With over 11 million visitors each year -- according to 2011 information from the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau -- Raleigh is a southern city with an abundance of attractions. Activities for kids in this North Carolina city range from indoor art and culture to outdoor adventures. Whether you live in Raleigh or are just visiting, you are sure to find fun activities for kids of all ages.
The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau notes that Greater Raleigh is often dubbed the "Smithsonian of the South" due in part to its high quality museums. The Marbles Kids Museum (marbleskidsmuseum.org) features the BT&T Toddlers Hollow for kids under age 3, the Art Loft for your mini Monet, IdeaWorks where kids can explore simple machines, as well as the Power2Play health sciences area. The North Carolina Museum of Art (ncartmuseum.org) has special art-making and performance programs for kids from toddlers to teens along with weekend family tours. If your child shows interest in the past, the North Carolina Museum of History (ncmuseumofhistory.org) can help him learn and understand the history of the South.
Outdoors and Nature
If you have a budding biologist on your hands, or your child just enjoys outdoors activities, Raleigh features parks and green spaces galore. Kids ages 5 through 15 can join the Junior Park Naturalist program through the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department (raleighnc.gov). To participate in the program, kids must visit two Raleigh parks and complete two events or activities such as camp or volunteer work. The county's parks and recreation department also sponsors numerous adventure trips throughout the year, including kayak trips, canoe trips, climbing trips, rafting trips, and biking trips, which your kids might enjoy. And if your kids like water activities, check out Shelly Lake Park (1400 West Millbrook Road, Raleigh, NC 27614). The 53-acre lake, playground and park provide ample room for recreation and play.
A chilly or rainy day doesn't have to equal boredom in Raleigh. Your little bundle of energy can get active indoors at one of the area's indoor play spaces. Go Bananaz! (gobananaznc.com) has bounce houses, indoor playgrounds, bumper cars and a mechanical bull to bust the blahs of a dull day, or for a birthday celebration. Similarly, Monkey Joe's (monkeyjoes.com) has inflatable indoor fun. With a separate space for children under age 3, Monkey Joe's is a safe place that includes supervised play for kids 12 and younger.
Bring your cultured kid to see a pint-sized Raleigh performance. Carolina Puppet's Kazoom Theater (carolinapuppets.com) has new shows monthly for kids ages 2 through 7. If your child would rather participate in a performance than simply watch, the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre (nract.org) has camps and classes for kids featuring topics such as improv, puppets and super heroes.The Raleigh Area Children's Theatre (raleighact.com) also has classes for kids, as well as performance opportunities.