10 Free Kid-Friendly Destinations and Activities in the Triangle


Published:

Courtesy Eric Knisley/North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The Triangle is full of things for families to do. Try these 10 free activities when the day is long and the dollars short.

1. Spring and Summer Outdoor Concert Series
Enjoy free live music in Triangle towns all summer. Try the Midtown Music Beach Series on the Commons at North Hills in Raleigh, summer concerts at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Fridays on the Front Porch series at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, the Sertoma Series at Bond Metro Park in Cary, the Find Your Cool Concert Series at CCB Plaza in downtown Durham and several others.

Summer concerts at the N.C. Museum of Art makes our list of 10 free kid-friendly destinations in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Art

 

2. Triangle Lakes
• Jordan Lake
280 State Park Rd., Apex
919-362-0586
• Falls Lake State Recreation Area
13304 Creedmoor Rd., Wake Forest
919-676-1027
ncparks.com
The Triangle is home to two large lakes: Jordan Lake west of Apex and Falls Lake north of Raleigh. Operated by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, enjoy a day, weekend or more of camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking at either location.

Jordan Lake makes our list of 10 free kid-friendly destinations in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

Photo of jordan lake courtesy of the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation

 

3. Public Libraries
• State Library of North Carolina: statelibrary.ncdcr.gov
• Durham County: durhamcountylibrary.org
• Orange County: co.orange.nc.us/library
• Wake County: wakegov.com/libraries
• Town of Chapel Hill Public Library: chapelhillpubliclibrary.org
From storytimes and puppet shows for preschoolers to writing and LEGO workshops for elementary school-aged kids, public libraries offer a variety of free programs for families. Many also offer book clubs and SAT practice sessions for teens.

Public libraries make our list of 10 free kid-friendly destinations in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

Photo courtesy of North Carolina State Library

 

4. Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St., Durham
919-684-3698
hr.duke.edu/dukegardens
Experience 55 acres of what has been called "the crown jewel of Duke University." Enjoy 5 miles of allées, walks and pathways through the gardens. Kids will enjoy walking across the zigzag bridge and playing on the grass beside the large garden pond. A new organic food garden opened in 2012.

Duke gardens makes our list of 10 free kid-friendly destinations in the Triangle.

Photo of duke gardens courtesy of Ying/Shutterstock.com

 

5. RDU Observation Park
2400 W. Terminal Blvd., Morrisville
919-840-2123
rdu.com/travelinfo/obpark.html
Visit the RDU Observation Park to watch planes land and take off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport's 10,000-foot runway. Listen to piped-in pilot-tower communications from the nearby Air Traffic Control Center, check out the play area, and take a picnic or dine at Crosswinds Café in the General Aviation Terminal. You can even host birthday parties at the RDU Observation Park.

The observation deck at RDU International Airport is one of our 10 free kid-friendly destinations in the Triangle.

Photo courtesy of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority

 

6. Greystone Recreation Center
7713-55 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh
919-996-4848
raleighnc.gov  
Designed for ages 5-12, this free indoor playground offers a climbing structure and 8-foot traverse rock-climbing wall that makes for a great rainy day destination. The center's rubber surface ensures safe landings.

Photo courtesy of tje City of Raleigh

 

7. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St., Raleigh
919-707-9800
naturalsciences.org
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences was the No. 1 “Most Visited” site in North Carolina during 2015 with 985,905 visitors, according to Carolina Publishing Associates. The museum offers free access to natural sciences exhibits, programs and special events, as well as the Nature Research Center with the SECU Daily Planet, a three-story multimedia center. Leave time to head across the mall to the North Carolina Museum of History, which is also free.

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

 

8. Pullen Park
520 Ashe Ave., Raleigh
919-996-6468
raleighnc.gov
Kids can hop on the miniature train, ride a 1911 carousel (listed in the National Register of Historic Places), cruise around a small pond in kiddie boats or rent pedal boats to power on Lake Howell. The playground centers around themes of history, art and nature, and includes four age-appropriate sections.

Photo courtesy of Pullen Park

 

9. Raleigh Flea Market at N.C. State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh
919-899-3532
raleighfleamarket.net
Ranked by CNN as one of America's top flea markets, the Raleigh Flea Market features more than 600 indoor and outdoor vendors. Browse antiques, jewelry, furniture, produce and more in this outdoor, family-friendly atmosphere.

Photo courtesy of Anastasia Petrova/Shutterstock.com

 

10. State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St., Raleigh
919-733-7417
ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/raleigh
Enjoy fresh flowers, plants, produce and specialty items from North Carolina farmers in the 30,000-square-foot Farmers Building or browse market shops in the 15,600-square-foot Market Shoppes building. Dine at one of three restaurants: Market Grill, the State Farmers Market Restaurant and N.C. Seafood.

The North Carolina State Farmers Market makes our list of free things to do with kids in the Triangle.

Photo courtesy of Candus Camera/Shutterstock.com

 

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Carrboro Cybrary
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
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Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
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Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: Free

Where:
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1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: See website for fees

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Downtown Raleigh
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Marti Kane
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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More information

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Where:
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Raleigh, NC  27607
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Cost: $5/person

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405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

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Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers (ages 3-5 accompanied by an adult) meet a real turtle and hike to see others.  Play turtle games and bring home a rock 'turtle' in a terrarium you design. Preregister online using...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Marti Kane
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 E. Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC  27502
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Website »

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Cost: Free

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Cost: Free

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760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: $35/resident, $45/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $7/nonmember. Free for members and ages 6 and younger.

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

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