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.


Marbles Kids' Museum - Raleigh


          Marbles is absolutely one of the best places to take your kids. It is a little pricey - $5 a person for everyone over a year-old  – so I can’t afford to take the kids too often.  On this occasion, I got us all in for free.  I ‘m a little ashamed of how I got in for free. There was an event being held at the Museum that provided free admission for attendees. It was painfully obvious – due to my gender -  to everyone at the event that I was only there for the free Marbles’ admission. Parking was surprisingly easy on this Friday afternoon; I found a 2 hour space on Blount near Morgan for a dollar an hour. But the Museum itself was packed. According to one of the staff, the best times to go to avoid the crowds are weekdays after 1:30pm and Sunday afternoons.

         The last time I came to Marbles, my wife was with me which really helped because one of us could follow one child while the other one could follow our other child. When there is only one of you and you have two small children that like to wander it gets tricky. I had to have ‘the stranger talk’ with my preschooler and remind her to stay where I could see her. The kids were very excited to come back to Marbles and they remembered a lot about the last time we visited the Museum.

        Because everything at the Museum is geared towards all ages of children, I could fill a whole blog post just listing the activities at Marbles. So, I’m going to try and just hit some of the highlights.

        On the first floor you’ll find a play area that includes all kinds of vehicles, a veterinary clinic, a performance stage with costumes, a grocery store, and my toddler’s favorite – the Thomas train tables. There is also a water area where kids can play in water filled basins (aprons and gloves are provided) and they can go inside a research submarine and climb on a pirate ship.
         On the second floor, kids can pretend to cook in a restaurant kitchen, play ice hockey, climb a climbing wall, pretend to surf, make arts and crafts, and jump on a small trampoline. There is also a building area on the second floor where kids can build cars to race, build with life-size Legos, and use real woodworking tools like a hand drill and a handsaw. My preschooler took her first stab at using a handsaw.

The Piggy

      The biggest exhibit on the second floor is also the one my kids remember the best, and the one they wanted to go to first when we arrived. It is a play area structured around the idea of an economy. I know it sounds like a bore, but it really is cool. Kids can work at pretend jobs like a lemonade stand, a pet shop, and a pizza place; or they can start their own business like dog-walking. They get currency that they can deposit in the bank – a huge structure in the middle of the room with two levels, a slide, and vacuum tubes that take the currency and deliver it to a very large piggy bank suspended from the ceiling. The best part is when the piggy bank fills to capacity and all of the currency (small lightweight balls) cascades down through the trapdoor in the piggy’s stomach onto unsuspecting bystanders below.

         From my perspective, the second floor is more fun for adults because there are things to occupy us like giant Legos. The Raleigh IMAX Theater is also housed at Marbles. You can spend from two to four hours at the Museum letting your kids set the pace as they move from one exhibit to another. If you need lunch while there, I recommend Roly Poly Sandwich Shop next to the IMAX Theater. The Cuban Sandwich is heavenly.

Who knew there was a Gandhi statue behind the IMAX Theater?

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