15 Best Things to Do in Raleigh (NC)

If you are a traveller or family looking to have fun and learn a lot about the numerous top attractions in the city of Raleigh, North Carolina, then this is your best shot at it.

With over top attractions that admit visitors for free, it is an energetic city that offers the best ways to enjoy the city’s rich cultural heritage on a budget.

Exploring the city’s outdoor attractions is another amazing way to indulge in physical activities.

Spending time on a hiking and biking trail, checking out the state’s three museums of art, history, and science, and so much more.

Travellers get to enjoy free movement around the State Capitol and observe the legislative process.

Take a walk down the grounds where Civil War Generals were buried and learn about the historic cemetery or wander through the cobblestone streets and see the City Market.

Shop at the State Farmers Market where you can get great apples, broccolis, and tasty homemade treats.

Raleigh has over 150 parks, greenways, lakes, and places to enjoy swimming, golf, boating, and so many other adventures outdoors.

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Mordecai Historic Park

Mordecai Historic ParkSource: Wikimedia/Self-photographed | CC BY 3.0 UnportedPin

The amazing Mordecai Historic Park is located at the end of N Person Street, it used to be the largest plantation in Wake County which housed a lot of historic pieces of history in North Carolina.

A visit to this attraction allows travellers to learn about the oldest house in the city of Raleigh.

The house is still in its original state which is also the birthplace of the 17th US President Andrew Johnson.

Mordecai Historic Park houses over 5,000 artefacts and some historic structures such as the Smokehouse, Plantation Office, Recreated Ellen Mordecai Garden, and many more.

Address: 1 Mimosa St, Raleigh, NC 27604, United States

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina Museum of Natural SciencesSource: Wikimedia/Jmturner | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

One of the best museums to visit in the United States is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

It is one of the top attractions in the city and a must-see for travelers.

The massive museum is packed with stuff for people with interests in bugs, marine life, dinosaurs, and so much more.

Some of its main exhibits include the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton life-size replica, Ocean Hall, and Butterfly Pavilion.

There is also an IMAX theatre, educational programs, a planetarium and many more.

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

City of Raleigh Museum (COR)

City of Raleigh Museum (COR)Source: Wikimedia/Alexisrael | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

The City of Raleigh Museum also known as COR is located on the city’s main street “Fayetteville Street” downtown the city centre.

The museum is situated in a historic one-time hardware store and is committed to preserving and interpreting the culture and history of North Carolina’s capital city.

The museum houses over 5,000 exhibits both permanent and temporary about the people, places and resources.

It offers educational programs, tours, and so much more. It is open to the public and free for everyone.

Address: 220 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

JC Raulston Arboretum

JC Raulston ArboretumSource: Wikipedia/Daderot | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Another great place to visit in Raleigh is the JC Raulston Arboretum.

The nationally acclaimed garden has over 10 acres of garden with more than 5,000 diverse collections of plants and landscapes in the Southeast.

It has one of the largest gardens in the region with plants modified to suit the Piedmont North Carolina conditions in a bid to get superior plants for use in its landscapes.

This is one place visitors must visit to relax and learn about plants.

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Address: Ruby McSwain Education Center, 4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606, USA

North Carolina Museum of History

North Carolina Museum of HistorySource: Wikimedia/Jmturner | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

A visit to the North Carolina Museum of History has over 14,000 years old and more than 150,000 artefacts of the state’s history which spans from 20th-century native inhabitants.

Many of its artefacts are based on different periods of the state’s history, and new exhibits can also be explored as well.

On the third floor of the museum is the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame which travelers need to experience.

Address: 5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids MuseumSource: Wikimedia/Jmturner | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Finally, something special for families and travellers with kids.

The Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh is a great place for visitors to take their kids for a whole new experience.

The museum admits kids from 10 and under with themed exhibitions tailored towards building the imagination of children through self-exploration.

Marbles are focused on educating kids with its first of a kind in world kid-driven smart power grid and STEM learning.

The Marbles IMAX is the only 3D giant screen for teens in North Carolina.

Check it out with your kids today!

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Address: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

Pullen Park

Pullen ParkSource: Flickr/-ted | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

Pullen Park is the world’s oldest amusement park which was established in the 18th century (1887).

It was first designed as a public park in North Carolina sitting between Downtown Raleigh and North Carolina State University.

The park has wonderful recreational facilities that date way back such as the operating carousel that was built in 1911, pedal boats, tennis courts, miniature trains, baseball, arts Centre, softball fields, theatre, and so much more.

Address: 520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606, United States

Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh

Contemporary Art Museum RaleighSource: Flickr/James Willamor | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

The Contemporary Art Museum or CAM Raleigh as it is popularly known is another amazing place to visit in North Carolina’s Capital city.

It is a non-collecting museum that offers transformation through cultural experiences, educational programs, and non-traditional exhibits made by living artists.

