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19 Exciting Things To Do In Raleigh With Teens & Tweens

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Raleigh may not be the biggest state capital but it’s far from boring, especially if you have tweens and teens. It turns out, there are plenty of things to do in Raleigh with teenagers, from standup paddleboarding on one of the many lakes to snapping Instagram selfies with art murals.

Whether your teens are outdoor enthusiasts, music-obsessed, fashion crazy, or prefer to spend their days on their iPhones scrolling social media, there are plenty of ways to keep them entertained and excited in The City of Oaks.

As locals to Raleigh with two teenage girls, we know the challenges parents face when they want to get them out of their bedrooms and do something worthwhile on the weekends, so we’ve prepared this list of ideas for what to do with teens in Raleigh so you can spend quality time together as a family.

Things to Do in Raleigh with Teens

1. Hit the Boutiques!

Our teens love Unorthodox Vintage

Raleigh is a shopper’s paradise, and not because of the amount and quality of its malls filled with global brands and recognizable chains, but also because of its huge range of unique, independent stores offering a variety of trendy and stylish items.

Whether you’re looking for new clothes, accessories, home goods, or collectibles such as vinyl records or antique books, the city’s love of supporting locals contributes to the abundance of one-of-a-kind boutique shops.

Teenagers looking for trendy and fashionable clothing and accessories should check out Edge of Urge, a boutique store with a curated selection of trendy clothing, accessories, and home goods with a focus on unique and independent designers.

Another shop our teens love is the Pop-Up Shops on Martin St, which is where you can find stylish and personalized clothing, for thrift store lovers, Unorthodox Vintage is a consignment boutique with a wide selection of gently used, trendy clothing and accessories at affordable prices.

Alternatively, walk around the Village District, North Hills, or Crabtree Valley Mall for high street brand names and well-known stores. My girls and I all think South Point Mall in Durham is better than Crabtree. (So may be worth the extra drive!)

2. Standup Paddleboard on Lake Johnson

two teenagers paddleboarding on lake johnson
Lake Johnson

One of our favorite things to do in Raleigh on a hot summer’s day is take our standup paddleboard out onto one of the lakes in Raleigh.

Of all the lakes to choose from, our personal favorite is Lake Johnson, because its location near NC State University makes it easily accessible, and even though you’re minutes from downtown, it feels very quiet and peaceful.

Since it’s by the university, the park is often filled with college kids and young professionals and creates a vibrant and easy-going atmosphere that teens will love.

Lake Raleigh is another beautiful lake on NC State’s Campus. It’s a true hidden gem of Raleigh!

3. Play Vintage Arcade Games at Boxcar Bar & Arcade

I always like introducing my teens to things that were special to me when I was their age, and so showing them vintage games at Boxcar Bar & Arcade is one way to do that.

You can play classic Donkey Kong and Pacman games, or challenge each other to a game of air hockey or Mario Kart.

While a lot of the entertainment is nostalgic for Mom and Dad, it’s not all vintage. You can also play Stranger Things and Rick and Morty Pinball, which modern-day teenagers will love.

The bar food is basic, but the games make it worth visiting.

4. Blow Off Steam at Drive Shack

teen swinging golf club at drive shack while other teens sit in the bay and watch

When exam season rolls around, your teens may need an outlet to blow off some steam, and what better way to do that than to hit something? By something, I mean a golf ball at a driving range.

We’ve visited Drive Shack in Raleigh a few times and always have a great laugh practicing our swings. More sophisticated teen golfers may even want to visit one of Raleigh’s golf courses.

5. Get Your Ninja On at OC Aerial

teens on ninja course

Just a 35-minute drive from Raleigh is OC Aerial, an indoor adventure park in Durham, which is kind of like a trampoline park mixed with a ninja course and rock climbing gym in one.

Spread out over 16,000 square feet, it has four ninja courses, a 165-foot zip line, and a 16-foot high, high ropes course.

If you’re looking for a way to get active with your teens and have fun in the process, this is one of the best attractions in Durham County to do just that.

It is quite the fun workout! Do not miss the high speed slide – just be be prepared for an explosive landing.

6. Play Minigolf at Adventure Landing

teen playing mini golf

Adventure Landing is nostalgia in its purest form. This iconic amusement park in Raleigh has been a family favorite attraction for decades and is the place to go for an afternoon of Go Karting, Miniature Golf, Laser Tag, playing Arcade Games, or hitting the Batting Cages.

If you’ve never been to Adventure Landing before, then you’ll want to make sure you go at least once. It’s one of the most iconic things to do in Raleigh as a family.

7. Take On The High Ropes at GoApe

woman on high ropes course

We’ve done many high ropes obstacle courses and zip line experiences with our daughters since they were kids, and now their teen and tween age, they still enjoy the high ropes at GoApe.

