36 Things to do in Raleigh, NC
If you're searching for things to do in Raleigh, NC we have you covered! Please allow us to welcome you, to what we believe, is one of the world's best cities. If you're moving here, then there's a good chance you've already discovered what so many have yet to! If you live here, than you know exactly what we're talking about :)
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Without further ado, here's 27 things to do while you're in Raleigh, NC:
Table of Contents for Things to Do in Raleigh, NC
- Live Music, Concerts, and Dancing
- Museums and Art
- Parks, Hiking, Picnics, and Outdoor Activities
- Sporting Events
- Beer Lovers, Top Breweries
- Foodies in Raleigh (Dining)
- Coffee Shops in Raleigh
- Things to do if it's raining!
Things to Do...
The first Friday of each month is a special day in Raleigh, NC. It's a great way to experience Downtown Raleigh, with live music, great people, and a lot of fun lining the streets of Raleigh. First Friday in Raleigh, NC is a free self-guided tour of downtown's hot spots, local art galleries, studios, museums, and more!
The events typically run until 9pm though the hours may vary between location.
Many restaurants, retailers, and bars will support First Friday in Raleigh with specials for those participating in the affair. First Friday flags are easy to spot outside participating venues.
Here are the participating venues for First Friday in Downtown Raleigh, NC!
Concerts / Live Music
The live music is by far and away one of the best things to do in Raleigh! You can find it almost anywhere around the city whether it's at a concert venue, or simply a restaurant turned live music/bar on a weekend.
Raleigh has the most music in N.C., and plays host to a wide variety of artists. You will find mainstream artists like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, or local live music cover bands all playing in the area.
North Carolina Symphony
The North Carolina Symphony was founded in 1932 and became the first state-supported symphony in the country! NC cares about it's music, which is apparent by the fact they are willing to shut down the main streets in City Plaza for free concerts! The NC Symphony instantly became a vital part of North Carolina's cultural life, and it's 175 annual performance are greeted with much enthusiasm throughout the state!
If you're looking for something fun to do, head on down to the box office @ 3700 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 130, Raleigh, NC 27612 open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Do you like Museums? There are a few you must visit in Raleigh if you're looking for fun things to do!
The Museum of Natural Sciences is located at 11 West Jones street and is open daily from 9-5 (Mon-Sat) and 12-5 on Sunday.
North Carolina's most visited museum is an iconic landmark in downtown Raleigh. You can't miss it with the large daily planet just outside of it's West Jones street location. The NC Museum of Science is the largest institution of it's kind in the South East region of the United States. The museum answers four basic questions about natural sciences including what do we know? How do we know? What's happening now? How can you participate?
NC's most popular museum offers it's guests a great variety of things to do upon entering the museum including exhibits like; high-performing nexus of research, collections, living collections, exhibitions and digital media school and lifelong education, community engagement, and a regional network—each fueled by great expertise and a diversifying portfolio of public, earned and contributed funds.
If you love museums you're sure to love the NC Museum of Natural Sciences!
The North Carolina Museum of History
Among the best free things to do in Raleigh is the NC Museum of History. Located at 5 East Edenton Street, the doors open at 9am and close at 5pm, except on Sunday when they don't open until noon.
The admission is free (except for special exhibits) and gives people an opportunity to learn about the history of Raleigh, and North Carolina. This is similar to cities such as Boston where when you visit, every corner there is a story being told from the colonial days. Raleigh began doing something similar a couple hundred years ago and began to tell a story of it's own. Want to learn more? Check out the Museum!
The Marbles Kids Museum
If you're searching for things to do with your family while in Raleigh, NC, the Marbles Kids Museum is a fantastic option that is sure to please all!
Located at 201 East Hargett street, the Marbles Kids Museum is a Downtown Raleigh icon! There are times when they open it up to adults and serve adult beverages as well... It's fun to be a kid again :).
On September 29, 2007 the Marbles Kids Museum opened their doors, and the imaginations of a lot of kids around Raleigh. Kids are encouraged to use their marbles, learn new things through imagination, discovery, exploration, and play.
North Carolina Art Museum
For art lovers, and those with an appreciation for creativity/design, you'll want to be sure to check out the North Carolina Art Museum!
The Museum's history began in 1924 when the North Carolina State Art Society was formed. The mission for this group was to generate interest in creating an art museum for the state. The society received funds shortly after and originally began by purchasing paintings from local native Robert F. Phiger. This began the series of temporary art exhibition spaces that opened in the Agriculture building in Raleigh!
In 1947 the state committed one million dollars to funding the museum, and this type of funding received national attention. The museum has an interesting history, that includes the 'Miracle on Morgan street!'
William B. Umstead Park
One of the top free things to do in Raleigh is to explore everything the city and area have to offer. This includes the William B. Umstead Park which is nestled between Raleigh, Cary, and Durham. The 5,599 acres of forest offer hiking, bridle, and bike trails, boat rentals, camping, picnic areas, and educational programs. If you're searching for a dog park in Raleigh, NC, William B Umstead does not have any fences, yet is large enough for your dog to roam free through the trails (check out the rules to learn more about animals inside the park).
The entrance to the park can be found at 8801 Glenwood Avenue Raleigh, NC.
The first public park in NC, Pullen Park gives it's visitors a lot of terrific things to do such as a playground, swing sets, sand areas, lighted tennis courts, two ball fields, picnic areas, paddle boats. The park also offers amusement rides such as a carousel and a red caboose for kids to explore. Additionally the park also has a theatre, an arts center, and an aquatics center. This is great family fun for anyone in Raleigh!
There is only one professional sports team in Raleigh, NC and that is the Carolina Hurricanes. If you're searching for something to do with the family in Raleigh, this is a great event for everyone! The tickets are affordable, and the Hurricanes offer a clean, family friendly environment for everyone who enters the PNC Arena.
If you're visiting Raleigh, we highly recommend checking out a Carolina Hurricanes game!
Collegiate Sports Events
If you are looking for something to do and you love college sports, you can't beat the Triangle's environment. With Duke, UNC, and NC State in the area, this town LOVES it's college sports, and people don't hide their allegiances. If you have the opportunity to check out a Duke or UNC basketball game it's an experience you must partake in! It's on a lot of out-of-stater's bucketlists.
Football at any of the big three colleges is another event worth attending if you love sports. The games are highly affordable and entertaining.
Triple A baseball team, the Durham Bulls, offer all baseball fans a great day at the park! The Durham Bulls are among the top 5 Triple A teams with the most engaged fanbase! For good reasons too, Cary is home to the National USA Baseball Training Complex!
The baseball fans in the area are always attending one of the collegiate sporting events, or a Durham Bulls games (which is far more affordable than a Red Sox or Yankees game!). The park is located in Durham, NC and offers anyone in the triangle a great event to attend!
The season starts up in April and you can check the schedule here to see if the Bulls are in town!
Raleigh Beer Garden
Although not a brewery in and of itself, we can't talk Raleigh beer without an honorable mention for the World's largest beer garden (sorry, Germany), Raleigh Beer Garden. With 366 beers on tap, the Raleigh Beer Garden became the world's largest with an incredible local selection! Located at the corner of Glenwood and Peace, this is one restaurant/bar beer lovers must do!
Raleigh Brewing Co.
A full craft beer experience that embraces the personality of the City of Oaks, is Raleigh Brewing Co. These guys have a serious appreciation for the city of Raleigh and it's history, as well as a passion for crafting great beers! That is the type of combination that deserves visiting if you're in Raleigh! Learn beer, the process of crafting, and gain a whole new perspective on what it takes to make great beer!
One of my personal favorite things to do in Raleigh is to take my dog down to the Crank Arm brewery on a warm sunny day and enjoy a beverage, or two. Located in the Warehouse District, and directly across the street from The Pit, Crank Arm offers visitors some amazing craft beers!
Crank arm started by combining two of their passions, bikes and beers. You'll notice the beer right away, and the bikes that make Crank Arm such an icon in Downtown Raleigh! If you're looking for a small local business you can really get behind, and root for... This is it!
Trophy Brewing Co.
Trophy Brewing Co. is another icon in Downtown Raleigh, with a great location near NC State on W Morgan Street, you're sure to drive by it at some point while cruising through Downtown. The Morgan St. location opened in February 2013, and helps the city build it's identity for great craft breweries! It is not uncommon for food trucks to visit the Maywood location as well which recently opened in December of 2015. You can visit Trophy Brewing Co for dinner, or swing by for a cold one!
If you're familiar with Shop Local Raleigh, you know these guys put on some incredible events city wide, and are constantly supporting local businesses! One of these events that beer lovers will enjoy is Brewgaloo. The streets in City Plaza shutdown for food trucks and a celebration of local breweries! It's a great event, and an even better way for breweries to put their product in front of thousands of people. Here's a video on Brewgaloo:
Beasley's Chicken and Honey
If you are familiar with dining in Downtown Raleigh, than there's a good chance you've been to one of Ashley Christensen's spots! Brunch or Dinner, eating at Beasley's Chicken and Honey is one thing you have to do while in Raleigh, NC! Located at 237 S. Wilmington St, Raleigh NC, next door to Chuck's you can't miss one of Raleigh's best brunch spots! Beasley's is constantly making appearances on lists of the best restaurants in NC, check out the menu.
PS> You definitely want to order the Chicken and Waffles, they're so good!
Another one of Ashley's spots is, Chuck's. A burger joint located next to Beasley's is a burger inspired joint with plenty more to offer it's guests from veggie burgers, to fried chicken, there's something for everyone! With a bunch of great dining options in the area, Chuck's is a great spot for those looking to try inspired burgers!
