Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Free Rides on Thursday: 15 kid-friendly bus destinations in Raleigh, Durham, Cary

Posted September 18, 2017 9:02 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 3:14 p.m. EDT

Try Transit Week is this week, and the region's public transportation services are offering free rides all day on Thursday.

I share this for one big reason: If you have young kids who don't normally get a chance to ride in public transportation, but love watching big vehicles, this can be a GREAT activity. My kids, when they were much younger, both loved riding on public transportation from time to time in Raleigh. And, bonus: It's a teacher workday for many Wake County school students. This could be a fun way to spend the day.

If you're new to our local public transportation, GoTriangle offers some tips before you go.

My main tips from experience: Get to the bus stop early. Be prepared to wait. Leave plenty of time to get to your destination. Be prepared to walk a little to your destination. And check out the incredibly easy-to-use TransLoc website, where you can simply key in your destination, find out if a stop is nearby and get the exact route.

Here are 15 places to go!


Kids 12 and under normally ride GoRaleigh for free, but they must be with an adult. Fares range between 60 cents for seniors and teens ages 13 to 18 to $2.50 for a day pass. But, of course, it's free on Thursday. Here are five places to go when you ride GoRaleigh.

Downtown Raleigh

There are lots of stops in downtown Raleigh, which will drop you off very close to N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, N.C. Museum of History and Marbles Kids Museum.

Nature Research Center

Pullen Park

Take a ride to this top Raleigh destination and then board the park's popular kiddie train.

Sassafras All Children's Playground

This amazing playground, the biggest in Raleigh, is at Laurel Hills Community Center, which has its own bus stop.

Sassafras All Children's Playground

Crabtree Valley Mall

Do some shopping, get a treat and check out the pop-up American Girl store, which is open through January 2018.

American Girl store at Crabtree Valley Mall

Sertoma Arts Center

Play on the playground and take a walk around Shelley Lake.


Kids 12 and under normally ride GoCary for free, but they must be with an adult. Fares range between 75 cents for seniors and teens ages 13 to 18 to $4.50 for a regional day pass for adults. But, of course, it's free on Thursday. Here are five places to go when you ride GoCary.

Crossroads Shopping Center

Hop off for a shopping trip, a movie, lunch or just some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery or frozen yogurt at Yopop Frozen Yogurt.

Downtown Cary

Check out some books at Cary Community Library, play at Cary's new Downtown Park and stay for lunch or a treat.

Destination: Cary's Downtown Park

Cary Depot

Blow the minds of your little transportation lovers and plan your stop so that you can see the Amtrak trains pull in and out.

Cary Towne Center

Take a shopping trip - or go swimming at the Triangle Aquatics Center.

Go to a Park

Cary's Bond Park and North Cary Park are two parks along GoCary's routes.

North Cary Park's climbing boulders


Kids 12 and under normally ride GoDurham for free, but they must be with an adult. GoDurham's website has more information about fares, which are free on Thursday. Here are five places to go when you ride GoDurham.

Durham Central Park

Play on Mount Merrill then head up to Rise or another nearby spot for a treat or lunch.

Duke Park

Head out for a few hours to Duke Park and take a ride on the playground's GIANT slides.

Duke Park

The Streets at Southpoint

Get lunch or run some errands at the mall, then walk across the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 40 to Homestead Market Shopping Center where you can check out Bull City Craft and The Madpopper.

Pedestrian bridge over I-40

Northgate Mall

Ditto on the lunch or errands, then ride the mall's carousel.

Duke Gardens

Take a walk in the beautiful gardens or make plans to attend the 10:30 a.m., storytime, on Thursday, for ages 3 to 5 and their adult.