In Raleigh, the capital and second-largest city in North Carolina, there are always plenty of things to do, no matter what you’re looking for or how old the participants are. If you’re looking for something in the Raleigh neighborhood that the whole family can enjoy, try out some of these ideas.
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
On the UNC at Chapel Hill campus is the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center (pictured above). Morehead has an assortment of programs suited to families and children of all ages, from preschool activities all the way up to college lectures and courses for teachers. You should also check their calendar for the planetarium shows that run practically every day, particularly on the weekends.
William B. Umstead State Park
Raleigh and Durham might have expanded into one massive city, but the William B Umstead State Park got in the way. Umstead is a remarkable 5,600 acres of wilderness set right outside a major city and next to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and that means that Raleigh and Durham natives have the shortest drive ever to reach both tent camping and group primitive camping sites. Beyond the camping, activities include hiking, boating, fishing, horseback riding (horses rented separately), and more.
North Carolina Zoo
West of Raleigh along US-64 is a modest town named Asheboro, and just to the south of Asheboro is the North Carolina Zoo, a 500-acre natural habitat zoo that happens to be one of the biggest of its kind in the world. The NC Zoo is one of only two in the nation owned by its state, and it’s an active participant in conservation and research efforts across the globe. The Zoo also happens to host over 1,600 animals from around the globe, and it’s open every day of the year except for Christmas.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
There’s no need to leave Raleigh to go on a fun educational trip. If you’ve driven or walked through downtown Raleigh, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the massive globe which is the Museum of Natural Sciences‘ most visible feature. What you’re looking at is the museum’s Nature Research Center, which is full of laboratories and interactive exhibits. It’s attached by a skyway to the Nature Exploration Center, which features more traditional museum exhibits both permanent and temporary, along with special collections like the Living Conservatory and the Discovery Room.
The downtown campus isn’t all there is to the museum, either. Out by Wade Avenue and southeast of Umstead State Park is the Prairie Ridge Ecostation, a place the public can visit on most days to see the natural world firsthand. The site includes restored ecosystems such as the eastern prairie and a wetlands environment.
Kids love to learn about the world around them (even if school isn’t always their favorite activity). It’s also nice to go back as an adult and see what scientists have learned since your own childhood ended. That’s why it’s so nice that Raleigh has so many places for children and adults of all ages to learn more about nature and the universe.