Looking for some new things to do with kids?
If you have kids, you know that there are plenty of fun, inexpensive things for kids Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the rest of the Triangle, including parks, museums, splash pads and much more.
But it’s worth the short drive to check out some of these slightly out-of-town attractions. All are within two hours from the Triangle. Know of others that should be on the list? Email your idea to email@example.com and it might make it onto the next iteration of this list.
Want to take a weekend trip to the Queen City? Make sure to check out Charlotte on the Cheap for all the free and cheap things to do. It’s just like Triangle on the Cheap, but for Charlotte and the surrounding areas.
Greensboro Science Center
4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro
1 hour, 23 minutes from Raleigh
The Greensboro Science Center is a combination zoo, aquarium, and museum. Exhibits throughout the center feature a pygmy hippo, red pandas, stingrays, life-size dinosaur models, and much more. OmniSphere shows are also included with your ticket. SkyWild zip line tours are also offered, for an additional cost. The Rotary Club of Greensboro Carousel is located on site, and tickets are $2 per ride or $10 for 7 rides.
Admission is $19.50 for adults 14-64, $17.50 for children ages 3-13, and $18.50 for seniors 65+.
Old Salem Museums & Gardens
900 Old Salem Road, Winston-Salem, NC
1 hour, 37 minutes from Raleigh
The Old Salem Museums and Gardens is a historic site and museum exploring the stories of people, including the Moravian, Black, and Indigenous peoples, in the American South. Their museums include the historic town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and the gardens at Old Salem.
All-in-one tickets are $20 for adults, $12 for students/kids, and free for children 0-3 years old. Two-stop tickets are also available, and include access to two ticketed venues for $12 per adult, $10 per students/children, and free for children 0-3 years old.
North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 S Salisbury Ave, Spencer, NC
2 hours from Raleigh
The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a must-see for train-loving kids. It’s been a kid-favorite for 40 years. It features antique cars, an authentic train depot, and a 37-bay Roundhouse that includes 25 locomotives, dozens of rail cars and more. The museum offers seasonal train rides, including the popular Day Out with Thomas and the Polar Express.
Admission plus a train ride is $8 for kids 3-12, $10 for seniors/military and $12 for other adults. Kids 2 and younger are free. Seasonal train rides are more.
High Point City Lake Park
602 West Main Street, Jamestown, NC
1 hour, 25 minutes from Raleigh
High Point City Lake Park features plenty of attractions to fill your day. The park is open daily for boating and fishing (permits required – $2 per day for adults and $1 per day for kids 12-15), and free standing picnic tables and grills are available on a first come basis. The park also includes a carousel and train, both of which cost $1.25 per ride. An excursion boat and miniature golf course are available, with tickets for the boat costing $2.50 per ticket and mini golf coming to $2.75 per round. Canoes, kayaks, peddle boats, and stand up paddle boards are available for rental, and a pool with a waterslide is also included on park grounds.
(While you’re in the High Point area, don’t miss out on your chance to see the world’s largest chest of drawers – only a ten minute drive from the park).
North Carolina Zoo
4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC
1 hour, 32 minutes from Raleigh
The North Carolina Zoo is not only the largest zoo in the state, it’s the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. With 500 developed acres, there’s more to see than just the usual lions and elephants – you can also find American bison, polar bears, chimpanzees, and much more. The zoo also has its own carousel, treehouse trek play area, and butterfly garden, although both have an additional fee of $3 per person. Get eye-level with giraffes at their giraffe deck, where you can hand feed the animals for $5 per person. The zoo also features a playground and kid zone, both of which can be accessed for free with admission.
Adult tickets are $15, and kids tickets are $11 for ages 2-12.
301 Goldsboro Street S, Wilson, NC
50 minutes from Raleigh
Whirligig Park is located in the heart of downtown Wilson, and features 30 unique “whirligigs” – kinetic sculptures designed and built from scrap metal and other discarded materials by farm machinery repairman Vollis Simpson. Located across two acres, the park also hosts concerts and performances on its grass amphitheater as well as farmers markets and more in its open-air pavilion.
