy. “Learning through play” is the foundation of this really impressive museum. Spend at least two hours here. Check their events page before you go and try to pass by before bedtime to see the wall that wraps around the museum. Filled with more than one million marbles, it’s lit up at night.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has a living conservatory on the fourth floor with a resident two-toed sloth. I don’t think I need to say anything else. Don’t miss this Smithsonian-quality museum with the kids right in downtown Raleigh.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is like two museums in one. Indoors you’ll find gorgeous galleries of permanent and changing exhibitions. Don’t miss the extensive Rodin collection. Kids love to imitate sculptures and it makes for some silly photo ops as well.

But outside in The Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is where the family fun begins. Show this cool slideshow to your kids. Your kids will be racing you to the car to go see these interactive sculptures all throughout the park. No time to even shout Shotgun! There’s also bike trails and paths to really make a family fun day of it amongst the art and nature.

The North Carolina Museum of History is an official Smithsonian affiliated museum. The exhibits show how North Carolina’s history and people play into so many national milestones. From The Space Race to the post-slavery Reconstruction period, your family will learn so much. Expect some lively conversations on the trip back home. At least better conversations than fighting over who ate the last of the Pirate’s Booty.

Attractions in Raleigh for Kids

Did your kid just tell you his brain was tired after all those educational museums? Well, put on your yoga pants and take the kids to Galaxy Fun Park where the whole family can indulge in insanely fun attractions like a trampoline park, mini-golf, indoor go-karts, a rope course, and of course, nothing says ruthless family fun time like laser tag in the dark.

The Go Ape Treetop Adventure is the perfect place to take your monkeys, large or small. While there are age and size restrictions, this outdoor adventure experience of climbing, ziplines, and obstacles under a cool forest canopy will give you some active family bonding time. This is awesome family fun on your visit to Raleigh. It’s as close to actually becoming a family of monkeys as you can get, without the poop-throwing.

Are you a horse-loving family? Or just an animal loving bunch of softees? Then a visit to Dead Broke Farm is a must-do in Raleigh with the family. Dead Broke farm is a unique horse farm and rescue. They offer all levels of scenic trail rides on the 10-mile wooded farm. Support their rescue work while you’re there. A piggy bank donation from your little equestrian would be a sweet gesture.

Woodsy, hiking families want to visit the Neuse River Greenway Trail, with 27.5 miles of paved trails with pretty views of the Neuse River. The boardwalked areas through the wetlands and agricultural fields make this an easily accessible family outdoor adventure.

Check out the junior park at Tree Runner Adventure Park. With seven different routes to take on the zip lines and rope courses, this could turn into quite the competitive family activity. The junior course will let kids from four to seven years old join in on the family fun.

Best Restaurants in Raleigh for Kids

Big Ed’s Restaurant proclaims “southern cookin’ at its best” and many locals and tourists agree. Big portions and reasonably-priced, their breakfast all day is a beautiful thing. And if you’ve got the kind of kid who likes to lay down on the floor because he’s starving to death, the cool stuff hanging from the ceiling of the restaurant will give him something to look at while he waits for his waffles.

So we’re all adults here, right? Many of us enjoy a cocktail or three to take the edge off the trying days of parenting and life. Keeping that in mind, visit Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar. They call themselves new southern cuisine with a focus on serving local. Tons of mac-n-cheese options, and a kid-friendly menu make this a foodie and family-friendly restaurant choice. Oh, and the bourbon menu. Sip it slowly and watch your children become even more beautiful than they already are. They even have a gift shop filled with pieces from local artists. Like Cracker Barrel, but better. Is that even possible?

Some of my favorite childhood memories involved eating at a buffet. Yes, seriously. Family meals at Sizzler or Golden Corral were the best way to get everyone to shut up for awhile. Everyone got to eat what they wanted with no torturous waiting. Make some family memories. Take your hungry family to D&S Cafeteria for good home cooked food and excellent family friendly service.

Ready for ice cream? Let’s not mince words. Take your family to a place simply called FRESH. Local Ice Cream. With classic and unique flavors made right in the store using cream from hormone-free cows and local dairies, sugar your family up here for sure.

Where To Stay With Kids In Raleigh

Despite the small town feel, Raleigh is quite the bustling city as well. That said, you’ve got plenty of affordable family-friendly options for a kid-friendly hotel stay.

Book a three-star junior suite to minimize sibling brawls at The Doubletree. Fresh chocolate chip cookies upon check-in will make you feel downright royal.

Go for four stars at Four Points by Sheraton with an outdoor pool, 24 hour fitness center, and free Wi-Fi.

Got your beloved Rover with you on this trip? Stay at the La Quinta Inn & Suites. This family-friendly and pet-friendly hotel has an outdoor pool and located minutes away from Raleigh family attractions.

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