Raleigh   Travel Guide

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

10 Best Things To Do in Raleigh

Updated September 1, 2022

The capital of North Carolina is filled with diversions for all sorts of travelers. For instance, art lovers will appreciate the North Carolina Museum of Art while those with an interest in science might enjoy the North Carolina Museum of Natural

  • All Things To Do

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Neuse River Trail Neuse River Trail free

The Neuse River Trail (also known as the Raleigh Greenway) is a portion of a nearly 28-mile path that stretches from the Falls Lake Dam in Wake Forest, North Carolina, down to the Wake/Johnston county line in Raleigh. The wide path travels along the Neuse River, across wetlands, through woods and is altogether beautiful, according to many a jogger, dog walker and bike rider.

In fact, the Neuse River Trail caused one TripAdvisor user, who hails from Boston, to consider moving to Raleigh: "This trail is a total delight.  … Locals ride their bikes [and] run their miles with their dogs … Not used to be smiled at by a total stranger … Why haven't I moved here?!"

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences free

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is Raleigh's most popular attraction for several reasons: it's free, its cafe features a menu of tasty and reasonably priced items and it contains plentiful exhibits that recent visitors say interest travelers of all ages. The museum teaches visitors about North Carolina through exhibits like "Coastal North Carolina," which features everything from whale skeletons to seahorse bioramas and the "Living Conservatory," which flutters with butterflies. There is also a wing of the museum dedicated to nature research, and this is where visitors can embrace their inner scientist in "Investigate Labs" or simply watch scientists work in the "Windows on Research" areas. 

Recent visitors "ooh" and "ahh" over the diverse displays and the free admission. One TripAdvisor user was also quite impressed by the museum staff: "I stopped in to ask for someone to answer some questions about preying mantis', these 2 ladies answered my questions and then some."

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Pullen Park Pullen Park free

Pullen Park, which sits beside North Carolina State University, has a number of superlatives to its name. Not only is it the state's first public park, it's also the fifth-oldest operating amusement park in the U.S. and the 16th-oldest operating amusement park in the world. Today, visitors flock to the park for its cheap amusements — $1 for a carousel ride or a trip out on the paddle boats — as well for its lush beauty. Fans of the Andy Griffith Show also like to seek out the bronze statue of "Andy and Opie." There are also playgrounds, sports fields, tennis courts and an indoor aquatic center.

Recent visitors, particularly families, can't say enough about Pullen Park, though some recommend visiting on the evenings and weekdays when it's less crowded.

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

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raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

North Carolina Museum of Art North Carolina Museum of Art free

The North Carolina Museum of Art's gleaming white galleries, which hang with paintings like Andrew Wyeth's "Winter 1946" and "The Holy Family with St. Anne" by Peter Paul Rubens and Workshop, are impressive in and of themselves. But visitors also highly praise the museum's rotating exhibits, the lovely sculpture garden and the interesting tours and events. The museum's restaurant, Iris, is also an artful place too with its floor-to-ceiling windows and wall sculpture.

One TripAdvisor user, who calls the North Carolina Museum of Art "one of the loveliest spots in Raleigh," also has this to say: "The grounds are a wonderful blend of sculpture, garden and pastoral beauty. Parking is plentiful. Restaurant is imaginative in presentation and menu selection. Collection is always evolving and not overwhelmingly vast."

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

William B. Umstead State Park William B. Umstead State Park free

In the between the cities of Raleigh, Cary and Durham is the William B. Umstead State Park and its 5,579 acres of wooded trails and picturesque lakes. You can walk, bike, hike and run through it, and you can even take a paddleboat or a canoe out for a small fee. Some travelers are chagrined at its popularity, saying that it's lost some of its delightful seclusion. But most recent visitors highly recommend it.

"At over 5,000 acres, it can be crowded along popular trails close to parking areas," one TripAdvisor user said. "However, go more than a mile up a trail … and it's very quiet. There are dozens of hiking trails, great birding opportunities, several lakes, boating/canoeing, and fishing."

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

North Carolina Museum of History North Carolina Museum of History free

The North Carolina Museum of History is exactly what its name suggests — a museum about North Carolina's history. Exhibits include the 20,000-square-foot permanent "Story of North Carolina," which traces the state's history across 14,000 years. Visitors will find everything from two full-size historic houses to a life-size replica of the Wright brothers' plane, the "Wright Flyer." Other exhibits focus on themes like sports or the Civil War, and there are a host of temporary exhibits that rotate through the museum. 

Visitors were especially delighted by the museum's preservation of the historic homes, and many say they were enchanted by the stories about the wars and North Carolina's origins.

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Marbles Kids Museum Marbles Kids Museum

You might wonder where this children's museum got its name, and the answer is two-fold. One, because the museum founders encourage kids to "use their marbles" (or brains) while they play. And two, because a wall that surrounds the museum is filled with more than 1 million marbles that light up at night. Other than marbles, the museum features exhibits that range from an "Art Loft," where kids can do crafts, paint and sculpt, to a "Power 2 Play" exhibit where children can play with kid-size athletic equipment. There's also a cafe and an IMAX theater.

Visitors to Raleigh with children in tow highly recommend this museum, citing the bottom floor's age-specific diversions as particularly engaging for youngsters. Others advise leaving plenty of time to enjoy the museum's diverse exhibits, and potentially even splitting up a visit here across two different days, noting the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming for the younger set.

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Raleigh City Market Raleigh City Market free

Raleigh's City Market, which opened more than a century ago, is an ensemble of shops and boutiques, bars and restaurants, and it's a nice place to meander when the weather is nice. You'll come across everything from eateries like Vic's Ristorante Italiano to businesses like the Dogwood Collective , which sells local clothing brands. Last year, a seasonal farmers market had stalls at the market too, from the spring to the fall.

Recent visitors say that although the selection of shops is small and somewhat overpriced, the salespeople and restaurateurs are affable and their products are excellent.  

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

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raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

North Carolina State Capitol North Carolina State Capitol free

The North Carolina State Capitol, which was completed in 1840, is the center of activity for North Carolina state government. It also contains a host of curiosities — like its Greek architecture and the fact that the visage of George Washington shows up four times, once in a Roman general's garb — that make for an especially interesting tour. Recent visitors strongly suggest penciling in time for the tour, saying that the docents offer a variety of interesting details about the building and North Carolina's past. In December, the Capitol hosts a handful of festive holiday events, from a tree lighting to an open house.

The Capitol is open for visits Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free guided tours, which many recent visitors highly recommend, are held on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. You'll find the building downtown on East Edenton Street. For more information, visit the website . 

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Historic Yates Mill County Park Historic Yates Mill County Park free

The 174-acre Historic Yates Mill County Park is the last remaining water-powered gristmill in Wake County. It's also a nice place to stretch your legs: There are several miles of hiking trails that trace the Mill Pond and extend west of it. And you can also fish from two boardwalks.

Some visitors say that the Historic Yates Mill County Park is the perfect spot to indulge in some fresh air and tranquility. "We found this by 'accident' and it was one of our favorite stops in Raleigh," one TripAdvisor user said. "If you like the outdoors and quiet trails, you should check it out."

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

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PlanetWare.com

14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Raleigh

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers and Meagan Drillinger Updated Dec 25, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Raleigh, North Carolina was always destined to be the capital of the state. It was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, who established a short-lived English settlement here in the 1580s. But like Washington, D.C., Raleigh was designed from the start as the capital city.

JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina

From its founding in 1792, it was called the "City of Oaks," and its leaders ever since have been committed to preserving and maintaining its parks and trees. The result is an attractive and very livable city, where modern glass and steel construction is softened by parks and greenways.

And if that's not enough green space, only a few miles away is the beautiful Umstead State Park , where you can walk or bike on wooded trails or rent a canoe or paddleboat to explore the lake.

Both visual and performing arts are important here, and you'll find art museums and theaters among the most popular places to visit. Raleigh's African American heritage runs deep, and several sites in the city celebrate that legacy, including the Pope House Museum , the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Gardens, and the 35-acre Mount Hope Cemetery.

Discover the best of the city with the help of this list of the top attractions and things to do in Raleigh.

See also: Where to Stay in Raleigh

1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

2. north carolina museum of art, 3. pullen park, 4. marbles kids museum, 5. north carolina museum of history, 6. walking through historic oakwood, 7. performing arts in raleigh, 8. historic yates mill, 9. jc raulston arboretum, 10. mordecai historic park, 11. north carolina state capitol, 12. william b. umstead state park, 13. pnc arena, 14. neuse river greenway trail, where to stay in raleigh for sightseeing, map of attractions & things to do in raleigh.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Conveniently located downtown, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the largest natural science museums in the southeastern United States. It has two buildings: one focused on the educational exhibits, and the other focused on the methods behind the science.

In addition to traveling exhibits, the Nature Exploration Center has permanent installations including the Arthropod Zoo; the Living Conservatory; and exhibits that explore North Carolina's coasts, mountains, and local natural history.

The Prehistoric section is the most popular, where you can meet Acro, the only genuine skeleton of an Acrocanthosaurus on display in the world. Those who like to get really hands-on will love the Discovery Room, where you are encouraged to touch and explore everything. The Nature Research Center is where you can learn about the science behind the natural world, from the DNA Investigative Lab to space exploration.

The can't-miss exhibit here, though, is the SECU Daily Planet, a three-story theater that explores the planet earth from the inside out. The museum offers detailed floor maps for self-guided tours, or you can get their app for a digital guide.

Address: 11 W. Jones Street, Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina Museum of Art

The galleries at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) first opened in 1956 as the first state-funded collection. They showcase art from the Renaissance, ancient Greek and Roman sculpture and artifacts, Egyptian burial artwork, pre-Columbian works, and early American art.

The NCMA is also proud to be one of two American museums to house permanent exhibits dedicated to Jewish art. The museum offers guided tours of its galleries and special exhibits and also hosts workshops, lectures, films, and performing arts shows. The museum grounds are worth exploring for their sculptures, gardens, and peaceful reflecting pool.

The African American Cultural Center at North Carolina State is at the Witherspoon Student Center and features exhibits by prominent artists that focus on this rich heritage.

Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, North Carolina

Pullen Park

First opened in 1887, Pullen Park was the first public park in North Carolina. The park's 66 acres offer far more than the typical city park. Visitors can take rides on the Gustave A Dentzel Carousel and the C.P. Huntington miniature train . Pedal boats are available to rent for a cruise around Lake Howell, and for the younger mariners, there is a kiddie boat ride.

Kids will also love the huge playground, which includes water play for those hot summer days, and there are often shows in the children's amphitheater . Fans of The Andy Griffith Show will want to pose for pictures with the "Andy and Opie" statue.

The park also has a café, tennis courts, an aquatic center, sports fields, and the Theatre in the Park , as well as many special events throughout the year.

Address: 520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, North Carolina

Marbles Kids Museum

The hands-on Marbles Kids Museum should be high on the list of places to visit for families with young children. It is filled with interactive exhibits, including an exploration of music at Tree Tunes; the world of horticulture at Sun Sprouts kid's garden; an energetic time at Kid Grid; and the BB&T Toddler's Hollow, where kids three and under can play and explore safely in a place just for them.

Laminated Picture Maps are available to borrow, so that the kids can plan their day, and parents will be happy to have the choice of eating at their on-site café or bringing their own lunch for a picnic. The Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles shows both Hollywood hits and educational films on its 50 by 70-foot screen, keeping everyone in the family entertained.

Address: 201 E. Hargett Street, Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina Museum of History

The North Carolina Museum of History has permanent and traveling exhibits that encompass the state's past. You will find Native American tools, housewares of early European settlers, costumes from the Revolutionary War era, and weapons and military gear from the Civil War.

African American history is featured as well, from the first days of slavery through the arduous fight for freedom and equality. This is also home to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, where visitors can learn about native sports heroes and see plenty of memorabilia.

Address: 5 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh, North Carolina

Historic home in the Oakwood neighborhood

Near downtown Raleigh, the historic Oakwood neighborhood is North Carolina's largest, intact 19 th -century residential district, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places . Many of its hundreds of 19th-century homes have been fully restored to their former glory.

Be sure to stroll past the Tucker House , an impressive Neoclassical Revival-style home. In addition to the architecture, you'll see beautiful gardens surrounding many of the homes.

A walking tour guide can be found at the Capitol Area Visitor's Center , including a map and information about the houses and the history of the neighborhood. Maps and more detailed information can also be found at the Historic Oakwood website.

The Historic Oak View County Park is an antebellum farmhouse built in 1885. It features the Farm History Center, the Cotton Gin House, and the Plank Kitchen. The gardens and orchards are the perfect place to bring your picnic.

Performing Arts in Raleigh

Raleigh is home to a wide variety of performing arts venues and organizations. Theater-goers will love the Theatre in the Park at Pullen Park, which hosts several productions each year and is best known for its annual December performance of A Christmas Carol .

The Burning Coal Theatre is located downtown, and the nearby Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts hosts stage plays and musicals produced by the North Carolina Theatre , as well as the work of the North Carolina Opera .

It is also the performance home for the Carolina Ballet and hosts the nationally celebrated North Carolina Symphony . In September, the city hosts the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass .

Yates Mill

About five miles south of the center, Yates Mill is the area's last remaining water-powered gristmill, a reminder of an era when 70 of these ground corn and wheat into meal and flour for residents of Wake County. The mill still has its original equipment and operated into the mid-1950s.

On a visit to the mill, open March through November, you can see costumed millers grind corn and learn how the water wheel powered the millstones. Programs, events, and exhibits help preserve the region's agricultural heritage, and the mill sits in a park that includes a 174-acre wildlife refuge and an environmental research center.

Several miles of hiking trails extend around the Mill Pond and into the surrounding park. Two boardwalks provide a place to fish, as rural residents did when the mill was a local gathering place.

Address: 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh, North Carolina

JC Raulston Arboretum

With one of the largest and most diverse collections of plants for landscape use in the Southeast, the JC Raulston Arboretum is both a tourist attraction and a source of inspiration for regional gardeners.

Plants are collected and evaluated to find those best suited to Piedmont North Carolina conditions and southern landscapes, but for the casual visitor, the gardens are simply a beautiful place to visit at any time of year.

Rhododendron, iris, and wisteria bloom in April, and showy cannas, daylilies, hydrangeas, and dahlias in June. Even in winter, there are camellias in Asian Valley and in the Southall Memorial Garden, and in February, Chinese redbud, pink and white magnolias, squills, and snowdrops bloom.

In addition, there are perennial borders, the Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden, the Swindell Contemplation Garden, a wall garden, a white garden, and other themes.

Address: 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, North Carolina

Mordecai Historic Park

Mordecai Historic Park preserves the birthplace of Andrew Johnson , the 17th president of the United States. Built in 1785, the Mordecai House is the oldest in the city still standing on its original foundation.

Guided tours are offered on the hour and include the estate and gardens as well as many additional 19th-century buildings such as St. Mark's Chapel; Badger Iredell Law Office; and the Allen Kitchen, which was re-created using descriptions left in Ellen Mordecai's correspondence.

This is also the home base for the Historic Raleigh Trolley , a one-hour narrated tour of the city's historic sites.

Address: 1 Mimosa Street, Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina State Capitol

The North Carolina State Capitol Building is considered one of the best-preserved examples of Greek revival architecture in the United States. Architect David Paton's influence can be seen in the attention to detail in its intricate molding and plasterwork, the cantilevered gallery, and the grandiose Greek elements.

Completed in 1840, the building is one of Raleigh's best-loved landmarks. Up until 1888, it housed all of North Carolina's State Government, but today it only houses the Governor's office. This sightseeing stop is on Raleigh's historic Trolley Tour.

Address: 1 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh, North Carolina

William B. Umstead State Park

Just outside Raleigh proper, halfway to Durham, is the expansive William B. Umstead State Park . This natural paradise is a web of 13 miles of winding trails that weave around three man-made lakes.

Umstead State Park is popular among hikers, trail runners, cyclists, and equestrians. Fishing is also a top activity, especially at Big Lake, which has canoe and rowboat rentals. During the summer, campgrounds open up for overnight stays underneath the stars.

But perhaps the best secret of Umstead State Park is the art project that lies hidden among the trees. Take the Graylyn multi-use trail to discover a 25-foot fallen red oak tree, whose trunk has been carved by two artists to reveal elaborate pictures of animals, tree branches, and leaves. It is quite the site to stumble upon as you're off exploring the wooded nature trails.

Address: 8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, North Carolina

PNC Arena

The state of North Carolina loves its sports teams, and Raleigh is no different. When it comes to sports in Raleigh, fans turn to the PNC Arena . This indoor arena is home to the National Hockey League Carolina Hurricanes and the NC State Wolfpack men's basketball team.

The arena has 18,680 seats for ice hockey games and 19,500 seats for basketball. Within the arena are more than 60 suites and 13 luxury boxes, as well as 2,000 club seats. You'll also find a 300-seat restaurant.

The arena welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors per year. It's also the prime venue in Raleigh for major concert tours. It hosts more than 150 events per year.

Address: 1400 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, North Carolina

Neuse River Greenway Trail

North Carolina is home to some truly dramatic landscapes, and much of that can be seen along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that runs across the state. The trail winds its way down from the Great Smoky Mountains and heads to the lowlands of the Outer Banks. A portion of that trail runs through Raleigh, and it's called the Neuse River Greenway Trail .

Raleigh's section of the trail is 27.5 miles of paved trail offering views over the Neuse River. Along the way, travelers will pass through different types of landscapes, with plenty of historical sites along the way.

Address: Parking, lot 1721 Riverview Road, Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh's main tourist attractions, including Historic Oakwood, the State Capitol, and most of the museums, are located downtown. For first-time visitors, this is the best place to stay. Luxury and mid-range hotels are generally found near the convention center, and the prices drop as you head out toward Interstate 440. Sports fans may want to stay to the west by PNC Arena, near North Carolina State Museum. Below are some highly rated hotels in good locations:

Luxury Hotels:

  • Attached to the Convention Center, the Raleigh Marriott City Center is ideal for trade show attendees and offers well-appointed rooms with marble bathrooms, coupled with first-class service.
  • Just west of the downtown core is the new hip and trendy Aloft Raleigh . Ultra-modern décor and the latest technology are featured throughout the property.
  • Nearby, in the North Hill shopping district, is the Hyatt House . The large rooms with kitchens and the seasonal outdoor pool make this a great hotel for families.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • The recently renovated DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Raleigh , just a mile west of downtown, features oversize rooms and is within easy walking distance of several restaurants.
  • Easily accessible off Interstate 440, beside the large Crabtree Mall, the Hilton Garden Inn offers comfortable rooms and an indoor pool.
  • The Hampton Inn & Suites is less than a mile from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in the trendy Glenwood South District. This hotel offers an evening reception with appetizers, and plenty of restaurants and entertainment venues are just steps away.

Budget Hotels:

  • Conveniently located right downtown in an older building with some of the best views in the city is the Holiday Inn .
  • A great-value option just two miles to the south is the Red Roof PLUS+ . This hotel has recently been renovated and offers pet-friendly rooms.
  • Just over ten minutes to the northwest of downtown is the Candlewood Suites . A good choice for families, this hotel has a variety of suites, all with kitchens.

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Places to Visit in North Carolina: Raleigh is near the state's center, so from here, you can easily visit more of the top tourist attractions in North Carolina . About 2.5 hours to the west is lively Charlotte and to the north, you'll find plenty of things to do in Mount Airy , in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is a good base for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains .

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Places to Visit for Beach Lovers : You'll want to head east for the fabled beaches of North Carolina , many of which you'll find on the beautiful Outer Banks . For information on camping sites here, take a look at our page on the top campgrounds in the Outer Banks .

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Top Attractions in Raleigh

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

2. North Carolina Museum of Art

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

3. Pullen Park

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

4. North Carolina Museum of History

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

5. Marbles Kids Museum

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

6. State Farmers Market

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

7. PNC Arena

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8. Umstead State Park

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

9. JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

10. Mordecai Historic Park

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11. Historic Yates Mill County Park

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

12. Neuse River Trail

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What travellers are saying

Malik Hassan

  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • North Carolina Museum of Art
  • Pullen Park
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • North Carolina Museum of History
  • Neuse River Trail
  • JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
  • Umstead State Park
  • Historic Yates Mill County Park

Raleigh Attractions Information

The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » United States » North Carolina (NC) » 25 Best Things to Do in Raleigh (North Carolina)

25 Best Things to Do in Raleigh (North Carolina)

Founded in 1792, (by a man who you will learn more about later on) with the specific purpose of being the state capital, Raleigh is not the first choice of visitors to the state of North Carolina but does still have a lot to offer.

It has a charming downtown area with a smattering of quality and inexpensive (many are free) museums. The culture in Raleigh is becoming more sophisticated as time goes by and the art galleries, food and music in the city are quickly gaining a reputation.

Here is our list of the best things to do in Raleigh :

1. Learn about Natural Sciences

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The largest natural science museum in the Southeast of the United States, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is home to a large variety of interactive exhibits and educational programs that allow visitors to get up close and personal with science and nature.

You will find the museum in Downtown Raleigh and general admission is free.

2. Visit the State Capitol

North Carolina State Capitol

The State Capitol building of North Carolina is located on Edenton Street in Raleigh. The building is classed as a National Historic Landmark and dates back to 1840.

It is believed to be one of the finest examples of a building of its kind in the Greek Revival architectural style. Tours of the building include visiting the building’s impressive rotunda centerpiece which was added in 1970.

The rotunda is a copy of the statue of George Washington displayed in the State House between 1820 and 1831.

3. Go wacky at Marbles

Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum is great for young children or adults that think they are still children. The museum opened in 2007 in Downtown Raleigh and is a hands-on, interactive learning experience.

Exhibits include Tree Tunes, which lets young ones have a go at making music inspired by the great outdoors, and Splash, a water themed learning zone.

There is also an Imax cinema at the museum which plays the latest blockbusters along with special educational films.

4. Enjoy outdoors at Pullen Park

Pullen Park

Pullen Park is a 66 and a half acre park is just west of the Downtown area of Raleigh and right next to the University campus.

The park was opened in 1887 and is home to an aquatic center, an amusement arcade, an arts center, a cafe and an outdoor theater.

As well as all of these attractions, the park is also a great place to undertake in a variety of outdoor pursuits such as tennis or basketball or simply relax and have a picnic in one of the picnic areas.

5. Admire a large plant collection

JC Raulston Arboretum

Located on the State University Campus, the JC Raulston Arboretum is one of the largest collections of plants in the Southeast United States featuring over 6,500 plants from around the world.

Tours of the Arboretum take place every Sunday between the months of March and October at 2pm.

Normal access to the gardens is available everyday to the public and is free of charge.

