Raleigh Travel Guide

USA  #18 in Best Cheap Destinations in the U.S.

Best Things To Do in Raleigh

The capital of North Carolina is filled with diversions for all sorts of travelers. For instance, art lovers will appreciate the North Carolina Museum of Art while those with an interest in science might enjoy the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. History buffs should take a tour of the North Carolina State Capitol and a jaunt through the North Carolina Museum of History. And for active travelers, Raleigh contains a number of parks, including Umstead and Pullen.

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Neuse River Trail
    View all Photos
    #1 in Raleigh
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sports, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sports, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Neuse River Trail (also known as the Raleigh Greenway) is a portion of a nearly 28-mile path that stretches from the Falls Lake Dam in Wake Forest, North Carolina, down to the Wake/Johnston county line in Raleigh. The wide path travels along the Neuse River, across wetlands, through woods and is altogether beautiful, according to many a jogger, dog walker and bike rider.

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
    View all Photos
    #2 in Raleigh
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is Raleigh's most popular attraction for several reasons: it's free, its cafe features a menu of tasty and reasonably priced items and it contains plentiful exhibits that recent visitors say interest travelers of all ages. The museum teaches visitors about North Carolina through exhibits like "Coastal North Carolina," which features everything from whale skeletons to seahorse bioramas and the "Living Conservatory," which flutters with butterflies. There is also a wing of the museum dedicated to nature research, and this is where visitors can embrace their inner scientist in "Investigate Labs" or simply watch scientists work in the "Windows on Research" areas. 

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    Pullen Park
    View all Photos
    #3 in Raleigh
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Pullen Park, which sits beside North Carolina State University, has a number of superlatives to its name. Not only is it the state's first public park, it's also the fifth-oldest operating amusement park in the U.S. and the 16th-oldest operating amusement park in the world. Today, visitors flock to the park for its cheap amusements — $1 for a carousel ride or a trip out on the paddle boats — as well for its lush beauty. Fans of the Andy Griffith Show also like to seek out the bronze statue of "Andy and Opie." There are also playgrounds, sports fields, tennis courts and an indoor aquatic center.

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    North Carolina Museum of Art
    View all Photos
    #4 in Raleigh
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The North Carolina Museum of Art's gleaming white galleries, which hang with paintings like Andrew Wyeth's "Winter 1946" and "The Holy Family with St. Anne" by Peter Paul Rubens and Workshop, are impressive in and of themselves. But visitors also highly praise the museum's rotating exhibits, the lovely sculpture garden and the interesting tours and events. The museum's restaurant, Iris, is also an artful place too with its floor-to-ceiling windows and wall sculpture.

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    William B. Umstead State Park
    View all Photos
    #5 in Raleigh
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    In the between the cities of Raleigh, Cary and Durham is the William B. Umstead State Park and its 5,579 acres of wooded trails and picturesque lakes. You can walk, bike, hike and run through it, and you can even take a paddleboat or a canoe out for a small fee. Some travelers are chagrined at its popularity, saying that it's lost some of its delightful seclusion. But most recent visitors highly recommend it.

    ...Read More »
  • #6
    North Carolina Museum of History
    View all Photos
    #6 in Raleigh
    Museums, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The North Carolina Museum of History is exactly what its name suggests — a museum about North Carolina's history. Exhibits include the 20,000-square-foot permanent "Story of North Carolina," which traces the state's history across 14,000 years. Visitors will find everything from two full-size historic houses to a life-size replica of the Wright brothers' plane, the "Wright Flyer." Other exhibits focus on themes like sports or the Civil War, and there are a host of temporary exhibits that rotate through the museum. 

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Marbles Kids Museum
    View all Photos
    #7 in Raleigh
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    You might wonder where this children's museum got its name, and the answer is two-fold. One, because the museum founders encourage kids to "use their marbles" (or brains) while they play. And two, because a wall that surrounds the museum is filled with more than 1 million marbles that light up at night. Other than marbles, the museum features exhibits that range from an "Art Loft," where kids can do crafts, paint and sculpt, to a "Power 2 Play" exhibit where children can play with kid-size athletic equipment. There's also a cafe and an IMAX theater.

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    City Market
    View all Photos
    #8 in Raleigh
    Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Raleigh's City Market, which opened more than a century ago, is an ensemble of shops and boutiques, bars and restaurants, and it's a nice place to meander when the weather is nice. You'll come across everything from eateries like Vic's Ristorante Italiano to businesses like the Dogwood Collective, which sells local clothing brands. Last year, a seasonal farmers market had stalls at the market too, from the spring to the fall.

    ...Read More »
  • #9
    North Carolina State Capitol
    View all Photos
    #9 in Raleigh
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The North Carolina State Capitol, which was completed in 1840, is the center of activity for North Carolina state government. It also contains a host of curiosities — like its Greek architecture and the fact that the visage of George Washington shows up four times, once in a Roman general's garb — that make for an especially interesting tour. Recent visitors strongly suggest penciling in time for the tour, saying that the docents offer a variety of interesting details about the building and North Carolina's past. In December, the Capitol hosts a handful of festive holiday events, from a tree lighting to an open house.

    ...Read More »
  • #10
    Historic Yates Mill County Park
    View all Photos
    #10 in Raleigh
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The 174-acre Historic Yates Mill County Park is the last remaining water-powered gristmill in Wake County. It's also a nice place to stretch your legs: There are several miles of hiking trails that trace the Mill Pond and extend west of it. And you can also fish from two boardwalks.

    ...Read More »

Explore More of Raleigh

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019