Located near Falls Lake, just a 25-minute drive from downtown Raleigh, GoApe features 20+ obstacles and two zip lines, which take about an hour to complete.

Climb up into the canopies and navigate your way across suspended bridges, over obstacles, and whizz down zip lines whilst immersing yourself in the tranquil setting of the trees.

The minimum age to do Go Ape is 10 years old, so this is really an activity designed for tweens and teens.

8. Go on a Hike

mum and two teens hiking
Yates Mill Trail

A great way to get active and spend quality time with your teens is to leave the devices at home and hit the hiking trails. 

There are several popular hiking trails in Raleigh, but our favorite place for hiking has to be the William B. Umstead State Park, which is just a 15-minute drive from downtown, has a variety of trails of various lengths, and is suitable for all skill levels.

If you don’t want to leave the city limits, Lake Johnson Park has a lovely lakeside trail that features scenic views of the lake and passes through lush forest.

Alternatively, The Neuse River Trail is another favorite amongst locals and tourists alike. It’s a multi-use recreation trail known for its picturesque views along the Neuse River and is used by hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.

teens and mum on red rocking chairs look at dairy farm eating howling cow ice cream
Ice cream with the cows

Another easy one teens may love is the Yates Mill Historic Park. It’s only a mile long and what they’ll probably love the most is ice cream with the cows after it across the road at the NC State Diary Farm, where they produce the iconic local ice cream, Howling Cow.

9. Snap Selfies with Art Murals

girl posing in raleigh's smallest garden mural and art installation

Raleigh has a thriving art scene, and it’s one of the reasons why we love living there. There are dozens of art murals that add color and character to the city’s landscape, mostly painted by local and visiting artists.

Our teens love snapping pictures of these murals and admiring the intricate and colorful works of art. 

Some of the most well-known art murals can be found in the downtown area, specifically in the Warehouse District and along Fayetteville Street. 

Some of our favorite murals are the “All Are Welcome” sign by Luke Buchanan, painted on the side of Poolside Pies, the so-named “Mount Rushmore of Hip Hop ” mural of hip-hop artists (Drake, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole) on S. Dawson St, and Raleigh’s Smallest Garden art installation on 415 Hillsborough St.

Just the other week, we did a bike tour of the Downtown murals with our tween Savannah! You can see that here.

10. Go on a Bike Ride

family riding bikes in the Fall

Raleigh is not short of greenway trails, so if you love to go on bike rides, then be sure to pack your bikes with you when visiting Raleigh.

Some of the most well-known biking trails in Raleigh include the Neuse River Trail, mentioned above, and The Capital Area Greenway System, which is a series of 28 single trails, that amount to 112 miles (161 km) through Wake County.

The Greenway passes through parks, forests, and urban areas. You don’t have to bike all of the trails, but a lovely section for first-timers is the Neuse River Greenway Trail to Falls Lake State Recreation Area. This section encompasses all of the best that Raleigh has to offer, from its industrial suspension bridges to its untamed wetlands and past agricultural fields.

You can find more adventurous, off-road tracks in William B. Umstead State Park, which is more popular with mountain biking enthusiasts. 

11. Escape the Room

family in escape room
We love escape rooms!

Does the idea of being locked in a room with your teenagers for an hour with no means of escape petrify you? Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as you might think!

In fact, going to an escape room with your teenager can be an incredibly fun and rewarding experience! Not only does it give you the opportunity to bond and work as a team, solving clues and puzzles in order to escape, but it can also strengthen communication and problem-solving skills.

Escape rooms are also incredibly fun! The storylines and the thrill of a countdown add an element of excitement, and the mysteries within the room can spark curiosity and encourage critical thinking, making it a great way to spend quality time together as a family.

A great, teen-friendly escape room in Raleigh is Nerd Escape Rooms.

12. Go Camping at Kerr Lake

girls Tubing on Kerr Lake NC
What teen wouldn’t love tubing?

Are you struggling to get your teen to put their phone down and be present? You’re not alone, this is a struggle for most parents these days, including ourselves.

A great way to get your teens to stop doom scrolling online and disconnecting from our digital society, is to embrace the outdoors on a family camping trip.

A place we love to go camping, which is less than an hour away from downtown Raleigh, is Kerr Lake. The largest lake in North Carolina, and also spans the border with Virginia.

Kerr Lake North Carolina
This is the life

Kerr Lake is a place where you can slip into relaxation mode, go for a swim, rent a boat, or launch your own boat, and simply enjoy being in nature.

We usually visit the campsite near Satterwhite Marina, since it’s one of the closest sites to Raleigh, but there are several campsites around the lake, each with their own blissful and tranquil setting.

You can read about our camping trip at Kerr Lake here.