6. See art from around the world

North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art was the first major museum in the United States to be funded by the state.

It was opened in 1956 and its permanent collections consists of European and American art that was bought with public funds.

Throughout the museum you will also find Egyptian, African and contemporary art. Daily tours of the museum take place Tuesday to Friday and are a free introduction to the museums vast collections.

7. View an 18th Century House

Mordecai House

Built in 1785, the Mordecai House is registered a National Historic Landmark and museum. The house and park are home to some of the city’s most valuable treasures.

The house itself is the oldest in the city and was once home to the largest plantation in Wake County.

Some areas of the house have been restored to their original state using documentation left behind by the previous resident Ellen Mordecai.

8. Tour the North Carolina Executive Mansion

North Carolina Executive Mansion

Home to North Carolina governors since 1890, the North Carolina Executive Mansion is a Victorian Style Mansion with what has been descried as the most beautiful interior of any governor’s building in the United States.

The mansion was built from materials native to the area and since its construction has been home to the families of 28 governors.

Free tours of both the house and gardens are available but must be made a minimum of two weeks in advance.

9. Pay your respects at the City Cemetery

City Cemetery of Raleigh

Established in around 1798, the City Cemetery is divided into separate areas for citizens of Raleigh, visitors and blacks (mainly slaves).

The iron fence that surrounds the cemetery was built to keep straying cattle trampling the area.

Tours are possible although occasional interments still take place here and obviously take priority.

10. Learn at the City Museum

City of Raleigh Museum

Located in the historic Briggs Hardware Building the City Museum is dedicated to telling and preserving the history of the city.

The museum is made up of temporary and permanent exhibits that explore the people, places and events of the city and consist of more than 5,000 artifacts.

The museum is located on Fayetteville Street and open six days a week: closed on Mondays.

11. See the Dorton Arena

Dorton Arena

The J S Dorton Arena was originally built to serve farmers and other industry and commerce but has gained international acclaim since its construction in 1951.

The building now holds regular concerts, athletics, circuses and the North Carolina State Fair. What makes the design of the building so special is that the suspended roof needs no steel supports and therefore no matter where you sit, your view will not be impeded.

12. Pop into the Little Theater

Raleigh Little Theater

Raleigh Little Theater is a community theater that produces around 10 of its own productions each year in an aim to educate and entertain the community with performing arts.

This year, the productions include Monty Python’s SPAMALOT, Sweeney Todd and Cinderella.

The theater dates back to 1936 and, if you intend to see a play whilst in the city this is where you should see it.

13. Visit Yates Mill

Yates Mill

Yates Mill, the centerpiece of the Yates Mill County Park, is a restored mill located around five miles outside of Downtown Raleigh.

The mill is believed to date back to around 1756 and is the only one in Wake County still standing. Tours of the mill consist of Open Mill Tours or Corn Grinding tours all of which carry the same fee.

The park itself is worth exploring and consists of 574 acres of land and is also a wildlife refuge.

14. Learn in an educational forest

Clemmons Educational State Forest

Clemmons Educational Forest is just one of North Carolina’s Educational Forests. It opened in 1976 and has well marked trails with educational exhibits along the way.

There are also ranger taught lessons about wildlife and the forest itself. The forest has plenty of picnic areas to relax in when all the learning gets a bit tiring.

Like many of Raleigh’s attractions the forest is closed on Mondays but open every other day of the week.

15. Explore the Pope House Museum

Pope House Museum

Just a few blocks away from the State Capitol, the Pope House Museum is the only African-American house museum in the state.

The museum features exhibits and original furnishings from the time in which Dr Manassa Thomas Pope, the only African-American to run for mayor of a southern capital in the Jim Crow Era.

Dr Manassa Thomas Pope was a remarkable man and the museum offers a fascinating insight into the life of him and his family.

16. Visit the state’s museum of history

North Carolina Museum of History

When a museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian, you know it is going to be of a high standard and the North Carolina Museum of History does not buck that trend.

The museum, located in Downtown Raleigh, has exhibits such as Treasures of North Carolina and The Story of North Carolina which offer an insight into the history of the state.

As well as these permanent exhibits, the museum also host traveling exhibits which currently include two photography exhibitions.

17. Visit the St Paul AME Church

St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church

The St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church is an impressive Gothic building in Downtown Raleigh but it is the history of the building and the people who run it that are most fascinating.

The church was built by the first independent congregation of African American’s in Raleigh.

A walk around the church tells the fascinating story that actually began ten years before the construction of the church.

18. Go shopping at the Triangle Center

Triangle Town Center

The Triangle Center, located just off of Highway 1 is arguably the best place to shop in the city of Raleigh.

The mall has all of the major shops you would expect from a city mall as well as some good places to eat.

The mall is open from 10-8 Monday – Saturday and Noon until 6pm on Sundays.

19. Visit the Joel Lane House

Joel Lane House

Also known as Wakefield, Joel Lane House was built in the id 18th Century and is the former home of Joel Lane otherwise known as the Father of Raleigh.

In 1769 Joel Lane built his home in a rural part of North Carolina and it was here that he facilitated the location of North Carolina’s capital city.

The home is fully restored and looks as it would have done when Joel Lane lived within. The house was once described as the best house for 100 miles.

20. Sample the country club lifestyle

Golf

The North Ridge Country Club is set on around 400 acres of lush, green, rolling hills and is a place for the wealthy to socialize and interact.

If you are visiting the state, it makes a good place to visit to sample the good life or try your hand at the 18 hole golf course which is immaculately maintained.

The Country Club also holds many charity and special events throughout the year which are open to non-members and worth visiting.

21. Eat at Poole’s Downtown Diner

Restaurant

Serving a fresh take on Americas most classic and comforting dishes, award winning chef, Ashley Christensen had taken over the down town culinary scene by storm.

Poole’s Downtown Diner only serves the finest ingredients sourced locally from North Carolina farms.

22. Visit the William B Umstead State Park

William B Umstead State Park

Only a short detour fro the Interstate 40, the William B Umstead State Park is located handily for anyone looking for a day trip from Raleigh and offers a chance to sample the beautiful nature of North Carolina.

The park is a great place to hike, cycle or even ride a horse along one of a number of well marked and maintained trails. The park covers an area of almost 6,000 acres and has something for all outdoor lovers to enjoy.

There are a number of lakes too which mean that anglers are also catered for.

23. Visit a chocolate factory

Videri Chocolate Factory

The Videri Chocolate Factory epitomizes the love of sweet things that is ever present in the Southern states. The chocolate factory not only lets you try the good stuff but also fills you in on the art of making it.

The entire production of chocolate is explored in detail from start to finish and you will leave your trip feeling like you could start your own factory (maybe).

The best part is saved until last: the sampling.

24. Give the Oak City Coffee Roasters a pat on the back

Coffee

Aside from being a great accompaniment to your chocolate from the chocolate factory, Oak City Coffee Roasters also created a program that employs adults with learning difficulties to make custom Oak City cups.

The roasting business started out in 2013, making it a fairly recent addition to the Warehouse District, and its mission is to bring the rarest and richest coffees from South America to Raleigh.

25. Take a free ride around downtown

R Line bus

Something of a “travel hack” in Raleigh for tourists is the R Line bus which is a hybrid bus service that loops around the downtown area of Raleigh every 15 minutes.

Although not a long journey, it is a good way to see a few sights from the comfort of a modern bus and at no cost at all.

Raleigh may not be known for its transportation infrastructure but it is certainly on the money with this free hybrid bus. The bus runs until 2 in the morning on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

25 Best Things to Do in Raleigh (North Carolina):

  • Learn about Natural Sciences
  • Visit the State Capitol
  • Go wacky at Marbles
  • Enjoy outdoors at Pullen Park
  • Admire a large plant collection
  • See art from around the world
  • View an 18th Century House
  • Tour the North Carolina Executive Mansion
  • Pay your respects at the City Cemetery
  • Learn at the City Museum
  • See the Dorton Arena
  • Pop into the Little Theater
  • Visit Yates Mill
  • Learn in an educational forest
  • Explore the Pope House Museum
  • Visit the state's museum of history
  • Visit the St Paul AME Church
  • Go shopping at the Triangle Center
  • Visit the Joel Lane House
  • Sample the country club lifestyle
  • Eat at Poole's Downtown Diner
  • Visit the William B Umstead State Park
  • Visit a chocolate factory
  • Give the Oak City Coffee Roasters a pat on the back
  • Take a free ride around downtown

27 Best & Fun Things To Do In Raleigh (North Carolina)

By: Author Jerric Chong

Posted on Published: August 29, 2019  - Last updated: October 16, 2023

Things To Do In Raleigh

Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and one of the most impressive cities in all of the American South.

If you’re looking for a great experience in one of the most beautiful places in the United States , you need to plan a trip to Raleigh.

We’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina just for you.

Table of Contents

1. North Carolina State Capitol

North Carolina State Capitol

ESB Professional / Shutterstock

As the seat of government in North Carolina, Raleigh is an excellent place to visit for political education.

The North Carolina State Capitol is a historic and beautiful sight.

Touring this building is one of the best things to do in Raleigh.

First built in 1840, the North Carolina State Capitol has been updated over the years, such as with its stunning rotunda, installed in 1970.

However, its original Greek Revival design remains.

You can tour this state capitol and learn all about government in North Carolina.

Anyone who wants to have one of the top learning experiences should come to the state capitol in Raleigh.

The capitol is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There’s no charge for admission.

Address:  1 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

2. North Carolina Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the most fun things to do in Raleigh is to go to the North Carolina Museum of Art .

This is one of the finest cultural institutes in the whole state.

This museum brings near absorbing pieces from talented artists all over the world.

If you’re in Raleigh for a weekend, you should definitely come to the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Going to the North Carolina Museum of Art is like going on a globe-trotting expedition.

There’s art not only from North America, but also places like Egypt, Oceania, and more.

Many of these pieces go back thousands of years.

There are also exhibitions such as “The Collector’s Eye” and “John James Audubon’s The Birds of America” that show unique perspectives on different topics.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of many reasons why art lovers should come to Raleigh.

At this museum, you can experience so much impressive artwork and learn engrossing stories about the different artists and eras.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is open from Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is free for the permanent collection, but things like exclusive exhibitions and classes are charged.

Address:  2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA

3. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

zimmytws / Shutterstock

Downtown Raleigh is full of amazing attractions.

One of the biggest is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences .

Here, you can come in contact with tons of wonderful information about nature.

When you come to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, you’ll be able to grasp so much more about the world around you.

There isn’t a natural history museum bigger than this in the entire southeast.

They make the most of it, with exhibitions regarding fascinating topics such as the age of the dinosaurs, the tropics, and even a butterfly room.

There are also experts around who can help to further visitors’ understanding of complex topics.

This is especially great if you’re coming with your children and want to tap into their natural sense of curiosity.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences shows just how extraordinary our world is.

Because of the curators’ tireless efforts, you can find a much closer connection to the plants and animals.

This museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

There’s no charge for admission, but you’re welcome to donate.

Address:  11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

4. North Carolina Museum of History

North Carolina Museum of History

There are so many great stories to be learned about North Carolina, and much of this information goes to before it was given that name.

At the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, you can get a very generous helping of history about this state.

Through information both visual and oral, you can come away feeling like an expert on North Carolina.

The North Carolina Museum of History is full of exhibitions that will have you expressing audible awe based on the incredible artifacts that have been shared, many of which date back for millennia.

Fun exhibits can be seen here, like the “1920s Drugstore” and inventor David Marshall “Carbine” Williams’s workshop.

Coming here is what to do for anyone with any kind of interest in the past.

Time spent at the North Carolina Museum of History is time well spent.

You can have lots of fun seeing all the exhibits and investigating North Carolina many backstories.

his museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Address:  5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

5. Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum

If you’re coming up to Raleigh, North Carolina for a weekend with your children, you should come to the Marbles Kids Museum .

This is one of the most fun Raleigh attractions.

Not only will you and kids be giddy with excitement, but you can also get a lot of learning done as well.

Marbles Kids Museum is all about showing that you’re never too young nor too old to be curious about your surroundings.

Some of the best parts of the Marble Kids Museum, located in downtown Raleigh, are “Around Town,” which gives kids a chance to simulate experiences like driving and going to school.

Also, “Treetunes,” an introduction to music, and “Sun Sprouts,” which teaches all about gardening.

Adults can have a great time at Marble Kids Museum as well.

Just being able to watch your children being astonished by how much wonder they have to uncover is thrilling.

You won’t be losing your marbles if you go to the Marbles Kids Museum.

This is one of the most enjoyable family outings in all of Raleigh.

This museum is every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $7 for everyone except for children under one, who get in for free, and military members, who get in for $6.

Address:  201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

Planning a road trip around North Carolina? Be sure to check out our lists of things to do in Charlotte  & things to do in Wilmington, NC !

6. Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours

Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours

Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours

Hearing about some of the Raleigh culinary offerings will have you licking your lips in anticipation.

One of the best things to do in Raleigh is going on one of the Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours .

These tours bring you through some of the finest culinary establishments in all of North Carolina.

By the end of the tour, you might be lamenting not having all these places back home.

These walking tours are also a great way to get out and really get a sense of what Raleigh is all about.

On these tours, you don’t just get to try delicious food.

You also get to jump into different aspects of the city’s history.

Tour available are the Raleigh Downtown Dinner & Drinks Tours, Raleigh Downtown Tasting Tour: Foodies, Food Shops, and Food Halls, and Raleigh’s Downtown Speakeasies: The Craft Cocktail Tour.

Going on Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours is one of the top options for anyone who considers themselves to be a true foodie.

Tours are also operated in cities such as Durham , Asheville , and Charlotte .

On these weekend tours, you and your palate can have an amazing time.

7. Pullen Park

Pullen Park

gurezende / Shutterstock

The outdoors are especially great when you’re in Raleigh, North Carolina.

At Pullen Park , which includes indoor and outdoor attractions, you can enjoy lots of neat attractions for unwinding and entertainment.

Pullen Park goes back to the late-19th century, and it continues to be one of the best places to visit in Raleigh.

With more 60 acres of land, this park, near downtown Raleigh, has been designed with lots of love for the city’s residents as well as tourists.

You can have a picnic, play some sports, see a performance at the theater, or go for a swim at the aquatic center.

You can also go for a stroll, taking in all of the joys of the environment.

Some of your best experiences in Raleigh can be had at Pullen Park.

This has been a prime location for fun for more than a century.

Pullen Park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Address:  520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA

8. Joel Lane Museum House

Joel Lane Museum House

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock

Before the Joel Lane Museum House , Raleigh was a much more rustic area.

Plantation owner Lane having his house built here in the latter half of the 18th century helped to usher in a new era of prosperity for Raleigh.

When you come to the Joel Lane Museum House, you’ll be able to gather an even greater sense of Raleigh fascinating history.

Operated by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of North Carolina, the Joel Lane Museum House has been kept in remarkable condition.

The heavily yellow color scheme gives it a distinct look on the outside.

You can also take tours that are chock full of cool information.

When you’re at the Joel Lane Museum House, you can really start to see how Raleigh got off the ground.

Touring this historic place is one of the top things to do in Raleigh.

The Joel Lane Museum House is open from Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for students (from elementary school to college), and free for children six and younger.

Address:  728 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

9. JC Raulston Arboretum

JC Raulston Arboretum

Belight / Shutterstock

Thousands of amazing plants can be seen at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This is one of the most fun things to do in Raleigh if you love nature.

Your eyes, nose, and hopefully more will be enchanted by all of the natural gems that are able to thrive at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

As you’d hope, there are lots of incredible trees at this arboretum.

Among these are the muku tree, the golden chain tree, and the seven-son’s tree.

Other plants you can see here include the twin-flowering abelia, the blue baneberry perennial, and the ‘Twisted Tongue’ agave.

Tours, offered on Sundays from March to October, give an even deeper understanding.

At the JC Raulston Arboretum, there are more beautiful plants than you could ever dream of seeing.

This is one of the best tourist attractions in all of Raleigh.

This arboretum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April to October and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November to March.

Admission is free of charge.

Address:  4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA

10. The Mordecai House

The Mordecai House

Another fantastic and historic home in Raleigh, North Carolina is The Mordecai House .

This home was completed in 1785. It’s been around longer than any other home in the entire city.

Now a National Historic Landmark, The Mordecai House gives visitors one of the best educational opportunities in Raleigh.

While the Mordecai House, built in part by Joel Lane, was a plantation centuries ago, it’s now a very lovely museum and park.

Mordecai Square Historic Park is a great place to wander about.

This home is also where President Andrew Johnson was born.

You can also have fun with transportation by riding one of the Historic Raleigh Trolley Tours, commencing and concluding at the Mordecai House.

Checking out The Mordecai House is one of the coolest things to do in downtown Raleigh.

You tap into a supremely interesting part of Raleigh history and see some amazing sights along the way.

If you’re looking for fun places to go to in Raleigh, you should definitely visit The Mordecai House.

Address:  1 Mimosa St, Raleigh, NC 27604, USA

Looking for more places to visit in North Carolina ? Be sure to read our lists of fun things to do in Boone, NC  & things to do in Fayetteville, NC !

11. Stanbury

Stanbury

Great Raleigh restaurants like Stanbury give you a dining experience that doesn’t stop with the food.

This place has not only a great menu, but it’s also furnished with lots of love.

When you come to Stanbury, you can count on cleaning your plate and looking all around in total wonder of all there is to see.

The food at Stanbury is familiar enough to be satisfying but daring enough that you don’t feel like it’s something you could just get anywhere.

One of the coolest things about this place is that each day’s menu is different from the one before it.

The design is also quite fabulous, including the open kitchen construction.

Stanbury is definitely one of the top places to visit for food in Raleigh.

You can get food and drinks that are both beyond magnificent.

This restaurant is open from Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Address:  938 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27604, USA

12. North Carolina Executive Mansion

North Carolina Executive Mansion

Jill Lang / Shutterstock

Raleigh is full of historic estates that are fit for a king.

The North Carolina Executive Mansion is one of the most enticing of these tourist attractions.

If you love elaborate real estate, one of the most enjoyable activities in Raleigh is touring the North Carolina Executive Mansion.

This is the place the state’s governors have called home from 1891 and on.

More than two dozen state leaders have called it home since its founding.

Residing here is a badge of honor, not only for it signifying one’s political power but also for its fine Victorian architecture.

Going on a tour of the Executive Mansion puts you near generations of greatness.

If you want to see this mansion, you should start planning today, as tours must be scheduled at least two weeks ahead.

The Executive Mansion has been called “the most beautiful governor’s residence interior in America” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and we hope you’ll see why.

Address:  200 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

13. Videri Chocolate Factory

Videri Chocolate Factory

Videri Chocolate Factory

Inside the long-standing Raleigh Depot building is one of the most mouthwatering environments in the whole state.

The Videri Chocolate Factory has been satisfying all kinds of sweet tooths.

Chocolate fanatics have to find time in their Raleigh trip for a tour of the Videri Chocolate Factory.

On this tour, you can see how some of the finest chocolate in the south is produced.

Not only is Videri chocolate delicious, but it’s also socially-conscious, as they take part in fair trade practices.

When the tour is done, you’ll want to get your hands on as much chocolate in the shop as possible.

The Videri Chocolate Factory is one of the most comforting Raleigh attractions.

This company and the city has so much love for this product.

Tours must include at least ten people and cost $20 per person.

Address:  327 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

14. City Cemetery

City Cemetery of Raleigh

City Cemetery of Raleigh

It’s not one of the more fun Raleigh attractions, but a chance to visit City Cemetery isn’t one you should forego.

This is a massive and magnificent cemetery.

Whether you have anyone who you specifically want to pay your respects to, City Cemetery gives you quite a lot to take in.

Going back to the end of the 18th century, City Cemetery is enclosed by a fence made of iron.

It’s also divided into different areas, including one for black deceased that’s largely comprised of slaves.

More information about the cemetery and its story can be gathered through guided tours.

The afterlife is a mystery, but at City Cemetery, the dead can be given a truly noble resting place.

City Cemetery is one of the most interesting places to visit in the entire state.

This cemetery is open 24 hours a day.

Address:  17 S East St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

15. Sassool

Sassool - Raleigh

Sassool – Raleigh

If you love Mediterranean food and are coming to Raleigh, you have to make a stop at Sassool .

This is one of the best places to visit for those who devour hummus, shwarma, and other delights.

Biting into a falafel is rarely as good as it is at Sassool.

This is also a Lebanese restaurant. You can find classic Lebanese concoctions like labneh and mjadarah.

There are plenty of items on this menu without meat, making it a great place to visit for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans.

Should you want to pick up some things to take back, you can go to the adjacent grocery.

Sassool is one of the best parts of Raleigh in terms of showing cultural diversity.

It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Address:  9650 Strickland Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615, USA

Interested to explore outside of Raleigh? Why not check out some of the things to do in Cherokee, NC  & some of the things to do in Greensboro, NC ?

16. City of Raleigh Museum

City of Raleigh Museum

City of Raleigh Museum

Another great learning establishment in Raleigh is the City of Raleigh Museum .

Coming to this museum, you get to find all about Raleigh and what makes it tick.

Its location is also especially interesting, as it’s in the notable Briggs Hardware Building.

Thousands of items related to Raleigh can be seen at the City of Raleigh Museum.

This museum has also played host to some very cool exhibitions.

Some of these include “Silent Killers: The Legacy of the 1918 Spanish Flu” and “America’s Wars: Individual Experience and Collective Memory.”

Visiting the City of Raleigh Museum is one of the most satisfying activities you can enjoy when in Raleigh.

It’s very heartening to know that the people of Raleigh have a museum that preserves their history as well as the City of Raleigh Museum.

This museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Address:  220 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

17. Raleigh Farmers Market

Raleigh Farmers Market

Kevin Oliver / flickr

The farmers market is a beloved tradition in many cities, and Raleigh is no exception.

When you want to mingle with vendors and other customers in a marketplace that will have you looking everywhere in excitement, you’ll want to come to Raleigh Farmers Market .

It has everything you’re looking for if you love things that are fresh and beautiful.

Farmers from the area promote their most tempting fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and other goods at this farmers market.

Should you need ingredients for a meal while in Raleigh, this is where to come first.

You can also pick up awesome artisanal goods here, such as soap.

Lots of fun can be had to browse all the different parts of the farmers market.

The Raleigh Farmers Market is a great place to visit both during the week and on the weekend.

It’s definitely one of the top farmers markets in the south.

Stock up on goods at this farmers market, because it might include some of the freshest and most delicious produce you’ve ever come across.

It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Address:  1201 Agriculture St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

18. J.S. Dorton Arena

J.S. Dorton Arena

Jeff Zehnder / Shutterstock

A great place for seeing big events when in Raleigh, is at J.S. Dorton Arena .

