If you are looking for fun things to do in Raleigh with kids, and searching on your phone for kid-friendly activities near me, look no further we’ve got you covered!
We get asked the question often, is Raleigh good for families? As parents with two daughters currently aged 10 and 14 who first moved to Raleigh back in 2004, we think so.
We’ve experienced a lot of fun family activities in the City of Oaks and whether you visit Raleigh for the weekend, or decide to live in Raleigh like we do, there’s something here for kids of all ages. We even recorded a podcast episode on the topic of things to do with kids in Raleigh.
Down below we share our personal suggestions for family fun broken into select categories. Let’s dive in and create some memorable family moments.
- Amusement Parks
- Kid-Friendly Trails
- Lakes & Parks
- Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Raleigh
- Ice Cream & Frozen Treats
- Cupcakes & Sweet Treats
- Kid-Friendly Breweries & Bars
- Trampoline Parks
- Escape Rooms
- Adventure & Adrenaline
- Arcades & Bowling
- Movie Cinemas
- Festivals & Events
- Sporting Events
- Fall Fun
- Christmas in Raleigh
Whilst we don’t have big fun parks in Raleigh in the sense that Orlando does, check out these amusement parks below for family fun in Raleigh.
Historic Pullen Park dates back to 1887 and it’s probably the most popular of things to do in Raleigh for families. Perfect for younger kids, you can ride the historic carousel and iconic miniature train, take paddle boats out on the lake, and let your kids run wild at the playgrounds and have a picnic.
Frankie’s Fun Park
Sadly, my kids would say, Raleigh doesn’t have Busch Gardens or Six Flags or a big sprawling theme park like Carowinds in Charlotte (2.5 hrs away), but it does have Frankie’s Fun Park.
Here you’ll be entertained with Go-karts, laser tag, batting cages, bumper boats, flight simulators, mini-golf, arcade games and much more. No admission price, you pay per activity.
Fun for kids and adults of all ages with attractions like Go Karts, Miniature Golf, Laser Tag, Gaming Arcade, Batting Cages. Popular for groups and birthday parties. Various admission passes are on offer.
Galaxy Fun Park
Tons of indoor entertainment including a trampoline park, ropes course, laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, and soft play area. Closed toe shoes are required in all areas.
xTreme Park Adventures
Outdoor and indoor attractions including a simulated city for paintball, laser tag & airsoft combat games. Plus zip line, ropes course, rock climbing, an escape room and ATVs.
Because of the quality and the amount of free museums in Raleigh, it has often been referred to as the “Smithsonian of the South”. Many of them are free and kid-friendly.
Museum of Natural Sciences
When you visit Raleigh with kids, this museum is not to be missed, it’s one of the top Raleigh attractions. In fact, it’s the Southeast’s largest natural history museum and North Carolina’s most visited museum with over 4 floors of exhibits including live animals, education and research centers, dinosaur and whale skeletons, and so much more.
Video: Museum of Natural Sciences
Marbles Kids Museum
Looking for things to do in Raleigh with toddlers? Consider Marbles as one of the best things to do with kids in Raleigh up to the age of 12. There’s two levels of kid-focused museum activities with dozens of hands-on exhibits and the state’s only 3D-capable IMAX theater.
North Carolina Museum of Art
One of the most popular Raleigh attractions, and admission to the Museum’s permanent collection and Museum Park is free.
Don’t miss taking a stroll through the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, the 164-acre park and trail system through natural areas that features more than a dozen commissioned works of art.
North Carolina Museum of History
Founded in 1902, it welcomes 80,000+ school groups a year and on display is more than 14,000 years and 150,000 artifacts of North Carolina history. Free admission. Charge for some special exhibits.
- Address: 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh
- Website: ncmuseumofhistory.org
North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
If your kids are sports fans, Raleigh is home to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame museum located on the third floor of the NC Museum of History. Take a self-guided tour and see displays from football, basketball, baseball, athletics, golf, motor racing, Olympics sports and more.
VIDEO: NC Sports Hall of Fame
Sal’s Branch Trail (Umstead State Park)
When you visit Raleigh NC, don’t miss William B. Umstead State Park, and the 2.8 mile Sal’s Branch Trail is probably the most popular of the Umstead trails and perfect for kids!
Lake Johnson Loop Trail
Walking the 3-mile Lake Johnson loop trail is one of our absolute favorite things to do in Raleigh with kids (or without). The trail is fully paved, there’s plenty of shaded spots in the warmer months, and nice colors in the Fall.
