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

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Entertaining Exhibits in Raleigh and Chapel Hill

Head to Triangle-area museums to learn about North Carolina's governors and view winning photographs from the 12th Annual "Wildlife in North Carolina" magazine photo competition, as well as clothing and mementos from the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Pageant.

What You Need to Know About This Summer’s Solar Eclipse

A compilation of events and viewing parties occurring within the path of totality.

The Acclaimed World of Sports: How Can Athletics Benefit Your Teen?

Athletics is something I have seen teach necessary life values/lessons and, most importantly, is just plain fun.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

June 2017

Bee populations are in decline in North America. Learn how to attract pollinators to your very own pollinator hotel. Discover why pollinator hotels are important and how to create pollinator...

Cost: $30 (Tuition + Materials)

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 191-921-31278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
Website »

More information

Watch a brief slideshow and explore the inner workings of the mill. All ages. Online registration encouraged.

Cost: $5/adult, $3 ages 7-16. Free for ages 6 and younger

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

he Durham Bulls host a Touch A Truck event in conjunction with local public safety agencies. The event will precede the team’s game that evening at 5:05 p.m. Blackwell Street,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Blackwell St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children with disabilities discover what's happening in nature on a stroll through Hemlock Bluffs. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #104850.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take the family for a drop-in creative workshop for kids ages 5-10. Free with admission.

Cost: Free with admission. Free for ages 15 and younger

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn how to help your baby excel in motor development. This class focuses on standing/walking and offers a variety of ways to help your baby master motor development. Register online.

Cost: $15

Where:
Baby + Co
226 Ashville Ave.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Ages 5-12 learn about healthy fruits and vegetables, kitchen and food safety, and enjoy a healthy snack. Meet in the bakery side of the cafe. Email sherry.thrasher@wholefoods.com to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods North Raleigh
8710 Six Forks Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Telephone: 919-354-0350
Contact Name: Sherry Thrasher

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ages 3-6 enjoy fun games and drills. Call to RSVP.  

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Fitness4Life
6701 Glenwood Ave.
Suite 103
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Fitness4Life
Telephone: 919-787-2250
Contact Name: George Whitten
Website »

More information

Learn about rocks and soil by digging in the dirt. Find hidden rock treasures, make a mud painting, and plant a seed to take home and grow. Dress to get dirty. Ages 3-5 with an accompanying adult....

Cost: $5

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


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

More information

Join others for an easy-paced walk along the greenway accompanied by a naturalist. Registration encouraged. Choose course #203541.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Listen to nature-themed books and enjoy hands-on explorations in the garden. Ages 3-5 with caregiver. Register online.

Cost: $3/child

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolia Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3370
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Ages 6-8 investigate the habitats and behaviors of some of the mammals that call the nature preserve “home.”  Dressed for outdoor fun.  Register online....

Cost: $5

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


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

More information

Parents of children ages 3-18 months learn how to prepare quick and easy meals for their little one, learn about weaning and when to transition into the next nutritional step....

Cost: Free

Where:
Guidepost Montessori at Spruce Tree
12600 Spruce Tree Way
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: Guidepost Montessori at Spruce Tree
Telephone: (919) 825-1771
Contact Name: Holly Vincitorio
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Attend a private pop-up event with Songs for Seeds at SnickerDoodles. Enjoy a concert plus 30-minutes of private use of play space for all attendees. Ages infant-6. Call to...

Cost: $15 per child and $10 for each additional sibling

Where:
SnickerDoodles
3721 Lynn Road, #112
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Sponsor: songs for seeds
Telephone: 984.219.2022
Website »

More information

Learn about beetles with a craft, games, stories and a guided walk through the wetland. Ages 2-6. Register online. Choose course #203552. 

Cost: $3

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson St.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Hear the Grammy-winning band based in the North Carolina mountains take to the stage with the North Carolina Symphony.  Purchase tickets online. Kids 12 and younger admitted free on...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ Meet at the Waterwise Garden.

Cost: Free

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


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

More information

The 38th Annual Festival for the Eno features over 65 music performances, a juried craft show, interactive arts, environmental and backyard farming demonstrations, a wide variety of local food...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
West Point on the Eno
5101 N Roxboro Road
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Website »

More information

Summerfest Celebration features an autograph session, inflatables, games, free giveaways, guest speakers from the Hurricanes, appearances by Stormy and the Pepsi Storm Squad, discounted...

Cost: Free

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy storytime with a community farm member, a book swap via Little Free Library, and free play in a natural playground.   

Cost: Free

Where:
The Community Farm at Camp Chestnut Ridge
2902 Mount Willing Rd.
Efland, NC  27243
View map »


Contact Name: Sandy Straw
Website »

More information

Celebrate the wonderful world of exotic animals and reptiles. Enjoy live specimens, presentations, raffles, vendors and much more. Purchase tickets online.  

Cost: $12 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 5-12.

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Kerr Scott Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

In this new book from acclaimed author Ryan T. Higgins, all Rupert the Mouse wants is to star in a beautiful, wordless picture book. He has plenty of ideas about what makes a great book, but his...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble Cary
760 S.E. Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Telephone: 919-467-3866
Website »

More information

American Dance Festival favorite Pilobolus returns. "On the Nature of Things" explores the birth of desire and its intertwined connection to shame and revenge....

Cost: $16/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian Street
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: American Dance Festival
Telephone: 919-684-6402
Contact Name: Mollie O'Reilly
Website »

More information

Explore the historic nature of Leigh Farm Park with a friendly guide. Venture inside the historic farmhouse while being captivated by tales about life at Leigh Farm throughout the years.

Cost: Free

Where:
Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-1116
Contact Name: Natalya Buckel
Website »

More information

Hear the music of U2 performed by the North Carolina Symphony. Purchase tickets online. Kids 12 and younger admitted free on the lawn. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Booth Amphitheatre
8003 Regency Pkwy.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2016-17 Education Guide offers 643 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.