Located in the heart of our state and a short 2 1/12 hour drive from Charlotte, Raleigh is a fascinating place to visit. North Carolina’s Capitol City is brimming with family attractions that are both fun and educational. As a bonus, families will find it a budget-friendly destination. Check out the following free or low-cost attractions, and then find a day or weekend to experience this great city. My girls and I spent a couple of days in Raleigh and here’s what we liked best.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Never miss a local story.
This incredible admission-free museum is the largest natural sciences museum in the Southeast. Your family can enjoy exhibitions about the natural world, watch 3D movies, and interact with live animals. Through September 7 a special exhibition, Can You Survive an American Adventure, takes your family through the harsh realities of colonial America in 1607. Only 38 of the 104 English colonists survived! By carrying your own Life Chart, visitors can track health points at over two dozen challenges including a zip line and climbing wall. Only $5 per person to experience this fascinating exhibition. Also, 3D movies are an additional cost.
What a truly special park - it looks to be straight out of a fairy tale! Founded in 1880, this city park is one of the nation’s first public parks and has something for every age group. The centerpiece is the original 1911 carousel, which is still operational and has 52 hand-carved animals to ride on. In addition to various playground equipment, visitors can jump on a miniature train that takes you through a tunnel and around the park, explore a Red Caboose, and ride on a paddleboat around a large pond. There are nominal charges for rides and concessions.
Marbles Kids Museum
Looking for a place to entertain your kids and help them burn off some energy? Look no further than Marbles Kids Museum. It’s a fabulous place to spend a few hours. This active play-based learning museum has been a local family favorite destination. Crowd-pleasing exhibits include Around Town, Moneypalooza, Splash, and Power Play. Exhibits are designed primarily for children 10 and under, but my 12-year-old daughter had a blast! This non-profit museum is a very affordable outing, only $5 per person.
North Carolina Museum of Art
At this free admission art museum, you can view European and American Old Master painting collections, Ancient African and Egyptian artifacts, and plenty of contemporary art. A large sculpture collection of Auguste Rodin can be found in a perfect setting, an outdoor garden. It’s a fabulous place for your family to slow down and reflect. I think it’s the perfect size museum for a family plus there is a variety of art for everyone’s interest. My girls thoroughly enjoyed walking around and looking at the beautiful works of art.
Mordecai Historic Park
Built in 1785, Mordecai Historic Park is the site of Raleigh’s oldest house, which remains in its original location. On the three-and-a-half acres, visitors can tour this historic home along with an overseer’s office, law office, chapel, and the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson. Your family will learn about the five generations of the same family who lived here and history of the early days of Raleigh. My family found this place to be educational yet not so time-consuming and overwhelming – just the right amount of historical education. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youth for a 50-minute tour that starts at the top of the hour.
For more, go to visitraleigh.com.
Images courtesy of Sara Kendall and Visit Raleigh
Sara Kendall has traveled halfway across the globe with her kids and lived to tell about it. Stay tuned to hear about family destinations around Charlotte and beyond. Check out more of Sara’s travel at her website www.latitudecrossing.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.