Around since 1952, Dorton Arena is one of the most well-designed event spaces in the state.

No matter how large the crowd or how big the performer is, Dorton Arena feels like a close-knit environment that everyone can enjoy themselves at.

Something really cool about Dorton Arena is how it’s roof is there aren’t any steel posts that block your vision, due to the roof having a suspended design.

Events such as concerts, athletic competitions, and even the state fair are hosted here.

Artists like Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash have headlined at Dorton Arena.

If you’re seeking out what to do while in Raleigh, you should see what’s happening at Dorton Arena.

Just the experience of being at this venue is a lot of fun.

There could even be something awesome occurring there this weekend.

Address:  1025 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA

19. Tazza Kitchen

Tazza Kitchen

Tazza Kitchen

Tazza Kitchen is a great place to visit for adults and kids looking to have a romantic evening out in Raleigh.

This restaurant satisfies the stomach without breaking the bank.

Regional ingredients help to make the dining experience even more special, as you can really sense all of the freshness.

Tazza Kitchen is in the planned community of Cameron Village.

It started in Virginia but has branched out into other areas of the southeast.

No matter where you go, you can count on a greatly satisfying menu of wood fire-prepared foods as well as fantastic drinks.

It’s a terrific place to stop in for breakfast, lunch, or brunch.

Eating at Tazza Kitchen is a very good choice for dining in Raleigh.

Just about everyone can find something they like at this restaurant.

Tazza Kitchen is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and then from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

It’s also open on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Monday from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Address:  432 Woodburn Rd, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA

20. Raleigh Little Theater

Raleigh Little Theatre

Cgb628 [ CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

At the Raleigh Little Theater , you can see the people of the city come together for community theater productions that demand as much applause as possible.

Guests of all ages can find something they like at the Raleigh Little Theater.

The Raleigh Little Theater was started in 1936.

In the last few years alone, it has hosted shows such as “SPAMALOT,” “Charlie Brown Christmas” and “The Tempest.”

Catching a performance at Raleigh Little Theater is one of the most fun things to do at night.

There’s always going to room for live theater venues, but that’s only if people do all they can to keep them around.

This theater is such a rightfully venerated cultural site.

Take a look at the schedule to see if there are any shows you’ll be able to catch while you’re in Raleigh.

You can count on seeing some high-quality entertainment.

Address:  301 Pogue St, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA

21. Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh

Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh

James Willamor / flickr

Coming to The Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, better known as CAM Raleigh , is one of the nicest activities for those who love art that can be interpreted in all kinds of ways.

Experiencing it is one of the most fun things to do in downtown Raleigh.

You could come to CAM Raleigh and then come back a year later and it could look completely different.

That’s because the exhibitions are regularly rotated.

However, there’s always something worth checking out at CAM Raleigh.

Some of the artists who’ve had work shown at this museum include Angel Otero, Jonathan Horowitz, and Chris Bradley.

There are plenty of amazing things to see at this museum.

It’s open on Thursday and Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

It can also be visited on Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment.

There’s no admission charge at the museum either.

Address:  409 W Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

22. Yates Mill

Yates Mill

Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock

There are lots of reasons to come out to Yates Mill County Park , including a wildlife refuge.

However, the biggest might be the eponymous Yates Mill.

Touring this attraction is a very good way to spend a day.

If you’re in or near Raleigh, you should see Yates Mill.

This is a mill that goes back to the 18th century.

Thanks to its restoration, it continues to be a part of the local industry.

You can go on tours like the Corn Grinding tour to get a comprehensive education on mills and how they operate.

A visit to Yates Mill makes for a great entry into your travel diary.

The park is open every day from 8 a.m. until sunset.

Tours are available during specific hours and by appointment.

It’s between 3 and 5 dollars for admission.

Address:  4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

23. Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall

If you want to be bowled over by dining options, you should come to Morgan Street Food Hall .

This is a fairly new complex with more than a dozen great eateries to choose from.

Part of the city’s Warehouse District, Morgan Street Food Hall appeals to all sorts of taste sensibilities.

The name and concept of Morgan Street Food Hall might make you think of a food court, but it’s much more refined than that.

If you know of a food court with options as fine as Cousins Maine Lobster or Iyla’s Southern Kitchen, please let us know.

Morgan Street Food Hall covers so much ground when it comes to dining.

With so much stuff to do in this city, you’ll want to find quality places to refuel.

Morgan Street Food Hall brings all kinds of places together to give visitors a superb dining experience.

Take a look at the great restaurants located here.

Address:  411 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

24. Clemmons Educational Forest

Clemmons Educational Forest

Clemmons Educational Forest

You don’t have to be in school, or even indoors, to get some learning done.

There are multiple educational forests in North Carolina, and one of the finest is Clemmons Educational Forest .

You and your companions can learn all kinds of great things about nature when visiting this forest.

Established more than 40 years ago, Clemmons Educational Forest lets you work your body by providing hiking trails and your mind by including informative exhibitions.

There are also lessons provided by rangers.

You can reward yourself for all the learning by eating at one of the many designated picnic areas.

So many things to see and learn about being in nature.

Clemmons Educational Forest gives you wonderful access to this kind of knowledge.

It’s open from Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Address:  2256 Old U.S. Hwy 70, Clayton, NC 27520, USA

25. Go Ape Treetop Adventure

Go Ape Treetop Adventure

Alexander Sobol / Shutterstock

One of the most riveting experiences in the city is at Go Ape Treetop Adventure .

This attraction, located at Blue Jay Point Country Park, brings you high above the trees.

You can go through all sorts of scenarios and have a blast no matter what.

Some of the things you can do at Go Ape! include canopy tours, ziplining, and a Log Swing.

You need to make sure to pay attention to all the safety instructions.

After all, it only takes a little bit of horseplay or carelessness for a fun experience to turn sour.

Outdoor entertainment like Go Ape Treetop Adventure is a joy of coming to this city.

You can here with your family and be all smiles when all is said and done.

For nature thrills, come to Go Ape.

Address:  3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA

26. Pope House Museum

Pope House Museum

Pope House Museum

During the age of segregation, Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, a black man, did something incredible: he ran for mayor.

He was the only black male to vie for such a position in the south during that time.

Today, the city honors his legacy with the Pope House Museum .

When planning your trip to the city, you should visit the Pope House Museum.

Restorative care has made it quite beautiful, as it goes back to the early 20th century.

There are also lots of amazing artifacts and tours.

On the Pope House Tour, you can learn about how impressive of a man Dr. Pope was.

Tours are available at Pope House Museum every Saturday.

You could come down this weekend and have an excellent time.

American history is not complete without touching upon African American history, and the Pope House Museum is an essential part of a Raleigh visit.

Address:  511 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

27. Jose and Sons

Jose and Sons

Jose and Sons

An excellent place to go to at night is Jose and Sons Bar & Kitchen .

This is a very welcoming Mexican restaurant with some southern flair in the mix as well.

This family establishment is a top-notch place to fill your belly up at.

Jose and Sons has a menu you’ll want to read up and down.

Among the menu options are classic Mexican fare like tacos and huevos rancheros.

You can also see the southern influence coming out in dishes like their “Smokey shrimp ‘n grits.”

The flavor profiles are so well-thought-out at this restaurant.

You might have to do everything in your power to stop yourself from asking for the chef’s recipe.

Raleigh is one of the best places to travel to in part because of all the great food.

Jose and Sons should be visited if you love Mexican and/or southern cooking.

Address:  327 W Davie St #102, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

Start Planning Your Trip To Raleigh

Fun is all around you when you come to Raleigh.

This city has tons of attractions that appeal to adults, children, and everyone in between.

When you come here, you’ll get southern hospitality and incredible urban developments.

With museums that are great for learning and restaurants that are great for eating, it’s hard to ask for anything more.

Start planning for a trip to North Carolina’s capital today.

You’ll hopefully find it’s a place that you want to come back to very soon.

The Tourist Checklist

33 Best & Fun Things to Do in Raleigh (NC)

Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina and a tourist hub frequented by lots of travelers every year.

Founded in 1792, Raleigh was named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who had created the lost Roanoke Colony.

Recognized as the second-largest city in North Carolina, Raleigh, also known as the “City of Oaks” because of its many oak trees, is home to most of the state’s unique attractions.

Fun things to do in Raleigh cut across visiting some of the state’s notable attractions, these include North Carolina State University, North Carolina State Capitol, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of History, and more.

Here is a list of the best things to do in Raleigh, NC, for a memorable vacation.

Things to Do in Raleigh

1. visit the north carolina state capitol.

North Carolina State Capitol

This is one of the best things to do in Raleigh, NC if you are politically inclined. A North Carolina State Capitol visit is a perfect addition to your checklist.

This historical structure was built in 1840 and had undergone quite some renovation and restructuring over the years. A perfect example was that of 1970 when a stunning rotunda was installed in the building.

Nevertheless, the building still maintains its original Greek Revival architectural pattern, which portrays the old style.

The North Carolina State Capitol is open for a tour by visitors who wish to know more about the government in North Carolina.

The building is open for a visit Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it features a wide range of impressive, necessary knowledge for visitors.

Admission into the North Carolina State Capitol building is free of charge for individuals of all ages.

Address: 1 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

2. Explore Pullen Park

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

A visit to Pullen Park is worth adding to your list of things to do in Raleigh, NC, for a fun outdoor time.

Pullen Park is one of the best places to visit in Raleigh. It was established in the late-19th century, and ever since has been highly frequented by both locals and tourists alike.

Covering over 60 acres of land space, this park has many mind-blowing attractions for a memorable, fun experience.

Pullen Park is located close to downtown Raleigh and boasts several fun activities, including picnicking, theatre performances, sports activities, and swimming in an aquatic center.

The park is one of the significant historic Raleigh attractions, it also features trials suitable for a fun stroll, biking, and hiking

Pullen Park is open for visitors every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Address: 520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA

3. Live Theater at Raleigh Little Theater

Raleigh Little Theater

Established in 1936, Raleigh Little Theater is a live theater suitable for individuals of all ages. It is frequented by both tourists and locals alike.

The theater has lots of entertainment to offer with its classic community theater productions, which feature several talented actors.

Some famous shows hosted in this theater over the years include “Charlie Brown Christmas,” as “SPAMALOT,” and “The Tempest.”

Raleigh Little Theater is a perfect place to visit at night to witness engaging live entertainment.

Do check out the theatre’s schedule to appropriately plan your visit to watch the best theatre of your choice.

Add a visit to Raleigh Little Theater to your list of things to do in Raleigh, NC, for some night time entertainment.

Address: 301 Pogue St, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA

4. Visit the Videri Chocolate Factory

Videri Chocolate Factory

Located inside the historic Raleigh Depot building, Videri Chocolate Factory offers a taste of sweetness to its visitors.

Videri Chocolate Factory produces some of the best chocolate in North Carolina. This factory was established by three iconic chocolate lovers, namely Sam Ratto , Starr Ratto, and Chris Heavener.

The factory purchases sugar and cocoa beans from different farms in Central and South America, and with these, produce yummy organic chocolate free of chemicals or additives.

The factory open for a group tour with not less than 10 participants at the cost of $20 per person.

The tour takes participants through the factory, showing them how the best chocolates in the city are produced.

Stop by the factory’s shop to buy any of the yummy chocolates available, some of which include Blueberry and Dark Chocolate, Strawberry Anise Ganache, and more.

Address: 327 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

5. Sports at North Ridge Country Club

The North Ridge Country Club

This country club boasts several fun-filled social and recreational activities, which gives visitors an exciting, memorable experience.

The complex feature two amazing 18-hole golf courses, namely Oaks and Lakes, which were expertly designed by George Cobb, and Gene Hamm.

The two golf courses are moderately challenging and are suitable for golfers of all skill levels, be it professionals or beginners.

Also featured in this spectacular 70,000 square foot clubhouse are comfortable eateries for a unique dining experience and a casual coffee bar.

This area’s other fun recreational opportunities include tennis, a fitness center, a golf learning center, pickleball, and a resort-style pool complex that comprises a family-size pool, clubhouse, splash pad, snack bar, and a relaxing environment.

Do visit The North Ridge Country Club while you are in Raleigh, NC, for a wonderful sport experience.

Address:6612 Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

6. Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Located 12 miles south of downtown Raleigh, visiting the Juniper Level Botanic Garden is one of the best things to do in Raleigh, NC, for nature lovers.

This beautiful nature garden covers about 28-acre of land space. It features over 27,000 varieties of exotic plants, native perennials, rare delights, and unusual species of shrubs and trees rarely found in most parts of the world.

Juniper Level Botanic Garden is highly frequented by lots of researchers, gardeners, and nature lovers from all over the world who wish to know more about this amazing “Eden of rare plants.”

This garden is one of the most spectacular in America, and as a secret treasured nature sanctuary, it is open to the public only eight weekends a year.

Do check out the opening dates to enable you to properly plan a visit to this beautiful garden while you are in Raleigh.

Address:9249 Sauls Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603

7. Go Ape Treetop Adventure

Go Ape Treetop Adventure

Go Ape Treetop Adventure is one of the best fun things to do in Raleigh for an adventure time.

Located at Blue Jay Point Country Park, this amazing Raleigh attraction takes visitors elevated above the trees

Exciting adventures that can be experienced at Go Ape! include a Log Swing, ziplining, and canopy tours.

Go Ape Treetop Adventure also offers 2 Tarzan swings, climbing rope ladders, Spider’s Web, Double Stirrups, Apple Picker’s Ladder, and crossings the Log Swing.

Before the adventure, there is a safety briefing which lasts for an average of half an hour, after which participants are strapped and set out for a lifetime thrill.

To be on the safe side of the adventure and avoid injuries of any sort, do take heed to every safety instruction given to you.

Go Ape Treetop Adventure offers entertaining outdoor nature thrills and is suitable for all family members, including children.

Address: 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614, USA

8. Tazza Kitchen Cameron Village

Tazza Kitchen Cameron Village

Tazza Kitchen is a classic award-winning restaurant which offers diners delicious local and modern delicacies prepared using a wood fire, meat, and garlic in a comfortable and spacious environment.

Featuring a casual bistro-style seating, the restaurant has a homelike feel with a friendly and lively atmosphere where excellent food and wines are offered at an affordable price.

The restaurant’s menu features various Baja California and Italian-inspired cuisine prepared using carefully selected fresh locally sourced ingredients from renowned local food artisans and farmers.

There are two prominent expert chefs in this restaurant, namely Jared Dalby and Justin Burchill, who prepare many delicious dishes in their experience.

Tazza Kitchen entrees include unique local brews and several small-production wines.

The restaurant food is very hygienic and suitable for intake as the chefs being extremely cautious uses sustainable seafood and hormone and antibiotic-free poultry and meat.

Tazza Kitchen opens for diners Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with 2hours break from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30.

It is also open on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a 1 hour 30 minutes break from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Monday from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Address: 432 Woodburn Rd, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA

9. Visit the City Cemetery

City Cemetery

This is an attraction that should be visited if you wish to pay respect to Raleigh’s dead legends.

The cemetery is divided into different sections, one of which comprises dead black people, most of whom were slaves.

City Cemetery is a suitable resting place for the dead and has been a final resting place for many North Carolina people.

Do sign up for a guided tour to get more stories behind the city cemetery and Raleigh’s iconic locals buried here. The cemetery is open throughout the day

Address: 17 S East St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

10. Explore Joel Lane Museum House

Joel Lane Museum House

Joel Lane Museum House is a historic building in Raleigh, NC, built in the 18th century, which was a great way to usher a new development era to Raleigh’s then rustic city.

This historical building portrays a significant aspect of Raleigh’s fascinating history. It is currently managed and owned by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in North Carolina.

Over the years, the Joel Lane Museum House has maintained its original architectural pattern and condition.

It is designed with a striking yellow color scheme on the outside, which gives it a distinctive, beautiful look.

Joel Lane Museum House is open to tour by interested individuals who wish to get some of the many information featured in this building.

A visit to this museum is one of the top things to do in Raleigh as it takes you on a journey through the history of how Raleigh began its development.

Visit The Joel Lane Museum House any week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

There are different admission fees for various age grades; $4 for students from elementary school to college, $7 for seniors, and $8 for adults. Admission into Joel Lane Museum House is free for children at the age of six and below.

Address: 728 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

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11. Explore the North Carolina Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of Art

Among many fun things to do in Raleigh, NC, a visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art is worth adding to your list.

Recognized to be one of the best cultural institutes in North Carolina, this museum features beautiful artworks collected from talented artists in different parts of the world.

North Carolina Museum of Art gives visitors a bit of the artwork styles from countries like Oceania, Egypt, North Carolina, and lots more.

Among other collections of exhibits in this museum include “John James Audubon’s The Birds of America” and “The Collector’s Eye,” with displays that cut across different disciplines.

Most of the exhibits housed by The North Carolina Museum of Art are over a thousand years old. This makes it a highly frequented museum by lovers of art all over the world.

Do pay a visit to this museum to behold various impressive arts and learn the exciting stories behind them if you are in Raleigh for the weekend.

The museum is open for visitors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m everyday of the week except Fridays when it is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Admission into the North Carolina Museum of Art to view the permanent collection is free of charge. For exclusive exhibitions and educative classes, visitors are expected to pay an affordable fee.

Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA

12. Visit the Pope House Museum

Pope House Museum

Pope House Museum is a historic house once owned by Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope. It was constructed in 1901 and restored as a museum in honor of his legacy.

Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope is a significant figure in the black community who first ran for mayor as a black man in the time of segregation.

After winning, he became the only black man to hold such a vital position in the south at that time.

Today, this early 20th century home has been given a beautiful look due to a series of restoration carried out in this house.

In 1999, The Pope House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in Raleigh, NC.

Pope House Museum features lots of unique artifacts and exhibits, which helps visitors know more about the black iconic figure Dr. M. T. Pope.

There are also available tours of this building every Saturday, which takes you through a series of exciting stories about Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope.

If you are interested in African American history, add a visit to Pope House Museum to your list of cool things to do in Raleigh, it makes what to do in Raleigh for a fun museum time

Address: 511 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

13. Dining at Jose and Sons

Jose and Sons

For an exciting night time dining experience, visit the Jose and Sons . This unique Mexican restaurant serves Mexican dishes with a bit of southern flair in a conducive and welcoming setting.

Jose and Sons is a family-owned and operated top-notch restaurant focus at given diners a memorable dining experience with dishes expertly prepared using carefully selected fresh ingredients.

The restaurant menu features delicious classic Mexican dishes such as huevos rancheros and tacos as well as several southern-inspired delicacies like “Smokey shrimp ‘n grits.”

Jose and Sons are one of the best places to visit in Raleigh if you love Mexican or southern foods.

Address: 327 W Davie St #102, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

14. Explore the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh

CAM Raleigh

Contemporary Art Museum is another remarkable art museum in Raleigh. Also known as CAM Raleigh, this is one of the best places to visit for art lovers.

The museum is located in downtown Raleigh, it features a wide range of regularly rotating exhibitions giving visitors a new set of spectacular artwork to behold on each visit.

There is always a new art experience to uncover in the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, making each visit worthwhile.

The museum has featured notable works made by several renowned talented artists, including Chris Bradley, Jonathan Horowitz, and Angel Otero.

Parked with lots of outstanding arts to see, the Contemporary Art Museum is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Art lovers can also visit the museum by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission into the museum is free of charge.

Address: 409 W Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

15. A Meal at Sassool

Sassool

A perfect place to get delicious Mediterranean food in Raleigh, Sassool is a Lebanese restaurant that offers expertly prepared delightful cuisine.

Sassool is known to be one of Raleigh’s best food joints, which offers delicious shwarma, hummus, and several other delights.

This Lebanese restaurant also offers classic Lebanese concoctions such as mjadarah and labneh.

Feel free to visit this restaurant if you are an omnivore, vegan, or vegetarian as the restaurant menu features a wide range of dishes, most of which are without meat.

After having a meal in this restaurant, you can stop by the grocery store opposite to buy some groceries.

Sassool is an ideal place to visit for some dining time, and it is open for diners Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Address: 9650 Strickland Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615, USA

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16. Meet Nature at JC Raulston Arboretum

JC Raulston Arboretum

To witness the incredible gift of nature in Raleigh, North Carolina, visit the JC Raulston Arboretum, which comprises thousands of beautiful plants.

A perfect place to visit in Raleigh, NC, for nature lovers, JC Raulston Arboretum gives an amazing thrill of enchantment and beauty with all its incredible natural gems.

The arboretum also features lots of unusual trees, including the golden chain tree, the muku tree, and the seven-son’s tree.

Other plants that can be found in the JC Raulston Arboretum include the ‘Twisted Tongue’ agave, the blue baneberry perennial, and the twin-flowering abelia.

The arboretum also offers different tours every Sunday from March to October, which teaches visitors more about plants in that garden.

Recognized as one of the best Raleigh NC attraction sites, JC Raulston Arboretum is open every day of the week of April through October from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from 17.November to March.

Admission into this arboretum is free. If you are a nature lover, this answers what to do in Raleigh, NC.

Address: 4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA

17. Visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a popular tourist attraction located in Downtown Raleigh.

This museum is one of the largest Natural Sciences Museum in North Carolina, and it features many exceptional nature-related pieces of information.

The museum features different collections of exhibits, which cuts across various fascinating topics, including the tropics, the age of the dinosaurs, and a butterfly room.

Filled with lots of things to learn about nature, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has knowledgeable and friendly tour guides ready to assist visitors in understanding complex topics.

You can also visit with your children as many interactive exhibits teach a lot about plants and animals.

Admission into the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is free, and it is open for a visit on Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is open for donations

Address: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

18. Explore William B Umstead State Park

William B Umstead State Park

If you are looking for a place to have a fun outdoor time, then you should add a visit to William B. Umstead State Park to your list of things to do in Raleigh.

Covering about 6,000 acres of land space, William B Umstead State Park is an outdoor fun area nestled between Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Durham, in the state of North Carolina.

The park is located in an easy to find destination and showcases the beautiful gifts of nature of Raleigh and North Carolina in general.

This Park’s outstanding features are neatly connected trails suitable for hiking, biking, strolling, and horseback riding.

The park also boasts camping, boat rentals, designated picnic areas, and various educational programs.

Visit the William B Umstead State Park to behold the lake’s beautiful views and have some quiet time in the various nature-filled serene environment.

Address:8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

19. Pottery at Klaystation

klaystation

To bring out the creativity in you, do visit Klaystation , a pottery venue that allows visitors to mold a mug or any homemade gift of their design.

Klaystation pottery studio offers visitors lots of pre-fired earthenware and tools to make their desired masterpiece.

