Raleigh, North Carolina is an unexpected weekend getaway with the kids for many reasons. Firstly, this Southern state is a very short flight from NYC. It’s also a good weekend destination for those who wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn and experience a southern city with a small-town feel. In addition, it’s also considerably cheaper than most U.S. destinations. Many museums in Raleigh are state-funded, eating out won’t break the bank, and hotel stays are affordable. Plus, there are many ways to entertain the kids – from its selection of attractions and parks to a burgeoning foodie scene.
If you’re looking to escape Brooklyn to spend a relaxing weekend in Raleigh with the kids, look no further – we have the lowdown.
How to get there and when to visit
North Carolina is a popular tourist destination during the summer months, so plan your trip for fall or early spring. You can save a lot of money on airline tickets, hotel rooms, and even attraction admission outside peak season.
LaGuardia is the main hub for flights out of New York. Raleigh-Durham Airport is served by nine different airliners including Delta, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and more. The flight is around two hours. It’s a big town so you need a car or Uber to get around. Look online for deals on car rentals which are are considerably cheaper than NYC prices.
What you need to know about Raleigh’s history
Raleigh was founded in 1792 as North Carolina’s capital city. It was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, who attempted to establish the first English colony on the shores of the new world two-hundred years earlier. The city’s founding fathers called Raleigh the “City of Oaks” and dedicated themselves to maintaining the area’s wooded tracts and grassy parks.
Where to stay
Sheraton Raleigh is centrally located in downtown Raleigh and a wise choice for traveling families. The service is attentive and pleasant; and the hotel is clean with spacious rooms. There are also several onsite dining options including Jimmy V’s Osteria, an Italian-American Raleigh Restaurant that features traditional comfort foods made with locally grown ingredients, as well as a cafe on the main floor and room service. In addition, the hotel has an indoor pool and fitness center.
What to do
The city is sprawling, though there are a lot of things to do with kids in the city center including the city’s free museums which you can walk to if staying downtown at the Sheraton. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. Through exhibits, programs, and field experiences, it provides visitors with opportunities to get up close and personal with science and nature.
At the North Carolina Museum of History, kids can explore more than 14,000 years of N.C. history, from the state’s earliest inhabitants through the 20th century. Another museum not to be missed is the North Carolina Museum of Art. recognized as one of the premier visual arts museums in the Southeast. The museum’s Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park connects art, nature, and people to encourage creative experiences and human interactions.
Adventurous kids love Rush Hour GoKarting, an indoor karting track that spans 1/3 mile with hair pin curves, high speed straights, and winding turns. Or opt for a zip-lining excursion at Go Ape Tree Zip Line & Treetop Adventure, a 2-3 hour exhilarating outdoor activity through the forest canopy with suspended obstacles, Tarzan swings and zip-lining. For families looking for things to go outdoors with kids in Raleigh, there are also a nice share of parks to visit. Pullen Park, one of the nation’s first parks, features picnic areas, a concession stand along with several small rides including the Pullen Park Carousel, train, and kiddie boats. Or head to Jordon Lake State Park for a boating excursion where you’ll potentially catch sight of herons, eagles and other forms of wildlife.
Other family-friendly activities in Raleigh include the Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour, a 1.5 mile walking tour that combines ghost tales with local history, Boxcar Barcade, an arcade for all ages, and Videri Chocolate Factory where kids can watch chocolate go from beans to bar.
Where to eat
Kids will love The Pit, located in the city’s trendier warehouse district with an extensive menu of Southern BBQ cooking. It’s well-known for pulled pork (check out the pig in the kitchen), brisket, chopped turkey, chicken and other carnivorous options and yummy desserts like banana pudding, carrot cake and peanut butter pie. Another must-visit is Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant, where kids can indulge in a Southern breakfast, complete with servings of grits and home to the biggest hotcakes you’ve ever seen. It also has eclectic decor, with antiques and road signs hanging from the ceiling every which way you look.
While touring North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, be sure to stop at the Daily Planet Café for locally sourced dishes, including $6 kid’s meals.