There are many free or cheap kids activities in eastern North Carolina. The area gets a bad rap for not having “much to do,” but it is one of my favorite places we have ever lived.
[Not in Eastern NC? View the entire Free or Cheap Kids Activities series here.]
My family lived in eastern NC near New Bern, North Carolina for the first three years after my oldest was born. I met some wonderful mom friends there-that is where I met one of our Mom Motivation Mondays contributors, Heather.
The people are friendly, the area is casual and low-key, and there are some fantastic free or cheap activities for kids that are worth exploring.
Eastern North Carolina was where we lived when my husband deployed for a year. I was always on the lookout for free or cheap kids activities in eastern North Carolina that were appropriate for my toddler. I organized a playgroup when we lived in the area, so I gathered all the resources I could to share with the other moms. (Even before writing this blog I was trying my best to encourage moms to enjoy their time as stay-at-home moms and make the best of it!)
You do not need to spend a lot of money to educate your child, help them explore the world around them or enjoy quality time together. Free or cheap kids activities in eastern North Carolina will give you plenty to explore together as a family.
Free or Cheap Activities in Eastern North Carolina
New Bern Library Story Times
There are multiple story time sessions every week. Find which one fits your age group:
18 mos-3 yrs – Fridays, 9:30a and 10:30a
3 yrs-5 yrs – Tuesdays, 9:30a and 10:30a
5- 10 year olds – Thursdays 4pm
10 years and up – Thursdays at 4pm
View more details on the library website.
You can take a farm tour for $5 per person, and children under 2 years old are free. There are summer camps that are also very affordable. Located in Newport, NC, you can check out details on The Barnyard website.
North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort
The museum has free admission and is open every day. There are locations in Beaufort, Hatteras and Southport. Click for more details about each museum and children’s programs.
Wilmington Children’s Museum
Children 12 months and under are free. Everyone else is less than $10 to enter the museum. They have a separate pre-toddler area and preschool storytime events. My son (when he was a toddler) loved the large train track play area. A few exhibits may have changed since we visited, so view their website for more details.
Union Point Park
On the Neuse River in downtown New Bern, this park offers great views, a playground, ducks, and a very nice boardwalk. We used to take my oldest to feed the ducks, swing, and look at the passing boats when he was just a toddler. He loved it. It is completely free and parking is usually pretty easy to find right in the park area. It is great for a picnic, or a playdate to meet friends. View more here.
Check out even more fun family activity ideas around Wilmington here.
North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
Children 2 yrs and under are free. During the Fall and winter months you can enter the museum for less than $10 per person. There are 3 locations along the outer banks of North Carolina.
A Day at the Farm
Located in Cove City, NC, this little farm was so fun for toddlers and preschooler. It was inexpensive to enter and in the Fall there is a small pumpkin patch, animals, hayrides and even a hay loft for jumping. There was face painting and a snack bar, plus parking is close so you do not have to walk far with little ones. You can read more here.
Located near Richlands, the farm offers hayrides in the Fall and Winter months for $2 per person and children 3 and under are free. The animal area is open for free admission whenever the farm is open. There is a restaurant on site and holiday-themed events, but a visit to the animals and a hayride cost very little for a fun time! Check out details on the website.
In Cape Carteret, this entertainment center features bowling, arcade, snack bar and a restaurant. I am told by friends that toddlers can have fun in the arcade as well as older children. Great spot for school age kids and you can bowl a game for just over $5. More info on their website here.
Water Boggan of Emerald Isle
A break from the beach, this water amusement park costs little to enter. In the North Carolina summer heat, it is a nice spot to cool off for the day. Located on Emerald Isle, you can check out their full location info here.
Cool Springs Environmental Education Center
Admission is free and there are trails of different lengths along with group events available. Call to setup a visit: 252-633-7017 or 252-514-3533, and view all the details on the Cool Springs site.
Aurora Fossil Museum
Fossil museum, fossil dig for kids, and a Fossil Festival on Memorial Weekend. Located in Aurora, NC you can grab all the details on their website.
Imagination Station Science Museum
Located in Wilson, NC this museum is so affordable! Children under 3 are free; Adults and children 3 years old and up are only $5. Click to read all about the museum.
Cherry Point Air Show
The next air show will be in 2018. Details will be shared on the website as they become available. The air show is held on the Marine Corps Air Station on Cherry Point. The general public gains access to the show and many of the attractions are free and open to all.
Planetarium Health & Science Museum
FREE Admission gets you into this planetarium and museum with hands-on health and science exhibits for kids of all ages. Located in Kinston, NC, the Lenoir Health and Science Museum also features an exhibit on minerals. Call for more details: 252-939-3302
Neuseway Nature Park
A hands-on salt-water touch tank filled with a variety of different coastal creatures gives kids a great experience exploring. There are also numerous exhibits of plants and animals indigenous to North Carolina, including live venomous and non-venomous snakes, flying squirrels, talking birds, bears, bobcats and more. Also included in the park are nature trails. This is all free! View all the details.
Explore science, art, nature and history where the rivers meet the sea at the first estuary in the world, created in 1988. Estuaries form where rivers meet the sea, blending fresh and salt waters into thriving ecosystems that are essential nurseries for thousands of species of fish and shellfish.
Visit the website to sign-up for a seasonal river boat tour. Children 4 and under are free, children 5-17 are $3.00 and adults are $5, so it is a very affordable place to visit. The Estuarium is located in Washington, NC.
Crystal Coast Beaches
All along the crystal coast there are many beaches that are really easy to access. Having lived on the west coast and the east coast, I think NC beaches are worth the visit. There is often free parking and of course no admission fee to spend a day at the beach with kids. You can check out all the Crystal Coast beaches here.
Fort Macon State Park
There is no admission fee to tour the historic fort or hiking trails. Trails are great for getting kids out in nature and burning energy. The views from the fort and beaches are great and you may even see a tugboat motoring along the shore. Check out details here.
From Beaufort, NC you can often see bands of wild horses grazing on the beaches across the sound. It is free to drive over if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but there are ferries that can take you over so you can walk near the horses. Kids just love watching animals. You can click to get more info about the Beaufort horses or the horses that roam Shackleford Banks.
Visit NC covers the entire state of North Carolina. Search kids activities in the search box to discover even more fun and affordable activities for kids in the eastern North Carolina region.
View the whole series of free or cheap kids activities.
Do you know of any free or cheap kids activities in eastern North Carolina? Fill out the form below or leave me a comment at the end of this post. I’d love to include your ideas!