North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

#2 in Best Things To Do in Raleigh
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences picture
Courtesy North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Key Info

11 West Jones Street

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Museums, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.8scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 5.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

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. 

Recent visitors "ooh" and "ahh" over the diverse displays and the free admission. One TripAdvisor user was also quite impressed by the museum staff: "I stopped in to ask for someone to answer some questions about preying mantis', these 2 ladies answered my questions and then some."

There is no fee for general admission to the museum, though there is a small charge for its special exhibits and 3-D movies. The hours of operation for the Nature Exploration Center (in the main building) are as follows: Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the first Friday of each month, the main building is open for extended hours until 9 p.m. On Sundays, the museum is open from noon until 5 p.m. The adjoining Nature Research Center has the same hours of operation, except on Thursdays, when it's open until 9 p.m. You'll find the building in the heart of downtown Raleigh, adjacent to the North Carolina State Capitol building. For more information, visit the website for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

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#1 Neuse River Trail

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.

In fact, the Neuse River Trail caused one TripAdvisor user, who hails from Boston, to consider moving to Raleigh: "This trail is a total delight.  … Locals ride their bikes [and] run their miles with their dogs … Not used to be smiled at by a total stranger … Why haven't I moved here?!"

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