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Fun Things to do in Raleigh

North Carolina

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city guide

It is the only state capital to have been planned and established by a state as the seat of state government, and it is the largest city in a combined statistical area known as Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (the Research Triangle Region).


Best time to go

The best times to visit Raleigh are in the fall and spring. Both seasons feature comfortable temperatures and beautiful foliage, whether it's the vibrant reds and yellows of the fall or the fragrant and colorful blossoms of the spring.


Fun city facts and activities

    Raleigh is finally coming into its own. Although the City of Oaks has long been an underrated gem, a recent resurgence of action downtown has created a lively, fun city with countless things to see, eat and do. During the summer, street fairs take over Fayetteville Street nearly every weekend, while local businesses continue to thrive, fueling an unbeatable culinary scene anchored by a bevy of award-winning chefs. In the coming months, Raleigh will be home to two expansive food hallsMorgan Street Food Hall and Transfer Company Olde Eastfurther expanding the citys downtown appeal. Hop aboard the Raleigh Trolley for a jaunt around town to see all this Southern capital has to offer, from exciting museums to breweries, beautiful parks and theaters.
City facts

Neighborhoods to explore

    Oakwood (Downtown)
    Cameron Village
    Boylan Heights
    Hayes Barton
    Historic South Park
    North Hills

Food Specialties

    Despite the citys abundance of talented, James Beard award-recognized chefs, Raleighs food scene is only just beginning to receive the national attention it deserves, slowly but surely gaining the kind of prominence usually reserved for other Southern cities like Nashville, Atlanta and Charleston. In the last decade, an influx of transplants and locals alike have embraced the citys urban-rural duality, imbuing the dining industry with tastes seamlessly merging their own culinary backgrounds and traditional Southern flavors. Much of the work by the local chefs and restaurateurs has also ended up revitalizing and reshaping historic buildings downtown to fit their needs, crafting buzzworthy eateries in captivating, visually intriguing locales. So, when considering what to do in Raleigh, where to eat should top your list.

Raleigh Offbeat activities

Free or cheap things to do

1. Take a Tour of the North Carolina State Capitol: Take a guided tour of North Carolinas State Capitol and learn about the history and architecture of this important building.

2. Visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Explore the many interactive exhibits throughout the museum and learn about the natural world.

3. Tour the Marbles Kids Museum: Have fun with your kids at this interactive museum with hands-on exhibits and activities.

4. Take a Brewery Tour: Take a tour of some of the local breweries in the area and sample some of the craft beers they produce.

5. Visit the Raleigh Flea Market: Shop around for antiques, collectibles, and more at this outdoor market.

6. Go Kayaking on Lake Johnson: Get out on the water and enjoy the scenery as you paddle around the lake.

7. Explore the Neuse River Greenway Trail: Take a walk or bike ride along this

Offbeat activites
Kid friendly

Fun things to do in with kids

Free or cheap things to do

1. Pullen Park Raleigh
Come to Pullen Park in Raleigh for a full day of outdoor fun in a historic North Carolina park established in 1887. Enjoy playgrounds and green fields, but also a ride on the original 1911 carousel and a mini train ride. This Raleigh gem includes one of the world's oldest operating amusement parks and is North Carolina's first public park. Take a pedal boat out on Lake Howell for a different view of the park and enjoy theater performances, too.

2. NC Museum of Art Raleigh
From performing arts to family workshops, there's plenty to see and do at this museum, which is recognized as a top visual art museum in the Southeast. Programs and in-gallery materials invite families to look, talk, and interpret works of art together.

3. Food Halls Raleigh
No matter what you're craving, you're sure to find it at these downtown Raleigh food halls: Transfer Co. Food Hall and Morgan Street Food Hall. Transfer Co. is housed in the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shops and was recently-renovated. If youre hungry for breakfast, youll find wood-fired bagels and fresh coffee at Benchwarmers Bagels.

4. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Downtown Raleigh
Kids will "bug" out at this educational and entertaining emporium, which is the Southeasts largest natural history museum, complete with its Nature Exploration Center and Nature Research Center. Take in four floors of exhibits, where you can see all sort of bugs, spiders, and snakes. Don't miss the live animals presentations that take place daily.

5. Mordecai Park & Trolley Tour Downtown Raleigh
Learn all about Raleigh's rich history while taking a narrated, 50-minute trolley tour, which starts at Mordecai House, the oldest home in Raleigh on its original foundation. While there, enjoy a tour of the Mordecai House, which dates back to 1785 and is a registered historical landmark and museum, as well as the surrounding outbuildings.

6. Videri Chocolate Factory Downtown Raleigh
Want to see how chocolate gets made? Take a free, self-guided tour of Videris chocolate factory, which can be completed in 15 minutes. Inside this quaint shop, chocolate lovers of all ages have a chance to see and smell the process of taking small-batch roasted cocoa beans, organic sugar, and organic cocoa butter and transforming it into award-winning chocolate.

7. Boxcar Bar + Arcade Downtown Raleigh
Looking for fun things to do in downtown Raleigh? Enjoy a little friendly competition inside this lively and spacious arcade and bar that brings together a mix of more than 100 new and classic arcade games for children and parents to enjoy together.

8. History Museum Raleigh
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the North Carolina History Museum features exhibits that highlight the states military history, decorative arts, sports heroes, and more.

9. Chinese Lantern Festival Cary
From mid-November through mid-January, hundreds of larger-than-life lanterns are on display at this beloved festival that serves as a perfect backdrop for super-vibrant selfies.

10. Marbles Downtown Raleigh
Want to make sure your kids are using their marbles? Pay a visit to this interactive Raleigh museum that will have your little ones connecting, communicating, and creating as they learn through play.

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City data and FAQ 

What is Raleigh most know for?

I lived in Charlotte for five years. Raleigh is most known for being the state capital of North Carolina. Its also home to North Carolina State University and near the Research Triangle Park.
Jon Talton - Lives in Seattle, WA
Is Raleigh worth visiting?

You could go to the museums (art, history, natural science), the various parks: (Umstead, Pullen, Dorothea Dix). You could go downtown or to Glenwood South if you like night life. There are plenty of good restaurants. But, I wouldnt plan on just going to Raleigh. If you come to NC, throw in the mountains and the coast.
Iva Anderson Lives in Raleigh, NC (1975 Present)

There are some decent restaurants (BBQ, Southern food, etc), bars, breweries and a few museums as well as a botanical garden. The caveat to this is if there is a particular event in the area. Something that lasts a weekend would be worthwhile.
Christopher Fetty Lived in Raleigh, NC (2020 2022)

Do you need a car to visit Raleigh?

Yes, it is possible to get around Raleigh with public transportation but very time consuming. The public bus system is free but doesnt go to the airport so you would need to catch an Uber or cab to get to your destination. Once in the middle of downtown you could walk or Uber everywhere, but you might as well rent a car and be able to see the city and surrounding areas.
Catherine Campbell Lives in Raleigh, NC

Are two days enough to visit Raleigh?

I would say that Raleigh has plenty of things to do for a day or two or more. The thing is that Raleigh isnt exactly one city. There are several cities in the area (Durham, Chapel Hill, etc.). There are definitely nice parts about all of these areas. I wouldnt say that Raleigh is exactly a destination, but if you were there for a few days its definitely worth a look around.
Christopher Fetty Lived in Raleigh, NC (2020 2022)

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