Some of the tools available to select from while in this pottery studio include idea books, brushes, paints, sponges, and lots more.

After molding the desired masterpiece, Klaystation pottery studio glazes the craftwork and dries it up in the kiln for it to be ready to be picked up in about a week.

Klaystation is a perfect place to visit with kids to make them creative while playing. The pottery studio is also open for birthday parties.

Address: 10511 Shadowlawn Drive #113, Raleigh, North Carolina

20. Explore the Yates Mill

Yates Mill

For some outdoor time, visit the Yates Mill County Park , a fun-filled area covering about 574 acres of land space and an amazing wildlife refuge.

The park features an eponymous Yates Mill known to be the only historic surviving mill in the wake-up county and believed to date as far back as 1756.

Having been restored over the years, this is a beautiful area worth exploring while you are in the city of Raleigh.

Yates Mill is open for tourists and features two special tours at the same fee, the open mill tour, and the Corn Grinding tour, which teaches participants about Mills and how they operate.

The park is open to visit everyday of the week from 8 a.m. until sunset, and the tours are by appointment only during specific hours.

Do visit this area for amazing sightseeing. Admission into the Yates Mill County Park is between 3 and 5 dollars.

Address: 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

21. Visit the City of Raleigh Museum

City of Raleigh Museum

This museum is housed by the historic Briggs Hardware Building built in 1874 by Thomas Briggs, a collaborative group of non-governmental organizations currently owns the museum.

The city of Raleigh Museum features thousands of exciting exhibits related to Raleigh. It has been host to various notable exhibitions, including America’s Wars: Individual Experience and Collective Memory and Silent Killers: The Legacy of the 1918 Spanish Flu.

A tour of this museum and seeing all its fascinating exhibits is an amazing thing to do in Raleigh, NC.

Admission into the City of Raleigh Museum is free of charge, and it is open for visitors Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Address: 220 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

22. The Mordecai House

The Mordecai House

Among other spectacular historic structures in Raleigh, The Mordecai House is a unique home worth checking out while you are in the city.

Completed in 1785, The Mordecai House is the oldest surviving building in the entire Raleigh and now a National Historic Landmark.

The house was built separately by Joel Lane and was initially a plantation many years ago before being transformed into a beautiful park and museum.

A fantastic area to explore, Mordecai Square Historical Park has many educational opportunities for its visitors.

The Mordecai House was the exact birthplace of the late President Andrew Johnson. A perfect way to explore this area is joining the Historic Raleigh Trolley Tours, which begins and ends at the Mordecai House.

This is sure one of the best fun things to do in downtown Raleigh as there are also many amazing sights, beautiful to behold.

Address: 1 Mimosa St, Raleigh, NC 27604, USA

23. Visit the North Carolina Museum of History

North Carolina Museum of History

For some history, visit the North Carolina Museum of History , a remarkable museum filled with lots of fascinating history about Raleigh and the state of North Carolina in general.

The North Carolina Museum of History thrives on portraying significant history orally and through visuals and many artifacts from over a thousand years ago.

Among other historical exhibits in this museum include the “Carbine” Williams’s workshop by inventor David Marshall and the “1920s Drugstore.”

If you want to know more about the past, visit this spectacular museum of history as there many captivating North Carolina backstories waiting for you to uncover while taking a fun tour of the museum.

North Carolina Museum of History is open for visitors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 12p.m. to 5 p.m on Sunday. Admission into the museum is free of charge.

Address: 5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

24. A Drink at The Green Light

The Green Light

Located in downtown Raleigh, The Green Light is a spectacular bar voted by Architectural Digest to be one of the country’s best speakeasies.

The Green Light is a minibar within the Architect Bar, hidden up a narrow set of stairs behind a bookcase.

The bar offers some of the best cocktails in the city, and its interior is quite quirky, with the walls covered in reclaimed wood reflecting the attributes of the 1922 building that houses it.

The Green Light is a cool place to have a drink with its comforting bar-like atmosphere complemented with great music, dim lights, refined collection of craft beers, and superb cocktails.

Address: 108 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

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25. Dining at Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall is a wonderful food location that comprises several eateries, it makes what to do in Raleigh for an amazing dining experience.

This dining complex is part of the city’s Warehouse District, and there are over a dozen restaurants to choose from.

Morgan Street Food Hall offers a wide range of eating delicacies from across the state and different parts of the world.

Among other excellent restaurants in this area include the Iyla’s Southern Kitchen, and Cousins Maine Lobster is a popular food joint frequented by tourists and locals.

Do visit the Morgan Street Food Hall to get breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner from any of the many eateries while in Raleigh, NC.

Address: 411 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

26. Visit the Raleigh Farmers Market

Raleigh Farmers Market

If you wish to purchase some items while in Raleigh, NC, visit the Raleigh Farmers Market.

Raleigh Farmers Market is an amazing market that offers various items ranging from fresh seasonal produce from across the country to meats, crafts, baked goodies, cheeses, lotions, candies, picture frames, NC wines, candies, and lots more.

Covering about 75 acres of land space, this market features many indoor and outdoor specialty shops, a garden center, and classy restaurants, which offer an amazing dining experience.

The market also serves as a host to various special events, including the Watermelon Day on the 30th of July, Weekend Gardener Show during August, Potato Day in September, and lots more.

Do check out the market’s calendar to enable you to plan your visit to the most suitable event of your choice.

Raleigh Farmers Market is open everyday of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Address: 1201 Agriculture St, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

27. Dining at Stanbury

Stanbury

Stanbury is one of the best restaurants in Raleigh, which offers an amazing dining experience.

This classic restaurant features a variety of deliciously prepared cuisine served in a beautiful and well-furnished setting.

Situated in a charming old building in the Mordecai neighborhood near downtown Raleigh, Stanbury has a welcoming atmosphere with wooden tables, a large bar, and an open kitchen where the delicious dishes are prepared.

This restaurant is frequented by locals and tourists alike, and its menu features dishes prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Stanbury also offers fine cocktails, the bar has a variety of carefully selected fine wines and beers to order alongside their delicious American classics.

Additionally, the restaurant features an outdoor patio for al fresco dining. Stanbury is open for diners 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Address: 938 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27604, USA

28. Kids Time at Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum

If you are looking for what to do in Raleigh, North Carolina, with kids, check out the Marbles Kids Museum .

Recognized as one of the most fun and famous Raleigh attractions for kids in the city, the Marbles Kids Museum has lots of exciting and educative exhibits.

Among other notable features of this museum explore “Around Town,” which creates an opportunity for children to have a wonderful experience of driving and attending school.

Another exciting feature of the museum is the “Sun Sprouts,” which educates kids on every necessary information about gardening, and the “Treetunes,” which focuses primarily on music.

This is one of the best things to do in Raleigh for some family time as parents can also be part of the thrill as they watch the kids have fun and learn new things.

Marbles Kids Museum is open for visitors every week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an admission fee of about $7 for individuals of all ages except kids below the age of one who is admitted free of charge.

Address: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA 29.

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29. Fun at King’s Bowl

king bowl

King’s Bowl is an amazing tourist attraction for game lovers, which offers 32,000 square feet of gaming and bowling space.

A spectacular entertainment complex, King’s Bowl comprises about 18 standard ten-pin bowling lanes where visitors can bowl all through the week.

The facility is also open for private rentals and league use any time of the week.

Among other fun-filled gaming features of this facility include Six billiard tables, shuffleboard, air hockey, ping-pong, foosball tables, and several other interactive games like hoops and bubble hockey.

King’s Bowl also boasts live sports screening with its high-definition 30 giant-screen televisions, which shows major sporting events throughout the week and five HD projector screens used for private special events.

Another amazing feature of the facility is the sports bar and full-service restaurant, which offers delicious dishes such as street tacos, chicken wings, pizzas, vegetarian burger crumbles, and lots more.

The bar offers a unique menu of fine craft beers for visitors above 21 years of age. Keep in mind that this facility is rated 21+ after 10:00 pm and that adults should always accompany children below 18 during the day.

Address: 141 Park at N Hills St, Raleigh, NC 27609.

30. Explore Clemmons Educational Forest

Clemmons Educational Forest

Recognized as one of the best educational forests in the entire state, Clemmons Educational Forest has been in existence for over 40 years now.

This education forest offers visitors a wide range of significant learning experience about nature.

Besides education, the Clemmons Educational Forest features impressive hiking trails and many informative exhibitions all aimed at giving visitors a fun experience.

The forest also has many designated picnic areas where interested individuals can chill and eat with their family or loved ones.

There are many things to learn about nature in this forest, some of which are taught by experienced rangers.

Clemmons Educational Forest is open for visitors on Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Address: 2256 Old U.S. Hwy 70, Clayton, NC 27520, USA

31. Visit the J.S. Dorton Arena

J.S. Dorton Aren

Established in 1952, J.S. Dorton Arena is a neatly structured event space which is the hosting ground for most of the most significant events in Raleigh city.

This arena is one of the largest event spaces in North Carolina that can comfortably accommodate thousands of people at a go.

A remarkable and notable feature of this arena is the roof that does not have any steel posts that obstruct vision due to the suspended design.

J.S. Dorton Arena features events like concerts, the state fair, athletic competitions, and lots more.

Among other famous artists hosted in this arena include Johnny Cash and Led Zeppelin.

If you are in Raleigh, NC, for the weekend, do stop by the J.S. Dorton Arena to witness any of the many events which take place here from time to time.

Address: 1025 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA

32. See The North Carolina Executive Mansion

North Carolina Executive Mansion

Another historic structure in Raleigh, the North Carolina Executive Mansion , is a spectacular tourist attraction site.

If you have an interest in real estate, a tour of the North Carolina Executive Mansion should be added to your list of things to do in Raleigh.

Built in 1883, this mansion was designed by architects A.G. Bauer and Samuel Sloan in a fine Victorian architectural pattern.

North Carolina Executive Mansion has been home to several state governors since the year 1891.

If you intend to tour this historical mansion, make early reservations, as tours must be scheduled about two weeks ahead of time.

According to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this mansion has the finest governor’s residence interior in America.

Address: 200 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA

33. Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours

Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours

North Carolina is filled with lots of delicious, locally prepared foods, and joining the Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours is a perfect way to try them out.

Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours takes participants through some of the best food locations in the entire North Carolina.

Not only will the participant get to taste delicious cuisines, but the walking tour also creates an opportunity for individuals to explore Raleigh, NC, and get to know more about different aspects of the city’s history.

Some of the many tours categories carried out by this tour company include Raleigh’s Downtown Speakeasies: The Craft Cocktail Tour, Raleigh Downtown Dinner & Drinks Tours, and Raleigh Downtown Tasting Tour: Foodies, Food Halls, and Food Shops

If you are in Raleigh, NC, for the weekend, do sign up for any of the available tours. This is one of the best fun things to do in Raleigh, NC, for foodies.

Planning a road trip through Florida, be sure to check out our list of things to do in Punta Gorda , things to do in Clermont & things to do in Pompano Beach for a fun trip.

Plan to Explore Raleigh

Raleigh is a popular tourist destination filled with lots of fun attractions ranging from landmarks, museums, sports centers, pleasant parks, monumental sites, reserved areas, and lots more to give you a fun time here.

Start planning a visit to this welcoming city with this checklist of things to do in Raleigh, NC, feel free to pin this article as a guide to fall back to while making plans.

Things to Do in Raleigh, NC - Raleigh Attractions

Things to do in raleigh.

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31. Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts

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32. Lake Lynn

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33. The Raleigh Market

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34. Walnut Creek Amphitheatre

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35. Blue Jay Point County Park

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36. Village District

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37. Lake Wheeler

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38. Crazy Axe

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39. Quail Ridge Books

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40. Executive Mansion

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41. Crank Arm Brewing Company

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42. Durant Nature Preserve

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43. Carter Finley Stadium

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44. Historic Oak View County Park

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45. Lonerider Brewery

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46. Memorial Bell Tower

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47. City Market

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48. Raleigh Brewing Company

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49. Gregg Museum of Art & Design

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50. Lassiter Mill

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51. Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center

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52. City of Raleigh Museum

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53. Capital Area Greenway

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54. Adventure Landing Raleigh

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55. J.S. Dorton Arena

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56. Laurel Hills Park and Recreational Center

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57. North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theater

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58. CAM Raleigh

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59. North Carolina Presidents Monument

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60. Fletcher Park

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55 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh, North Carolina

things to do in Raleigh

Known to many as the “City of Oaks” because of its huge forested natural parks, Raleigh, North Carolina, has many enticing reasons to visit.

Exploring the hugely popular North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will be top of many people’s lists, as well as being wowed at one of the outstanding art museums.

A tour of the city’s bustling farmers’ markets and food halls is a must-do before sampling the world’s largest beer collection at Raleigh Beer Garden.

Wandering the streets of the alluring Oakwood neighborhood, with its well-preserved 19th-century houses, is one of the essential things to do in Raleigh for history lovers. Next, take time to tour the historic North Carolina State Capitol Building — as well as the birthplace of a United States President at Mordecai Historic Park.

Sports fans can enjoy the buzz of a college football game as they cheer on NC State University’s Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Of course, there are also many opportunities to get out in the fresh air, as you check out the city’s parks and nature preserves. What will you choose to do first?

1 – Get uplifted at the North Carolina Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

With a collection that spans over 5,000 years of human history, the North Carolina Museum of Art is a must-see for art and culture fans. Founded in 1947, the museum was the first to use public funds to purchase art in the United States.

Its collection includes European and American art, including a significant collection of paintings from the Renaissance to the 19th century. It also has art from Ancient Egypt. Classical Greek and Roman sculptures and pottery, African Art and Ancient American pieces.

The museum sits in a 160-acre park with art and sculptures to explore as well as wooded trails and spaces for performing arts. Definitely check this out during your time in Raleigh.

2 – Ride the pedal boats at Pullen Park

Pullen Park, Raleigh

Home to one of the top five oldest amusement parks in the country, Pullen Park has been entertaining Raleighites for generations. The rides are great for younger kids and adults alike and include pedal boats and kids boats, a carousel and a miniature train.

There’s much more to Pullen Park than its historic amusement rides though. This 60-acre city park has playgrounds, an indoor swimming pool, a community center and sports fields. You can also find the Pullen Arts Center here which offers classes on painting, jewelry and pottery making and much more.

You can also check out the historic Theater In The Park located in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre. It hosts year-round theatrical productions and plays as well as drama classes. You’ll find a lot to do in Pullen Park for the whole family.

3 – Visit a tropical rainforest at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

Spread over 300 square meters and three floors of exhibitions and laboratory spaces, North Carolina’s Museum of Natural Sciences brings the natural world to life. Here visitors can explore the earth in the time of dinosaurs or virtually venture to the farthest reaches of the known Universe.

The museum’s two locations in Downtown Raleigh include the Nature Exploration Center and Nature Research Center which are packed full of dioramas and interactive exhibits to pique your curiosity and answer the big questions in life.

The museum has a miniature zoo with bugs, fish, invertebrates and reptiles and a living conservatory that replicates the environment of a tropical rainforest, It even has a resident two-toed sloth.

4 – Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

One of the easiest and best ways to explore the city is on one of its unique trolley tours. Hit up Raleigh’s major sites and landmarks from the comfort and elegance of an old-fashioned trolley car. Explore the city and learn its history on these fantastic guided tours.

Join one of the themed events to visit the sights that interest you most, including the city’s haunted history and hidden history. Visit an abandoned baseball park and hospital as well as the underground tunnels and remains of the old trolley system.

Historic Raleigh Trolley will start you on your way, with its fun, eye-catching vehicles that hearken back to the early days of this unique transportation system.

You’re sure to get the best Raleigh trip experience on these privately run tours of the city.

  • bus tours in Raleigh

5 – Take a selfie on the Boylan Bridge

Boylan Bridge, Raleigh

The Boylan Bridge has long spanned the railway between Boylan Heights and Downtown Raleigh. This iconic bridge is a great place to stand and admire the Downtown skyline or even snap some photos.

The Boylan Bridge was one of the first constructed bridges that crossed the North Carolina Railroad and there have been a number of previous bridges on the same site. The first was built in the late 1800s and was made primarily out of wood.

It was demolished in 1913 to be replaced by a steel truss bridge, which was itself replaced by the current concrete and steel bridge in the 1970s.

Check out this historic railway bridge during your time in Raleigh and take a selfie in front of the iconic Raleigh skyline as a souvenir of your time in the city.

Directions in Google Maps

6 – Soak in the views at Blue Jay Point County Park

Blue Jay Point County Park, Raleigh

Blue Jay County Park has a ton of great activities to try and outdoor spaces to explore. Hike the extensive trails and gardens, which are part of the NC Mountains to Sea Trail, or try your hand at fishing in Falls Lake.

There are traditional and natural playgrounds for kids to enjoy as well as events including camps and educational workshops. There are even open playfields where you can toss around a ball or frisbee or kick back and enjoy a picnic in the fresh country air.

7 – Tour the North Carolina State Capitol

North Carolina State Capitol, Raleigh

For a long period of time in the colonial era, North Carolina was without a fixed seat for the government. This changed in 1792 when the site, which is now Fayetteville Street was decided upon.

The original State Capitol building was a much more modest affair than the one that currently exists. The first structure was built in red brick before it was greatly extended in the 1820s. It finally opened as the State Capitol Building in June of 1840.

The North Carolina State Capitol is now home to the State Governor’s office. Admission to the building is free of charge and self-guided tours are available every day except Sunday.

8 – Try Soul Yoga at the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh

Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh

Visual arts fans should definitely check out the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh during their time in the city. The museum has no permanent collection so visitors may see different exhibitions on display each time they visit the city.

Its focus is primarily on bold works by living artists and has displayed pieces by Angel Otero, Leonardo Drew and Marilyn Minter. The museum building is a converted warehouse from the early 20th century which blends a traditional brick structure with modern steel and glass to create an attractive new space.

As well as gallery spaces the Contemporary Art Museum also hosts live music performances, educational classes and yoga classes which take place surrounded by inspiring artworks.

9 – Savor some candlelight concerts

candlelight concerts in Raleigh

When you’re tallying up the various musical offerings in town, be sure to check out the Candlelight Concerts series!

It’s an unforgettable event that is at once intimate and epic, with a roomful of candles providing a beautiful backdrop for some stunning musical performances.

While classical music is often on the docket, the series is also known for presenting more contemporary and familiar works reimagined in a symphonic format.

If you’re a modern music fan, you can listen to the sweet sounds of Adele, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, or Coldplay, recreated in a new auditory form.

And if movies are more your scene, you can soak up the sounds of anime scores, or a stunning program of songs from the extensive Warner Bros catalog.

Grab some tickets and enjoy!

  • candlelight concerts in Raleigh

10 – Play at Frankie’s of Raleigh

Frankie’s of Raleigh

Those looking for an all-in-one amusement arcade and theme park experience should definitely check out Frankie’s of Raleigh . This place has it all from the best traditional games and attractions such as bowling, mini-golf, go-karts, batting cages and bumper cars to cutting-edge immersive games. A trip to Frankie’s is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Raleigh.

The park has some action-packed thrill rides including the hang gliding-style Windstarz, where you get to control the up and down motion as you spin around and around. Those with a head for heights can explore its four-story rope trail or take time to cool off on the bumper boats.

The park has traditional arcade games too, as well as a bunch of virtual reality immersive games and rides. Team up to fight off hordes of zombies with Hologate or try out the Hyperdeck which combines VR with wind, heat and movement for the ultimate immersive gaming experience.

11 – Experience college football at Carter-Finley Stadium

Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh

It’s still college football that draws the biggest crowds in Raleigh and for that, you have to check out the impressive Carter Finley Stadium .

Home to the NC State Wolfpack Football Team, the arena opened in the mid-1960s and has grown to include a seating capacity of 58,000.

The stadium is known for its dedicated and rowdy Wolfpack fans so it almost goes without saying that game day is a big deal around here. It has been recently renovated and is considered one of the finest football stadiums in the country with an atmosphere and facilities to match.

This is an absolute must for sports fans when visiting the city and even out-of-towners will find the enthusiasm for the home team is contagious. Go Pack!

  • Carter-Finley Stadium tickets

12 – Sample the city’s gastro-scene at the food halls

Morgan Food Hall

If you’re looking for the best street food and diverse global flavors, the city has some very cool food halls to check out. If you love great food, and who doesn’t? This is one of the most fun things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Morgan Food Hall is a fun and vibrant place to eat with around 20 vendors selling mouthwatering snacks and desserts. Here you can find crepes and waffles, tacos, wood-fired pizzas, kebabs, curries and much more. There are also traditional southern flavors, lobster dishes and even fish and chips on the menu.

The fun doesn’t stop there though. Over the other side of town is the Transfer Co. Food Hall which offers more delectable dishes for the tasting. Here you can try artisan stuffed bagels, burritos, oysters and amazing Indian street food dishes and wash it all down with a craft brew from the super-cool Burial Beer Co.

13 – Explore WRAL Azalea Garden

WRAL Azalea Garden, Raleigh

The WRAL Television Studios on Western Boulevard are surrounded by impressive and beautiful gardens and are home to a wide selection of azalea varieties. Created as a service to the local community from the station’s founder in 1959, WRAL Azalea Gardens has long been a sanctuary of green in the Downtown city environment.

Though famed for its azaleas, the garden also has many other types of plants including camellias, hydrangeas, palms and vines. Each year in late Summer, the garden gives away 5,000 azaleas to hundreds of non-profit organizations in North Carolina as a positive way to beautify the surrounding communities.

The gardens are free to enter and open to the public year-round from dawn until dusk.

14 – Delve deeper into the region’s roots at the North Carolina Museum of History

North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh

Discover the fascinating story of the region at the North Carolina Museum of History . Uncover a past filled with pirates, gold rushes and aviation history in a series of fun and educational exhibitions.

Many people are aware that it was in North Carolina that the Wright brothers made their momentous first flight back in 1903. The area’s history is way older though and has been the site of human habitation for 14,000 years including the eight recognized indigenous tribes of NC.

Learn about some of the state’s most famous residents including the notorious pirate Blackbeard, the gunsmith David Marshall Williams, commonly known as Carbine, as well as North Carolina’s biggest sports stars, it’s all here.

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15 – Witness history come to life at the Joel Lane Museum House

Joel Lane Museum House, Raleigh

Joel Lane House is the oldest surviving home in Wake County and the city of Raleigh. It was built by enslaved laborers in the 1760s and played host to some significant meetings in the state’s history.

Owned by the founding father of Raleigh and Wake County, Joel Lane, the house was once described as the finest in the area. Visitors can tour the formal garden and herb garden to see plants that would have been common to homesteads in the 1700s such as medicinal herbs, grapes, figs and apples.