You can visit the park for free Make sure to view their events page to see what they have coming up.
New Hope Valley Railway
3900 Bonsal Road, New Hill, NC
30 minutes from Raleigh
The New Hope Valley Railway and North Carolina Railway Museum is another trip perfect for future conductors. Known as “the Triangle’s Train”, the railway offers excursion rides along four miles of historic track. The round trip from Bonsal to New Hill and back takes about an hour, and passes through piney woods and over a trestle. The open-air museum features displays of historic railroad equipment, including a vintage caboose, as well as a large garden.
Tickets to ride are $12 for adults and $9 for kids ages 2-12.
Carolina Tiger Rescue
1940 Hanks Chapel Road, Pittsboro, NC
40 minutes from Raleigh
The Carolina Tiger Rescue earns its name by being home to plenty of tigers – but you can also spot other wild cats, including lions, cougars, ocelots, and more. Plus, they play host to a few other wild animals, including a pair of red wolves. Tours at Carolina Tiger Rescue are all pre-arranged, meaning they can’t accommodate walk-in visitors. Make sure to book your tickets online before heading out. Once a month, they offer a Tiger Tales tour where you’ll join one of their team members for story time before creating an animal-themed craft and touring the sanctuary. Tiger Tales tours are available to children ages 2-7, and are $11 per person.
Standard tickets are $18 for ages 13+, $12.50 for ages 4-12, and free for ages three and under (reservation still required).
Reynolda Home & Gardens
2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC
1 hour, 46 minutes from Raleigh
Reynolda includes a 170-acre historic estate comprising of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Reynolda Gardens, and Reynolda Village Shops and Restaurants. Check out their youth & family page to see what family-focused events they have coming up; offerings include family first workshops featuring hands-on creative exploration, read-aloud days, and more.
Admission to the museum is free for all children under the age of 18, and $18 for adults. Admission to the gardens is always free.
Sylvan Heights Bird Park
500 Sylvan Heights Park Way, Scotland Neck, NC
1 hour, 30 minutes from Raleigh
At Sylvan Heights Bird Park, you can see over 2,000 waterfowl, parrots, toucans, flamingos, and other birds from around the world. Enter The Landing Zone, a large, free-flight aviary with hundreds of colorful birds, to get up close and personal with the birds. Admission to The Landing Zone is free. A fossil dig and playground are also included on the property.
Tickets are $12 for ages 13 and up, and $9 for children ages 3 to 12.
Lions Water Adventure
2602 West Vernon Avenue, Kinston, NC
1 hour, 18 minutes from Raleigh
Lions Water Adventure features all the fun of a water park, for less. Attractions include a 5,000 square foot kiddie lagoon, a lazy river, three water slides, and more. Access to lockers and changing areas are included with your admission, although you should plan to bring your own lock unless you want to purchase one from their gift shop.
Tickets are $10 per person Monday – Thursday, and $15 per person Friday – Sunday and on holidays. Children 2 and under are free.
Aloha Safari Zoo
159 Mini Lane, Cameron, NC
1 hour from Raleigh
At the Aloha Safari Zoo, you’ll have the chance to see and feed rescued exotic animals on a safari tour, including a giraffe, bison, zebra, and more. View more animals by touring the upper section of the sanctuary on foot, where you can come face to face with lemurs, tigers, wolves, and more. Also, keep an eye out for any staff members giving keeper talks – this not only gives you the chance to learn more about the animals, but also to potentially interact with them.
Tickets are $12 per person, with children under the age of 2 free. This includes parking, admission, and the safari tour. Feed cups are available for an additional $3.
More Kids’ Events in the Triangle
Please check out our big list of free and cheap kids’ events in the Triangle or look at a quick list here: