8 Fun Things You Will Love To See and Do in Raleigh, NC

8 Fun Things You Will Love To See and Do in Raleigh, NC

View of Downtown Raleigh, NC

Last Updated 06/29/2024

Raleigh, North Carolina balances a perfect mix of city vibes and that down-to-earth Southern spirit. The city caters to a diverse mix of people with many different interests.

Raleigh, NC is known as the “city in a park” and features many different things to do outdoors for those who like to stay active. But there is also plenty to do indoors, like visiting the state capital, getting a bite to eat, or visiting a museum or event.

There is no shortage of things to see and do – from historical sites to beer trails, Raleigh has it all. With plenty of activities to excite children, both indoors and outdoors, families can feel welcome here too.

Don’t miss out on the fresh, diverse way of life Raleigh has to offer! Whether you are moving to the area or just planning a trip, these are the eight fun things you need to see and do while you are in Raleigh, NC.

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1. Parks and Gardens

Do you love being in nature? Raleigh has over 200 parks filled with nature reserves, playgrounds, dog parks, athletic facilities, historic sites, and much more. Be sure to visit Raleigh’s renowned parks and gardens to soak up North Carolina’s natural beauty.

If you like to stop and smell the roses, don’t miss the Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden.  This garden focuses on preserving botanic diversity and houses over 27,000 kinds of rare and exotic plants, local perennials, and odd, uncommon specimens of trees and shrubs. Moreover, the Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden is a historic garden blooming with 60 different kinds of roses from late May until fall.

A field of roses at the Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden in North Carolina

Pullen Park is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and is a fantastic way to spend the day with the kids and family. It offers a carousel, miniature train, pedal boats, tennis courts, art center, performing arts venue, and baseball fields.

Within the 174 acres of Historic Yates Mill County Park, there is a wildlife refuge and an environmental research center — complete with hiking trails, a pond, and a gristmill. Admission to this park is free, but the tour of the gristmill is not.

Last but not least, Lake Crabtree County Park is the ideal spot for hikers, kayakers, and mountain bikers with its nature trails and boat rentals. It also has playgrounds, picnic areas, and a fishing pier for those who just want a spot by Lake Crabtree to relax with friends or family.

2. Explore the Trails

Do you like to hike, bike, run, or walk? Raleigh recognizes over 100 miles of trails in the Capital Area Greenway System. Getting on the trails is a great way to soak up Raleigh’s natural beauty while staying active.

With boardwalk areas and suspension bridges, the Neuse River Greenway Trail is a paved greenway open to joggers, walkers, runners, and cyclists. As a part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, this trail features scenic views of the Neuse River. This is North Carolina’s longest hiking trail, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks.

The Walnut Creek Trail is a 15-mile trail that stretches from Lake Johnson to the Neuse River Trail. Since 2023, Raleigh has started the Walnut Creek Trail Improvement Project, which seeks to improve and maintain four sections of the trail for a better visiting experience.

If you’re near the North Carolina Museum of Art, be sure to travel on the Art to Heart Trail. This is a path in the city of Raleigh linking the museum to the heart of downtown Raleigh. The Art to Heart path cuts through university campuses and Pullen Park, providing essential views of the city.

3. Stay Active in Raleigh

Staying active in your city can be fun! In fact, Men’s Health rated Raleigh, North Carolina the third sportiest city in the United States. While there are tons of outdoor activities to try out, there are also some facilities to exercise indoors. If you are looking for some creative, interesting ways to stay active with friends, then check out the Triangle Rock Club and Drive Shack.

Triangle Rock Club

Lead and top-rope climbing, bouldering, fitness, and yoga: this place has it all. As a trailblazing indoor climbing and fitness center, Triangle Rock Club offers climbing camps, where their staff train hundreds of climbers every month. With 100 climbing lanes and climbing walls 55 feet tall, this is the perfect place to gather a group of friends or throw a birthday party. 

