by Arundhati Bhand Updated on 15 Oct 2018
Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina and is famed for its many universities. It is a part of the great Research Triangle encompassing Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. A seat of enlightenment and home to the North Carolina State University, Raleigh is no ordinary city. However, being a capital city, it also has a lot of sights and sounds to offer that is unique to the city. From superb parks to grand museums and stately monuments to natural beauty, Raleigh has it all. There is no single good time to visit Raleigh as the moderate climate makes it a tourist hotspot all year round. Here are the 15 top tourist attractions in Raleigh for a truly memorable trip.
Let's explore Raleigh points of interest and 15 best things to do in Raleigh:
1. Visit Pullen Park
Pullen Park is a public park ranging over sixty-six acres of land in Raleigh, North Carolina. Located west of downtown and right next to the North Carolina State University, Pullen Park is the fifth oldest amusement park in the United States. Featuring a carousel, a mini-train, a playground for children, and paddle boats, there is a lot to be enjoyed in this peaceful and beautiful location for almost all ages and likes.
2. Stop by the North Carolina Museum of Art
Inaugurated in 1956, the North Carolina Museum of Art is the first major museum collection in the United States to be funded and formed under State Legislation. This unique Museum in Raleigh has a permanent exhibit featuring articles from over five thousand years ago. If that is not enough to pique the curiosity of visitors, it also has a monument park and an amphitheater that is booked frequently for music concerts, workshops, and modern theater. Some of the seminal pieces of art on display include the ‘Seine at Giverny, Morning Mists’ by Monet, ‘Weaning the Calf’ by Winslow Homer, and ‘The Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite’ by Albert Bierstadt.
3. Visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Located in Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a treat for all ages. It is the oldest museum in all of North Carolina and the largest Museum of Natural Sciences in the Southeastern United States. The museum proudly exhibits the local geology, flora, and fauna. This besides, it also has exclusive exhibits of a fossil collection. For people who are more involved in the animated and living, there are 3-D films and live animal programs that will amaze anyone.
4. Take Some Time to Visit the JC Raulston Arboretum
The JC Raulston Arboretum is a free educational experience in gardens and plant collections. This remarkable arboretum and botanical garden in Raleigh is administered by North Carolina State University. The best thing about it is that the ten-acre natural retreat is open daily to the public. There are also meeting rooms that can be hired out for a marvelous business retreat. More importantly, it a superb wedding destination, especially in spring, when the flowers are in full bloom. Even a romantic walk through the garden is one to remember and cherish.
5. Spend Some Time with the Kids at the Marbles Kids Museum
As the name suggests, the Marbles Museum is a Kids Museum that seeks to involve children in some creative and physical activities to develop their learning through fun and games. There is a wide variety of interactive displays and games for toddlers and slightly older kids. This a really great way to kill a couple of hours and spend time with the family at the same time. They also have a toy store in the house that makes for a splendid and child-friendly gift shop.
6. See the North Carolina Museum of History
Located in Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of History is affiliated with the Smithsonian and is absolutely free and open to the general public. The twenty thousand square foot expanse of the permanent exhibit is only the beginning of the tour. They also have some unique traveling exhibits and some very intriguing online exhibits. The free and spacious parking only makes it better. The World War I exhibit contains trench armors, medals, uniforms, shells, a variety of gas masks, and dated weapons that make for a very educational experience with the family.
7. Go to the North Carolina State Capitol
It is only natural that the North Carolina State Capitol be located in the capital city of North Carolina – Raleigh. The State Capitol is the former seat of the US State Legislature of North Carolina. The Greek revival architecture featuring a rotunda is one to behold. That besides, it also houses some interesting historical artifacts, the Governor’s offices, and the State Library. Anyone can picnic on the grounds if they are not so much into history and they can even leave the Governor a personal letter!
8. Walk Around Yates Mill
A fully restored gristmill from 1756 is located five miles south of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, United States. This is the Yates Mill and is the centerpiece of the Historic Yates Mill County Park in central Wake County. Not only is this a site of great local importance and a phenomenal preservation of agricultural history but is also a wildlife refuge. The water-driven gristmill runs to date and the scenic location is superbly suited to a wedding destination, albeit one that requires a reservation. The Millpond Trail walk around the pond Creekside Trail Walk are the most acclaimed by tourists and travelers as a remarkably peaceful thing to do on a trip to Raleigh.
9. Stop by the Mordecai House
The Mordecai House is a local landmark that was originally built in 1785. Today, it is also a museum and a registered Historical Landmark in Raleigh, North Carolina. It is also located at the center of the Mordecai Historic Park and right next to the Historic Oakwood Neighborhood. The Mordecai House is one of the most prominent symbols of historical preservation and takes its name from Moses Mordecai, the original owner of the house. The original Mordecai furnishings, several documents, and the library are still being preserved and are the prime reasons why it is such an active tourist hotspot.
10. Stop by the Prairie Ridge Ecostation
Educational science events are just that much more entertaining in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Prairie Ridge Ecostation. It is a fully equipped field station hosting several events all year round with the entire station being sustained by eco-friendly technology. It also has a remarkable, cool, and shaded playground for kids. The biggest attractions include the animal hunt and scavenger hunt for children. The Eco-station is a part of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
11. Visit the Joel Lane House
The Joel Lane House located in Raleigh is also known as Wakefield and was originally built in 1769. It is a restored home and history museum and was once the manor of the Revolutionary War Colonel Joel Lane. Colonel Joel Lane was also a signatory to the United States Constitution. The guided tours are fascinating and provide a much deeper insight into the local history of the region in what is believed to be the oldest house in Raleigh. All in all, a fantastic experience, and not one to be missed.
12. Stroll Through William B. Umstead State Park
The William B. Umstead State Park has long been a coveted expanse of serenity. Nestled right between Raleigh, Cary, and Durham, the State Park extends for nearly five thousand and six hundred acres. The woodlands contain hiking trails, bridle trails, camping zones, and man-made lakes for fishing that make the trip so memorable. It is a great place for photography and camping.
13. Go Fishing at Lake Johnson
The area of Lake Johnson in Raleigh includes several hiking trails around the lake, boat rentals, picnic spots, and fishing spots. While the hikes are peaceful, quiet, and romantic, the fishing experience is what draws travelers in the most. The star attraction for fishing is the school of sunfish that can be found here. The walkway bridge provides the scenic beauty of epic proportions that can be only found here.
14. Have Some Fun at Frankie’s Fun Park
Describing Frankie’s Fun Park in Raleigh does not even begin to describe how truly wonderful it is. Go-karting, laser tag, bumper boats, flight simulations, mini-golf, arcade games, and batting cages are only some of the many fun things to do here. There are even a bowling alley and a putt-putt course. There is a bar too, all of which sums up to a really great day as a corporate event or a bonding exercise.
15. Check Out the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve
The Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is a collaboration project between the North Carolina State Park System and the Town of Cary. The one-hundred-and-forty-acre expanse of this preserve is riddled with trails and scenic views. The paths are very well-maintained and open for some very comfortable tours. The hemlock trees are a rarity that is usually only found in the mountains of North Carolina. All in all, it makes for a superb weekend adventure and excursion for anyone.