Hitting the road to Raleigh, North Carolina, for your next family vacation? The best times are always the ones filled with the most fun for the least amount of cash, don’t you think? Check out these budget-friendly spots to get the max amount of juice out of your dollar while pumping up the fun.
Dig into the Cinnamon French Toast at this laid-back coffee shop — you won’t regret it. Barry’s serves breakfast all day, so if you’ve got a hankering for bacon and eggs at dinnertime, then you’re in the right place! Tasty eats like sandwiches, salads, wraps, and burgers are also on the menu, and the prices won’t blow a hole in your budget.
JC Raulston Arboretum
Green thumbs go gaga for this free arboretum on the grounds of North Carolina State University. It’s home to one of the biggest and most complete collections of landscape plants. Check out the 18 gardens, including the Japanese Garden, Scree Garden, Butterfly Garden, and the Color Trials, where colorful plants are tested. Yep, that’s a thing.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Here at the Southeast’s biggest natural history museum, kids flip out over the dinosaur called “The Terror of the South” as well as an awesome globe that’s a whopping 70 feet in diameter. Grown-ups flip because it’s free! Kids can also find out what it’s like to be a bug, check out a live sloth, and much more.
For finger-licking North Carolina-style barbecue that’s the real deal, book it to The Pit. Start with the pimento cheese balls, and then dive into mouthwatering meaty goodness, from half and whole racks of baby back ribs to chopped barbecue, pulled pork, and fried chicken. Just think of it as meat-lovers’ heaven.
Mordecai Historic Park
This park in downtown Raleigh was once the site of the biggest plantation in Wake County. You can check out the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson, plus historic buildings like a kitchen, smokehouse, and law office. Kids can see what a real 19th-century kitchen garden was like and learn about the people who lived here, including the enslaved workers.
Raleigh Rose Garden
It’s never too late to stop and smell the roses. Make this sweet smelling stop to let the kids do a little rose garden exploring for free. An arbor of trees surrounds the park’s 60 rose beds, and there’s also a stone shelter and a fountain to explore.
Architecture buffs find a lot to like about this historic neighborhood and its gorgeous 19th century homes that come in all different shapes and sizes. There’s no charge to hit the sidewalks and explore the houses and tree-lined streets on your own. Swing by the Capital Area Visitor Center first to get a Historic Oakwood walking tour brochure, or go online for cool stories and background info about the historic homes.
Marbles Kids Museum
Kids learn best when the learning is fun. The hands-on exhibits at this museum let them play with water, music, plants, and more. There’s even a piano staircase with colorful lights that makes real music. They can also settle in and watch IMAX movies on a giant screen.
This local fave serves up everything from gumbo and crab dip to burgers and chicken. For dessert, treat the kids to homemade butter pecan ice cream, or split the banana split — unless you’re brave enough to tackle it alone, of course.
Got the scoop on where to save money on a Raleigh family getaway? For more family fun, read about these six ways to get outdoors in Raleigh.