If you’re new to town, you might not know where to start looking for kid-friendly things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina. That’s not because there’s a dearth of family activities, though. To the contrary, the city and its surrounding area boast a glut of fun for children and parents alike. Check out the guide we’ve created if you’re brainstorming ways to get the kids out of the house.
Parks and Outdoor Fun
Ask any local parent how he inspires his kids to put down the tablet and head outside, and chances are he’ll point you to Pullen Park. Don’t let its name fool you; the park is much more than a collection of walking paths and a playground (though both of those features are present, too).
Pullen Park’s Gustave A. Dentzel Carousel is nothing short of opulent—unsurprising since it was built in 1911, an era when carousels were in their heyday. After a spin on the carousel, take your family on the mini train, to the kiddie boats, or to the indoor swimming pool for a dip. However, if your clan just wants to go for a hike or try fishing, 5,579-acre William B. Umstead State Park might be a more appropriate option.
Nearby at Frankie’s Fun Park, families face off in some friendly competition atop the sprawling mini golf course. Go karts, arcade games, and even a few amusement park rides round out the slate of activities at Frankie’s. If you’re willing to venture beyond city limits, however, Durham holds an entirely different type of entertainment: up-close encounters with lemurs. The gentle, furry critters live at Duke University Lemur Center, about a 30-minute drive from Raleigh, and you can tour their habitat with a reservation.
If weather restricts you to the indoors, don’t fret. The city still has plenty of entertainment to keep your family content. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences might be one of the most popular rainy day activities in Raleigh. Children and parents can both learn something new about nature and wildlife at the museum, which features three floors of exhibits dedicated to the state’s different climates—including some live critters—as well as the interactive Nature Research Center.
The Marbles Kids Museum may be a better bet if your little ones are younger, given that it emphasizes the art of play. Let them learn how to grocery shop in a kid-sized supermarket in the Around Town exhibit, or watch them sculpt and create at the Arts Loft.
If you’re having trouble getting the kids on board with a museum visit, check out a more traditional family fun center instead. The Alley, for instance, offers old-school bowling to guests. Its 24 glossy lanes are actually the original hardwood. Parents will likely enjoy this option because The Alley also boasts a bar and flat-screen TVs showing sporting events. Monkey Joe’s, on the other hand, doesn’t have the bar—but it does keep kids active, even on a rainy day. Bring them here to jump around in fun, colorful inflatables when you aren’t able to explore the outdoors.