Read our review: Why Lake Johnson is our favorite lake
Lake Lynn Trail
This 2.6 mile paved loop trail is another of our favorite family trails in Raleigh. There’s a nice boardwalk over parts of the lake, and mostly flat with a few small inclines.
Shelley Lake Trail
An easy 2-mile paved scenic greenway trail loops around Shelley Lake and is popular with locals in North Raleigh.
Read our review: Shelley Lake Park loop trail.
Bike the Art to Heart Trail
We love biking the 6-mile Art to Heart Trail, a point-to-point trail that connects the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) to the heart of Downtown Raleigh (NOT a loop trail).
Historic Yates Mill Trails
The Yates Mill Pond Trail is a 0.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail perfect for families and all fitness levels, and is accessible year-round. Add on to this trail by doing the 1-mile Creekside Trail.
- Address: 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh
- Website: click here
Bond Lake Trail
The 2-mile Bond Park Lake Trail is another favorite of ours, and we have walked it many times with our kids. It hugs a picturesque lake, and the trail is a mix of paved and unpaved natural woodland setting.
Lake Pine Trail
Lovely 2-mile loop trail around beautiful Apex Lake. Fully-paved trail and mostly flat, plenty of shade, accessible year-round and easy for all ages. And, close to charming downtown Apex.
- Address: 1808 Lake Pine Dr, Cary
- Website: Apexnc.org
Neuse River Greenway Trail
This is a 27-mile paved trail stretching from Falls Lake in North Raleigh to the Wake County border in southeast Raleigh, but you can break it up into short sections and along the way are winding boardwalk areas, views of historical sites, and suspension bridges.
Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve
For family-friendly nature trails, Hemlock Bluffs in Cary is a good nature preserve to explore. Do the 0.8 mile Beech Tree Cove Trail, and then connect with the Chestnut Oak Loop Trail (1.2 miles), and the Swift Creek Loop Trail (0.8 miles).
VIDEOS: family-friendly Trails in Raleigh
Press play to stream through our videos showcasing the above mentioned trails. We also have this post on 12 kid-friendly trails in Raleigh with lots of information
Lakes & Parks
While we may not have a river or beautiful beaches at our doorstep, we have so much access to beautiful lakes and parks. Check out this list of 17 parks in Raleigh (and we love Lake Kerr for a camping getaway)
Dorothea Dix Park
Dix Park is the largest park in Raleigh on a whopping 300+ acres with impressive skyline views and a lovely space with wide-open fields, rolling meadows, and tree-lined streets. In the warmer months it plays host to numerous events and festivals, including the field of sunflowers each year.
VIDEO: Sunflower Fields in Raleigh
Umstead State Park
If your family loves nature trails through the forest, biking, picnicking, camping, canoeing, and horseback riding, don’t miss Umstead when you visit Raleigh with kids. This natural oasis surrounds three man-made lakes and is just 15 minutes from downtown Raleigh with access from I-40 and I-70.
Lake Johnson Nature Park
Lake Johnson is our favorite of the lakes in Raleigh, and we lived on Lake Johnson for four years. Besides the awesome 3-mile loop trail, we love getting out on the lake for stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, and pedal boats, and there’s a small beach area and picnic shelters.
VIDEO: Lake Johnson
Bond Lake Park
This lake in Cary is popular with the locals. The Boathouse has boat rentals for all ages and abilities, including pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes. a wide range of classes available including sailing, kayak and canoe lessons.
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
Jordan Lake is an outdoor recreation lovers paradise. This undeveloped, 14,000-acre reservoir offers opportunities for boating, fishing, camping, kayaking, hiking, picnicking, and swimming, Perfect for a day out, or a long-weekend getaway.
John Chavis Memorial Park
This public park spans 28 acres near Shaw University in the South Park neighborhood of downtown Raleigh and is home to an historic carousel, a playground, splash pad, gym, community center and outdoor track.
Moore Square Park
This four-acre urban green space in the heart of downtown is one of our favorite spots in Raleigh with kids. There’s a large grass area hosts many family-friendly events, plus a splash pad, a slide, a cafe, and surrounding the square is restaurants, cafes, galleries, and Marbles Kids Museum.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area
Falls Lake is a North Carolina State Park in Wake and Durham Counties. The 12,410-acre Falls Lake is the focus and offers a range of outdoor experiences including camping, boating, fishing, kayaking, hiking, picnicking
Mordecai Historic Park
Mordecai Historic Park was once the site of the largest plantation in Wake County, and now home to some of N.C.’s most extraordinary treasures, including the Mordecai House (1785) the oldest house in Raleigh on its original location, and the birthplace of 17th President Andrew Johnson. And don’t miss North Person Street.
Historic Yates Mill County Park
Hiking trails, a 24-acre pond, and the Historic Yates Mill make up this 174-acre wildlife refuge and resource center. Admission is free, but to tour the mill to learn about the “farm-to-fork” process, witness the corn grinding costs $3-$5 (March through Nov.).
Lake Raleigh Recreation Area
A hidden gem located on NC State University’s Centennial Campus, we have walked the lake trail a few times and love going stand up paddle boarding here. And it’s a nice small lake for fishing on the bank or in a kayak.
VIDEO: Lake Raleigh
Fred G. Bond Metro Park
Bond Metropolitan Park is the largest municipal park in Cary on 310 acres and offers opportunities for many types of recreation including 4.2 miles of trails, a variety of athletic fields, disc golf, a challenge course, playgrounds, boating, kayaking, picnicking and much more.
Apex Community Park
This 160 acre park centered around beautiful Apex Lake offers picnic areas, playgrounds, fitness and nature trails, athletic fields, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, plus fishing and kayaking on the lake.
Lake Crabtree County Park
Located on 215-acres adjacent to a 520-acre lake, the park has more than 16 miles of trails. Other activities include picnicking, playgrounds, catch-and-release fishing, and seasonal boating and kayaking/paddle boarding. And, it is a great spot to see the sunset.
Sassafras All Children’s Playground (Laurel Hills Park)
One of the most popular and best playgrounds in Raleigh is Sassafras, a colorful and engaging playground with different areas to play including a zip line, swings, slides, monkey bars, and things to climb on and explore. Very well maintained.
Pullen Park Playground
There are many reasons to visit Pullen Park, and their playground is a favourite of Raleigh kids. Two slides, swing sets, 6 climbing apparatus, a sand pit, and room to run around.
John Chavis Memorial Park
This recently opened new playground features rubber safety surfacing. The playground includes areas for ages 2 to 5 years and 5 to 12 years, plus adult exercise equipment, a skywalk climbing feature, and nature play elements.
Mordecai Mini Park
Slides, swings, and sand. This is a neat little park fenced in on a corner block not far from downtown. Clean and well maintained in a historic neighborhood.
- Address: 1122 N Blount St, Raleigh
Cindy Trumbower Playground at Millbrook Exchange Park
Great playground with some of the biggest slides around. Separate playgrounds based on age. Swinds, slides, basketball court, and public pool. Well kept and next to a community center for bathrooms.
- Address: 1905 Spring Forest Rd, Raleigh
Barwell Road Park
Courtesy of the Carolina Panthers, the Panther Play 60 Challenge course has different climbing structures and a synthetic turf surface. The 40-yard dash has a timer and synthetic turf surface. There is a play structure for ages 2-5 years and 5-12 years with rubberized surfaces and age-appropriate swings.
- Address: 5857 Barwell Park Dr, Raleigh
Hidden gem and quaint little park in a nice neighborhood setting. Ages 2-12, wood-chip surface. P.S the tot cart parking lot with donated toys, scooters, and bikes for the children to use is a hit.
- Address: 1500 Cherokee Drive Raleigh
NOTE: As mentioned above, there are also good playgrounds at Bond Metro Park, Apex Community Park, Lake Lynn Park, Shelley Lake Park, Lake Crabtree County Park.
P.S. These are just some of the playgrounds in Raleigh, not to mention there are plenty in Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Wake Forest etc.
Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Raleigh
We know how stressful it can be finding places to eat in Raleigh with kids. Down below are our hand-picked establishments offering kid-friendly menus, and most come with space to sit outside:
Morgan Street Food Hall
20 different food concepts showcasing local eateries housed in food stalls or free standing kiosks.
Transfer Co Food Hall
Housed in the historic Carolina Coach Garage. Take your pick from the 12 vendors inside then enjoy your meal outside on the back patio.
Big Ed’s Restaurant
Classic Southern breakfast / lunch spot in historic City Market the locals love. GIANT pancakes and “country cookin’ at its best”.
VIDEO: Big Ed’s Raleigh
One of the best burgers in Raleigh. Quintessential old Raleigh with a diverse crowd, fun atmosphere, and tasty creations. Indoor seating plus a nice outdoor covered patio.
Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery
This cafe is a real throwback to a classic diner. A classic Raleigh staple where loyal fans flock for their HUGE and delicious cakes!
State Farmers Market Restaurant
Another good old country breakfast place. Smorgasbord of choices of traditional Southern breakfast and lunch favorites – large portions at a good price. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Retro-industrial restaurant serving traditional American comfort food the locals love! Filling Southern dishes, variety of choices to suit all taste buds, and prices hard to beat for the quality.
Another old school Raleigh classic that not only offers great vegetarian food, but also meat and seafood dishes and a kids menu, something for the whole family!
Vic’s Italian Restaurant & Pizza
We love Vic’s. Local and family-owned by real Italians, serving authentic Italian cuisine and New York style pizza. Great prices in healthy portions.
Scratch made sandwiches, flatbreads, salads and awesome fries in a casual counter service environment. We love to eat outside in the beer garden attached to Lynnwood Brewing.
Sam Jones BBQ
Famous for their chopped BBQ, fried chicken and baked flat cornbread, this is one of the best BBQ joints in Raleigh. Indoor and outdoor seating. Our kids love their Mac N Cheese.
An all-day menu of Southern comfort food with a creative twist. Good kids menu. Popular brunch spot.
Dishes made from scratch with a focus on providing a place to enjoy a great meal with family and friends with a side dish of good old Southern hospitality. Nice outdoor seating.
Gringo a Go Go
Low-key Mexican cantina dishing up classic fare & vegan alternatives in funky digs with an outdoor patio.
Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen
Get among the Greek atmosphere and vibe on the lovely rooftop and enjoy lunch and dinner, or Sunday brunch. Our kids love their sticky buns and donuts.
Snoopy’s Hot dogs
Old-fashioned hot dogs, burgers and BBQ sandwiches, plus floats.
If your kids love all things pastries and baked goods, see our post on 6 of the best bakeries in Raleigh.
Ice Cream & Frozen Treats
Founded by an NC State University alum, Two Roosters was recently nominated as the best ice cream in North Carolina by Food & Wine Magazine.
Their popular handcrafted ice cream features unusual creations with seasonal and permanent flavors – often inspired by local events and restaurants.
With a 329-acre dairy farm and a nationally recognized food science program, NC State’s Howling Cow makes delicious ice cream on campus
The milk and cream come directly from over 300 NC State cows on their farm in Raleigh. It doesn’t get more local than this. They have a cool porch area too!
FRESH. Local Ice Cream
Locally owned and operated with a huge variety of 15+ signature flavors, FRESH. Local ice cream located in Cary, Apex and on Glenwood Ave are very popular with the locals.
Get your flavor of choice in a cup, homemade waffle cone, or cake cone.
Andia’s Homemade Ice Cream
One of the most popular places to get ice cream in Raleigh, Andia’s serves up award-winning ice cream and support family-owned dairy farms. On the menu are traditional classics plus unique flavors. Don’t miss their MONSTER shakes!
For a unique ice cream spot in Raleigh, put Raleigh Rolls on your list. Rolled ice cream is a concept of making fresh ice cream on a frozen surface which they encountered in Thailand.
Other popular places for ice cream or frozen treats in Raleigh include:
Read More – 7 best spots for ice cream in Raleigh
Bakers Dozen Donut Shop
Bakers Dozen is a hole-in-the-wall donut shop that’s very popular with the locals with a variety of flavors made fresh every day. People love their apple fritters. Get there early for a dozen donuts for $10.
- Address: 1307 Buck Jones Rd, Raleigh
Famous North Carolina based donut shop in Raleigh. Duck Donuts originated in Duck in the Outer Banks. As they like to say, they have a Duckzillion flavors and endless combinations to try, plus build our own orders!
In case you don’t know, Krispy Kreme was born in North Carolina, and Raleigh is home to the second original store on N Person Street and my kids still rate their doughnuts over any other in Raleigh.
Other places to get great donuts in Raleigh:
Cupcakes & Sweet Treats
The Cupcake & Bakery Shoppe
If your kids have a sweet tooth and are looking for tasty cupcakes in Raleigh, look no further than the Cupcake Shoppe Bakery in Glenwood South.
