15 Best Things To Do in Raleigh, North Carolina

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 - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

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

North Carolina Museum of Art - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

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

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

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

Places to visit in RaleighImage Source: wikimedia.org

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

North Carolina Museum of History - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

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.

Author
Author: Arundhati Bhand
An animal lover at heart, marketer by education and artist by passion, Arundhati aims to seek out to all that satisfies her diverse interests. She believes that it is only through experiences that one learns, and a traveller of sorts, she strives to ...

Must see places in Raleigh ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of best attractions in Raleigh and point of interests to visit.

  1. # 1 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 318 times in trip plans
    North Carolina Museum Of Natural Sciences

    Tags: Museum

    Address: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the oldest museum in North Carolina and the largest of its kind in the whole of Southeast US. The museum basically consists of four institutions &ndash...Read more

  2. # 2 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 307 times in trip plans
    Pullen Park

    Tags: Amusement Park, Park

    Address: 408 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    The Pullen Park in Raleigh is the oldest public park in North Carolina and 5th oldest amusement parks in US. The park was established in 1887 and is spread over an area of 66 acres. The park has a con...Read more

  3. # 3 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 185 times in trip plans
    JC Raulston Arboretum

    Tags: Botanical Garden

    Address: 4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606, United States

    Timings: 08:00 am - 08:00 pm Details

    The JC Raulston Arboretum is a botanical garden which is looked after by the North Carolina State University. The 10 acre arboretum is nationally acclaimed because of the large and diverse collection ...Read more

  4. # 4 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 96 times in trip plans
    Neuse River Trail

    Tags: Outdoors, Trail, Nature

    Address: Raleigh, NC 27610, United States

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    The Neuse River Trail is a 30 mile long paved pathway that has been especially set aside for recreational use and environmental protection in the Research Triangle area around the city of Raleigh. The...Read more

  5. # 5 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 121 times in trip plans
    State Farmers Market

    Tags: Market

    Address: 1201 Agriculture St, Raleigh, NC 27603, United States

    Timings: 05:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    The State Farmers Market in Raleigh city is quite a popular shopping destination for buying fresh produce, plants and other specialty products which are produced on the local nearby farms. There are a...Read more

  6. # 6 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 86 times in trip plans
    Raleigh Convention Center

    Tags: Convention Center, Hall

    Address: 500 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

    Timings: 08:30 am - 05:15 pm Details

    The Raleigh Convention Center is an exhibition and convention facility that opened up in September 2008 in Raleigh. The structure is a 3 storey behemoth that has multiple meeting rooms, ballroom and a...Read more

  7. # 7 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 146 times in trip plans
    North Carolina State University

    Tags: Educational Site, University

    Address: Raleigh, NC 27695, United States

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The North Carolina State University is a highly popular public, coeducational research university in Raleigh and is a corner of the Research Triangle along with Duke University and University of North...Read more

  8. # 8 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 62 times in trip plans
    Crabtree Valley Mall

    Tags: Entertainment, Mall, Shopping Center

    Address: 4325 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 09:00 pm Details

    The Crabtree Valley Mall is a full fledged shopping mall incorporating over 220 shops to become the largest enclosed shopping mall in the Research Triangle area. The mall originally opened up in 1972 ...Read more

  9. # 9 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 184 times in trip plans
    Historic Oakwood Cemetery

    Tags: War Memorial, Cemetery

    Address: 701 Oakwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Lying just next to the Historic Oakwood society lies the Oakwood Cemetery which is the resting place of approximately 2800 Confederate soldiers, five Civil War generals, seven governors and countless ...Read more

  10. # 10 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 164 times in trip plans
    Raleigh Little Theatre And Rose Garden

    Tags: Garden, Walking Area, Entertainment, Performance

    Address: 301 Pogue St, Raleigh, NC 27607, United States

    Timings: 12:00 pm - 05:00 pm Details

    The Raleigh Little Theatre is a small but beautifully done up community theatre in Raleigh which usually produces 10 to 11 productions in a year and also owns an extensive theatre education program fo...Read more

  11. # 11 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 45 times in trip plans
    North Carolina Symphony

    Tags: Entertainment, Performance

    Address: 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The North Carolina Symphony is one of the finest and in fact the first state supported symphony in the whole county. It was founded in 1932 and has now become an important and honored part of North Ca...Read more

  12. # 12 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 78 times in trip plans
    Duke Energy Center For The Performing Arts

    Tags: Performance, Theatre, Concert

    Address: 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:30 pm Details

    Ask anyone in Raleigh about the main venue for performing arts and events and the answer will be the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. The center is actually made up of different venues like the...Read more

  13. # 13 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 198 times in trip plans
    City Market

    Tags: Market

    Address: 306 Parham St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

    Timings: 07:00 am - 11:59 pm Details

    The City Market in Raleigh was first established in October 1914 amidst a great buzz and some dire requirement by the townsfolk for a central market area. Soon this area was a busy section of the town...Read more

  14. # 14 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 8 times in trip plans
    Raleigh Flea Market

    Tags: Flea Market

    Address: 1025 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    The Raleigh Flea market is what exactly it sounds like, but there is more to it than just a flea market where many sellers put up their stalls to sell their wares. It has become more of a tradition in...Read more

  15. # 15 of 1444 Things To Do in Raleigh | Added 69 times in trip plans
    Shelley Lake

    Tags: Park, Lake

    Address: 1400 W Millbrook Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614, United States

    Timings: 06:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    The Shelley Lake Park offers 2 miles worth of a paved, scenic greenway winding all around the lake and is also equipped with basketball courts, playgrounds for kids of different ages and the Sertoma A...Read more

Explore the best things to do in Raleigh. These are the most preferred tourist activities.

