There are some days where the North Carolina heat is absolutely unbearable! What better way to beat the heat this summer than to spend a day exploring one of the many North Carolina museums located in the downtown Raleigh area! 


North Carolina Museum of Art

Located a few minutes outside of downtown at 2110 Blue Ridge Road is where the North Carolina Museum of Art has made its home. This state museum has been serving the Raleigh area for over 90 years, beginning to open in 1928 when the North Carolina State Art Society (founded in 1924) acquired 75 paintings and other funds from North Carolina businessman Robert Phifer. A year later in a Raleigh Agriculture building, a temporary series of art exhibition pieces began to open up. As the years went on the museum began to grow and grow and in the 1960’s it moved to its current home off of blue ridge road. 

At the North Carolina Museum of Art, you can travel around the world in just a few hours visiting galleries such as the Ancient Egypt Gallery, African Gallery, American Gallery, European gallery, Judaic Art Gallery, and more! You can also admire the digital art located in the Museum when you visit the Main Hall Video Gallery and the Julian T. Baker Jr Photography Gallery. 

Paired alongside the indoor galleries, you can also experience art in the park! These are permanent and temporary works created by designers, environmental scientists, and artists that are scattered throughout the museum’s land. There is a system of trails to follow where you can take a stroll to appreciate all 32 outdoor art pieces. You can find the map here!

The North Carolina Museum of Art is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00-5:00 and is free to the public! 


Marbles Kids Museum

Need something fun for your kids to do? Go and visit the Marbles Kids Museum located at 201 East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh!  This hands-on, interactive museum is the perfect place for your child to learn, create and explore!

Here are a few of the many exhibits you and your child can experience when visiting!

Splash Exhibit: Features a science submarine, a pirate ship, costumes, and water tables for your child to enjoy!

Stepnotes: On the steps between the first and second floor, your child can have a musical experience like no other by making music on the piano stairs!

IdeaWorks: Your child can be a jr engineer for the day in our IdeaWorks exhibit! They can build their own race cars in the Go Zone, build their dream castle in the Super Structures Zone, use real tools in their woodworking zone, and more!

Kid Grid: The Kid Grid exhibit is all about POWER! Your child can visit this playset-like exhibit and switch devices on and off to learn about how to conserve energy in the home, learn about different types of power source, plug in their electric car, and more!

Sun-Sprouts: This outdoor exhibit is the perfect way for your child to enjoy the sunshine. You can visit their 22 foot tall flower and explore all the other wonderful nature this outdoor exhibit has to offer. 

The Marbles Kids Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00-6:00 and tickets are $9 per person and $8 for military. Children under 1 are free! You must book your tickets online ahead of time!


North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is located at 11 W Jones Street in Raleigh and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm. 

The museum consists of exhibits of nature from all time periods around the world! Examine the bones of prehistoric North Carolina predators or animals of the sea! Visit the beach in their coastal exhibit to check out the detailed dioramas and aquariums! Take a stroll through the mountains to sea exhibit to see animals created by some of the most talented artists. Experience the underground exhibition where you can see gems and minerals from around the world. 

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is famously known for its live conservatory. Take a walk through a tropical rainforest in the butterfly room where you can admire the tropical butterflies, turtles, fish and a two toed sloth! 

Admission for participants is free!!


North Carolina Museum of History

Located at 5 East Eden Street, just a mile down the road from the Natural Sciences Museum, is where you can visit the North Carolina Museum of History! Admission is free and you can visit them Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00-5:00.

Whether you are a history buff or have a limited knowledge of our state’s history, you are still guaranteed a great time at the North Carolina museum of history. Here are some of the many exhibits you can check out when visiting. 

The Story of North Carolina: This is the largest exhibit in the downtown museum and it contains 14,000 years of North Carolina’s history told through dioramas, media, and artifacts. This exhibit also contains two full size historic houses. It focuses on the people who helped shape North Carolina into the state it is today

North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame: The exhibit contains over 200 items that portray 363 sports heroes in North Carolina. You can see items ranging from collegiate and professional athletes to olympians! This is a growing exhibit with several new sport members inducted to the hall of fame each year!

1920’s Drug Store: Back in the 1920’s you could sit at a counter with your fountain drink of choice watching a pharmacist grind medicinal herbs and compound drugs to fill prescriptions for patients. You can visit a replica of this drug store at the North Carolina Museum of History. 

Tar Heel Junior Historian Association: This exhibit contains work from some of North Carolina’s most talented students. It contains projects won at the THJHA which shares what students have learned about North Carolina’s history!