The Fiction Kitchen is a vegetarian inspired restaurant and another one of Raleigh's best spots to have dinner. For those that aren't vegetarians I promise you will love it! The mushroom risotto is one of my personal favorites. Additionally, the Fiction Kitchen is one of the top rated restaurants in Raleigh, and is located in the revitalized warehouse district!
One of the newer, top restaurants in Raleigh is Bida Manda. It's a Laotian inspired restaurant in Moore Square, with a famous pork belly soup that you have to try! From the Bida Manda website, 'Bida Manda is the sanskrit terms for father and mother.' If you're looking to try a dish that will hit tastebuds you didn't know you had, check out the Bida Manda menu.
The Pit is an authentic Carolina BBQ spot, located across the street from Crank Arm in the Warehouse District. It's a great restaurant for those who love BBQ and enjoy dining out. North Carolina is known as being a legendary spot for great Barbecue, and The Pit does everything to live up to the hype! From the amazing cornbread, to the pulled pork, the menu has something for all appetites!
Humble Pie is another new restaurant in Raleigh that offers great dishes made for sharing. If you're looking for a great spot to do some outdoor eating in Raleigh, this is a great spot with the patio and tiki bar. Check out the menu to see if this is something you'd like to do while in Raleigh, NC!
The food trucks in Raleigh, NC are something to write home about... and you'll often find me facebook-ing, tweet-ing, and instagramm-ing home about them as well :). The food trucks can compete with any restaurant in the area, and any food trucks around the world! Having tried food trucks in places like Boston, New York, Austin, and San Francisco, I feel comfortable saying that Raleigh's food trucks can hold their own with the best of them!
If you want to find a food truck in Raleigh, you will. They can be found all over, and often, they line the streets of downtown Raleigh, specifically City Plaza.
Another one of Ashley's spots is Joule's. Joule's is a top notch coffee shop located in Downtown Raleigh (you guessed it, next to Chuck's and Beasley's).
Don't let the name mislead you, The Morning Times is one of our personal favorite coffee spots located in downtown Raleigh, and is a great spot to visit no matter the time of day! It's next to the Raleigh Times bar in the heart of downtown, at 10 E Hargett Street.
Cafe Helio's has always been one of the top coffee shops in Raleigh, and it shut down for awhile... Now, it has reopened! People are buzzing about the reopening, and it seems very much like Helio's is going to be here to stay. The local fans Helio's has is something most local places dream about!
If you want to drink, dance, find live music and have fun...
Boylan Bridge Brewpub
The Boylan Bridge Brewpub is known for their outdoor patio, and breathtaking views of Downtown Raleigh, NC! If you're going out for brunch, or dinner, this is a great place to enjoy the company of others, outdoors, with great food, drinks, and views!
The Raleigh Times is a classic icon in Downtown, Raleigh. It offers guests a rooftop bar with plenty of Raleigh history. A typical night in Raleigh will start with dinner, and a drink or two at the Raleigh Times before venturing off to find other friends, a dance floor, or some live music!
A short walk from the Raleigh Times, the Architect is a spot for drinks and dancing. There is a DJ and a large dance floor with a crowd of people letting loose. It's a spot to check out if you're in Raleigh and like the club-ish type of atmosphere playing today's top hits, and electronic dance music.
Cornerstone Tavern is a great outdoor bar with fire pits that keep you warm doing the cooler night. There are bars outside, and inside, where there is also a DJ and a smaller dance floor. If you want to dance, it's typical people will start at Cornerstone Tavern or the Raleigh Beer Garden before heading next door to Alchemy.
If dancing is something you like to do on a night out, this is a club type atmosphere (as opposed to the live music dancing), where there are people of all ages having fun. There are outdoor bars and patio to sit, as well as a large dance floor inside.
The Oxford is a great spot to dance with some live music to enjoy. There are always cover bands playing at the Oxford and the music is of a wide variety, though it's always something you can dance to!
Boylan Bridge Brewpub
The Boylan Bridge Brewpub is known for their outdoor patio, and breathtaking views of Downtown Raleigh, NC! Check out the image on the right so you can understand what we are talking about!
If you're going out for brunch, or dinner, this is a great place to enjoy the company of others, outdoors, with great food, drinks, and views!
Love eating? Love movies? Maybe a cocktail to go with them both? Here's something fun for you to do in the Raleigh area even when it's raining!
CineBistro takes the "dinner and a movie" concept to a whole new level! The movie-going experience has never been better with amenities like reserved seating in cozy, over-sized reclining leather seats, full-service in-theatre dining and state-of-the art movie viewing. You can enjoy great American dishes, wines, and cocktails while watching great flicks.
Popcorn and candy are available as well!
Almost every day there is a show, or some fun being had at the Lincoln Theatre. From Concerts, to plays, to super bowl screenings the Lincoln Theatre provides the people of Raleigh with all sorts of things to do for when it's raining!
Hi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for technology, sports, and people. Would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments section below and feel free to share this article socially!