Wondering what to do with the kids over break? Look no further. Here’s a list of some cheap and free things that will be fun for kids. Included are special holiday activities to do the first few days of break, plus some activities that are always free or cheap.
Scroll down for a day-by-day list of free and cheap kid-friendly and family-friendly events.
Make sure to subscribe to Triangle on the Cheap by email so you will learn about all the free and cheap events all year. Check out Groupons for kids’ activities in the Triangle, including museums, skating, trampoline parks and much, much more!
This list has been updated for the 2021/2022 season, but more is being added every day, so keep checking back!
- Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops: Free pictures with Santa, crafts, games, more, all free. The same events take place at Cabela’s through December 24th, 2021.
- Christmas lights: Follow the above link for a list of the best Christmas light displays in the Triangle.
- Kwanzaa Celebrations: Kwanzaa lasts 8 days, starting on December 26th. Follow the above link for information on some free family-friendly celebrations in Durham and Cary.
- United Skates of America: This skating rink in Raleigh is hosting a bunch of special events and holiday parties during Winter Break, including an indoor snowball fight!
- NC Chinese Lantern Festival: At Booth Amphitheatre in Cary through January 9th, 2022. It’s open every day of the week. Advance tickets for adults start at $16, and kids 3-17 are $11. Kids under 3 are free. Tickets are more at the gate.
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Admission is free, and there are also some kid-friendly events, which are also free.
- Historic Yates County Park: This park in Raleigh is a wildlife refuge and environmental center, and also is home to the last operable water-powered gristmill in Wake County. It hosts numerous free educational activities for kids, including nature, art and history programs.
- Library events: All the region’s library systems present a robust program of free events for kids (and adults.) All the library systems are closed a few days for the holidays, so visit each website for the calendar: Durham County Library, Wake County Public Libraries, Chapel Hill Public Library, and Orange County Public Library.
- North Carolina Museum of Art: This museum is always free to visit. Follow the above link for information on free family-friendly tours.
- Pullen Park: Pullen Park is a draw for families, with its playgrounds and the carousel. The train ride is currently closed for maintenance. The park is holding many winter events and is decorated with festive lights, which you can enjoy after 5 p.m.
- Go on a hike: Follow the above link for some of the most kid-friendly hikes in the Triangle.
- Trampoline parks, mini-golf, rock climbing, more: There are tons of fun, active attractions for families in the Triangle. Check out a big list of indoor play areas, as well as some discounts, at the above link. Why pay full price?
- Kidzu Children’s Museum: This museum is a kid-favorite in Chapel Hill. Admission is $8.50 for adults and children over 12 months old. It’s free for children under 12 months old. Admission is $3 for EBT/SNAP card holders.
- Marbles Kids Museum: Regular admission is $9, with children under 12 months admitted for free. Wednesdays through Fridays after $3, admission is half price. The first full weekend of the month Bank of America cardholders and employees receive one free museum admission.
- Stagville State Historic Site: Learn about the Pre-Civil War past. It’s always free to visit, and to take a self-guided tour. Guided tours are $2 for adults, and $1 for children age 5-12 and seniors.
- Ackland Art Museum: This art museum on the UNC campus is free to visit. Follow the above link for the holiday schedule.