I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.
Raleigh State Capitol and Legislative Building
I guess I should have known my kids (preschooler and toddler) were too young to get anything out of these two landmarks, but I figured since it was Christmastime there would be some impressive Christmas decorations.
We started out at the Legislative Building. Visitors are allowed to tour the first floor and the third floor, but not the second. The first floor houses the offices of North Carolina legislators.There are two wings on either side that look very much alike with labyrinth-like hallways so it's very easy to get lost. There are unimpressive fountains in each wing of the first floor that are not much different than shopping mall fountains. There was a decorated Christmas tree in the main lobby of the first floor that looked very ordinary. There is a very celebrated mural on one of the walls of the first floor that depicts landscapes from North Carolina. You can have some fun getting your children to identify various features like the state bird and all of the North Carolina lighthouses, but it's hardly worth a visit just to see this mural.The third floor has access to the galleries for the General Assembly meeting room and the Senate meeting room. An older school group was in the galleries the day we were there so we could only look through the glass doors.
The old State Capitol Building is not all that interesting for young children either. The hallways on the first floor are narrow. The greeter in the lobby did give my kids State Capitol stickers. The greeter recommended we explore the first floor and then the second floor. Although there are restored offices on the third floor, the greeter recommended we not visit those, if for no other reason then there was no elevator access to the third floor for our stroller. The only thing to see on the first floor is the famous statue of George Washington. The original statue was destroyed in the fire that decimated the entire building. The present statue is made of a cast of the original. I'm not really sure why the North Carolina State Capitol's most celebrated artifact is a statue of Washington - it's not like he ever lived here and he might have made only one trek through the state.
On the second floor are the old General Assembly and Senate rooms which were used right up until the 1960s. They are restored to their colonial appearance. You can walk into the first few feet of each room before you're blocked by barriers.There were also Christmas trees, each decorated by various elementary schools in the state, lining the outer walls of the rotunda.
Overall, these are two sites that are best visited by parents with older children, even during the holiday season.