This Raleigh bakery whipps up bespoke cakes & cupcakes using fresh, local ingredients. Plus pastries and confections like cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls, muffins, brownies and scones.
Videri Chocolate Factory
Chocolates lovers rejoice. Get a behind the scenes look at the chocolate-making process from knowledgeable staff, then choose from high quality hand-made chocolate made with organic and fair trade ingredients – vegan and allergy friendly options available.
Yes, we take our kids to bars like Bittersweet that are family-friendly. This bar is a great spot for coffee, desserts and specialty cocktails. Our kids love their S’mores Sundae, Pumpkin Creme Brûlée, and Apple Doughnut Cobbler. Parents, don’t miss the Irish Coffee or Espresso Martini.
Lucettegrace is a contemporary patisserie that specializes in sweet and savory breakfast pastries, and French inspired desserts. Their macarons and dessert pastries are a hit with the locals.
Once in a Blue Moon Bakery & Cafe
Located in downtown Cary, the Once in a Blue Moon Bakery has been serving the Triangle tasty cupcakes, cookies and pastries for 20 years. They even have gluten free and vegan cupcakes. Red Velvet is a favorite!
Bestow Baked Goods
A made-from-scratch bakery in Holly Springs that specializes in cakes, cookies and pastries. Serving classics like Double Chocolate, Very Vanilla plus other amazing flavors like sweet potato and Banana Fosters cupcakes.
Other popular cupcakes shops/bakeries include:
Kid-Friendly Breweries & Bars
Yes, we enjoy an adult beverage or two, and we’re lucky to have some awesome family-friendly breweries in Raleigh.
We love their outdoor beer garden space which is good with kids and their beers are great, AND, it’s attached to Wilson’s Eatery – win, win!
Standar Beer & Food
Large outdoor space to sit and for the kids to move around. And it’s only a couple of doors down from Two Roosters Ice Cream so the kids can grab a treat whilst you drink.
Raleigh Beer Garden
Huge beer garden space down the very back of the property that we like to sit with our kids. And kid-friendly food items.
Crank Arm Brewing
Lots of kids games, including Jenga, and plenty of space on their sidewalk patio. Bonus – a couple of doors down from Videri Chocolate Factory, and excellent beers!
The Players Retreat
Sit outside on the sidewalk at one of the storied sports bars in Raleigh near NC State University. Great burgers AND kids eat free every Sunday!
Trophy Brewing & Pizza
Cozy outdoor patio area, some of the best beers in Raleigh, and they have pizza!
Another nce outdoor patio area that’s family-friendly, excellent beers, food trucks, and a short walk for the kids to FRESH Local Ice Cream in downtown Cary.
Raleigh Brewing Company
They also have an outdoor patio area, often have a food truck, and an easy walk away is a Ben & Jerry’s.
The Raleigh Times Bar
Kids menu and a great rooftop patio area upstairs. Extensive beer list and full bar.
Outdoor patio area, games for kids, and a cool red double-decker bus inside the kids can explore.
Bowstring Pizza & Brewyard
Extensive outdoor seating area. A Vic’s pizza bus on-site. Often have live music and sell local craft beers.
Full service restaurant with a kids menu, and an outdoor patio area. Variety of beers and styles.
DEFY Apex & Raleigh
Fun indoor trampoline park with various jumping and climbing equipment including a ninja obstacle course, trapeze, super tramps, foam pits, battle beams, dodgeball and angled tramps.
Launching Pad Trampoline Park
A massive main jump court with walled trampolines, 2 regulation dodge ball courts, 3 basketball dunk lanes, a large foam pit, a Jousting Pit, and Rope Ladder Pit.
Urban Air Adventure Park
Large-scale indoor trampoline center hosting open jump, spin zone bumper cars, dodgeball, sky rider coaster, ropes course, climbing wall, and tubes indoor playground.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Sky Zone is a space to move, create and be yourself with freestyle jump, sly slam, ultimate dodgeball, foam zone, sky hops, sky joost, wall climbs and much more!
One of our favorite indoor things to do with kids in Raleigh is take on the challenge of an escape room.
Game On Escapes & More
One of the newest escape room venues in the Triangle. 5 escape room games: Trapped in a Jungle, the Sorcerer’s Mistake, Rest Easy Motel and Blind Eye.
Room 5280 is a real life adventure game designed for groups of friends, families, co-workers and strangers. 4 escape rooms in the heart of downtown Raleigh.