  • Save 4% Raleigh Helicopter Adventure
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    Raleigh Airplane AdventureNew on TripHobo

    Duration: 30 Mins

    Admire the breathtaking scenic views of Falls Lake just north of Raleigh, North Carolina from the view of your own private ai...

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  • Self-Guided Raleigh Scavenger Hunt
    Self-Guided Raleigh Scavenger HuntNew on TripHobo

    Duration: 3 Hrs

    Fifteen clues, two hours, one city - this is a self-led scavenger race that sends groups capering around town to solve clues....

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  • Haywood Hall & Gardens

    211 New Bern Pl

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • North Carolina Executive Mansion

    200 N Blount St

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Boylan Heights

    501 S Boylan Ave

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Historic Oakwood

    Oakwood Avenue

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Boylan Apartments

    817 Hillsborough St

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Raleigh Water Tower

    115 W Morgan St

    Historic and Protected Sites
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  • Lake Raleigh

    Main Campus Dr

    Lakes
  • Upper Bartons Creek

    Lakes
  • Reedy Creek Lake

    Lakes
  • Poole Lake Number One Dam

    White Chapel Way

    Lakes
  • Lower Springdale Estates Lake

    Oneal Road

    Lakes
  • Neuseoco Lake

    Lakes
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  • Raleigh City Museum

    220 Fayetteville St

    Museums
  • North Carolina Museum of History

    5 E Edenton St

    Museums
  • Joel Lane House

    728 W Hargett St

    Museums
  • Contemporary Art Museum

    409 W Martin St

    Museums
  • North Carolina Museum of Art

    2110 Blue Ridge Rd

    Museums
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

    11 W Jones St

    Museums
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  • Adventure Landing Raleigh

    3311 Capital Blvd

    Amusement Parks
  • Tic Toc Escapes

    2006 Fairview Rd

    Amusement Parks
  • Amaze Room Escapes

    3209 Gresham Lake Rd

    Amusement Parks
  • Go Bananaz

    6022 Duraleigh Rd

    Amusement Parks
  • Bingo Paradise

    2626 S Saunders St

    Amusement Parks Restaurants
  • Frankie's Fun Parks

    ***South Carolina Locations Include: North Charleston, Columbia, Greenville ***North Carolina Locations Include:

    Amusement Parks Arcades
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  • Chili's Grill & Bar

    6324 Glenwood Ave

    American Bars
  • Hero's Pub & Sandwich Shop

    7440 Six Forks Rd

    Bars Restaurants Breweries
  • The Office Tavern

    710 W Johnson St

    Bars
  • Fox Liquor Bar

    237 S Wilmington St

    Bars Restaurants
  • Capital Club 16

    16 W Martin St

    American Bars
  • Chili's Grill & Bar

    3411 Sumner Blvd

    American Bars
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  • Penny's Beach Bingo

    10113 Division Dr

    Casinos and Gaming
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  • Lake Wheeler Park

    6404 Lake Wheeler Rd

    Natural Parks
  • Zebulon Community Park

    401 S Arendell Ave

    Natural Parks
  • E Carroll Joyner Park

    701 Harris Rd

    Natural Parks
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  • Millbrook Exchange Dog Park

    1905 Spring Forest Rd

    Dog Parks
  • Oakwood Dog Park

    910 Brookside Dr

    Playgrounds Dog Parks
  • Carolina Pines Dog Park

    2305 Lake Wheeler Rd

    Dog Parks
  • Cumberland Cove Dog Park

    Dog Parks
  • SPCA K9-3K Dog Walk

    Moore Square

    Dog Parks
  • Oberlin Court Dog Park

    1009 Wade Ave

    Dog Parks
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  • Little Environments

    303 W Whitaker Mill Rd

    Beaches
  • Carolina Officexchange

    Beaches
  • Sandling Beach At Falls Lake

    Beaches
  • Falls Lake Open Swim Club

    1424 Old Keith Rd

    Beaches
  • Pineapple Island

    Beaches
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  • Little Rock Trail

    501 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd

    Hiking
  • Greenway Health Center

    Hiking
  • Crabtree Creek Trailhead

    Hiking
  • Lake Johnson Loop Trail

    Hiking
  • Raleigh 8000

    Hiking
  • Reedy Creek Trail Raleigh Nc

    Hiking
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