The house is decorated with furniture and practical items that would have been widely available in the era that it was built. The museum puts on educational open house events with live actors as well as lectures throughout the year. This is a great way to step back in time to the 18th century at the birthplace of the city of Raleigh.

16 – Catch a basketball game at William Neal Reynolds Coliseum

William Neal Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh

Located on the NC State University campus, William Reynolds Coliseum is home to many of the university’s sports teams, known collectively as the Wolfpack.

On any given day, visitors can witness both men’s and women’s college basketball, volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics.

William Reynolds is also one of the college’s major event spaces and has hosted addresses by a number of former presidents including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama.

The arena has also held concerts by well-known international artists including Elton John, The Rolling Stones and Louis Armstrong.

This is the place to be to see the brightest rising stars in North Carolina college basketball. You can check out the website to see what’s on.

17 – Uncover the city’s hidden gems on a scavenger hunt

scavenger games in Raleigh

If you’re searching for fun ways to explore the city and get the most out of your visit, a scavenger hunt is a great way to do that.

Download the app and gather together your team, or go it alone if that’s your style, for an enjoyable brainteasing adventure across the city.

Follow clues and decipher puzzles to find your way around the city. Take photos and complete challenges in these fun immersive exploration games.

You can even check your points against others on the leaderboard to see how you compare. This is definitely a great team activity for families or friends to get you out and about in Raleigh.

  • scavenger games in Raleigh

18 – Relax at Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve

Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve in Raleigh

Founded in 2005, the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve , is the city of Raleigh’s first official nature preserve. It was left to the city by its namesake, a renowned local doctor, under the strict condition that it should be a space for nature and education.

This is a great place to visit with kids and visitors can find natural history displays and crafting tables in the park’s education center. In the spirit of exploration and education, visitors can also loan backpacks stuffed with fun activities for children as well as binoculars and even kites to fly within the park.

There are hiking and wildlife watching trails to explore, native plant gardens and several nature play areas where children, as well as adults, can build a fort or fairy house, explore a natural maze and play in a teepee. This is surely something everyone can enjoy!

19 – Discover African-American history at Pope House Museum

Pope House Museum, Raleigh

The only African-American house museum in the state of North Carolina, Pope House Museum offers a glimpse into the life of Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope. During the Jim Crow era when racial segregation was legal in the southern states of the US, Dr. Pope was the only African-American to run for the position of mayor in a southern capital city.

The Pope House Museum features more than 3,000 artifacts related to the life of Dr. Pope, considered one of Raleigh’s most interesting public figures. These include original furniture and artifacts such as his father’s freedman papers, his medical bag from the Spanish-American war and his voter registration card.

The museum is open on weekends and admission is free. Visitors can take a guided tour but it is necessary to book in advance.

20 – Try all the beers at Raleigh Beer Garden

Raleigh Beer Garden

With the impressive claim of offering the world’s largest selection of draft beers, where else would you go for a cold brew in the city but Raleigh Beer Garden ? With over 350 beers on tap, you are quite literally spoiled for choice in this unique and casual restaurant bar.

Try the latest in local microbrew IPAs or sample the best of imported wheat beers from Europe. The food menu is not as extensive but is jam-packed with modern comfort food brunch and lunch dishes to ready your stomach for sampling some more tasty beers.

This is a great place to start your evening if you’re thinking of sampling Raleigh’s nightlife. Raleigh Beer Garden is just a stone’s throw from the Downtown area and its many bars and restaurants.

21 – Hike on the Capital Area Greenway

Capital Area Greenway in Raleigh

If you love to be outdoors, either hiking, running, cycling or nature watching you’ll definitely want to check out the Capital Area Greenway Trails . Exploring this network of open public spaces and pathways is surely one of the most fun things to do in Raleigh for outdoors people.

With 28 trails covering over 100 miles around the city, there is sure to be one you’ll really love. Though most of the trails are less than 5 miles in length, there are longer routes for the more ambitious explorer.

The Neuse River Trail is the longest and extends to over 27 miles over boardwalks, wetlands, historic sites and wide-open countryside.

Some of the nicest short routes are the 2-mile hike around Lake Johnson and the Simms Branch Trail which runs from the Abbots Creek Trail to the Durant Nature Preserve.

22 – Delve deeper into the city’s history at the City of Raleigh Museum

City of Raleigh Museum

Documenting and preserving the city’s history since 1993, The City of Raleigh Museum is an interactive museum that is jam-packed with artifacts, photographs and literature related to the growth and ever-changing face of the city.

The museum is located in the historic building on the city’s busy Fayetteville Street which was once occupied by Briggs Hardware. It has information on important points in the city’s history including Sir Walter Raleigh, the town’s namesake, exhibitions on slavery, and even a diorama of the city.

The oral history booths are a great addition and allow visitors to discover more about the city from the perspective of the people who have lived here. If you’re looking to discover more about the history of North Carolina’s capital, this is the perfect place to start.

23 – Catch the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC Arena

PNC Arena in Raleigh

From sports fans to songbirds and everyone in between, any kind of visitor will find something to enjoy at PNC Arena!

The massive venue is most famous as the home of the Carolina Hurricanes , a live-wire NHL team whose matches are always exciting.

But even if you’re not watching some teams duke it out on the ice, you’re likely to find a spectacular event on the calendar!

Check out some thrilling basketball games, including home games for the NC State Wolfpack, the renowned men’s college team.

Want some non-sporty options? You’ve got it!

Headlining comedy acts, show-stopping concerts, and epic conventions FIX are just some of the diverse programs that fill the space on any given day.

They even host monster truck rallies!

  • PNC Arena tickets

24 – Visit North Carolina Executive Mansion

North Carolina Executive Mansion, Raleigh

The official residence of the Governor of North Carolina and their family, North Carolina Executive Mansion was built in the 1880s and has since housed 28 of the state’s governors.

Also known as “the people’s house” its redbrick facade and the extensive use of locally produced materials led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to claim it one of the most beautiful governor’s houses in America.

Visitors can take a free guided tour of this historic North Carolina residence and its extensive five-acre flower and vegetable gardens.

25 – Try laser tag at Adventure Landing

Adventure Landing in Raleigh

Another of the city’s fun amusement parks, Adventure Landing is the place to be for lively indoor and outdoor group activities. Try your hand at mini-golf on the park’s 18-hole course or go head-to-head with friends on the curvy quarter-mile go-kart track.

Brush up on your swing in one of the batting cages or fight to the end with a game of laser tag in the indoor battle arena. Gather up your friends and family for this beginner-friendly laser battle game and remember, only one person can emerge victoriously.

Adventure Landing is also home to a “Mega Arcade” with over 75 interactive games to try out, there is something here for everyone.

26 – Step back in time at the Historic Yates Mill County Park

Historic Yates Mill County Park, Raleigh

The extensive Yates Mill County Park is home to the area’s only surviving water-powered mill. The mill was in operation for over 200 years from the colonial era all the way to the early-20th century when it was used to grind wheat and corn.

Historically, the mill pond was an important meeting point and recreational space in the days before major towns were developed in the region. When the community was just a scattered selection of homesteads and farms, people would gather here to fish and picnic by the edge of the water.

It’s still a popular place to visit by Raleigh locals and the park extends to about 170 acres. Here you can hike the trails, picnic and fish to this day and also explore the landscaped gardens and even take a tour of the historic wooden mill. This is the ideal place to grab some fresh air in the North Carolina countryside.

27 – Check out the historic J.S. Dorton Arena

J.S. Dorton Arena, Raleigh

Located on the grounds of the North Carolina State Fair , the J.S Dorton Arena has been at the heart of public events since its construction in 1952.

Its iconic elliptical shape and innovative cable-suspended roof, which was the first in the world, is a popular local landmark that has made it onto the National Register of Historic Places.

It has hosted many sporting events in its 70-year history and has been the home grounds of the ECHL hockey team, The Raleigh IceCaps, as well as the Carolina Cougars basketball team.

More recently, it hosted professional indoor football but has also been used for Roller Derby and NWA Pro-Wrestling.

Before the construction of Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, it hosted major touring music acts including Ray Charles, The Supremes and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

28 – Sightsee in style with a pedicab tour

pedicab tours in Raleigh

Looking for another great way to see the city sights?

Then be sure to book a pedicab tour during your visit!

If you’ve never seen or ridden in one of these vehicles before, you’re in for a treat; consisting of a bike with seats attached to the back, it’s the perfect way to enjoy your surroundings at a slower pace.

Settle into the cozy cushions, and let your guide/power pedaler convey you through town, stopping at various historical and cultural treasures along the way.

Best of all, the itinerary is customizable, so you can plan a route packed with all of your must-sees!

And if you feel like showing off a bit, there’s even a karaoke option, where you can pass the time between sites by belting out your favorite tunes.

  • pedicab tours in Raleigh

29 – Indulge yourself at Videri Chocolate Factory – Chocolate Bean to Bar

Videri Chocolate Factory in Raleigh

If one business is actively trying to be the most fun thing to do in Raleigh, it’s Videri Chocolate Factory .

As if seeing the production of artisan chocolates and sampling all the delicious flavors wasn’t enough, the company creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for the casual observer.

The factory is open to the public to come and witness the handmade magic that goes on behind its doors.

Those with a sweet tooth should definitely pay a visit to enjoy the sights and smells of these lovingly prepared sweet treats. Taste the variety of products made here, preferably with a coffee or soft-serve ice cream.

30 – Sit a while at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Gardens

These leafy memorial gardens were developed in 1975 and were the first public park in the country to be dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Home to a life-size sculpture of the civil rights hero, the garden aims to promote peace and community cohesion as well as a pleasant place to relax in Downtown Raleigh.

The garden is also home to a 12-ton granite monument that commemorates the lives and achievements of notable local civil rights pioneers. It’s a great place to escape from the bustle of the city and even has a covered event space with a grill and seating for 130 people.

Take some time while you’re in Raleigh to stroll through this tranquil and picturesque park and remember Dr. King, one of the country’s foremost voices for unity, equality and peace.

31 – Play and learn at Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh

If you’re looking for educational and fun things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina with kids, Marbles could be the ideal place. This popular local kids museum blends play and exploration to create an engaging fun environment that children will love.

With tons of activities and events going on throughout the year, including summer camps, sensory play times, princess tea parties and NASA space telescope viewings, there is something to capture the imagination of every young mind here.

There are over 15 full-time exhibits to explore and an IMAX Theater that shows everything from educational documentaries to the latest superhero movies. Kids will really love this place.

32 – Explore Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh

What started as just over two acres of abandoned tobacco fields in the 1980s has extended to one of the region’s finest plant collections, Juniper Level Botanic Garden. The facility now covers 28 acres and is run as a research and display garden.

The extensive collection includes over 60 varieties of agave, 80 varieties of ginger, 300 species of fern and much more. Juniper Level is a great place to pick up some rare or specialist plants but is also an ideal spot to escape the city and enjoy the fantastic landscaped areas.

The garden hosts horticultural classes based on the knowledge acquired from decades of research in the field. It also has a Center for Mindfulness and Oneness which offers retreats and classes. Take a look at the website to see what classes are available. Juniper Level is open to visitors from Friday to Sunday each week.

33 – Enjoy a treetop adventure at Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park

Go Ape in Raleigh

Ever wanted to explore the treetops on a series of dizzying rope bridges, ziplines and Tarzan swings? Go Ape at Blue Jay County Park is just the place for you.

With a bunch of challenging tree crossings suspended in the forest canopy, you’ll find all the thrills of a woodland adventure right here in the park.

Strap on your harness and traverse rope bridges and platforms, the highest of which reaches 50ft. Explore 41 different obstacle challenges and hurtle through the forest on super-long ziplines.

The full treetop adventure course takes between 2-3 hours to complete and is suitable for ages 10 and upwards.

Younger kids will enjoy the Treetop Journey which is a shorter course that offers all the fun of the full experience but not quite as high. This is a day out all the family will love.

34 – Wander through a creepier world on some ghost tours

ghost tours in Raleigh

Any city with such a long history is not without its spooky side; and if you go out at night, you can learn all about it on a ghost tour!

Head out on a fascinating, frightful excursion into the eerier side of the capital’s past, including some of its most famous (or infamous) deceased residents.

Learn compelling tales about booze-smuggling politicians, strange specters with peg legs, and even potential witches lurking around the area!

Along the way, you’ll also get to take in some of the most famous buildings in town, from boisterous community bars to stately mansions packed with their own bizarre secrets.

While you don’t have to be a believer to join the tour, you just might become one after hearing some of these anecdotes!

  • ghost walking tours in Raleigh

35 – Tour the James B. Hunt Jr. Library

James B. Hunt Jr. Library, Raleigh

North Carolina State University’s cutting-edge facility, the James B. Hunt Jr Library was built with the express purpose of supporting the latest research and its students’ progress. This modern and colorful glass-walled library building is quite a sight to behold.

It is the university’s second main library and features traditional study and learning rooms, as well as more unconventional spaces and interesting viewpoints throughout the building. It houses a video game testing laboratory and the latest technological devices to try out and experiment with.

Its huge warehouse-style storage facility uses a bookbot to help pick individual books from the library’s collection of 2 million volumes. The innovative library has public areas which are open to self-tour by individuals and small groups.

36 – Walk the streets of Historic Oakwood

Historic Oakwood, Raleigh

One of the nicest areas of the city to explore by foot has to be the Historic Oakwood Neighborhood. It is home to some of the best-preserved examples of 19th-century houses and buildings in all of North Carolina.

The neighborhood includes hundreds of homes in a wide variety of different styles and sizes and provides a glimpse into the way the city looked nearly 200 years ago.

In December each year visitors can try the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour which visits up to a dozen houses in the area. Visitors get the opportunity to see Queen Anne, Victorian and Craftsmen architectural styles up close.

The Historic Oakwood Cemetery is also worth exploring while you’re in the neighborhood. The burial ground is 150 years old and is the final resting place for many high profile individuals, including Confederate Army generals, basketball players, governors, senators and congressmen.

37 – Pick up groceries at Raleigh Farmers Market

Raleigh Farmers Market

A trip to the Farmers Market is surely one of the top things to do in Raleigh on everyone’s list. It is, without doubt, one of the best places to pick up fresh foods and products in the city.

Here you will find locally-produced fruits and vegetables and high-quality meats and cheeses from the surrounding region.

The market is housed in a 15,600 square foot indoor space that has boutique stalls selling everything from soaps and lotions to old-fashioned candies, baked goods, North Carolina souvenirs and gifts and some of the state’s finest wines.

If you’re on the lookout for home and garden furnishings, check out Market Imports for fountains, furnishings and pots. You can also pick up breakfast while you’re here as there are a number of restaurants and cafes inside the market that serve freshly prepared dishes all day.

38 – Go rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club – Raleigh

Triangle Rock Club in Raleigh

Fancy pushing your boundaries with an adrenaline-inducing adventure sport?

Triangle Rock Club is a great place to start. This well-established rock climbing facility has over 7,000 square feet of bouldering terrain and a freestanding 30-foot climbing wall, so whatever type of climbing you’re into, you are well catered for here.

Though the club’s climbing walls draw a lot of attention it also promotes general fitness and has daily classes teaching various types of yoga as well as strength training and HIIT courses.

First-timers can take classes to learn the basics of rock climbing and discover what style they enjoy the most. whether tricky bouldering problems or scaling the dizzying heights, you will find plenty to excite and challenge you at Triangle Rock Club.

39 – Explore and learn at Clemmons Educational State Forest

Clemmons Educational State Forest, North Carolina

If you’ve never heard of an educational state forest before you may be wondering how does it differ from a State Park?

Though a state park is primarily concerned with the preservation of a particular habitat, an educational state forest is managed for various uses including timber harvesting.

At Clemmons Educational State Forest , visitors can discover all about the complex interconnected relationships in the forest, from the plants that grow there to the creatures that inhabit it.

The park has lots of trails and routes to discover as well as picturesque places to picnic and barbecue.

Clemmons includes woodland areas of pine and hardwood, streams and wetlands and meadows. You can also find informative exhibits explaining the importance of every organism in the managed forest.

40 – Laugh your heart out at Raleigh Improv

Raleigh Improv

No town’s arts scene is complete without a dose of comedy, and if you’re in the looking for fun in the capital, Raleigh Improv is sure to keep you snickering!

While it’s a relative newcomer to the area, the club has quickly earned its way into the hearts of townsfolk and tourists alike, offering some of the best improvisational work around.

Although they book plenty of fantastic touring talent, the space is also known for its homegrown talent, with a perpetually growing troupe of locals coming out to strut their stuff.

You’ll be amazed at the speed and precision with which these performers spin random ideas into fully functional comedy gold!

  • Raleigh Improv tickets

41 – See the birthplace of a US President at Mordecai Historical Park

Mordecai Historical Park, Raleigh

The oldest house in Raleigh in its original location, Mordecai House was constructed in 1785 by the city’s founder, Joel Lane, as part of one of the largest plantations in Wake County. It was remodeled in the 1800s by William Nichols, who also redesigned the State Capitol building.

Mordecai House has strong connections to some of the most prominent families in the city’s history and, being a plantation house, slavery too. The park has a visitor center and offers tours of the house daily where you can uncover its history and view original furniture and household artifacts from the mid-1700s onwards.

The birthplace of the 17th U.S President, Andrew Johnson, is also located on the grounds of the park. Visitors can learn about the former president’s childhood and his meteoric rise from poverty to the most powerful person in the country. There’s a lot here for history fans to discover!

42 – Spot wildlife at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

In the nearby town of Cary, Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is a great space for spotting native wildlife and unusual plant species. Home to Eastern hemlock tree varieties, the park is just a stone’s throw from the bustling high street.

Here visitors can explore up to three miles of mulched wooded trails and boardwalks. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, lizards, snakes and the rare glimpse of foxes. The park also has the Stevens Nature Center which provides interactive and educational exhibits on the local wildlife.

43 – Play Sherlock in an escape room

escape room in Raleigh

If you’re looking for a unique and fun group challenge to take in Raleigh, why not try an escape room challenge? These interactive and immersive games will test your puzzle-solving skills and powers of deduction to the extreme.

Play the part of the master detective in a Sherlock-themed challenge at Raleigh’s Room 5280 or join a CSI squad to solve a suspicious death at The Tower Escapes ‘ Castle of Loches.

Work together as a team to decipher clues and crack all the puzzles within the time limit. Try the different themed rooms and choose what kind of adventure you would like to take.

These escape rooms are one of the best things to do in Raleigh for those looking to test their problem-solving and sleuthing skills and are also a really fun group activity.

44 – Smell the flowers at JC Raulston Arboretum

JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh

Nature lovers will really enjoy a trip to the JC Raulston Arboretum . Founded in the 1970s as part of the North Carolina State University, the internationally renowned garden has grown from eight to ten acres and features an exceptional collection of plants.

Named for its founder JC Raulston, who was a NC State University lecturer and prominent horticulturist,  The arboretum has a number of landscaped gardens with exotic and native plants. Visitors can explore gardens created different environments and seasons in mind.

Discover colorful and fragrant butterfly gardens, model gardens that show the intelligent use of landscaping in smaller spaces and serene Japanese gardens. This place is a must-see for garden enthusiasts and nature lovers.

45 – Take the chequered flag at Rush Hour Karting

Rush Hour Karting in Raleigh

Looking for some high-speed thrills or a fun thing to do in Raleigh as a group?

Rush Hour Karting could be just the thing for you. Hit the track and race go-karts at speeds up to 40 mph through a series of turns, chicanes and hairpin bends.

This high-speed kart track is suitable for adults and youths, and is all indoors so you can race whatever the weather.

This is not your average amusement park go-kart track. You need to use all your skill to race these 200cc karts around the Grand Prix-style track if you want to win that chequered flag.

You never know, if you are really good you might make it onto the leaderboard list of all-time greats!

46 – Take a picnic at Dorothea Dix Park

Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh

There’s always some kind of event happening at Dorothy Dix Park . Whether it be a drive-in Valentine’s day movie or a music festival such as Dreamville, curated by local hip hop artist J Cole. You need to put this place on your list of essential things to do in Raleigh.

But it doesn’t end there. This community park also hosts picnics and get-togethers, art installations, pop-up museums and much more.

There’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular places to visit for Raleigh locals. In the summer, months be sure to check out the huge flower fields with their displays of sunflowers and daffodils.

The park is also great for your four-legged friend and has an off-leash area where your dog can bound, skip and play to his heart’s content. There’s so much to see and do in this exciting city park.

47 – Dine and play at Kings Bowl-North Hills

Kings Bowl-North Hills

One of the city’s best places to go if you’re looking for great quality food and entertainment all in one spot.

Kings Bowl has all the classic comfort food favorites you know and love, including delicious pizzas, burgers, tacos and wings as well as a selection of salads, sandwiches and desserts.

You can also check out its range of classic bar games, including bowling, billiards, darts, air hockey and even retro-arcade game favorites. If you’re looking for an easy-going place to eat and have fun, Kings Bowl could be just what you need.

48 – Take a shopping spree at Raleigh’s best malls

Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh

If you’re looking for a little retail therapy while in the city or just want to take some time out from sightseeing, why not visit some of the best local malls for a shopping spree?

Crabtree Valley Mall is a great place to visit if you’re looking for the biggest high street names. Here you can find major clothing brands such as Hollister, Foot Locker and GAP, cosmetics by Lush and Sephora and electronic items from Apple Store. There are also book and record stores and over 30 restaurants and eateries.

An upmarket shopping center, Midtown’s North Hills offers visitors a range of shopping, dining, entertainment and accommodation options. The open-air development has many boutique stores selling clothes and accessories as well as spas, restaurants and cafes, services, a super-modern 60,000 square foot gym and a cinema complex.

49 – See a musical at Raleigh Little Theatre

Raleigh Little Theatre, Raleigh

One of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the country, Raleigh Little Theatre has been entertaining locals and visitors alike since 1936. This vibrant community theater puts on almost a dozen productions each year as well as educational programs for youths and adults.

The theater has three performance venues including two small indoor theaters and a large outdoor amphitheater that can seat up to 1700 guests. It hosts a variety of performances including comedies, musicals, dramas and even sensory-friendly performances so everyone gets to enjoy a night at the theater.

Through the summer months you can check out the outdoor movie screening series and, if you’re lucky, you might be there for one of the theater’s costume sales to pick up some fun, vintage clothing and accessories.

You can also check out the Raleigh Rose Garden which is located just behind the theater and has year-round displays of roses and perennials.

50 – Play interactive golf and party at Drive Shack

Drive Shack, Raleigh

Eager to play golf but you also want to drink a beer? No problem, you can do both at Drive Shack . You’ll be pro in no time as you work on your swing in these interactive indoor golf simulators.

