For those looking a summer day trip, the City of Raleigh provides families with multiple opportunities guaranteed to fit any budget.
Located approximately 84 miles from Greenville and 73 miles from Snow Hill, the state’s capital provides families with a rich source of entertainment, education and fun.
Known as the Smithsonian of the South, Raleigh has a range of museums, most of which are free to visit. They offer a variety of exhibits showcasing art, historical artifacts and natural sciences.
N.C. Museum of Art
With its indoor and outdoor collections, the North Carolina Museum of Art provides visitors with a chance to discover works by both renowned and local artists and experience many hands-on activities.
“The museum is such a friendly space for families,” said Courtney Klemens, the manager of family programs. “We have done a lot of work since we reopened (after being closed due to state COVID-19 restrictions) to try and make our art collection accessible and we have fun events.”
Scavenger hunts help guide families through the museum while keeping children’s eyes and ears peeled for needed items. The hands-on-learning Ancient Art Lounge allows children to explore Meso-American and Pre-Columbian artworks.
“There are puzzles and games and art-making activities that families can explore to learn a little bit more in a new way,” Klemens said.
“Hands-on spaces in the galleries make it perfect for families to take a little break and play and learn about some of the spaces and the time periods we have in the collection.”
The museum’s calendar is always changing, offering new ways to learn more about the exhibits,” Klemens said.
“As families look at event calendar, we are always doing stuff on site and virtual that are for families to have a creative experience together to learn from some of the teaching artists,” she said.
Depending on the day, visitors might find special events happening onsite, Klemens said.
In September, the museum will begin guided family tours on Saturday mornings. It is currently offering a variety of take-home activity kits for children.
Visitors can also leave the museum’s indoor collection and venture outside to explore the museum’s beautiful grounds filled with sculptures.
“There are so many beautiful places to sit in the park, snack and play. We want families to enjoy the way our site brings about art in nature,” Klemens said.
Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic lunches or can enjoy a variety of items offered at the museum’s onsite cafe and coffee shops.
Klemens recommend families plan to spend at least an hour at the museum to be able to experience all it has to offer.
Marbles Museum also offers children a hands-on experience with its two-story facility.
“Marbles sparks imagination, discovery and learning through play. It’s done through our core exhibits and weekly and monthly programming,” said Meghan Fitzgerald, director of marketing.
“Everything we feature through exhibits and programming contributes to intellectual growth, social and emotional well-being and physical development.”
Visitors can walk the museum, moving and playing along with the exhibits while building deeper and connecting bonds to each other, Fitzgerald said.
“Through play it strengthens families. You see a lot of multi-generational play going on at the museum,” she said.
Marbles also features an IMAX theater, which showcases documentaries and offers a corner store where families can purchase educational toys and more.
Families then could explore several other museums Raleigh has to offer within walking distance, said Scott Peacock, visitRaleigh director of public relations and international tourism.
Raleigh also offers visitors a chance to get out in nature with its greenway, green spaces and public parks.
A favorite is Pullen Park, according to Peacock.
Pullen Park was the first public park in North Carolina and is the 16th oldest amusement park in the world.
It features an antique carousel, built in 1911, a miniature train ride through the park and a pond that is perfect for paddle boats, Peacock said.
“Most people are pleasantly surprised when they come to Raleigh and when they see all that the area has to offer,” he said.
“It’s a great place to come and visit. It’s affordable. … It’s very welcoming to everyone.”