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.


Master List of Kid-Friendly Triangle Attractions

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

Indoor Attractions

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

Seasonal Entertainment

Carolina Rollergirls - (Fall/Winter) lo-tech sports experience allows spectators to get close to the action


Sarah P. Duke Gardens - Durham

 Garden Website

      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.

    At the Doris Duke Center you can find bathrooms, a gift shop, a horticultural library, and a large reception hall that can be rented for meetings or special occasions. A staff member at the Center was helpful in showing me interesting places in the Gardens to take my kids.

     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.

     There were lots of colorful ducks and geese by the lake in the Asian Garden. You can buy duck food in the gift shop to feed the ducks and watch them fight over it.
     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.