The facility has a three-level driving range where you can practice your swing using traditional tailor-made clubs to hit authentic golf balls into the range.

With the latest technology, you can track your ball and know all the information such as launch speed and peak height.

Drive Shack also offers an extensive food and drink menu, cutting-edge arcade games and a program of social events. Whether you’re a professional golfer or just want to smack things and have fun, this place is custom-made for everyone to have a great time.

51 – Relax a while at Moore Square

Moore Square, Raleigh

Located in the center of the historic district of the city, Moore Square is right at the heart of the action. This shady tree-lined area is home to many of the city’s most popular events and attractions including weekly markets, summer festivals such as Movies in the Park and the Long View Center.

Take some time to relax in this four-acre green space which sits at the center of the Moore Square Historic District. It has plenty of benches to rest on and an interactive water feature. There are also some small cafes and eateries in the park itself including the aptly named Square Burger.

There are a number of vendors who take up residence in the park each Sunday selling snacks, art, plants and locally produced foods. Definitely take the time to check out this city center park while you are in Raleigh.

52 – Delight your senses with fine dining at Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern

Second Empire, Raleigh

Located in the restored Dodd-Hinsdale House built in the 1870s — the restaurant offers both a historical and gourmet dining experience surrounded by Second Empire Victorian architecture.

Tour the house and see its beautiful staircase and interior design. Discover its various rooms which have become a favorite venue for bridal showers, weddings and birthday parties.

You can choose the Chef’s Table option where you have a five-course meal paired with wine in the kitchen — interacting with the chef and crew as they prepare your food.

And if you want to continue your adventures in fine dining, you’ve come to the right place!

Tuck into some sea scallops or short ribs at Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern , or take a trip across the Atlantic with a bite at Saint Jacques French Cuisine .

You can also try some world-class steaks (plus cigars, if you partake) at The Angus Barn, or enjoy the decadent, New Orleans-inspired flavors at Rey’s Restaurant .

53 – Go Camping in William B. Umstead State Park

William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh

Sitting between the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Cary, is the William B. Umstead State Park . This huge natural space is home to many pathways which pass through dense woodland and alongside a number of lakes.

Its extensive trails are a favorite spot for local cyclists, hikers and runners, eager to escape the city. It has three man-made lakes, the largest of which is the imaginatively titled Big Lake. Fishing is welcome in all of the lakes and surrounding tributaries and there are also opportunities to hire kayaks and canoes in the park.

For those who really like to make the most of the outdoors, the park has some primitive campsites as well as fireplaces and picnic shelters which make the perfect weekend getaway in the warm summer months.

54 – See a concert at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre

Walnut Creek Raleigh

In the summer months, one of the best places to see live music in the city is Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek . This picturesque outdoor venue has the capacity for 20,000 people to enjoy concerts in comfort.

First opened in 1991, Its stage has been graced by some of the biggest names in music, including Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Lauryn Hill. It has hosted huge festivals such as Ozzfest, Vans Warped Tour and the Charlotte Blues Festival.

Snacks and drinks are available on site but visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic blankets, binoculars and cushions for maximum comfort. Check out the venue’s website to see who’s performing during your time in Raleigh, NC.

55 – Catch an orchestral concert at Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts

Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts, Raleigh

Home to the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts is the city’s main venue for ballet and dance performances, orchestral concerts and theatre.

The center includes five performance spaces in its complex, including the Meymandi Concert Hall which is the headquarters of the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra . The orchestra performs here regularly during its busy schedule of 300 yearly concerts.

Visitors can also see a range of Broadway musicals, dance shows and live shows here on any given night. The center’s largest concert venue, the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, sits at the southern end of Fayetteville Street and has an elegant Greek-revival facade that you can’t miss.

How to get to Raleigh?

Raleigh-Durham Airport hosts plenty of international and domestic flights, and offers the chance to get started on your next trip that much quicker.

And if you want to make the whole thing easier on yourself, book a transfer service !

These convenient, private options will transport you to and from the city at a reasonable price, eliminating some of the usual stress of arriving in a new city.

Where to stay in Raleigh?

Hyatt Place Raleigh Cary combines classy decor with a great set of amenities, whether you want to grab a bite at the snack bar, get some reps in at the gym, or simply lounge around the beautiful outdoor pool.

And at Hilton Raleigh North Hills , you can spend your days hanging around nearby sites like the Capitol building, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and the PNC Arena, then wander back to unwind on the gorgeous sundeck.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Raleigh Crabtree provides a free breakfast and shuttle service, as well as close proximity to plenty of museums and shopping areas.

And at Hyatt House Raleigh/Rdu/Brier Creek , you’ll have a little haven just outside of the city, where you can swim, dine, or sip delicious cocktails to your heart’s content.

Meanwhile, Best Western Plus Raleigh Crabtree Valley Hotel provides a nice option for those that want to be close to town or the local malls, while still enjoying some in-house amenities like the gym and business center.

  • best hotels in Raleigh

Where to go next?

When you’re ready to keep exploring, you’ll find dynamic cities waiting to greet you around every corner – and some are relatively close by!

Just a couple of hours west and south, Charlotte boasts a quirky cultural scene and fantastic culinary options, with craft beer breweries, historic mansions, exciting amusement parks, and even a NASCAR track to keep things interesting.

And if you keep going north, you’ll end up in Virginia, which boasts quite a few great towns of its own.

Check out the lively arts scene and history-soaked streets of Richmond , or the excellent restaurants, beautiful views, and fascinating naval culture of Norfolk .

And of course, sun worshippers will thrill to the sands of Virginia Beach , which offers plenty of museums, outdoor activities, and fantastic musical venues to go with its famously picturesque shores.

Final thoughts

Simultaneously cutting-edge and wonderfully old-fashioned, this capital has coolness to spare!

You may be surprised at all of the different things to do in Raleigh, but you’ll quickly realize that it’s no ordinary town.

Packed with political power and laidback locals, it offers a trip like no other; so head on over for some of that famous Southern hospitality!

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Raleigh, Durham & the Triangle

You won't find a better range of ways to treat yourself than in the Triangle of North Carolina. This region boasts award-winning inns, hotels and spas, culinary delights for every taste, and cultural experiences including university gardens, art and history museums, and whimsical whirligigs.

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This is Raleigh

Guide to the City of Raleigh, nc (everything you need to know!)

Since first moving to the City of Raleigh in 2004 and starting this website in 2020, we’ve experienced almost everything there is to do in and around the city, and if you’re planning a trip to Raleigh (or even thinking of moving here), this city guide is for you!

Family of four walking across a bridge with the city of Raleigh in the background.

Take it from us, Raleigh is a wonderful place to live, and visit. We grew up in Australia but chose to put down roots here which should tell you something, and although it has seen tremendous recent growth it still retains much of its welcoming Southern charm, family-friendly lifestyle, diversity, and college town vibes.

In the below guide I’m outlining everything you need to know about Raleigh, including where it is, how to get here and around, places to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, the top attractions, best neighborhoods to explore, festivals and events, places to go shopping, cool bars and breweries, where to grab coffee, nature experiences to have, hotels to stay in, the weather, fun day trips, and much more! 

Public Transport in Raleigh

Wake forest, what is the cost of living in raleigh nc, raleigh city guide, about raleigh, nc.

an overview of a city

Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina. It is the second largest city after Charlotte and the largest city in the Triangle region that consists of Raleigh – Durham – Chapel Hill. According to the 2019 U.S. Census, the population of Raleigh is 474,069.

Nicknamed the “City of Oaks” for its sheer number of majestic oak trees which line the streets, you’ll immediately be struck by how green Raleigh is with its pine tree forests, wooded neighborhoods, green spaces and parklands. 

Although historic and the capital, it has youthful energy and is far from being just about government. Raleigh has become a vibrant place with lots of cool cafes and bars, a thriving restaurant and brewery scene, world class museums, fun festivals, and diverse cultural activities. 

People sitting at tables and chairs outside a coffee shop enjoying breakfast

Raleigh is home to NC State University and along with Durham, Research Triangle Park (RTP) which is well known as one of the greatest technological research parks in the world with more than 200 companies and over 50,000 people.

Over the years Raleigh has evolved to become one of the best places to live, and regularly tops the “best cities to live and work in the US” lists with its diversified job market, family-friendly neighborhoods, and quality of life.

Where is Raleigh located?

Aerial view of NC State University campus in Raleigh surrounded by green trees.

One of the many reasons we love living in Raleigh is its central location on the East Coast, about halfway between NYC and Florida, in the northeast central region of North Carolina.

Interstate 40 (I-40) runs past the outskirts of downtown, and Interstate 95 (I-95) is also close by and the main interstate on the East Coast that will take you to Florida or New England.

We are within 30-minutes of Durham, 40-minutes of Chapel Hill, and we can be at Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach in two hours. A 4-hour drive west brings us to downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Approximate drive times to other prominent destinations nearby include:

  • Charlotte: 2.5 hours (167 miles)
  • Washington D.C : 4.5 hours (278 miles)
  • Savannah, GA: 5 hours (324 miles)
  • Atlanta: 6.5 hours (407 miles)
  • NYC: 8.5 hours (487 miles)
  • Orlando : 8.5 hours (594 miles)
  • Nashville: 8.5 hours (539 miles)
  • Cincinnati, OH: 9 hours (513 miles)

What County Is Raleigh In?

drone aerial view of Moore Square, downtown Raleigh

Most of Raleigh is located within Wake County and was named for Margaret Wake Tryon, the wife of royal governor William Tryon . Wake County has an estimated population of 1,111,761 (2019) and is now the largest county in North Carolina. All up there are 12 municipalities within Wake County:

  • Fuquay-Varina
  • Holly Springs
  • Morrisville

Getting to Raleigh

Lady at check-in counter at airport

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) serves the Triangle region which consists of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Located just off of I-40 it is approximately 20-minutes from Downtown Raleigh and roughly halfway between Raleigh and Durham.

RDU airport consists of two terminals and typically operates more than 400 daily flights with 50+ non-stop destinations. 

Getting to Raleigh by flying direct is getting easier, and we love our mid-size airport compared to the chaos of major cities. Typically, checking-in and getting through security is relatively smooth and, and RDU consistently ranks among one of the most efficient airports in the US.

Some of the 50+ domestic non-stop flights to Raleigh include:

  • New York City
  • Washington D.C.
  • Minneapolis
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles

Internationally we can currently fly non-stop to these destinations, with more coming soon:

  • Paris  
  • Freeport Bahamas
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Frankfurt (starts June 2024)
  • Mexico City (starts July 2024)

There are several options for getting from RDU into downtown Raleigh including hotel shuttles , taxis, Uber, Lift, and of course rental cars .

The GoTriangle Route 100 bus provides public bus service from RDU to its Regional Transit Center then to GoRaleigh Station downtown.

Read our complete guide to RDU Airport and our post on some of our favorite direct flights from Raleigh . And if you need a hotel near the airport, here are 10 top hotels near Raleigh Airport .

Aerial view of a city street and city in the distance

Getting to Raleigh by car is generally hassle free. Interstate 40 (I-40) that runs from Wilmington on the east coast all the way west to California runs past downtown Raleigh and connects with Raleigh’s beltline. I-440. 

If you do drive to Raleigh, Interstate 440 (I-440) is also known as the Raleigh Beltline encircles downtown Raleigh with numerous exits to all parts of the city. It travels in both directions, clockwise and anti-clockwise (or east/west).

The other major interstate, I-95, that runs north to south from New York to Florida can be reached within 30-minutes of downtown. There’s also I-85 that runs north-east into Virgina, and south-west to Charlotte that can be reached within 30-minutes.

Street parking is marked. If it’s a blue sign you have to pay between 8am to 5pm, Monday – Friday. On the weekends and after 5pm street parking is free.

Green signs have limited time e.g. “1 hour parking” or “2 hour parking” but can also say “permit required” – read the times carefully.

Pay attention to signs and what they mean. Keep in mind that numbered parking spots typically mean a payment is required in the designated time period. Parking options for downtown Raleigh include street parking, parking lots and parking decks. See parking map here.

Person standing on a bridge looking at a city skyline.

Raleigh Union Station (RUS) in the city’s downtown Warehouse District area serves as the Amtrak passenger station  with the capacity to serve more than 160,000 travelers per year.

It was built not just to accommodate current demand, but in the future will serve passenger rail, commuter rail, buses, taxis, bicycles and other forms of transportation.

  • The Carolinian service from New York City to Charlotte that stops in Raleigh and Cary, once per day northbound and southbound. 
  • The Piedmont service operates between Raleigh and Charlotte 3 times per day in both directions.
  • Amtrak’s Silver Star service runs between NYC and Miami and stops in Raleigh and Cary.

Getting to Raleigh by bus is possible via the Greyhound bus service . Address: 2210 Capital Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27604. The only other bus option would be from Durham with Megabus . Address: 515 West Pettigrew Street, Durham, NC.

Public bus in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Raleigh unfortunately doesn’t have a great public transport system and is predominantly a driving city. You won’t find a train system here like in NYC or Chicago.

The GoRaleigh bus service currently serves local and regional buses and is headquartered downtown at the GoRaleigh bus station in Moore Square (214 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601). For fares and passes info go here . 

The Wolfline bus service , NC State University’s bus service not only serves the students but also the general public fare-free (no student ID required). Wolfline buses operate every day and classes are in session. 

Bike-Share: if you want to explore Raleigh on two-wheels, Cardinal Bike Share is the local bike-share system in town comprising of 300 bikes across 30 stations. See all pricing and memberships here.

When to Visit Raleigh

downtown raleigh in the fall 1

There’s no right or wrong time to visit Raleigh, and it basically depends upon the purpose of your visit and your tolerance for weather. Besides January and February which are the slowest months, there is something going on all year. 

Like much of the Southeast, Raleigh has a humid subtropical climate, and all four seasons.

Winters are generally cool, with a January daily mean temperature of 41F, and receives an average of 6 inches of snow in winter. Freezing rain and sleet also occur most winters, and occasionally the area experiences a major damaging ice storm. 

north carolina state capitol 8

Raleigh receives an average annual rainfall of 43.34 inches. April is the driest month, with an average of 2.92 inches (74.2 mm) of precipitation. 

July is the wettest month, owing to generally frequent, sometimes heavy, showers and thunderstorms.

Summers are hot and humid, with a normal July daily mean temperature of 80F. There are 48 days per year with highs at or above 90F. 

Lady on a stand-up paddle board on a lake

Fall is similar to spring overall but has fewer days of rainfall, but greater potential for extremely heavy rainfall in a one/two day period, owing to occasional threat from tropical weather systems (hurricanes and tropical storms) packing torrential rainfall.

Personally, I love the Fall season. The high humidity of summer has dropped, the temperatures are still pleasant for outdoor activities and dining, the colors are popping, and college football and basketball is coming back! Spring is a great time also with lots of festivals and events. 

Below are links to our guides on what to do in Raleigh during each season:

  • Spring guide to Raleigh
  • 35 things to do in summer
  • 25 things to do in the Fall
  • Top Christmas events in Raleigh

Coffee in Raleigh

Two mugs of coffee on a table.

As coffee snobs from Australia, coffee always comes first for us no matter where we are in the world. If you’re looking for great local coffee shops to get your fix, catch up with friends, or get some work done, here are 14 top coffee shops in Raleigh the locals love.

Breakfast in Raleigh

Couple sitting at a booth in a diner eating breakfast

If you want to know where to eat the best breakfast in Raleigh, what local restaurants we personally love to frequent for a hearty or light meal to start our day including a few great local coffee shops, check out our guide on 13 best places to eat breakfast in Raleigh .

Brunch in Raleigh

Mom and two daughters eating brunch at a Greek Restaurant

Brunch has become a fairly recent fun cultural event and we’ve been eating our way around the city to find the best brunch spots, and have fully embraced the challenge. Check out our list of 15 places to eat brunch in Raleigh .

Lunch in Raleigh

two plates of food on a table

Whether you desire something casual or a little bit fancy, and you are looking for Southern American, burgers, barbecue, cafes, Italian, Asian, Mexican or vegetarian for lunch, we’ve got you covered. See our list of 40+ spots to eat lunch in Raleigh . 

Dinner in Raleigh

Woman having dinner with a bowl of curry

While we haven’t eaten close to everywhere, yet, we do have a list of our favorite downtown Raleigh restaurants, these are the places we take visiting friends from out of town and the places we’re happy to recommend to you. Consider these 23 downtown Raleigh restaurants . 

For those with dietary concerns to consider, take a look at our list of 20 vegan & vegetarian restaurants , and also our list of 28 gluten free restaurants . We also have a list of our favorite Asian restaurants and Mexican restaurants . 

Cocktail Bars in Raleigh

cropped-killjoy-cocktail-bar-raleigh-nc-3.jpg

Raleigh has a growing list of cool cocktail bars. We are still working our way through them all, but there are a select few of our favorites we like to frequent for their outstanding cocktails and vibes, either on a date night or drinks with friends. Check out 11 popular cocktail bars in Raleigh . 

Breweries in Raleigh

Lynnwood Brewing Concern, Raleigh

I’ve tasted craft brews in some of the top beer cities across America including Portland, San Diego, Denver and Asheville, and some of my favorite beers can be had right here in Raleigh. With over 20 local Raleigh breweries , the craft beer scene is unlike any other in the Southeast. 

Farmers Markets in Raleigh

Fruit and vegetables on display at a farmers market

We love to visit a farmers’ market wherever we travel, and I’m guessing you do too! It’s a chance to meet with local farmers and purchase some of the freshest produce and a chance to give back to the community and connect with the local arts scene. Here are 11 top farmers markets in Raleigh.

What Food Is Raleigh Known For?

sam-jones-bbq-raleigh-1-768x1024

The Raleigh restaurant scene has thrived in recent years with innovative chefs adding to the exciting mix of traditional southern food and global flavors, it’s not just fried chicken and biscuits on offer.

With that being said, if you love to try local, here are the classic Raleigh food experiences to try:

  • Barbecue – NC is a bbq state, and in the Raleigh area the focus is on Eastern style where they slow cook the whole hog over hot coals, then pull the meat and dress it with vinegar base sauce. Read more: Best places to eat bbq in Raleigh .
  • Grits – corn-based dish that is best associated with Southern breakfasts. 
  • Biscuits – Southern comfort food and the bread of the South. 
  • Hush Puppies – another Southern specialty, and common with bbq or seafood. 
  • Fried chicken – they’re always frying things in the South, and Southern-fried chicken is a locals favorite. 
  • Country Ham – a classic, Southern tradition that is aged, smoked, dried and cured to perfection. 
  • Collard Greens – don’t forget to eat your greens as they say. 
  • Mac & Cheese – popular side with a barbecue dinner or as a full entrée. 
  • Fried Green Tomatoes – trendy Southern side dish featuring unripe tomatoes washed in egg and buttermilk, coated in cornmeal and fried. 
  • Sweet Potato Pie – fun fact, NC is the leading producer of sweet potatoes in the country!  

Attractions in Raleigh

Young girl looking at large steel ring art sculpture

Raleigh doesn’t have the big ticket attractions like some cities, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting and fun Raleigh attractions to keep locals and visitors entertained – and many of them are FREE.

Raleigh is well known for its quality and quantity of museums and has often been referred to as the “Smithsonian of the South”. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is the Southeast’s largest natural history museum, and the NC Museum of Art is home to more than a dozen beautiful indoor gallery spaces and a fantastic 164-acre park and trail system featuring commissioned works of art.

Woman walking down a hiking trail in the forest.

Umstead State Park is just 15-minutes’ drive from downtown Raleigh and a place of nature and wilderness exploration. Whether you’re interested in hiking, biking, fishing, or picnicking, this park has something for everyone.

For more information on the top attractions in Raleigh, read these related articles:

  • Top 25 Raleigh Attractions
  • 8 fantastic museums in Raleigh

Top Things to Do in Raleigh

Man on a paddle board on a lake surrounded by trees.

A top feature of Raleigh is the vast 100+ mile Capital Greenway Trail system. We love our walks and bike rides, and in Raleigh there is a trail for everyone in all seasons whether you prefer to peddle a bike, hike in the woods, or stroll around a lake. Here are 25 trails we love . 

Another great way to get a real feel for the city of Raleigh is enjoying all the wonderful parks and all the recreational activities they have to offer. And no matter where you are in the city, there is a lake nearby where you can enjoy watersports such as stand-up paddle boarding in Raleigh, boating, fishing, camping, and nature trails.

pullen park raleigh 1

Looking for family-friendly things to do with kids in Raleigh, Pullen Park is one of the most fun things to do with younger kids, as is Marbles Kids Museum near Moore Square.

For a long list of suggestions, see our full guide to Raleigh with kids , and our complete guide to 90+ things to do in Raleigh . 

Festivals & Events in Raleigh

A crowd of people at a market

Festivals & Events are a big draw to the city, whether it’s the arts, music, food, beer, and diverse cultures. Some of the biggest annual events are the Dreamville Music Fest, the Brewgaloo Beer Festival, and the NC State Fair . 

Including the surrounding towns near Raleigh, we can barely keep up with attending all the events each year. See our full list of 52 top festivals in Raleigh post for more information. 

Shopping in Raleigh

Midtown Park at North Hills

If you like the idea of shopping local and supporting small retailers, downtown Raleigh is home to some terrific local shops . 

North Hills has become one of North Carolina’s most upscale shopping districts with 130+ local shops and high-end boutiques, plus restaurants, bars, salons and spas, cinemas, a bowling alley, Farmers’ Market, indie bookstore, outdoor concerts, apartment living, and premier hotels.

When it opened in 1949, The Village District became the first shopping center between Washington D.C. and Atlanta. This neighborhood destination quickly became a Raleigh tradition for shoppers and those looking for local restaurants, bars and entertainment!

A shopping district with cars and trees surrounding it.

Crabtree Valley Mall is one of the largest malls in the Southeast, with nearly 200 stores, dozens of restaurants, and three anchors – Belk, Belk Men’s Store, and Macy’s.

Lafayette Village is a European-style village in North Raleigh and offers locally owned gourmet restaurants and upscale shopping plus recurring events from live music to artist exhibits.

Triangle Town Center one-stop destination for shopping featuring 5 anchors including the state’s only Saks Fifth Avenue plus 100+ shops like Express, Vans, Loft, Torrid, rue21 and more.

Best Neighborhoods in Raleigh

Aerial view of city buildings and surrounding streets and trees.

To give some perspective of the layout of Raleigh, it is classified into seven different areas, and each with their own personalities and offerings:

  • Downtown Raleigh
  • West Raleigh
  • East Raleigh
  • South Raleigh
  • Midtown Raleigh
  • North Raleigh
  • RDU/Brier Creek

Most of my favorite Raleigh neighborhoods are inside the beltline, with some great neighboring towns a short drive away!

