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.
I've been posting to this blog for a year now and I figured it was time to create some kind of Master List of the most kid-friendly places I've been to in the Triangle. As you will notice, there are a lot more outdoor attractions than indoor. Because of this, one of the hardest things to do is to find things to do during January and February - the two months when it gets really cold.
By clicking on any item in the lists you can go to the post reviewing that attraction. As I continue to find child-friendly sites I'll add them to this list.
Outdoor and Parks
Anderson Point Park - nice playground and relaxing porch swings
White Deer Park - natural playground has an Adirondacks vibe
Pullen Park - playground, rides, and a train
Noah's Ark Ministries - good for a petting zoo fix
Lake Crabtree Park - nice spot for fishing
Yates Mill Park - historic mill
JC Raulston Arboretum - great southwest garden
Raven Rock State Park - beautiful views and an impressive rock ledge
Falls Lake Recreation Area - nice swimming area
Carolina Tiger Rescue - lions, tigers, and other carnivores
RDU Observation Park - best place to view takeoffs and landings
NC Railway Museum - train rides
Oak View Park - friendly goats and children's exhibits
Little River Park - relaxing waterfall
Sarah P. Duke Gardens - lots of walkways through garden vistas
Pullen Aquatic Center - inexpensive indoor pool
NC Museum of History - Story of NC exhibit Part I is kid-friendly
Country Doctor Museum - antique automobiles
Atkinson's Grist Mill - see a modern milling operation
NC Life and Science Museum - theme park + petting zoo + science museum
Marbles Children's Museum - plenty of interactivity
Harris Energy and Environmental Center - kids can try on a bullet-proof vest
NC Museum of Art - stunning artwork even kids will notice
Morehead Planetarium - kid-friendly planetarium shows
Ackland Art Museum - staff caters to families with young children
Rainbow Play Systems - Pay-for-play indoor showroom of playground structures
Outside the Triangle (over an hour and a half from the Triangle)
Town Creek Indian Mound - kids will love the mortuary hut
NC Transportation Museum - trains, cars, and a working roundtable
North Carolina Zoo - 2 continents, lots of animals
Sylvan Heights Bird Park - birds from the domestic to the exotic and you can get really close
Carolina Rollergirls - (Fall/Winter) lo-tech sports experience allows spectators to get close to the action
Duke gardens has been raved about in Carolina Parent magazine so I've been waiting for a really nice day to see what all the hype is about. I was pretty sure that my toddler would be really bored with this attraction. It turns out he really enjoyed himself. There were ducks to see and plenty of fountains, or as he calls them, waterfalls. And thanks to our mild winter, even a few daffodils were in bloom.
I wasn't the only one who brought my kids to the Gardens either, I saw many moms pushing young children in strollers down the gravel pathways. Not all of the pathways are stroller-friendly - parts of the path we used through the Asian Garden forced me to carry the stroller.
There is no admission fee to visit the Gardens but you will have to pay for parking. There is an automated kiosk in the parking lot where you can pay for your spot. The ATM - like machine allows you to pay with debit or credit cards.
My toddler really enjoyed standing on this bridge and saying "river, river!" Apparently that's the new word he's learned to describe a body of water.
Tucked into a secret corner of the Asian Garden is this small tea house used for tea ceremonies. If it's open you can go inside, as long as you remove your shoes. On the day we were there, the door to the house was open but a sign was posted saying it was closed, but we did get to peer inside.
Our visit to the Gardens was cut short on account of rain. You'd think after my last experience crouching under a slide during a sudden rainstorm, that I would think to bring an umbrella. But alas, Captain Dad is not that well-prepared.