13. Ten Pin Bowling at Kings Dining & Entertainment

girl about to bowl down the lane

Another great rainy day activity, or even for an evening after dinner, is a game or two of ten-pin bowling at Kings Dining & Entertainment. 

We love Kings because of its modern and sleek design, which feels more like a special occasion venue over a dingy, sticky bowling alley. Each lane comes with plush leather seats and is illuminated by neon lighting, which creates a moody and energizing ambiance.

The food at King’s is simple bar food cuisine. They serve pizzas, burgers, and tacos – something all teenagers love to sink their teeth into!

14. Go to a Live Music Concert

billie eillish in concert
Billie Eillish at PNC

Have a teen, you know a teen can’t be found without headphones glued to the inside of their ears. I was that way too with my Walkman!

Music is so important to teenagers and Raleigh has plenty of opportunities for them to see a live concert either indoors or outdoors, plus Raleigh has the huge, annual J Cole’s Dreamville Festival, filled with hip hop and rap artists.

Kalyra just attended her first concert at Red Hat Amphitheater with friends – no parents in sight! We’ve taken the girls to concerts at our largest venue, the indoor PNC Arena, and Savannah and I will be traveling to nearby Greensboro in August for Zach Bryan.

nicotine dolls on stage at downtown cary park
Nicotine Dolls at Downtown Cary Park

We have plenty of smaller venues as well. The newly opened Downtown Cary Park has a great amphitheater with rising musical acts playing, Koka Booth Amphitheater is one of my favorite outdoor venues in the country, and Kalyra and I will be seeing Inhaler in October in the smaller indoors Ritz Raleigh.

Even smaller, which Kalyra loved is the Candlelight concert series held in a historic home. Hear modern pop artist’s most well known tunes played by a string quartet. Kalyra loved this mother daughter date experience listening to Taylor Swift and Savannah is asking I take her to the Coldplay version #mostcertainly The Bridgerton version is coming soon in September!

15. Visit a Board Game Cafe

If you’re looking for things to do with teens on a rainy day in Raleigh, then rather than stay at home or in your hotel, go check out a board game cafe such as The Kitchen Table or Meeples Brew.

They have over 400 board games, so there is bound to be at least one that piques your teen’s interest. Have a bite to eat over a game of Exploding Kittens, or get competitive over a classic game of Risk.

For mom and dad, you can enjoy a craft cocktail, and for the teens and tweens, they have alcohol-free mocktails, so they don’t feel left out. Maples Brew also has pretty good coffee.

16. Take a Cooking Class

girl mixing cookie dough
Flour Power Cooking Class

For something a little different and unique, how about taking a cooking class? It’s no secret that teenagers won’t be teens forever, so why not help them prepare for adulthood by learning how to cook?

A cooking class with Kate, an expert cook and gardener, gives them the opportunity to learn how to make Italian-American or Cuban food, using culinary traditions passed down through generations in her family, as well as using fresh produce she grows in her garden.

These cooking classes take place in Durham, just a 30-minute drive from downtown Raleigh.

My tween has also enjoyed a Chocolate Extravaganza cooking class at Flour Power Cooking Class before in North Hills where she made Chocolate Brownie Cookies, Chocolate French Toast, and Chocolate Whipped Cream. .

They also do themed weekly classes for preschool to teens, plus summer and school break camps, and also family and adult cooking classes!

17. Go Museum Hopping

woman and two girls taking photo inside tv art sculpture
Art in Bloom at NC Museum of Art

One thing Raleigh is not short on is museums. The city has several renowned museums that put Raleigh firmly on the map, and museum hopping is one of our top things to do in NC.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the most famous in the area, featuring an extensive collection of visual arts, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from various time periods and cultures, including an original Picasso painting in its collection.

girl inside mirror sculpture
Cool outdoor sculptures

The museum also has a beautiful park with outdoor installations that are worth exploring. We also love visiting during their annual Art in Bloom festival where you can see art pieces reimagined into beautiful floral sculptures.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is another popular museum, especially for kids and teens, because it has four floors of interactive exhibits on topics such as dinosaurs, wildlife, and environmental conservation. They even have live animals and a research center where you can watch scientists at work.

carolina hurricanes museum display
display in NC History Museum Sprots SEction

For teenagers interested in history and sports, the North Carolina Museum of History and The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame both offer compelling exhibits and interactive displays. Both Duke and UNC Universities have really interesting sports hall of fames and small museums.

Raleigh’s museums are not only educational for teenagers but also inspiring.

18. Attend a Sports Event

Carolina hockey team playing on ice
Go Canes!

Raleigh is a sports city, whether you’re into college football, hockey, or baseball, you will find Raleigh’s sports scene is unlike any other.

One of the most famous sporting venues in Raleigh is the PNC Arena, home to the Carolina Hurricanes NHL hockey team and the NC State Wolfpack basketball team. 