Times Up! Escape Rooms
Escape rooms experiences for families and friends located in Cary.
Amaze Room Escapes
Family owned and operated business. 3+ escape room games to play with your family.
Adventure & Adrenaline
Raleigh moms, Raleigh dads, if you’re family likes being adventurous, check out these activities in Raleigh.
Go Ape Tree Tops
At Go Ape you can take on various tree top obstacle courses and ziplines, depending upon your age and your comfort level for adventure (and heights).
Their courses are created to deliver adventure, fun, and a sense of accomplishment and perfect for families.
VIDEO: Go Ape
TreeRunner Adventure Park Raleigh
With over 100 exciting obstacles and zip lines, five difficulty levels, seven different aerial courses, and five different Junior Park trails, there is plenty to explore, located in North Raleigh.
Indoor Rock Climbing
The Triangle Rock Club is a hit with our kids, they even went to a week-long summer. This indoor climbing center offers rope climbing, bouldering, kids programs, fitness classes, yoga, pilates and more. Two locations, Raleigh and Morrisville.
- Address: 6022 Duraleigh Rd, Raleigh & 102 Pheasant Wood Ct, Morrisville
- Website: TriangleRockClub.com
Capital City BMX
Yes, there is a BMX track in Raleigh. This bicycle motocross race track is located at the Lions Park and BMX racing is open to boys and girls who can ride a bike.
Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
Founded by pro BMX rider Daniel Dhers, this is the largest action sports facility in the world with more than 37,000 sq. ft of indoor and outdoor riding terrain. Facility includes beginner area, pump tracks, foam pit, resi quarters and viewing areas.
Arcades & Bowling
A popular bar by night, children allowed if accompanied by a parent before 8pm on weekdays and 7pm on weekends. Hundreds of arcade-style games, including 70+ classic arcade cabinets, 12+ pinball machines, and 175+ console games.
Dave & Buster’s
Fun games for kids, especially for kids 5 and up. Also has lots of old school video games for adults to enjoy. Busy on the weekends. Screens for sports. Not known for their food, more for the fun!
Buffaloe Lanes Bowling
Family-friendly bowling alley with no-alcohol, 32 bumper lanes, party and game rooms, and bumpers that come up and down automatically for each bowler if needed.
Stars & Strikes
Play this classic American pastime here with upscale lanes, fresh food, bumpers and ramps, premium lighting, great music, and lounge seating.
Strike & Barrel
8 Lanes of Bowling with a Qubica scoring system and automatic bumpers., plus Food, Drinks & a HUGE Arcade. Located in the heart of historic downtown Wake Forest.
Bowling At Kings Dining & Entertainment, North Hills
Kings is an upscale bowling lounge and our favorite place to go bowling in Raleigh.
If you do have to wait for a lane, there’s also a gaming area with pool (billiards), ping pong tables, foosball, and dart boards.
There’s a decent selection of food with burgers, wings, fries, sandwiches, pizza, and tacos.
Stylish theater chain for new and classic films that also serves food and drinks (including alcohol). This is not just a cinema for adults, we’ve taken our kids here for day time movies.
Raleigh’s ONLY certified giant movie screen, known for presenting 3D films including blockbusters.
Festivals & Events
Raleigh has many festivals and events throughout they year – most will be family friendly. Check out our list of top 32 Festivals and events in Raleigh
Here are the best ones for families.
NC State Fair
The most iconic of things to do for families in Raleigh is the state fair. Here you can indulge in rides, music, animals, and all the greasy fair food you can imagine. Raleigh locals flock to the annual North Carolina State Fair each October.
Address: 4285 Trinity Rd, Raleigh
A three-day festival for fans of pop culture, superheroes, science fiction, anime and more held annually at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Raleigh’s original and longest running arts festival, Artsplosure, is held each year. Two-day event featuring 175 juried visual artists from across the US showcasing works in ceramics, glass, fiber art, jewelry, metal, painting, photography, wood and more.
Spring Daze and Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival
The Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival in Cary puts local artists and craftsmakers in the spotlight. More than 300 artists from 16 states, multiple stages of live music, a beer garden and plenty of food trucks.
Krispy Kreme Challenge
Looking for fun and unique things to do with kids in Raleigh? Started by NC State University students, the 4-mile Krispy Kreme Challenge fun run from NC State campus takes you to Krispy Kreme to consume 12 doughnuts. AND, proceeds go to the UNC Children’s Hospital.
