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9 Best North Carolina Museums to Visit 🖼️ | Free, Childrens, Art & More!

Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 11:30 pm

When looking for things to do in North Carolina, one of the most popular choices are museums. Whether you are planning to move to Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, or beyond, there are plenty of cool museums in North Carolina. Spanning every interest and subject imaginable, individuals, couples, and families can effortlessly fill their day with museum exploration.

Since there are so many museums in North Carolina, knowing which ones are the best to visit is crucial for planning your next day out. As a bonus, many offer free or discounted admission on select days of the week. From history, to children’s, to art museums in North Carolina, there is never a shortage of fun and learning for state residents of all ages.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences — Free Downtown Raleigh science museum

One of the best museums in North Carolina is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Offering free general admission every day, this is a great place to visit for anyone who is interested in natural sciences. Explore various exhibits (both permanent and traveling) and artifacts that cover history across thousands of years.

What can you expect to learn and see when visiting the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences? Highlights include the Discovery Room, Bridge Across Time, Prehistoric North Carolina, Snakes of North Carolina, movies at the 3D Theater (for an additional cost), and Underground North Carolina. The entire museum takes about two to three hours to tour.

Museum Hours & Location

North Carolina Museum of Art — Artwork spanning 5,000 years

Located in northwestern Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Art features a breathtaking display of art that spans over 5,000 years of history. Offering special events, tours, programs, and free general admission, one can easily learn about modern, contemporary, and historical pieces of art. Hands down, it is easily one of the best art museums in North Carolina. Exhibits rotate frequently, and include paintings, photography, sculptures, and more.

Museum Hours & Location:

  • Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607
  • Phone number: 919-839-6262
  • Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm
  • Admission price: Free (with exceptions during the annual Art in Bloom event)

Marbles Kids Museum — One of the best children’s museums in North Carolina

Looking for a fun North Carolina children’s museum? Founded in 1999, Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh provides hours of play and learning for kids of all ages. Interactive and hands-on, children can learn about a variety of subjects in an immersive environment. Spanning two floors, exhibits include Treetunes, Toddlers Hollow, Around Town (a kid-sized play city), Stepnotes, Splash, STEMosphere (with STEM focused activities), and more. The museum also offers special programs and events throughout the year, as well as themed summer camps.

Tickets for the Marbles Kids Museum cost $9 plus tax when purchased in advance, and $12 plus tax when purchased day-of. Children younger than 12 months are admitted at no cost. Guests arriving after 3pm Wednesday through Friday can enjoy 50% off their admission fee.

Museum Hours & Location:

  • Address; 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Phone number: 919-834-4040
  • Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday, 10am-5pm, Thursday, 10am-7pm, Friday-Sunday, 10am-5pm
  • Admission price: Advance purchase (12 months and older) = $9 plus tax, Day-of purchase: $12 plus tax

Discovery Place Science — Children’s science museum in Uptown Charlotte

Focused on all things science and technology related, Discovery Place Science provides an exciting, hands-on learning experience. Featuring immersive exhibits, live shows, science labs, and an IMAX theater, families can easily spend the entire morning and afternoon at this favorite North Carolina museum (located in Uptown Charlotte). Popular exhibits and labs at Discovery Place Science include the Thinker Space lab, the Being Me exhibit (centered around human health and anatomy), Project Build, and Think It Up.

Discovery Place Science is great for kids up to seven years of age. However, children of all ages can have fun at this museum. Admission to Discovery Place Science costs between $18-$29 per person depending on age, day of the week, and whether tickets are purchased in advance or at the door.

Museum Hours & Location:

  • Address: 301 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
  • Phone number: 704-372-6261
  • Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:30am-4:30pm, Saturday-Sunday, 10:30am-4:30pm
  • Admission price: $18-$29 per person, free for museum members

Biltmore Estate — America’s Largest Home set against the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains in Asheville

Originally intended to be the home of George Vanderbilt and his family, Biltmore Estate has become one of the most toured attractions in the entire country. Built at the turn of the 20th century, Biltmore Estate is far more than just another North Carolina museum. Offering tours (self-guided, private, and audio) of the sprawling house and gardens, visitors can feel as though they’ve been transported back to the grandeur of luxury living in the early 1900s.

Aside from touring the house itself, there are rotating exhibits that are displayed at Biltmore Estate throughout the year. Recent exhibits have included Van Gogh Alive, the Downton Abbey exhibit, and Monet & Friends. Visitors can explore the rest of the grounds, which includes a winery and the Antler Hill Village, which features restaurants and shops. Admission for the Biltmore Estate starts at $89 per person.

Museum Hours & Location:

  • Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
  • Phone number: 800-411-3812
  • Hours: Varies depending on the time of year
  • Admission price: Varies depending on the day and time of year. Admission starts at $89 per person.

Asheville Pinball Museum — Eclectic and interactive tour of pinball machines from every decade

In search of a less traditional North Carolina museum experience? Look no further than the Asheville Pinball Museum. Featuring 35 machines that span every decade and theme, visitors can play on each one of the historic pinball machines. They also offer a selection of 35 classic video game machines that can be played. Admission to the Asheville Pinball Museum costs $15 per person, and includes game play for the entire day.

Museum Hours & Location:

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum — Family-friendly maritime museum on North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Planning a visit to the Outer Banks of North Carolina? On this scenic and secluded chain of islands — located off of the eastern coast of the state — be sure to check out the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. This museum is both family-friendly and youth-friendly, offering scavenger hunts for kids and self-guided tours of maritime artifacts.

Museum Hours & Location:

Museum of Life and Science — 84-acre family-friendly science museum

Immerse yourself in one of the best North Carolina science museums — the Museum of Life and Science. Suitable for individuals of all ages, visitors can spend the day exploring a wide array of indoor and outdoor science-centric exhibits. Be sure to check out the Butterfly House, Aerospace (which includes Apollo-era artifacts), the Dinosaur Trail, Explore the Wild (which features the endangered red wolf), and many others.

General admission for adults is $23. However, children, seniors, and members of the military receive discounted admission. If you are a resident of Durham, be sure to visit the museum during one of the many scheduled Durham Community Days throughout the year. This program allows locals to receive free admission when showing proof of residency. Museum members also receive free daily admission.

Museum Hours & Location:

NASCAR Hall of Fame — Historic NASCAR museum in Uptown Charlotte

Towering into Charlotte’s skyline is the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Designed as a fun and hands-on museum for fans, this establishment provides engaging activities and entertainment from start to finish.

Visitors to the NASCAR Hall of Fame can explore a thrilling variety of exhibits and interactive experiences, including the Hall of Honor, Racing Simulators, the High Octane Theater, Inside NASCAR, and Heritage Speedway.

Museum Hours & Location:

Map of Museums in North Carolina

As a new resident of any major North Carolina city — including Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh, or Durham — visiting museums is a great way to occupy your leisure time. Whether you are moving from a long distance or nearby, our North Carolina movers can help you settle into your new home with efficiency and care. Learn more about our five-star moving services today.


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