This smart modern museum is a favourite for locals and visitors with unique exhibits.

CAM opened in 2011 through the vision and dedication of passionate locals with the support of the North Carolina Museum of Arts and North Carolina State University College of Design.

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Address: 409 W Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27603, United States

PNC Arena

PNC ArenaSource: Wikipedia/Bentheswimmer11 | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

PNC Arena opened in 1999 and still maintains its new status up to date.

The arena is home to the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes and the North Carolina State men’s basketball team.

With a capacity of over 19,000 seats, it is located in western Raleigh and hosts many concerts and sports events every year.

PNC Arena welcomes more than 1.5 million visitors and hosts over 150 events annually.

Some of the major events include NHL Stanley Cup Finals, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, Paul McCartney, Disney on Ice, Taylor Swift, Pavarotti, Harlem Globetrotters and so many more.

Address: 1400 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, United States

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

Boxcar Bar + ArcadeSource: Flickr/Sergiy Galyonkin | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

Come and have a blast with family, friends, and kids at the Boxcar Bar + Arcade.

The place is a marvel that plays host to the best of the best classic and modern arcade games. It is located in the Warehouse District just downtown Raleigh.

It is recognized as one of the best bars in Raleigh with hundreds of arcade games, 70+ modern and classic arcade games, 175+ console games and over a dozen pinball machines.

It is a pocket-friendly location for travellers and avid gamers to relax at the bar while enjoying a selection of craft and draft beer, and so much more.

Address: 330 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

John Chavis Memorial Park

John Chavis Memorial ParkSource: Wikimedia/2BKNIGHT | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

John Chavis Memorial Park was named after the 19th-century teacher and free Black preacher.

It is a 37-acre park designated as a recreational facility for the City of Raleigh’s African American residents throughout the segregation era in America.

The park’s circa-1923 carousel is still operational and can be ridden.

It has undergone renovations worth millions of dollars and was to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

After a recent renovation, in 2021, the park reopened to the public with new additions such as a fitness room, community centre, playground, gym, and interactive water features.

Address: 505 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

North Carolina Executive Mansion

North Carolina Executive MansionSource: Wikimedia/ Mark Turner | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

The North Carolina Executive Mansion is not an ordinary home. Built-in 1883, it is the official residence of the Executive Governor of the State of North Carolina.

Also known as the “peoples house”, the building was designed by the renowned architects Samuel Sloan and A.G Bauer.

It is a great place to learn about the history of the state and also sees the premises of the seventieth person to hold the office since the end of America’s Revolution.

Governor Roy Cooper takes the position of the thirtieth governor to live in the executive mansion.

It is open to thousands of guests during public tour season and holiday open houses.

Address: 200 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States

North Carolina State Farmers Public Market

North Carolina State Farmers Public MarketSource: Unsplash/Tom Brunberg | Unsplash LicensePin

The North Carolina State Farmers Public Market is one of the best places to be while on a trip to the State Capital City.

It is one of the four regional farm markets owned by the state and operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services.

The market is open all Mondays to Saturdays with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and so much more to buy.

It is truly an adventure for both families and travelers alike.

Sitting on about 75 acres of land with indoor and outdoor restaurants and a garden Centre, shops with vegetables, meats, fruits, gift products and so much more.

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

Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood CemeterySource: Wikimedia/Sgerbic | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

Located in the suburbs of downtown Raleigh, the Oakwood Cemetery is nested adjacent to the Historic Oakwood. It is just a few walks away from the governor’s Executive Mansion.

The cemetery has experienced more than 20,000 internments and it’s the resting place of over 1,500 Confederate soldiers, seven governors, five Civil War generals, and many U.S. Senators.

It was established in 1869 but its Victorian landscaping is amazing with great mortuary art.

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

Moore Square

Moore SquareSource: Flickr/James Willamor | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

The Moore Square covers a one-block radius on all sides which includes the historic City Market.

The square was recently renovated into a modern space with buzzing life including the nightlife.

Its charm comes from the mix of both old and new styles such as the new GoRaleigh Transit Station which serves over 15,000 commuters daily.

Travellers cannot miss dining at the magnificent Chef Ashley Christensen’s restaurant, which was named the Most Outstanding Chef in 2019 by the James Beard Foundation.

It is an amazing place to relax, reflect, get entertained and recreate.

Address: 201 S Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601, United States


Raleigh is an amazing place to visit with a lot of places to visit and unwind from exploring the outdoor attractions to spending time at the parks, hanging out with the kids swimming, playing retro games at the Boxcar Bar + Arcade and so much more.

There are no limits to the experience for tourists with these things to do in Raleigh with over 150 parks, greenways and lakes, it is never a dull moment.

  • Sarah ThackerPin

    Senior Travel Writer, Travelsc

    Sarah is a writer from Ohio, currently living in West Virginia. As an avid baking enthusiast, she always scopes out the best food in an area and can make gre...

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