The arena regularly hosts thrilling hockey games and basketball matches, where you and your teenagers get the chance to cheer on their favorite teams and feel the lively and electric atmosphere.

Raleigh is also home to NC State University, where college-level football, basketball, and soccer games are held regularly.

crowds watching soccer at WakeMed Soccer Park
NC Courage game

We also love seeing the NC Courage (women’s) or NC FC (men’s) professional soccer team at WakeMed Soccer Park. We also sometimes watch college playoffs there as well! In fact, as I’m preparing this post for publishing, we are headed to the NC Courage game tonight, where I will be honored at half time as a woman who contributes positively to the Raleigh community. I’m quite excited for that! And yes, the teens are coming!

Alternatively, head over to Durham to watch a Durham Bulls baseball game, a Triple-A minor league baseball team whose game days are always exciting! 

19. Join the Go Karting Academy at Rush Hour Karting

A great way to offer your teen some thrilling fun is to tear up the Go Kart track at Rush Hour Karting. 

This is not just a Go Kart track but also has an Advanced Karting Academy, which is a course specifically designed for teenagers to allow them to learn sportsmanship and valuable driving skills. 

They have a huge, multi-story track, with state-of-the-art karts and safety equipment. 

While your teens learn to drive, mom and dad can enjoy some food or a game of billiards or foosball.

20. Play with VR at Augmentality Labs LLC

Step into the future at Augmentality Labs LLC, the only Virtual Reality Arcade in the Triangle area.

Nestled inside Paterson Place Shopping Center in nearby Durham, this VR experience gives you the chance to play up to 70 games, some of which are group games, so you can your teens can play together.

Strap on your VR goggles and headsets, and take on the role of dragon slayers or take on pirate lords and sail the seven seas, there’s a game to suit every age and taste.

Is Raleigh good for teens?

mother and child on fenton ice skating rink with christmas tree behind
Christmas festivities

Raleigh is a great destination for teenagers because it has so much for them to see and do. There’s a vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and theaters to explore. 

Also, because Raleigh is home to several universities and colleges, there’s an overall youthful and energetic atmosphere, and many of the attractions are geared toward the younger crowds.

There are also so many ways to get outdoors and offer your teens a chance to put their phones down and detox from the digital space. Throughout the year, there are many seasonal and holiday festivals and events, with Christmas being a particular exciting time for teens.

We also find Raleigh to be a very safe city. As mentioned, I let my 16 year old go to a concert in the city on her own (We dropped her off and picked her up), but it was safe, well organized and managed and many security personnel on hand!

Whatever your teenagers are looking for, be is fun, adventure, culture, or a place to unwind, you can find all that and more in Raleigh.

Tips for Teens Traveling to Raleigh

mother and daughter drinking coffee and hot chocolate in cafe

To make your trip run smoother, here are some words of advice about traveling to Raleigh with teens…

  • Involve them in the planning process. Find activities and attractions that interest every member of your family, not just your teen (it’s your vacation too!)
  • Pack comfortable shoes. There are a lot of great opportunities for walking, even if you don’t go hiking, you can explore most neighborhoods on foot.
  • Turn off social media for a while. It’s great to stay connected with friends and family by sharing your experiences through social media, but make sure to plan some downtime off your phone to enjoy time as a family.
  • Plan for naps and breaks. We all know how teens love to sleep. We recommend staying in downtown Raleigh so you are close to everything, and then you can go back to the hotel for downtime.

Where to Stay in Raleigh

family inside hotel suite
Spacious suites

We always recommend the Residence Inn downtown Raleigh by Marriott to our friends and family when they visit, because even though they are a well-known luxury hotel chain, they have cozy apartment style (all-suite) accommodation which is ideal for families in need of space to spread out.

We’ve stayed here a few times and have found the suites comfortable. The rooms include kitchens plus a seating area for relaxing in. There’s also a rooftop bar with incredible sunsets and skyline views, which our teens love to snap photos of!

The location is also ideal, just across the street from the Performing Arts Center, so you can easily walk to restaurants downtown as well as the museums and entertainment venues.

See prices and availability here!

Final Thoughts on Visiting Raleigh With Teens

mom and two daughters
With my teens at the Raleigh Rose Garden

As parents of teens, and living in Raleigh, we know how nice is it to do things as a family that involves activities that allow you to bond with your teen on a more mature level.

It’s one of our favorite ages for travel, because they’re starting to become more independent, and develop their own values and opinions, and their interests are more similar to mom and dad. We’re pleased the playground days are behind us.

We hope this guide gave you some ideas for what to do with your teen and have an enjoyable time in the City of Oaks.

If you want to dive deeper into any of these attractions and activities mentioned in this post, you’ll want to visit our other site, This is Raleigh – it’s filled with loads of information on visiting or living in Raleigh. Just use the search bar or navigation to find what you need.

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