Ready to have some fun? Here’s a list of free and inexpensive things for kids to do during summer break of 2022.
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Also, make sure to check out list of summer camps in the Triangle. And scroll down for a constantly updated list of upcoming kids’ events in the Triangle!
Summer Movie Programs for Kids
There are three cinema chains that are showing free or very inexpensive movies for kids on weekdays in the summer. Marquee Cinemas Wakefield (Raleigh) is showing family films for free twice a week. Regal Entertainment Group’s Summer Movie Express (multiple locations) features family films for $2 twice a week. And Poppy’s Summer Movie Magic (Stone Theatres in Fayetteville) is showing $1 kids’ movies twice a week.
Free (and cheap) Bowling for Kids
There are two bowling programs that offer free or cheap bowling for kids all summer. Kids Bowl Free lets kids bowl 2 games a day free, all summer, with no registration cost. Kids do have to rent bowling shoes, though. And AMF Summer Games requires a sign-up fee of approximately $50 a child (it can vary by bowling center), but then kids can bowl free and get free shoe rental.
Discounts on kids’ activities
Looking for a trampoline park, arcade, mini-golf or other fun activity for kids? Check out out big list of indoor play areas in the Triangle. And make sure to check out Groupon for discounts on kids’ activities in the Triangle.
Free Crafts and Projects
Pullen Park, in Raleigh, is a family favorite, and for good reason. Besides the playgrounds, and plenty of room to run around, the park features the Gustave A. Dentzel Carousel, from 1911, kiddie boats, the C.P. Huntington miniature train, and pedal boats. Tickets for the carousel, kiddie boats and miniature train are just $1.50. Make sure to check the Pullen Park website, as the attractions might not be open all the time.
Free kids’ activities at Dorothea Dix Park
Dorothea Dix Park, at 2105 Umstead Drive, Raleigh, has a full calendar of FREE activities, including plenty for kids, including Kindermusik, skywatching, Little Explorers (nature exploration), arts projects, and more. Most require advance registration. Learn about Dix Park’s activities.
Outdoor and Drive-in Movies
Check out this day by day list of outdoor and drive-in movies around the Triangle. The list includes permanent drive-in movie theaters as well as pop-up movies. Many of the outdoor movies are free.
There are a ton of summer festivals in the Triangle, and almost all include some features with kids in mind. Celebrate food, culture, art, music and more.
Go to a Museum
The Triangle has way more than its fair share of world class museums. Some are free to visit, including the Big Three in Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of Art, and North Carolina Museum of History, all of which have exhibits or programming geared toward kids.
There are also two kids’ museums, Kidzu Children’s Museum in Chapel Hill, and Marbles Kids’ Museum in Raleigh. To save 50% on a visit to Marbles, go on a Wednesday through Friday between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
A more expensive, but very popular, museum is Durham’s Museum of Life and Science. Twice a month, Durham and Durham County residents get into Museum of Life and Science for free.
There are tons of outdoor concerts taking place around the Triangle. Many are free, and many are family-friendly.
We’ve put together a list of animal encounters in the Triangle, including farms, zoos, and parks. Learn where to visit alpacas, goats, tigers and more.
Visit a Garden
Visit one of these 10 botanical gardens in the Triangle. They range from compact to expansive. All are free to visit.
Pick your own produce, according to the season. Here’s our list of U-pick farms in the Triangle.
American Tobacco trail is great for bikes. Tip from a parent: “The part below the mall is better for kids because of fewer crossroads.”
Durham Central Park
There are great parks all over the Triangle, but Durham Central Park deserves special mention. It includes a fun, interactive playground with a boulder climb, a skate park, performance space and a number of gardens. One unique feature is Seeds’ Garden of Eatin’, a public edible garden where you can harvest rosemary, thyme, basil and more.
Duke Homestead is always free to visit. It’s also free to visit Stagville State Historic Site, which is dedicated to teaching about the African-American people who were enslaved here. Also free to visit is Bennett Place, the site of the largest troop surrender in the Civil War. The grounds of these sites are open to visit, but the buildings might not be.
Check out list of Triangle farmers’ markets; shopping for produce can be part of a fun family cooking project. There are often special activities at farmers’ markets, including kids’ activities, live music, and chef demos.
Fly a kite
There are plenty of open places to fly kites. Try Dix Park in Raleigh, or Forest Hill Park and Sandy Creek Park in Durham.
Fun at Home
We’ve put together a list of 100 fun things to do with cooped up kids. These are activities you can do at home, with no special equipment or materials. Many are well suited for families who don’t have backyards.
Upcoming Kids Events
Check out our big list of upcoming events for kids in the Triangle, or take a quick look at a few of them here: