North Carolina is one of those states that offers something for everyone. You can go on hikes, enjoy the beach, visit the amusement parks, museums, and enjoy the best food within just a short driving distance. There are plenty of great things to do with kids in NC, and we have selected our favorite ones for you.
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1. Best things to do with kids in NC: Wright Brothers National Memorial
Visiting Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the site of the Wright Brothers’ maiden flight, provides more than just a historical perspective. The artifacts and information on display here give a glimpse into Wilbur and Orville Wright’s scientific journey to the invention of the world’s first airplane.
The 60-foot granite monument marks the entrance to the sprawling National Park. It includes well-kept grounds with large and tiny monuments. They signify successful takeoffs and landings. There’s a visitors’ center, and a collection of museums and displays commemorating the previous century of flight and beyond.
A replica of the launch rail, as well as miniature monuments indicating the exact first and second landing places, are not far away. All visitors are recommended to bring a camera along to record the monument from all perspectives because of the steady rise.
From the ground, gazing up to the building at the park’s base, to a close-up of the carved “Wilbur Wright Orville Wright” in the granite stones, practically every angle of this enormous monument offers unique views and photo opportunities.
After the climb, visit the main visitors’ center/museum, which has a full-scale replica of both the 1902 glider and the 1903 flying machine, as well as an engine block from the original 1903 flier and an accurate replica of the wind tunnel used by the Wrights during their early trials.
Throughout the museum, there are interpretive displays, as well as seasonal free programs like flying paper airplanes, kite building demonstrations, and a short documentary about the history of aviation and the Wright brothers.
Website: https://www.nps.gov/wrbr/index.htm Address: 1000 N Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948 Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Cost: $ - $$
2. North Carolina Museum Of Natural Science
Things to do with kids in NC can include a lot of museums if you are up for it. When traveling with children, museums of natural history can be the ultimate attraction you should see.
Although most featured exhibitions and films at the WRAL 3D Theater require a paid ticket, admission is free. In a museum that is visited by more than a million visitors per year that is a nice perk.
Prairie Ridge Ecostation and satellite sites in Whiteville, Greenville, and Contentnea Creek complement its 300,000-square-foot downtown complex. For pre-kindergarten to graduate students around the state, they provide a range of curriculum-focused programs onsite, offsite, outdoors, and online.
The Nature Research Center spans three floors of bright labs and displays, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe science in action by watching Museum researchers examine the natural world in real-time.
Exhibits and live animal displays at the Nature Exploration Center highlight North Carolina’s diverse natural environments, animals, and geology from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
Website: https://naturalsciences.org/ Address: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601 Hours: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Cost: $ - $$
3. Sliding Rock And The Land Of Waterfalls
Attraction like no other is this naturally formed sliding rock in Pisgah Forest. It receives thousands of visitors each summer, and especially on weekends, it gets very crowded. If you can choose, it is best to come here during the week, between noon and 4 pm.
Sliders eagerly queue up and take their time as they ride down the 60-foot flat, sloping rock in the cool water, which is only 50-60 degrees. They splash about in an eight-foot-deep pool, swim a few strokes to the beach, line up, and repeat the process.
This natural waterfall, eight miles from Brevard, is powered by 11,000 gallons of water per minute cascading down the granite face. There are several places to sit on rocks and view from observation decks.
When staff employees are on duty, the cost to access the recreation area is $4 per person. Children under the age of three are free. Visiting during “off” hours is free, but restrooms don’t work and you can give donations. When there is a lot of water or thunderstorms, don’t slide.
The only flotation gear authorized are life jackets and children’s puddle jumpers. Water shoes and sturdy shorts/swimsuits are a must for sliding on the rock. The safest way to slide is in a sitting posture.
On hot summer days, bring drinking water to remain hydrated. There will be no wi-fi or even cell phone service while you are at the location. You can bring pets in the area, but keep them on a leash and don’t bring them on the slide.
Website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=48156 Address: Highway 276, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768 Hours: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Cost: $ - $$
4. Museum Of Life + Science
The Durham Museum of Life + Science is a top children’s museum in the area, covering an 84-acre site and offering exciting exhibitions indoors and outdoors.
A two-story scientific center, one of the biggest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast, and beautifully landscaped outdoor displays that serve as safe havens for rescued wild animals.
The Main Museum Building houses not only indoor exhibits but also play space for children 6 and younger. Make sure to try out a hands-on lab with your little ones, it will for sure spark their imagination and wake little scientists’ minds.
In the farmyard, you will encounter donkeys, bulls, goats, chickens, and pigs, among other farm animals. Several alpacas are the most recent additions to the farmyard. The farmyard also offers a variety of additional activities and provides educational lessons for the youngest visitors.
For those who love the sky, there’s Aerospace exhibit. It focuses on the early space program. You can see A Moon rock, Neil Armstrong’s dosimeter, an Apollo Command Module test vehicle, and other major Project Apollo-related objects on display.
The Magic Wings Butterfly House is a unique three-story glass butterfly zoo and tropical conservatory with a population of hundred tropical butterflies. The surroundings are filled with tropical flora, creating this space the highlight of the park for many visitors.
In the Explore the Wild section of the park you may find over 60 animal species including black bears, lemurs, and red wolves. It has a boardwalk that spans a conserved 6-acre natural landscape, as well as other multimedia exhibitions.
Seed tower, Dinosaur Trail, and Earth Moves are other impressive exhibits you can visit here as well. The best is if you plan ahead of time or spend the entire day in the park to be able to see everything they have.
Website: https://www.lifeandscience.org/ Address: 433 W Murray Ave, Durham, NC 27704, Сједињене Hours: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Cost: $ - $$
5. Whitewater Rafting On The Nantahala River
Rafting tours on the Nantahala River alternate between quiet stretches of dazzling flat water and more than 20 designated whitewater rapids. Because it is suitable for novices, this lively river is a particular favorite of families with smaller children.
From young toddlers to energetic older adults, almost anybody may enjoy the thrill of paddling and managing a raft along the Nantahala River. To travel down this river, children must be at least 7 years old and weigh at least 60 pounds.
Most of the Nantahala River rafting tours span the whole length of the river, 8 miles through some of western North Carolina’s most beautiful rainforest. The Nantahala River’s cool water meets the warm air frequently, creating a mysterious fog that floats above the river, adding even more beauty to the surroundings.
The river flows through the Nantahala National Forest, which is the largest of North Carolina’s four national forests. Root Canal, the Isle of Dumping, and Tumble Dry are just a few of the exciting rapids you’ll face on a Nantahala rafting trip.
Your Nantahala rafting adventure will come to a close with a large, bouncing splash at Nantahala Falls, the river’s only class III rapid.
Whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River in North Carolina has become one of the most popular family rafting excursions and group trips in the Southeast. It’s the ideal way to get started with whitewater rafting.
Several companies are providing these tours, and reservations are strongly advised. While walk-ins are accepted when space and guides are available, not every tour time is available every day, and some trips and trip times are only accessible with reservations.
6. Tweetsie Railroad
Tweetsie Railroad, North Carolina’s first family theme park, is a one-of-a-kind attraction that allows kids and families to explore their imaginations and go back in time. You can try the life of a cowboy, a cowgirl, or a mechanical engineer in the park.
Visit Deer Park, enjoy shopping on Main Street or pan for gold. There are rides for all ages at Tweetsie, as well as live entertainment throughout the park. Of course, you may also ride a vintage steam-powered train for a three-mile Wild West adventure through the beautiful highlands.
Rides at Tweetsie Railroad include Free Fall, Tornado, Tweetsie Twister, Turnpike Cruiser, and many more. There are also several small children’s rides: F-80 Jet Planes, Kiddie Boats, Red Baron planes and helicopters, and Bikes & Buggies.
For six decades, Tweetsie has been the High Country’s best family amusement park, with a Western-themed ride on an authentic steam train. From the late 1800s through the 1940 Flood, Tweetsie was the Boone Area’s first high-tech link to the outside world.
Because of its piercing whistle, locals nicknamed the vintage train “Tweetsie.” On the journey back to a broad array of thrills and entertaining alternatives, including fantastic old-time live music, the train takes passengers on a thrilling trip that follows a 3-mile loop, passes a trestle, rounds a mountain, and meets bandits and Indians.
Throughout the year, the park conducts several special events, including Halloween and Christmas-themed activities. The Tweetsie Railroad is open from early April to late October, and during the Tweetsie Christmas event on certain nights in late November and December.
Tweetsie Railroad provides a variety of live entertainment presentations showcasing great artists from the nearby region and the Southeast, in addition to the Wild West train experience and amusement attractions.
The Tweetsie Railroad also has its own locomotive workshop, which is used to maintain its two locomotives as well as overhauling steam locomotives from Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, and Dollywood.
Website: https://tweetsie.com/ Address: 300 Tweetsie Railroad Ln, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 Hours: Check the website for hours, they are different on different days. Cost: $$ - $$$
7. North Carolina Zoo
Do you want to see animals up close and learn more about wildlife in general? The North Carolina Zoo is set on 2,600 forested acres. It is the world’s biggest natural environment zoo. There’s 500 acres of created land, and one of only two state-supported zoos.
The North Carolina Zoo provides down-to-earth, realistic, and unforgettable activities for families to play and stay together. In addition to interactions with exotic animals in natural surroundings. The Zoo also provides several educational and nature-based activities and camps.
Picnicking is not permitted inside the park, but there is a wide range of food alternatives. The Zoo will fulfill your taste for a fresh garden salad, pizza, burgers, fried chicken, or delicious soft-serve ice cream.
The North Carolina Zoo is home to over 1,800 animals. The animals are housed in habitats that reflect two continents: Africa and North America, as well as a worldwide Desert and a tropical, free-flight Aviary.
The animals at the North Carolina Zoo have plenty of areas to wander as the world’s biggest natural environment zoo. Here you can see lions, elephants, bison, black bear, chimpanzee, and so many more species.
This Zoo also offers fun and unforgettable attractions, from Air Hike Ropes Course, and various hiking trails, to Butterfly Garden and Zoofari. You will see animals in their nature-like habitats, which is rare for zoos nowadays.
Website: https://www.nczoo.org/ Address: 4401 Zoo Pkwy, Asheboro, NC 27205 Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM Cost: $ - $$
Carowinds is a fun summer destination for many Carolinians. With over 60 exciting rides, it is part of many childhood memories for more than 45 years. Families with kids love coming here, and it is good to know that preschoolers can enter for free.
Carowinds’ Camp Snoopy is a part of the park for little children. Aside from Mud Buggies, Camp Bus, and the Peanuts Trailblazers, Beagle Scout Acres is the favorite to many youngsters. Here you will find lots of separate play spaces for older and younger children.
Carowinds isn’t just for small children. You’ll see lots of big kids and adults enjoying the roller coasters that fill the remainder of the theme park on any given day. If you don’t like wasting time waiting in lines, get a FastPass for the more popular rides.
You can also enjoy a variety of performances in addition to the rides that your children will adore. Check out the Peanuts Dance Party or a dining experience at Harmony Hall. You can watch live acts on stage while you dine in the air-conditioned restaurant.
Summer months are perfect for Carowinds, the Carolina Harbor Waterpark. Although there is a reserved space for children, teenagers and adults love the fun water slides and swimming pools of this park.
Website: https://www.carowinds.com/ Address: 14523 Carowinds Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28273 Hours: Check website for hours Cost: $ - $$
9. Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park
Summer in North Carolina is not complete without a visit to at least one water park. Many locals consider Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park the favorite one with fun slides for all ages.
From kiddos to seniors, everyone will find a favorite ride among more than 38 rides and attractions offered. It’s kid-friendly, and our two huge children’s zones, Splash Island and Happy Harbor will keep the little ones entertained.
Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe has plenty of beach chairs and covered spaces for when you’re ready to unwind after enjoying the over 5 million gallons of water fun.
Popular rides that everyone wants to try are Daredevil Drop, Bombs Away, and Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror. If you prefer to relax visit Leisure Lagoon or enjoy a peaceful float along the Lazy River.
If you get hungry you can have lunch in family-friendly snack bars and restaurants around the park. From burgers and pizza to ice cream, you can have a snack or a full lunch here.
All summer long, it’s a terrific spot for the whole family to enjoy fun in the sun. The kiddie-sized wave pool, a volcano with two slides, double tube slides, and interactive water play components will delight the small ones.
In Thunder Bay, there is a two million gallon wave pool that generates 84-foot wide tsunami waves to ride, splash in, or just watch from the sand-free beach. Adults and kids both love this feature of the park.
Website: https://www.emeraldpointe.com/ Address: 3910 S Holden Rd, Greensboro, NC 27406 Hours: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Cost: $ - $$
10. Linville Caverns
Linville Caverns are a truly magnificent natural wonder of North Carolina. Located deep within Humpback Mountain, it is the only cave you can visit in the state.
Visitors may observe spectacular limestone formations. Learn about minerals that impact the color of rocks. And learn the difference between stalactites and stalagmites on the cave’s lighting guided tours.
They also like learning about the little bats that hibernate there from late fall to early spring. As well as viewing the blind trout that reside in the icy subterranean stream.
Tours run 30–40 minutes. You can find local souvenirs at a gift shop. Families with small children can bring front baby-carrying packs. You should avoid other types of packs or strollers.
Bring a jacket with you. The caves are kept at a constant 52 degrees. So don’t be shocked if you get a few water droplets on your head.
Website: http://linvillecaverns.com/ Address: 19929 US 221 North, Marion, NC 28752 Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM (Check website for dates) Cost: $
If these amazing things to do with kids in NC have inspired you, start planning your road trip. This upcoming summer can be the right time to visit all these amazing places in North Carolina.