25+ Things to Do in Raleigh With Kids: Triangle Family Fun

Amy Hartle

This entire site was created to share the best family fun in Raleigh and throughout the Triangle, but what about when you want just a simple list of the top things to do in Raleigh with kids?

Friend, you’ve found it! I’ve put together this guide to the all the best kid-friendly fun in the region. I’ve started off with the most popular family activities in Raleigh NC. These are the things I’d recommend to a family visiting the Triangle on a vacation; the bucket list items not to be missed.

I’ve included the top things to do with kids in Cary, Durham, Apex, and other nearby cities, too. While these towns may eventually have their own guides, everything is so close together here, it made sense to include them in this family fun guide.

Finally, I offer a brief overview of some of the other things to do with kids in Raleigh and the Triangle. These are classes, camps, and other activities that go beyond a single visit. These are definitely geared towards local families, and you can find links to further details on all of these things on the site.

Without further ado, let’s find you something fun to do around Raleigh today!

Things to Do in Raleigh With Kids: Best Family Activities in the Triangle

Pullen Park

A picturesque scene at one of the family attractions in Raleigh NC, featuring life-sized giraffe sculptures towering over a vibrant bed of white tulips. Leafless trees and a traditional building provide a contrasting backdrop to this playful outdoor display.

Without a doubt, Pullen Park is one of the number one Raleigh attractions for family. Opened in 1887, Pullen Park is the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the United States (and 16th in the world!) It definitely has the most charming Victorian vibes, starting right from the metal sign heralding the entrance.

While there are lots of things to do at Pullen Park, the most popular attractions for families tend to be the train, the carousel, and–in summer–the pedal boats.

This is something I would recommend you not miss when visiting Raleigh with kids.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

This is a go-to kid-friendly activity in Raleigh. Who doesn’t love giant dinosaurs? And did I mention it is free?

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the Southeast’s largest natural history museum and offers 4 floors of exhibits, including an aquarium, a butterfly room, a collection of gigantic whale skeletons, and a whole lot more. You could easily spend the day exploring here.

Looking to save some $$? Check out more free things to do in the Triangle with kids!

Marbles Kids Museum

A young child is captivated by a colorful ocean-themed mural and an aquarium at a children's play area, illustrating one of the engaging things to do in Raleigh NC with kids. The mural depicts an underwater scene with a friendly octopus, fish, and a dolphin, creating a delightful and educational environment.

Another top choice for family fun in Raleigh NC is Marbles Kids Museum. You can’t go wrong with a museum designed specifically for kids! Located in downtown Raleigh, this is a multi-story museum offering more than a dozen exhibits. From imaginative play in a child-sized town, to interactive exhibits on electricity and nature, there’s so much to do here.

Save money (and make sure you can go) by reserving your Marbles tickets in advance! They often fill up quickly, especially on weekends.

🧡 Looking for more fun things to do with littles in the Triangle? Check out our entire list of Raleigh area toddler activities!

The JC Raulston Arboretum

A nationally acclaimed botanic garden, the JC Raulston Arboretum is part of North Carolina State University. The arboretum is open to the public daily and is free! It’s a lovely place to walk and relax, especially in the warmer months when the 5000+ plants are at their best. The arboretum also offers some engaging ideas to bring the space alive for kids, such as their winter Yeti scavenger hunt.

Have an indoor adventure

A modern indoor playroom designed for family fun in the Triangle area, featuring geometrically shaped wooden climbers, slides, and a play kitchen set against a minimalistic wall with abstract tree decals. The neutral tones and clean design invite imaginative play in a safe and welcoming environment

Whether it’s a rainy day, a hot day, or you’re just looking for something new, it’s always a good day to check out one of the indoor playgrounds or fun parks in Raleigh. There are loads of indoor play places in the Triangle, with spots catering to toddlers up to teens and adults.

Older kids tend to love the indoor trampoline parks like Urban Air, Defy, and Big Air, but the classic adventure parks are awesome too. Places like Galaxy Fun Park and Frankie’s have go-karting, mini-golf, arcades, and truly everything you could want for indoor fun in Raleigh.

Umstead State Park

A lovely outdoor space to explore in the greater Raleigh area is Umstead State Park. This sprawling state park offers a bit of wilderness between the urban areas of Raleigh, Durham, and Cary. If you’re in search of things for kids to do in Raleigh NC, hit up one of the dozen trails snaking through Umstead. The 0.6 mile Oak Rock Trail ( a loop trail) is one of the most popular trails to do with kids, as it is short, shady, and has some interesting features.

Dorothea Dix Park

Dorothea Dix Park is one of the best Raleigh, North Carolina attractions for families who want to have a fun day outdoors. With a great view of the Raleigh skyline, this sprawling park is a great place to spend a pleasant afternoon.

Dorothea Dix isn’t just an outdoor playland, either. There are great free classes and programs available in their All Faiths Chapel.

The park is open year round, but I think summer is when Dorothea Dix Park shines its brightest, with fields and fields of happy yellow sunflowers in bloom. In fact, it’s one of the activities on our summer bucket list. These beauties bloom in July, and families from all over the Triangle (and beyond) come to see them. It’s a great spot for family photos, too, and you’ll see lots of photographers snapping shots.

Visit an epic Raleigh playground, such as Sassafras All Children’s Playground

Sassafras is one of the most beloved playgrounds for kids in the Triangle area. It was designed specifically to cater to the abilities of all children, and is even wheelchair accessible. It’s a very large playground, so your kids are likely to love it, but you may have to run around alongside younger children to keep an eye on them! Be sure to check out the two 50-foot ziplines!

