Children’s museums and play areas in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina offer an indoor escape on rainy or extra-hot days. There are several spots throughout the Triangle that provide interactive, hands-on play experiences for kids.
Playspace and Exploris, two kid-focused museums, merged to form Marbles Kids Museum in 2007. Located in downtown Raleigh, the museum aims to provide interactive experiences for children ages 10 and under. Seven permanent galleries are found in the museum, as well as rotating exhibits. Around Town brings the real world down to a child’s size, offering a community for kids to take charge of, learning how people live, play and work together. Splash! offers children the opportunity to discover the power and fun of water and adventure, with indoor and outdoor activities and experiments. Ideaworks provides the chance to design and create simple machines and structures. Moneypalooza teaches children about smart ways of spending and saving. Art Loft gives budding artists a chance to paint, draw and sculpt. Toddlers Hollow is specifically for children under 3 and gives opportunities to dress up as a forest creature or walk through a woodland adventure. Power2Play provides play environments aimed at promoting physical activity and healthy choices. Marbles is also home to an IMAX movie theater, sandwich shop and museum store. Admission is $5 for children and adults. Those under 1 are free.
Kidzu Children’s Museum in Chapel Hill offers educational and interactive exhibits for children up to age 8 and caregivers. The museum plans to expand by relocating to a larger space in 2015, but still has plenty to offer. “KidZoom: The Power of Creativity” showcases creations by local authors, artists and craftsmen. The Green Thumb Market gives children the chance to plant, tend and harvest pretend produce to sell in the Farmers Market and to create pretend culinary creations, which are then served at the Kitchen Café. Build-A-Dream Construction Zone provides hands-on options for using tools, designing buildings and creating communities. At the Farm Friends Book Nook and Puppet Theatre, children can put on a costume or give a puppet show. At the Tot Spot, young toddlers can explore shapes, colors and textures. The museum also features an art studio to make original works to take home or leave on display at Kidzu. Admission is $5 for those 2 and up. Children from 12 to 23 months are admitted for $2. Free admission is offered from 1-5 p.m. Sundays.
Planet Child in Cary offers exhibits and a large interactive play area for children. The facility operates on the concept of “open play” which means you pay one admission price and can come and go throughout the day as often as necessary. Exhibits include a mini-food market, fantasy land with castle, an aquatic tunnel featuring an under the sea theme, pirate ship and tot area. Parents can accompany their children as they play or sit in the open lounge area with free wireless Internet access. Admission is $8 for children and free for adults. From 1-3 p.m. on Wednesdays, children are admitted for half-price.
PlayNation Parties and Playgrounds in Morrisville is home to a large indoor play area that features playground equipment commonly found outside. Also found in the space are tube slides, wave slides, tree houses, punching bags, rock walls, see saws and tire swings. For young children, “Breckenridge Village” features two wooden playhouses that contain kitchen sets, play foods and a market place. Two parents lounges are on-site, with flat-screen TVs and Wii systems. Open play hours are on Tuesday through Friday, with weekends reserved for birthday parties. However, when no parties are scheduled, the facility is available for walk-ins. Admission is $7 for ages 3 to 13, $5 for age 2 and free for 15 months and under. Parents are admitted for free.