Historic Oakwood

Historic home with a front porch

Historic Oakwood is one of my favorite neighborhoods to explore. It rose after the Civil War, dates to the 1800’s, and is home to magnificent oak trees, Grand Victorians and modest bungalows. Check out this Free walking tour and don’t miss the magnificent Oakwood Cemetery .

North Person Street

the road

North Person Street borders Historic Oakwood and is my favorite street in Raleigh. Located here are some of my favorite local restaurants, bars and breweries, a bakery, an independent bookstore, ice cream shop, and boutique shopping all within a few hundred feet. Read our full guide to Nth Person Street .

Historic Boylan Heights

A Southern home with front porch and American flag

Historic Boylan Heights is one of the premier neighborhoods in Raleigh on the immediate edge of downtown. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. We love to walk or drive through this neighborhood, check out the homes, grab a coffee at Rebus Works, some baked goods at Boulted Bread. Read our guide to Boylan Heights .

Downtown Cary

Tree and church in a downtown street.

15-minutes’ drive from downtown Raleigh brings you to the charming downtown Cary, one of the fastest growing towns in the South and home to some of the best places to eat and drink in the Triangle and an awesome new park right in town. Read our guide to downtown Cary . 

Five Points

Mural with an image of a man and the words Five Points.

2-miles north of downtown Raleigh, the Five Points area gets its name from the convergence of five historic neighborhoods at a five-point street intersection. There’s also the small town feel with the epicenter of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, pharmacies, and convenience stores. The historic Rialto Theater is at the main intersection along Glenwood Avenue and Fairview Road, and the Carolina Country Club is minutes away!

North Hills

A view of midtown raleigh

Five miles north of Raleigh’s downtown is the North Hills neighborhood, also known as Midtown Raleigh. It has become one of North Carolina’s most upscale locations and home to the popular shopping, dining and eating North Hills District. This is a rapidly expanding area with more development planned, and already home to excellent restaurants, boutique stores, a farmers’ market and live entertainment. 

Aerial view of a main street with shops

25-minute drive Southwest from downtown Raleigh brings you to the cute and historic downtown Apex. Founded in the 1860s, Apex is centered around charming Salem Street filled with colorful buildings, beautifully restored specialty stores and antique shops, and terrific locally owned restaurants, cafes and bars. Read our guide to Apex .

Light pole and sign on a street saying Wake Forest.

18 miles northeast of downtown Raleigh, Wake Forest has an historic downtown district that’s home to a charming and unique community of restaurants, shops and art galleries. Take a stroll and grab a bite to eat, do some boutique shopping, check out a gallery, have a drink, or attend an event or festival. Read our guide to Wake Forest .

Looking for a Realtor

Are you looking to buy or sell a home and are in needed of a real estate agent in the Raleigh area?  As a Licensed Realtor and referral agent , I can save you the time and stress searching and vetting and connect you to my team of trusted Realtor partners.  Read more here or click the button below to fill out the form and get started.

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Sports in Raleigh

College football stadium with fans watching a game at NC State University.

One thing I love about living in the city of Raleigh is the combination of college and pro sports. Traditionally the Triangle region is ACC Basketball territory with the local NC State Wolfpack , plus the nearby UNC Tar Heels , and Duke Blue Devils all within a 40-minute drive of each other.

As for Pro Sports, in 1997 the National Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes, becoming the city’s first and only major league professional sports franchise. 

Thousands of fans at an indoor ice hockey game

Women’s soccer is a big deal in NC, and the North Carolina Courage women’s team has had plenty of recent success. And the men’s team, the North Carolina FC is well supported, to. 

Sporting teams in the Raleigh area include:

  • Carolina Hurricanes : National Hockey League (NHL)
  • NC State University Wolfpack : ACC Conference
  • North Carolina FC : United Soccer League
  • North Carolina Courage : National Women’s Soccer League
  • Carolina Mudcats : Single-A baseball
  • Carolina Rollergirls : Women’s Flat Track Derby Association
  • Raleigh Flyers : American Ultimate Disc League

Here are some relevant links to some of our articles around enjoying sports in Raleigh:

  • 15 sports bars in Raleigh
  • Guide to WakeMed Soccer Park
  • Guide to Carter-Finley Stadium (NC State Football)
  • Guide to Reynolds Coliseum (NC State Women’s basketball)

Itineraries for Raleigh

People having drinks enjoying a view of a city skyline from a hotel rooftop lounge.

If you’re looking for detailed sightseeing guides of what to do, where to eat and drink, and where to stay we have personalized itineraries you can follow along with.

Check out our 24 hours in Raleigh guide for first time visitors (or repeat visitors and locals), and our 48 hours in Raleigh guide.  

We also have a 48 hour guide to North Hills , and a 48 hour guide to the Warehouse District , with more itinerary guides coming soon!

Historic Attractions in Raleigh

Lady in red dress sitting on bench with historic home behind her

Like many cities across the USA, we find Raleigh’s history fascinating and even after living here for over 10 years now we are still discovering so much!

  • Mordecai Historic Park – the Mordecai Historic House is the oldest residence in Raleigh still on its original foundation, and it’s the birthplace of Andrew Johnson, the 17th President. Step back in time on a historic Mordecai House tour .
  • Dorothea Dix Park – the history of Dix Park dates back to four centuries ago when it was the hunting grounds for several Native American tribes. Then in the 1850’s it transferred from private plantation land to state owned for the opening of Dorothea Dix mental health Hospital. And now there’s a 40-year plan to create one of the biggest new urban parks in the USA. You can learn about the past and future on this guided walking tour. 
  • North Carolina State Capitol – Built in 1840, the State Capitol building is a National Historic Landmark and one of the best-preserved examples of Greek Revival-style architecture. Tour all three floors of the building, plus the monuments and statues on display outside in the grounds. 
  • North Carolina Executive Mansion – has been the official residence of the Governor’s of NC since 1891, and is a beautiful Victorian-style mansion. Franklin D. Roosevelt (F.D.R) once described the mansion as having “the most beautiful governor’s residence interior in America.”

Buildings in downtown Raleigh surrounded by trees.

  • Historic Oakwood Cemetery – for more than 140 years it has been the final resting place of over 22,000 of the area’s citizens including prominent city, state and national leaders.
  • Historic Yates Mill County Park – placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. This 174-acre wildlife park features hiking trails, the Historic Yates Mill, and the mill’s 24-acre pond which is fed by Steep Hill Creek. 
  • Pope House Museum – the only African-American house museum in NC, the Pope House offers a glimpse into the life of one of Raleigh’s most intriguing citizens, Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, who was the only African-American man to run for mayor of a Southern capital in the midst of the Jim Crow Era.
  • Joel Lane Museum – Wake County’s oldest home (built 1769) and considered the Birthplace of Raleigh. Joel Lane sold 1,000 acres to the state in 1792 to be used as the new state capital. Pre-arranged tours are provided by costumed docents.
  • Of course you can learn more about the history of Raleigh and North Carolina at the City of Raleigh Museum , and the NC Museum of History .

Day Trips from Raleigh

Lady walking along a riverfront boardwalk with a bridge in the distance.

Raleigh enjoys a central location and is within an easy drive to so many other great places to visit in North Carolina on a day trip whether you desire a beach break, you’re a foodie, or you’re into history, the arts, or sports. See our article on 15 best day trips from Raleigh .

Major Cities Near Raleigh

Mom and daughter looking out over a pond and monument in Washington DC.

If you’re looking to escape Raleigh to another city within an 8 hours’ drive (or short flight), Raleigh’s central east coast hub allows for exploration to some of our favorite destinations that make for the perfect weekend getaway.

We have driven to Washington D.C, Nashville, Savannah, Richmond, Knoxville, Chatanooga, Charlotte, and Atlanta many times. See our article on 18 fantastic cities near Raleigh .

Hotels in Raleigh 

Aerial view of a hotel in the city center.

Whether you take a trip to Raleigh for business or pleasure, to save you time and to make sure you’re located in the best area to make the most of your stay, we’ve handpicked hotels for you!

Because we live in Raleigh, we know the best places to stay and we want you to have easy access to all of the attractions, restaurants, bars, and museums or if you’re in town to attend a concert or festival.

Residence Inn downtown Raleigh is one of the best hotels in downtown Raleigh NC if you’re looking for cozy apartment style (all-suite) accommodation.

The Casso , a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, is in a super convenient location to several hotspots in downtown including a short walk to the Warehouse District and Glenwood South.

Hotel on the lakes edge surrounded by forest

StateView Hotel is a boutique property located on NC State University’s Centennial campus and just a 3-mile drive from downtown!

The Marriott Raleigh City Center is another of the popular Raleigh Hotels in the heart of the city and adjacent to the Raleigh Convention Center.

If you’re looking for hotels near the airport, check out our list of 10 best hotels near Raleigh Airport . And for the North Hills area consider the Renaissance Hotel , the AC Hotel , or the Hyatt House .

FAQs About Raleigh

Some of the most frequently asked questions we get about Raleigh, North Carolina include: 

How Did Raleigh Get Its Name?

Raleigh was officially named after the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh who attempted to establish the first English colony on the shores of the new world in the 1580s.

Why Do They Say Y’ALL?

The word y’all is ubiquitous among native Southerners. Y’all is a subject pronoun that addresses two or more people. It’s the contraction of “you” and “all.” And all y’all is the plural of y’all, at least in some areas of the south.

When Was Raleigh Founded?

Raleigh was founded in 1792 but wasn’t always the capital city of NC. When North Carolina was a colony, the capital was in New Bern and Edenton at different times. 

What Is The Tallest Building In Raleigh?

The tallest building in Raleigh is the 32 story PNC Plaza on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh which rises 538 feet and was completed in 2008. It’s also the tallest building in NC outside of Charlotte.

The cost of living has risen in the past 5 years due to low inventory and high demand. More and more people are moving to Raleigh from out of state due to the quality of life and how affordable it is.

On the website Payscale.com , the cost of living in Raleigh is 5% lower than the national average, and 58.7% lower than NYC, and housing is 85.2% lower than NYC! And Realtor.com named Raleigh the most affordable alternative “kindred city” to San Francisco.

Man and woman holding hands walking through a city park.

I hope this guide to the city of Raleigh has answered most of your questions and gave you helpful insights into what makes Raleigh, Raleigh! 

As this city continues to evolve we’ll update this guide, but if you have any questions about Raleigh whether it’s visiting or living here, please leave them in the comments section below!

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THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Raleigh

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Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

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Fun City Scavenger Hunt in Raleigh by Wacky Walks

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Top Attractions in Raleigh

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1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

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2. North Carolina Museum of Art

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3. Pullen Park

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4. North Carolina Museum of History

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5. Marbles Kids Museum

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6. State Farmers Market

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7. PNC Arena

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8. Umstead State Park

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9. JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University

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11. Historic Yates Mill County Park

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12. Neuse River Trail

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Top Things to Do in Raleigh, NC - Raleigh Attractions

Things to do in raleigh, explore popular experiences, tours in and around raleigh.

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Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

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Fun City Scavenger Hunt in Raleigh by Wacky Walks

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Private Pedicab Tour of Downtown Raleigh

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Private transportation

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Rockin Raleigh Scavenger Hunt

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Polaris Slingshot Type R Rental in Morrisville

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Private Cooking Class in Durham with an Expert Home Cook

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Durham Dash Scavenger Hunt

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Crime Solving Detective Experience Chapel Hill

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Tours & sightseeing.

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Top Attractions in Raleigh

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1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

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2. North Carolina Museum of Art

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3. Pullen Park

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4. North Carolina Museum of History

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5. Marbles Kids Museum

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6. State Farmers Market

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7. PNC Arena

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8. Umstead State Park

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9. JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University

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10. Mordecai Historic Park

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11. Historic Yates Mill County Park

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12. Neuse River Trail

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  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • North Carolina Museum of Art
  • Pullen Park
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • North Carolina Museum of History
  • Neuse River Trail
  • JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
  • Umstead State Park
  • Historic Yates Mill County Park

Raleigh Attractions Information

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Downtown Raleigh

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Marbles Kids Museum

  • North Carolina Museum of Art and Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park

North Carolina Museum of History

North carolina museum of natural sciences.

  • North Carolina Railway Museum & New Hope Valley Railway
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Downtown Raleigh, N.C., is where historic neighborhoods, world-class museums, Southern diners, outdoor green spaces, performing arts venues, local shops, breweries and underground cocktail spots all work together to create one incredible cultural hotspot.

It’s where you can tour a chocolate factory, play classic arcade games, park your bike outside a bicycle-themed brewery, indulge in a plate of whole-hog, pit-cooked barbecue, pick up a pair of locally hand-crafted denim jeans and visit a contemporary art museum—all within in a 100-step radius.

Some of the state’s most visited attractions ( North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences , Marbles Kids Museum and North Carolina Museum of History ), plus a host of critically acclaimed restaurants on a national level ( Poole’s Diner ,  Raleigh Beer Garden and more) call the center of the city home.

Downtown Raleigh's Sip n' Stroll Downtown social district Visitors to downtown Raleigh can drink beer, wine or cocktails as they walk through a defined area of downtown Raleigh, seven days a week from 10am-10pm! See the district boundaries and participating businesses (and their level of participation) here !

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Delivering purposeful play in a big way, Marbles allows children to imagine, discover and learn in dozens of interactive... View More

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

The North Carolina Museum of History, located in downtown Raleigh, showcases more than 14,000 years and 150,000 artifacts of N.C.... View More

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the Southeast’s largest natural history museum, complete with its Nature... View More

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Raleigh Beer Garden

With more than 350 beers on tap, passionate mind Niall Hanley’s Raleigh Beer Garden has one of the world's largest beer... View More

Downtown Raleigh has seen a surge of growth in recent years thanks to a slew of artists, entrepreneurs, creative class innovators, restaurateurs, business leaders and other passionate minds that had a vision for downtown that would make it a special place to visit—a place where people from all walks of life, backgrounds and futures would come together to share enriching experiences. That’s why you’ll find murals on the sides of buildings and posters at business entrances that read, “Are All Welcome Raleigh, N.C.” and “Welcome to Raleigh, Y’all.”

It’s all easily accessible, too—downtown streets are easy to navigate by walking, cycling ( using Cardinal Bikeshare ) or catching a short rideshare service or taxi ride.

Poole?s Diner

See a full list of downtown restaurants (plus foodie tips!).

Sheraton Raleigh Hotel

Book a room in the middle of the downtown Raleigh action...

Raleigh Denim

Shop local! Many Raleigh-based brands are located downtown...

The-Green-Light

Unique Nightlife

A guide to rooftop, hidden and underground bars...

Scott Crawford

Scott Crawford

Crawford and Son and Jolie

Scott Crawford's talent and vision have helped to shape and further Raleigh, N.C.'s growing, award-winning food scene. His restaurant, Crawford and Son, serves straightforward, honest food that ranges from the familiar to the unexpected. And his French bistro, Jolie, features...

“The food here has a lot of love put in it—from the people who grow it, to the people who get it to us, to the cooks that handle it with the utmost respect. I think it’s a beautiful way to experience a city and the people of the city.”

Downtown districts  five distinct hot spots.

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Stately buildings and classic architecture line the streets of this historic Capital District. This...

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

After being converted in the 1970s to a pedestrian mall closed to automobile traffic, downtown...

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Moore Square is a registered historic district located in downtown Raleigh, comprised of the...

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

The streets of Glenwood South are lined with progressive restaurant and nightlife concepts, unique...

raleigh north carolina tourist attractions

Characterized by six blocks of iconic, red brick industrial buildings, the Warehouse District in...

Raleigh, N.C.

Get to know more of Raleigh and its 11 surrounding towns! Click an area on the map or the links below to explore.

Explore the Raleigh area

Fuquay-varina, holly springs, morrisville/rtp, wake forest.

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Historic neighborhoods, museums, Southern diners and global eats, green spaces, performance venues, breweries and nightlife spots work together to create one incredible, cultural hotspot.

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Steeped in history, East Raleigh continues to grow with historic neighborhoods, two distilleries, family-fun facilities and restaurants serving up delicious, down-home Southern food.

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Includes four, different shopping, entertainment and dining areas all within a short drive—North Hills, Crabtree Valley, Cameron Village and the Five Points neighborhood.

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Home to hundreds of restaurants, large retail stores, entertainment complexes, parks and recreation areas. Family entertainment is easy to find as well as fun, outdoor things to do

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Aptly named for its proximity to RDU International Airport, the area is home to hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, restaurants, breweries and an array of family fun.

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Located just south of downtown, this area is one of the city’s most rapidly growing. With multiple parks, eateries and entertainment options, it's a great place to spend a day or stay.

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Boasts two-dozen live performance venues and visual art galleries, including the North Carolina Museum of Art! This hip, college-town drag also includes the N.C. State Fairgrounds and PNC Arena.

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Celebrating its turn-of-the-century railroad heritage, the charming town of Apex features more than 60 commercial and residential structures dating from 1870 to 1940.

Women Sitting By A Fountain In Cary, NC

One of the fastest-growing cities in the South, Cary is home to renowned restaurants, world-class shopping, top-tier entertainment, culture and arts and a range of outdoor experiences.

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Originally, visitors traveled to the quaint town seeking the healing powers of its mineral spring. Today the town remains a rewarding place for day-trip adventures or weekend getaways.

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Venture just 10 minutes from downtown Raleigh and check out Garner, an All-America City with unique amenities and a genuine, hometown authenticity.

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At its beginnings, travelers stopped by the area's springs to quench their thirst, and while that bit of history doesn’t continue today, visitors do stop to indulge in breweries and dining spots.

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Perfect for those seeking a welcoming, youthful culture, Knightdale boasts lots of parks and trails for the active-minded, a distillery plus a local-hangout, nano brewery.

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A growing enclave known for its diversity, educated populace and cultural vibrancy. Includes excellent global dining, plus the local-favorite, indoor climbing spot Triangle Rock Club.

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As the second-oldest town in the Raleigh area, Rolesville’s roots run deep. Established in 1837, the town has held fast to its engaging, Southern charm.

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A beautiful small town with enough history, culture and activities to keep travelers entertained for days on end. Stroll through the charming, historic downtown district!

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Along Main St. and throughout historic downtown Wendell—on the National Register of Historic Places—vintage shops, dining spots and buildings display the architecture of our American heritage.

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Just 25 minutes from downtown Raleigh, Zebulon is a vibrant, welcoming community with activities ranging from sporting events (Carolina Mudcats baseball!) to down-home Southern dining.

Craig Makepeace

Why Visit Raleigh, North Carolina? An In-Depth Guide

R aleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is a vibrant and dynamic destination that offers a unique blend of Southern charm, cosmopolitan culture, and an array of attractions.

If you’re planning to visit Raleigh, you may be wondering what is there to see and experience? Raleigh doesn’t have the big city attractions like New York City, the thrill rides and Disney characters like Orlando, nor a food scene like New Orleans where every hole in the wall would keep the world’s best French chefs happy.

But it does have a vibrant local community that invites you in to enjoy the many fun festivals and events , it’s ever evolving food and craft brew scene (with a winery even), miles of greenway trails, parks, lakes, urban green spaces, historic neighborhoods and a fun college scene!

In this guide below, we’ll delve into the personality of Raleigh and explore the top reasons why people should visit this thriving, forward-moving capital city.

  • The Personality of Raleigh

Fun Year-Round Raleigh Festivals & Events

Exciting raleigh sports events, urban forest playground, a long history to explore, arts & cultural experiences, free raleigh museums, live music & entertainment, delicious raleigh food experiences, thriving raleigh beer scene, family-friendliness.

  • "y’all are welcome"

Great Towns in the Greater Raleigh area

Excellent location for getaways, looking for a realtor.

What is Raleigh known for? Well, it’s known for its welcoming personality and diverse offerings, a city that beckons travelers from all walks of life. Over the past few years, the city of Raleigh NC has taken long strides out of adolescence and into young adult hipster.

It’s finding a new personality amidst the incredible growth and influx of residents for all over the country, and even the world – hello, we’re Australian!

It still has one foot in its Southern roots , with charm, warmth, and a laid-back way of being. People still have time to stop and talk to you and the pace is magnetically slow moving. Not country slow, but not New York City fast!

With an abundance of green spaces and mild climate, you can be sure you’ll discover an active community. Raleighites like being outside whether it’s to picnic in the parks and gardens, hike or bike the greenway trails, or attend any of the many street festivals and music events held year-round.

As it’s home to some of the country’s most prestigious universities such as NC State (with Duke and UNC just 40-minutes away), the Research Triangle Park , and an emerging tech scene, you can be sure it’s a city that supports innovation and intellectual curiosity, with a mission of “a rising tide lifts all boats” rather than dog eat dog.

Don’t arrive in Raleigh highly strung – well that will unwind soon enough if you are. This is not NYC, Atlanta or California, and we don’t want it to be. Enjoy Raleigh for Raleigh and embrace this gentler, slower, more connected way of being. Enjoy the fact that it’s not a big tourist destination – you’ll have less waiting time, more space, and fewer crowds to battle through.

You won’t be looked at funny if you turn up to places in shorts and a T-shirt, or with a child or pet beside you. But, if you want to turn up in a shirt and tie, you can do that too. There are plenty of options for both.

With a wonderful mix of ages and cultures, Raleigh offers a vibrant lifestyle . One thing that has always struck out to me as we’ve moved back and forth from our home country of Australia, and from visiting many other countries, the people are genuinely friendly here, and, for the most part, people who live here are happy and tend to stay. That’s not to say we don’t have problems – hello poor public transport and a lack of attention to affordable housing!

People who visit here more often than not end up returning – even deciding to live here, they become so enamored by it.

Hey, we’re Australian, have lived in 5 countries, traveled to over 50, are professional travel bloggers , and with our portable business we could live anywhere in the world, and we CHOSE Raleigh. We think that’s saying something!

No matter your age, background, culture, or interests, all are welcome here and you’ll find something to make you smile and enjoy your time. To learn more, see our interesting facts about Raleigh article.

FREE Printable CHECKLIST for all the best things to do in Raleigh  + updates + insider tips. 

Top Reasons to Visit Raleigh

Since Raleigh doesn’t have big name attractions, many people visit for a particular festival or event. What a great reason to plan a trip to Raleigh, as we have many top festivals and events throughout the year that celebrate art, food, music, and more.

The wide variety of events ensures there’s always something exciting happening in the city. Be sure to add in a couple of extra days, so you can explore Raleigh in more depth while here.