Falling For Local
Autumn lovers and families will love the Falling For Local festival at Dorothea Dix Park every October. Featuring live music, local makers and vendors, craft beer, food trucks, games for kids, hay rides, free pumpkins and more!
The annual Triangle Oktoberfest is held every October at Cary’s Koko Booth Amphitheatre and includes traditional Bavarian food and fare plus family-friendly activities like live music, storytelling, and dancing.
World of Bluegrass
Raleigh is home to the IBMA World of Bluegrass, the largest FREE urban bluegrass festival in the world. This two-day event in downtown Raleigh includes five blocks and six stages of music, plus food trucks.
Raleigh Christmas Parade
The Raleigh Christmas Parade is the largest such parade between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and marches through downtown Raleigh and features marching bands, dancers, classic cars, superheroes and Santa Claus.
New Years Eve (First Night Raleigh)
New York City has the ball drop, Raleigh has the giant acorn drop, once at 7 pm for the children, and a second time at midnight to bring in the New Year! First Night Raleigh is fun for all the family.
No matter your favorite sport (or team) you’ll find a game to watch in Raleigh and surrounds. It’s one of our favorite things about living in Raleigh.
Attend a Carolina Hurricanes ice hockey game
Raleigh is home to the Carolina Hurricanes ice hockey team who play in the PNC Arena Going to a live game is awesome and one of the top things to do in Raleigh for sports fans. Go Canes!
Cheer on the NC State University Wolfpack
Raleigh is home to NC State University, and going to a game in any sport is always fun. The Wolfpack compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
- Website: GoPack.com
See the world famous Durham Bulls baseball
For baseball fans, the legendary Durham Bulls Minor League Baseball team of the Triple-A East and the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays play just 30-minutes up the road in Durham. A top family night out, don’t miss their fireworks!
Cheer on the NC professional men’s soccer team
The men’s North Carolina FC (professional soccer team) is based in Cary at one of the premier soccer complexes in the USA.and play in the USL League One, the third tier of the American league system.
Watch the National Women’s Soccer League team play
Women’s soccer is a BIG deal in North Carolina, and the North Carolina Courage is a professional women’s soccer team who are also based at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, and they compete in the NWSL.
Ok Raleigh, we think this is one of the most fun things to do in Raleigh with kids, even if none of you play golf. For us it’s more about having a hit and a laugh. Drive Shack is a three-story interactive golf driving range that combines physical targets to aim for with augmented reality and virtual games.
We love markets, and there’s a good list of local markets in Raleigh to get produce and arts/crafts.
State Farmers Market
Considered one of the nation’s best, the Raleigh Farmers Market boasts 75 acres of indoor and outdoor vendor space where you can sample and shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and gift products from farmers across the state.
The Raleigh Market
This flea market at the State Fairgrounds offers one of the most unique and entertaining shopping experiences. Each weekend, over 600 indoor and outdoor vendors showcase an incredible range of items, from high-end antiques to power tools and everything in between.
Other markets to consider:
- Apex Farmers Market – local homegrown organic and conventional fruits and vegetables, pastured and sustainably farmed meat, baked goods and other artisanal products (year round).
- Midtown Farmers Market – local, family-farmed foods, and educational opportunities to learn about sustainable farming methods and food systems (Saturdays, April – Nov)
- Cary Downtown Farmers Market – local farmers, plus artisans such as coffee roasters, bakers, and craftsmen (year round).
- Moore Square Market – pick up some local produce and high-quality crafts, meet up with friends, have a picnic in Moore Square and enjoy live music (Sundays, May – October).
- Black Farmer’s Market – purchase fresh foods from farms and support Black-owned businesses by shopping from small farmers + vendors (every 4th Sunday).
Fall is a fun time in Raleigh with kids. Pumpkin Patches, farm experiences, Corn Mazes, Fruit Picking and Halloween take center stage, plus yummy fall treats at many of the cafes and restaurants. Read our post on best things to do in Raleigh in the Fall
Christmas in Raleigh
With light displays, Christmas parades, and historic candlelight tours, Raleigh at Christmas time is magical. Read our post on Christmas activities in Raleigh.
There you have it. I think we answered the question, is Raleigh good for families, but we’ll be adding to this list as we personally explore more of the Triangle area.
Now it’s your turn, what would you add to this list? Leave us a comment below with any of your own suggestions on what to do in Raleigh with kids!