North Carolina Museum of Art

While an art museum might not seem like the most natural fit on a list of fun places in Raleigh for kids, the North Carolina Museum of Art proves us wrong. With its Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, kids can enjoy really awesome outdoor art installations, as well as walk on miles of trails. The NCMA has many resources on their website that make these trails and exhibits extra engaging for children, such as a scavenger hunt you can tackle as a family, or the audio-enhanced All-Access Eco Trail.

As for the indoor art, the museum offers a family-friendly tour geared towards children ages 5-11 that is worth checking out!

PS: Visiting NCMA is free!

North Carolina Museum of History

Located in downtown Raleigh, this museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian and welcomes nearly half a million visitors each year. Like the art museum, the North Carolina Museum of History is also free to visit, which makes it such an amazing resource in our community.

The range of exhibits on display here makes it fairly certain your kid will find something that interests them. “The Story of North Carolina” is one such exhibit, where visitors can see “more than 14,000 years of the state’s history unfold through fascinating artifacts, multimedia presentations, dioramas, and hands-on interactive components.” The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame is also houses within this museum, featuring iconic NC sports heroes.

Note: Due to upcoming renovations, the first-floor exhibits and physical museum building will close on October 7, 2024.

Attend one of Raleigh’s top family events, like the North Carolina State Fair

We feel so lucky to live in an area with an events calendar that is bursting full of fun! There are SO MANY great Raleigh family events to experience, so no matter when you’re visiting (or if you live here) there’s guaranteed to be something awesome to do.

One of those Raleigh bucket list events would be the North Carolina State Fair. This annual event, typically occurring in October, is classic fair fun, with rides, entertainment, and of course an endless array of fair food!

Things to Do with Kids Around the NC Triangle

While Raleigh is at the center of this site (and the state, since it’s our capital!) there’s so much more to the Triangle. This list of fun things to do in Raleigh with kids would not truly be comprehensive to the area if we don’t go beyond Raleigh. In this section, we’re looking at the best family-friendly activities that go outside of Raleigh city limits.

Museum of Life + Science

A visitor walks towards an 'Explore the Wild' sign over a wooden bridge, suggesting an interactive and educational activity among the things to do with family in Raleigh. The surrounding bare trees and clear skies offer a sense of adventure and exploration in a natural setting.

One of our favorite things to do with kids in NC is right here in the Triangle in Durham: the Museum of Life + Science. This is a fantastic museum, with tons to do both indoors and out. From exhibits on space to a barnyard full of animals, from a black bear habitat to a tropical butterfly garden, this is one place you could easily spend a full day. And kids especially love riding on the train that takes you on a loop around the property (even past some dinosaurs) so don’t miss it.

Looking for things to do on the Triangle on a rainy day? This museum is a great choice, as aside from their indoor educational exhibits there is also a fun play space where kids 5 and under can run, build, and discover.

🐦Check out our full article on our tips and experience at the Museum of Life + Science!

Stroll around Downtown Cary

Cary is a town in the Triangle that is growing exponentially. There are many great things to do in Cary with kids, but one of the simplest is exploring the charming downtown. There are lots of shops to visit, plus the newly opened Downtown Cary Park, a gorgeous outdoor space with a playground, walking paths, and a lake.

Play at Pleasant Park in Apex

a colorful outdoor playground showcasing kid things to do in raleigh nc

Another new and thrilling playground in the Triangle area is Pleasant Park in Apex. This is truly one of the best playgrounds I’ve ever been to. Spreading over 92 acres, the park offers leisure of all kinds, including tennis, basketball, and pickleball courts. But for kiddos, the Enchanted Forest playground with its multiple play areas is the true attraction. The main event? A super tall green slide kids will love to fly down again and again.

In spring 2024, a new splash pad will also be opening at Pleasant Park, making this the perfect destination for a hot North Carolina day!

RDU Observation Park

A perhaps unexpected addition to this list of kid friendly things to do in Raleigh is something of a hidden gem. For plane-loving kids, you definitely need to check out RDU Observation Park

Located at the RDU airport, not too far from air traffic control, is this modest platform and park space where you can watch planes taking off from RDU’s 10,000 ft runway. There are also speakers on the platform where you can hear pilot-tower communications!

Bond Park

Fred G. Bond Metro Park, located in Cary, is one of the largest municipal parks in all of Wake County. A 310-acre oasis, this park is bursting with things to do. The focal point is the serene lake at the center. From April to October, the Bond Park Boathouse offers food trucks, live music, and after-hours boat rentals on Bond Lake. This event, called Bands, Bites, and Boats, is held on the first Friday of the month.

At other times, you can enjoy the park’s many offerings including Lazy Daze Playground, walking trails, and a Challenge Course.

Take an awesome day trip

A toddler in a stroller is engrossed by the serene underwater view of fish swimming in a large aquarium, a peaceful and educational experience for family day trips from Raleigh, North Carolina. The blue hues of the water and the tranquility of the marine life create a calming atmosphere for visitors of all ages.

There are countless North Carolina attractions for families across this state. From the coast to the mountains, there’s enough to fill your bucket list for years. Lucky for us living in the Triangle, we’re in a perfect central location to reach the beach or the mountains in just a couple of hours. That makes the Raleigh area the ideal home base for day trips.

If you’re keen to escape the Triangle for the day, hop in the car and head to one of the amazing day trip destinations. Some of our favorite family day trips from Raleigh include the NC Zoo in Asheboro, the Greensboro Science Center, or a quick beach trip.