A few of our favorite Raleigh events and festivals throughout the year include:

  • Dreamville – Now one of the premiere music events in the country, attended by 50,000 each day of the two-day hip hop and rap festival hosted by Fayetteville native and Grammy award winning artist, J Cole.
  • IMBA Bluegrass Festival – one of the top bluegrass events in the country, this weeklong festival includes random pop-up shows, bluegrass music awards and a 2-day street festival. 2024 will be its last year, but something is being developed to replace it.
  • NC State Fair – the largest event in North Carolina, comes to Raleigh every October, filled with fun rides, agricultural shows, and lots of fried food.
  • Art festivals Artsplosure and Spring Daze in Bond Park, Cary are wonderful events to help connect you with local artisans.

Raleigh may not have professional football, basketball, or baseball teams, but we have plenty of action-packed college sports and events year-round. And, we do have one pro-sporting team, though. Ever heard of the Carolina Hurricanes ?

The Canes are one of the best teams in the NHL, Stanley Cup winners in 2006, and apparently some of the loudest ice hockey fans in the league. In 2023, we even hosted the NHL Stadium Series at Carter Finlay Stadium . Raleigh knows how to put on an event!

This region is also one of the best in the country for soccer, especially women’s soccer, and we have our professional men’s North Carolina FC and NC Courage women’s teams have their base at WakeMed Soccer Park. This venue also hosts ACC and NCAA championships each year.

In nearby Durham we have the minor league baseball team, the Durham Bulls , which is always a fun game experience and family night out.

The Triangle region, of which Raleigh is a part along with our neighbors Durham and Chapel Hill, is home to three major US universities and countless smaller ones. You can be sure the personality is young, vibrant, full of good times, and high sporting cheers.

Is there a bigger rivalry in college sports than UNC vs Duke? You can watch or be part of that electric atmosphere right here in the Triangle. We have an abundance of college sporting games to watch live or one of our top sports bars in Raleigh . Read more:

  • A Guide to Carter Finlay Stadium
  • How to have a great time at the Durham Bulls baseball games
  • Reynolds Coliseum Guide.
  • A Guide to WakeMed Soccer Park

Raleigh is often referred to as the “City of Oaks” because of the thousands of oak trees that line its streets, creating a lush and picturesque urban landscape.

Along with all the oak trees you have pine tree forests everywhere, wooded neighborhoods, green spaces and parklands. Whenever we have friends visit, they always remark on how GREEN Raleigh is. When flying into Raleigh-Durham Airport , look out the window and see for yourself!

This natural beauty sets a tranquil and inviting tone for the city. Immersing yourself in the forest of Raleigh will help you to see why there is a slow, happy, calm way of being. Just ask the Blue Zone experts, why this is such an important part of quality living.

We have the Umstead State Park on our doorstep offering many trails, and beautiful parks and green spaces like family-favorite Pullen Park and Dorothea Dix Park . One of our favorite things about Raleigh are the beautiful lakes you can paddle on or walk/ bike around. ( Lake Johnson is our Happy Place ).

The Capital Area Greenway System is made up of 28 individual trails over 100 miles. So, jump on a bike or take a walk and unwind. One of our favorites is the Art to Heart Trail (a 6-mile trail connecting the NC Museum of Art to downtown Raleigh). And we have many beautiful gardens, including the spectacular Sarah P Duke Gardens in Durham .

Use the below guides to help you plan some nature activities while here in Raleigh:

  • 25 Raleigh trails for hiking, biking, or running.
  • Best places to go stand up paddle boarding
  • 15 Top Lakes in the Raleigh region
  • 6 lovely gardens in Raleigh to visit

The Wake County region was inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Tuscarora and the Occaneechi , who lived in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. The land around Dorothea Dix Park and Raleigh was used as their hunting grounds for hundreds of years.

That all changed with the arrival of settlers from Europe. From that point of view, Raleigh’s history begins with its formation as the capital of North Carolina in 1792 , due to its central location within the state. It was named after Sir Walter Raleigh , who was an English explorer and sponsor of the Roanoke Island Colony in the late 16th century.

The city grew slowly at first, but it gained importance during the American Civil War when it became a center for Confederate soldiers and supplies.

After the war, Raleigh experienced economic growth and development. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the expansion of industries such as textiles, tobacco, and furniture manufacturing. The city continued to grow and evolve throughout the 20th century, becoming a hub for technology, education, and research.

While not overflowing with historical site experiences, there are some great tours and attractions in Raleigh to experience and learn more about the city’s history. Here are a few attractions to enjoy:

  • Guided walking tour of Dorothea Dix Park
  • Guided tour of Mordecai Historic Park (where Andrew Johnson was born)
  • Black American experiences in Raleigh
  • Joel Lane house – the oldest in Raleigh
  • Raleigh Historic Trolley tours
  • Pope House Museum

I love seeing how the art scene in Raleigh has blossomed over the past few years. It feels like a new art gallery is opening every month, and more events are held to celebrate our local artists.

We have the outstanding NC Museum of Art , which I feel is Raleigh’s best foot forward. Not only for its collection of art in its beautifully designed glass-walled West Gallery, but for the 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight sculpture park . Have a picnic, enjoy its 4.7 miles of trails, attend an event, or see a concert or show in its outdoor theater. During the summer, the sunflower field is just like the museum, colorful, bright, and joyful.

Other art galleries and museums worth visiting are CAM Raleigh in the Warehouse District, Artspace to see working artists’ studios, Charlotte Russel Gallery in Five Points which showcases local women and minority artists work, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University is exceptional.

You can participate in the Art Gallery walk every First Friday of the month to peruse local art and attend fun events downtown. And Illuminate Raleigh during the Holidays brings the streets to life with illuminated art installations.

The Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts stands as a cultural cornerstone in downtown Raleigh. This iconic venue is a testament to the city’s commitment to the arts and entertainment. Renowned for its acoustics and elegant design, it serves as a dynamic space for a diverse range of performing arts, including theater, music, and dance.

It’s home to the Carolina Ballet , NC Opera, NC Symphony, NC Theater, Pinecone and many smaller visiting and local events. At Christmas time, it hosts the popular Dessertery Cafe and Raleigh’s favorite annual A Christmas Carol performance.

And the incredible Duke Performing Arts Center (DPAC) in Durham hosts many visiting Broadway Shows year-round.  

You can see our monthly events post and weekend event guide to see what is playing in Raleigh during your visit.

There is a reason Raleigh is known as the Smithsonian of the South. We have many fascinating museums in Raleigh that are mostly free, and some are withing walking distance of each other! These institutions provide engaging and educational experiences for visitors of all ages.

Downtown we have the NC Museum of Natural Sciences , the North Carolina Museum of History , including one of Craig’s favorite exhibits, The Sports Hall of Fame ; and the City of Raleigh Museum .

Raleigh is also home to the only Harley-Davidson drag racing museum in the world, founded by world-famous drag racing champion Ray Price located on the second floor of one of the largest Harley dealerships in the U.S.

While it cannot compare to Nashville or Austin (there’s always room for this kind of improvement). Raleigh does have an active live music scene.

We absolutely love our summer outdoor venues: Red Hat Amphitheater , the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, and our personal favorite, Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary – this is true piedmont style with the stage in the middle of the forest beside the lake.

PNC Arena hosts live music and comedy acts year-round as well as many smaller venues with Indy music such as the Lincoln Theater (so cool), the Pour House , and the Ritz.

Raleigh’s music festivals, like Hopscotch and IBMA’s World of Bluegrass , draw music enthusiasts from near and far. You’re not going to find live music at every brewery and bar in Raleigh, but you may find pop ups here and there.

The nightlife in Raleigh has really grown over the years and you have plenty of options. Glenwood Ave South has always been known as Party Street (best for late night partying) and is particularly popular with the younger crowd. East Harget St in downtown Raleigh will draw an older crowd with classy bars like Watts & Ward and the Greenlight Speakeasy.

If laughter is more your thing, Raleigh has a several comedy clubs including Goodnights in the Village District , Comedy Worx and Raleigh Improv in Cary. Check out the following articles:

  • Cocktail bars in the Raleigh area
  • Sports bars in Raleigh
  • Best rooftop bars in Raleigh
  • Breweries in Raleigh

Now, y’all know I love Raleigh, but in wearing my travel professional hat after visiting 40+ states and 50+ countries worldwide, I must be upfront and say, I don’t classify Raleigh as a “foodie” destination!

A foodie destination to me is like San Francisco where every hole in the wall you pass by has the best pho or cannoli you’ve eaten outside of its native country. Or, New Orleans, where French chefs bow down in praise of maintaining the integrity of every dish you eat whether it’s beignets on the street or fine dining in one of The Brennan Family’s restaurants. Yep. A foodie will know they are a NOLA institutional restauranter family.

Or destinations like Seattle and Portland , where every café has a cup of coffee that gets this Aussies nod of approval (Australians are a nation of proud coffee snobs, because we’re the best at it).

And then there’s NYC with every kind of cuisine you could ever hope for in one long street line and all great quality. Ask any New Yorker in Raleigh and they’ll tell you “ I can’t find any good NY bagels or slice of pizza ” I hear it’s the water. I wonder if that’s why the coffee is so different to Australia. We’re all snobs about something!

On an international scale, we think of places we’ve visited like Thailand, Singapore, Italy and France. Places we’d be happy to return to JUST for the food.

Raleigh is not a complete foodie town, yet. We don’t have any Michelin Star restaurants, but we do have James Beard award winning chefs. All this is not to say you can’t have memorable food experiences here. The food scene has improved immensely over the past decade and continues to evolve.

I want to be honest so you’re not disappointed IF you heard the term Raleigh = foodie destination. Personally, when we think of “foodie” destinations in the US, Raleigh doesn’t come to mind!

If you’re traveling to Raleigh for any other reason, I can assure you, you will find high-quality dining experiences . New, innovative, and delicious Raleigh restaurants are opening every month, and perhaps in a few years, Foodie Destination could be Raleigh’s new label. Nearby Durham is also making headway to that Tastiest Town of the South moniker.

Raleigh is a place to eat traditional Southern food like pulled pork BBQ, hush puppies, biscuits, and sweet tea. You can find good, not amazing, Italian, Mexican , Asian , Mediterranean, Seafood, pizza, burgers , bakeries , vegetarian/vegan, cheap eats, and fine dining!

Here are some of favorite Raleigh food experiences you’ll potentially rave about:

  • Coffee: We love Fount Coffee , Heirloom , and Jubala
  • Best brunches in Raleigh
  • Best BBQ in Raleigh
  • Where to eat breakfast in Raleigh
  • Top vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Raleigh
  • Where to find gluten free restaurants in Raleigh
  • Crawford and Sons and Second Empire for Date night
  • Second Empire date night

Now, we do rate the craft beer scene here up there with the best in the country, and you could visit Raleigh just to experience its fantastic craft breweries.

We’ve sampled many brews from some of the top beer cities in the U.S. such as Denver, Portland, San Diego and Asheville , and some of our favorite beers and breweries are right here in the city of oaks!

Beer not your thing? Cideries are starting to open in Raleigh with Bull City Ciderworks in downtown Cary, and East Bower in the Iron Works . Plus, you’ll find some cool wine bars , tap rooms, and even a winery here and there!

Here’s a list of breweries in Raleigh area to sip your way through the city! Let us know your favorite in the comments?

It makes the list as one of the best places to live in the US for families, so it makes sense that it’s a family-friendly destination.

As mentioned above, you can generally take your kids anywhere in Raleigh (except for 21+ of course) and never be looked at strangely. Breweries and restaurants often have outside seating areas, kids’ menus, and even play areas set up.

Raleigh has an abundance of parks, playgrounds, indoor play centers, and kid-friendly attractions like the Marbles Kids Museum and Pullen Park ensure that children of all ages have a memorable visit. And nearby we have Wet ‘n Wild in Greensboro and Carowinds Theme Park in Charlotte . Read more:

  • 75+ things to do in Raleigh with kids
  • Fun things to do in North Hills with kids
  • Fun things to do in Raleigh with teens
  • Kid-Friendly trails in Raleigh
  • How to spend a day in the Village District with kids

“y’all are welcome”

Raleigh’s cultural scene is a melting pot of art, music, and cuisine. It’s incredible to see how much this city has grown and how it embraces other cultures, both domestically and internationally.

But I love how Southern roots are not forgotten and it still thrills me every time I hear that Southern accent.

Raleigh is a progressive city that lives by its moniker “ y’all are welcome, and y’all means y’all. No matter what your interests or proclivities you will find experiences and people to match and make you feel at home here.

Downtown Raleigh has a huge percentage of women and black and brown owned businesses, which is rapidly growing. Black, LGBTQ, and Native American festivals are held each year as are other festivals that celebrate Diwali, Asian and Latina cultures, and many more.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the commitment to forward momentum is strong.

A visit to Raleigh should not start and end within the city’s borders. “Only 20 minutes” is a common phrase Raleighites will use when talking about getting anywhere.

That’s not just within Raleigh borders, but across the entire Wake County, which is comprised of twelve municipalities, each with their own vibrant personalities, charming downtowns, and things to do.

Drive 20-minutes more and you’ll be visiting other fantastic destinations like Chapel Hill and Durham or Johnston County.

We love having so many cool towns to visit in the Greater Raleigh area. Apex and Cary made our top small towns in the USA – both are booming with modern hipster bars, and restaurants. As is downtown Wake Forest . And the town of Cary just opened a world-class downtown park that is only going to enhance its happening vibe.

North Hills or Midtown is one of our favorite places to hang out. It’s a mini city filled with retail, movie theaters and bowling avenues, some of our favorite restaurants in Raleigh and fun events in the town squares.

Many of the towns in Wake County are becoming their own little trendy hubs and wonderful places to live. Fill out the form below if you’re looking to relocate here and we can help you find the perfect neighborhood for you.

Are you looking to buy or sell a home and are in needed of a real estate agent in the Raleigh area?  As a Licensed Realtor and referral agent , I can save you the time and stress searching and vetting and connect you to my team of trusted Realtor partners.  Read more here or click the button below to fill out the form and get started.

Raleigh is also ideally located with proximity to the coast (2 hours) and to the Appalachian Mountain ranges, in North Carolina and surrounding states (3+ hours).

This means you can explore a variety of landscapes from beaches to hiking trails. Raleigh is a perfect stop over to any itinerary passing through North Carolina. Whatever reason you are visit Raleigh for, you can easily add in day trips or getaways to the North Carolina mountains and North Carolina beaches , making it a well-rounded experience.

Can you get any better than mountains, city and beach in the one trip? Read more in the following articles:

  • Best day trips from Raleigh
  • Top Cities near Raleigh to visit (under 8 hours )
  • Wrightsville Beach Day Trip Itinerary
  • Summer staycation at the luxurious Fearrington Inn, Pittsboro
  • Fun getaway to Rocky Mount Mills
  • Camping a t Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake

Raleigh, North Carolina, is a city that offers a well-rounded experience to visitors. Whether you’re interested in culture, education, technology, nature, or simply enjoying some good old-fashioned Southern charm, this area has something for everyone.

The diverse personality of Raleigh and its myriad attractions make it a city worth exploring and experiencing. Its attractiveness lies in its slower pace, friendly vibe, and ability to immerse yourself into local culture, enjoying what truly is important in life: good times, connection to nature, and interaction with others.

Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is a vibrant and dynamic destination that offers a unique blend of Southern charm, cosmopolitan culture, and an array of attractions. If you’re planning to visit Raleigh, you may be wondering what is there to see and experience? Raleigh doesn’t have the big city attractions like New York […]

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  1. 13 Fun Places to Go in Raleigh NC

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  2. Must-See Attractions in Raleigh, North Carolina

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  3. 25 Best Things to Do in Raleigh (North Carolina)

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  4. The Top Things to Do in Raleigh, North Carolina

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  5. 17 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh, North Carolina

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  6. Top 25 Raleigh NC Attractions (there’s something for everyone)

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  1. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Raleigh

    Things to Do in Raleigh, NC - Raleigh Attractions Things to Do in Raleigh Explore popular experiences See what other travelers like to do, based on ratings and number of bookings. Tours & Sightseeing (12) Top Picks Parks (52) Cultural & Theme Tours (4) Private & Custom Tours (3) Points of Interest & Landmarks (18) Airport & Hotel Transfers (2)

  2. Top 30 Things To Do in Raleigh

    Two recommended ways to get a short taste of the trail—where the terrain is easy to tackle and provides plenty of unique plants and wildlife—are to start at either Blue Jay Point County Park or Wilkerson Nature Preserve, where you'll connect to the MST by spotting and following the white dots on tree trunks.

  3. 10 Best Things to Do in Raleigh

    #1 in Raleigh 5.5 miles to city center [SEE MAP] Free, Parks and Gardens, Sports, Hiking, Recreation TYPE 2 hours to Half Day

  4. Top 25 Raleigh NC Attractions (there's something for everyone)

    Don't miss taking a stroll through the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, the 164-acre park and trail system through natural areas that features more than a dozen commissioned works of art. And we love biking the Art to Heart trail. Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh Website: ncartmuseum.org Capital Area Greenway System Lake Lynn Trail

  5. 14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Raleigh

    11. North Carolina State Capitol 12. William B. Umstead State Park 13. PNC Arena 14. Neuse River Greenway Trail Map of Attractions & Things to Do in Raleigh 1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

  6. 90+ Things to Do in Raleigh, NC (Bucket List)

    Take your kids to Pullen Park Looking for top Raleigh attractions for kids? Pullen Park is one of the most fun things to do in Raleigh NC with kids. Located on 66-acres of land five minutes from downtown Raleigh, Pullen Park is the first public park in North Carolina, and the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the USA.

  7. Places to Visit in Raleigh

    1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. 2,335. Natural History Museums. The Southeast's largest natural history museum features dinosaurs, whale skeletons, live animals, walk-through dioramas, special exhibits, hands-on science education and accessible scientists. IMLS National Medal Finalist, 2014.

  8. 25 Best Things to Do in Raleigh (North Carolina)

    2. Visit the State Capitol Source: ESB Professional / shutterstock North Carolina State Capitol The State Capitol building of North Carolina is located on Edenton Street in Raleigh. The building is classed as a National Historic Landmark and dates back to 1840.

  9. Top 10 Things To Do in Raleigh, NC

    30 Free Things to Do Explore without breaking the bank! View More Angus Barn A family-owned institution for more than 50 years, serving certified Angus Beef, aged in house View More Ashley Christensen's Restaurants The James Beard Foundation named her most Outstanding Chef! View More Downtown Raleigh Food Halls

  10. Things To Do in Raleigh, NC

    Top 10 Things to Do When you visit Raleigh, N.C., these are essentials to check out... Arts There is a reason Raleigh has been called the "Smithsonian... Family Fun Raleigh, N.C., is an energizing destination for a full family... History Founded as the new state capital in 1792, Raleigh, N.C., is a... Music

  11. 27 Best & Fun Things To Do In Raleigh (North Carolina)

    One of the most fun things to do in Raleigh is to go to the North Carolina Museum of Art. This is one of the finest cultural institutes in the whole state. This museum brings near absorbing pieces from talented artists all over the world. If you're in Raleigh for a weekend, you should definitely come to the North Carolina Museum of Art.

  12. 33 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh (NC)

    Fun things to do in Raleigh cut across visiting some of the state's notable attractions, these include North Carolina State University, North Carolina State Capitol, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of History, and more.

  13. Raleigh, North Carolina: Tourism, Attractions and Things to Do

    1 - 14 ºC Major Airports: Raleigh-Durham (RDU) States: North Carolina Vibrant diversity meets Southern hospitality in North Carolina's capital Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is one of the South's most vibrant, eclectic cities - where eclectic meets traditional and historic meets modern.

  14. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Raleigh

    53. Bodies of Water. By LizNed55. Great Lake walk and path and boardwalks. The City of Raleigh has done an amazing job with these walking parks. 33. The Raleigh Market. 96. Flea & Street Markets.

  15. 17 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh, North Carolina

    Videri Chocolate Factory Based in the Warehouse District, Videri Chocolate Factory is not only one of the most popular Raleigh tourist attractions but a great spot to pick up some mouthwatering, chocolatey treats. What's not to love? Chocoholics will love embarking on a self-guided tour of Videri Chocolate Factory.

  16. 55 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh, North Carolina

    9 - Savor some candlelight concerts 10 - Play at Frankie's of Raleigh 11 - Experience college football at Carter-Finley Stadium 12 - Sample the city's gastro-scene at the food halls 13 - Explore WRAL Azalea Garden 14 - Delve deeper into the region's roots at the North Carolina Museum of History Return to the Jurassic era at Dinos Alive

  17. Raleigh, Durham & the Triangle

    camping, hiking, fishing, water sports, etc. romantic attractions, spas, health & wellness, etc. golf, motorsports, horseback riding, etc. (227) (111)Cajun & Creole Farm-to-Table Ice Cream & Sweets Mediterranean (8)Southern Steak (71)Farmers Markets (7)(37) Helicopters & Hot Air Balloons Zip Lining & Canopy Tours Fishing & Hunting Water Sports

  18. Raleigh, N.C.,

    Triangle Blvd Raleigh, N.C., awaits. Make your escape. Gather with family and best friends to revel in favorite festivals. Savor nationally recognized dining. Explore world-class museum exhibits. Immerse yourself in unscripted signature experiences and so much more. PLAN A TRIP | BOOKABLE EXPERIENCES Right Now in Raleigh

  19. In-Depth Guide To The City Of Raleigh (all You Need To Know)

    About Raleigh, NC. Boyland Heights neighborhood. Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina. It is the second largest city after Charlotte and the largest city in the Triangle region that consists of Raleigh - Durham - Chapel Hill. According to the 2019 U.S. Census, the population of Raleigh is 474,069.

  20. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Raleigh

    Points of Interest & Landmarks Airport & Hotel Transfers Walking & Biking Tours Gardens Food, Wine & Nightlife Ports of Call Tours Historic Sites Sporting Events Art Galleries Architectural Buildings Tours in and around Raleigh Book these experiences for a closer look at the region. See all Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh 907 Food & Drink from

  21. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Raleigh

    Umstead State Park. Sandwiched between downtown Raleigh and the airport, this oasis of green features a stand of 300+ year-old hardwood trees, more than 32 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, camp sites and lots more for nature lovers. 9. JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University.

  22. Things to Do in Downtown Raleigh, N.C

    Some of the state's most visited attractions ( North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Marbles Kids Museum and North Carolina Museum of History ), plus a host of critically acclaimed restaurants on a national level ( Poole's Diner , Raleigh Beer Garden and more) call the center of the city home. Visitors to downtown Raleigh can drink ...

  23. Why Visit Raleigh, North Carolina? An In-Depth Guide

    An In-Depth Guide. Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, is a vibrant and dynamic destination that offers a unique blend of Southern charm, cosmopolitan culture, and an array of attractions ...