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.
Artspace and Raleigh City Museum - Raleigh
Artspace is an arts center where you can walk around the building and peak into different local artists' studios. When we were there on a Friday morning there were only 3 or 4 artists in their studios. One of the artists - a portrait painter - was very welcoming and took time to explain to us all of the things she has been working on. Another artist down the hall explained to us the process behind making felt which, according to her, is the oldest textile process.
There are two floors of studio space to explore, about 30 studios total, and there is an elevator to get your stroller to the second level. The stroller is a good idea if you have a toddler like mine who would love to run rampant and get into all the tools, paints and other paraphernalia he could find.
Artspace provides both adult and children's classes in various media. There is a large learning studio on both floors.
I asked the front desk attendant if there was a certain time when most of the artists are in their studios, but she said it was impossible to forecast since all the artists keep different hours. Artspace is open Tuesday - Saturday starting at 10am.
My kids were somewhat restless while we were there so it's probably better to visit with older kids. A visit to Artspace won't take up your whole morning so you'll probably want to combine it with another nearby attraction.
The Raleigh City Museum is only about 3-4 blocks away from Artspace and it too is best combined with another attraction. Only the first floor is devoted to museum space and it's broken up into 3 different exhibits. The first one depicts Raleigh city life in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries when the building itself was Briggs Hardware. The second exhibit focuses on Raleigh's experience during the Civil Rights Movement. And the third exhibit looks at the evolution of local media from newspapers to television.
All of the exhibits are text heavy, with the Civil Rights exhibit being the text heaviest, but there are a lot of artifacts to look at in the Raleigh City exhibit, and the media exhibit houses a couple of interactive displays. The Raleigh City exhibit contains a podiatrist's chair, which seems like a very odd piece of equipment to display. And the media exhibit has a spot where you can watch old local television shows from the 1950s through the 1970s.
While my preschooler liked playing with the interactive radio in the media exhibit, the Raleigh City Museum is probably best enjoyed by older children, at least ones old enough to read.
But for some reason my preschooler was so thankful that I brought her 'downtown.' I guess she just enjoyed the change of scenery or maybe it's the mystique she attributes to downtown. I remember being spellbound by the thought of going downtown when I was her age.