Triangle Rock Club also offers yoga and pilates classes, different types of fitness classes, programs for kids, and more. Moreover, they host an adult ropes league, where you can compete with a team of friends against other teams on the walls weekly. There are engaging activities for everyone here, no matter your level of skill or experience.

Drive Shack

Drive Shack is an interactive golf complex equipped with a three-story driving range with 96 private bays, a rooftop terrace, full bars, and a chef-curated menu. Located between I-440 and NC-54, this is a social entertainment venue combining golf and gaming technology through reality and virtual reality. This is a great spot if you enjoy a mix of sports and an indoor bar environment.

Like Triangle Rock Club, Drive Shack also hosts social leagues, as well as boozy brunches, live music, and seasonal events. They host birthdays, special events, and corporate meetings. Whether you are a passionate golfer or a beginner, you are guaranteed to have fun practicing your swing and hitting virtual targets.

4. Raleigh Markets and Food Halls

Looking to shop or find a bite to eat? There are several markets and food halls in Raleigh where you can see the wide variety of local vendors and fresh foods.

The Raleigh Flea Market is open every weekend and hosts more than 500 vendors selling antiques, handcrafted goods, furniture, clothing, jewelry, and more. If you are interested in purchasing some unique, handmade items, this is the place to be. You won’t want to miss it! 

Also, the State Farmers’ Market in Raleigh is overflowing with fresh produce, flowers, fruits, meats, and specialty items. Swing by and pick up some fresh, locally grown fruits that are in season. The State Farmers’ Market is open every day from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Morgan Street Food Hall recently opened in the Warehouse District. Trendy and inventive, it is a food and vendor hall with about 20 different stalls serving a diverse range of food from local eateries, restaurants, and retailers. If you bring your family, everyone could try something different, and still eat together at the outdoor covered seating area. If you want to try a little bit of everything, Morgan Street Food Hall is an essential stop in Raleigh.

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5. Raleigh’s State Fairs and Festivals

Do you love the food, exhibits, and performances at fairs and festivals? Raleigh, NC hosts excellent events with plenty of things to do for visitors of all ages.

North Carolina’s state fair takes place in Raleigh every October. The North Carolina State Fair is the largest state event showcasing livestock shows, arts and culture, and agricultural exhibits. The fair also features entertaining activities and games, live music, shows and performers, and amusement rides. Don’t miss this Raleigh-based event to experience the most anticipated fair in North Carolina.

Raleigh also hosts a spread of seasonal festivals every year. These festivals elevate Raleigh’s culture and are centered around North Carolina’s signature food, beer, arts and crafts, and music. 

The North Carolina ‘Cuegrass Festival is an annual bluegrass music festival that also serves barbecue to raise money for local children’s causes. In May, check out the three-day Got To Be NC Fest to celebrate North Carolina’s agriculture, hosted at the State Fair Grounds. 

Summertime means it is time for Raleigh’s International Food Festival where you can get a taste of every corner of the world. Or you can visit the Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival where over 300 artists come together to showcase their creations with food vendors, live music, and an area for kids to play.

6. Raleigh Art Museums

Do you enjoy looking at art around the city? Since Raleigh, NC offers so many options for activities both indoors and outdoors, it’s no surprise their art museums also have outdoor options. Raleigh’s identity revolves around spending time outdoors, with members of the community, so their art museums also reflect this trait.

North Carolina Museum Of Art

With galleries, education studios, and special exhibitions, the North Carolina Museum of Art celebrates art in a myriad of creative ways. It explores art indoors and outdoors while making the museum experience interactive and accessible for all audiences. In addition to the art on exhibition, the building also has a restaurant, coffee bar, and a theater to feature concerts and films. 

Outside, the North Carolina Museum of Art showcases the largest museum art park in the country, called Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. In addition to its trails, this outdoor park has art installations and a live music venue. Housing the Southeast’s largest collection of sculptures by Auguste Rodin, this museum is a must-visit when in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh

The Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh is a non-collecting multimedia art gallery located in the Warehouse District. Its mission is to seek contemporary artists and showcase works that are current, relatable, and represent the attitudes of local artists.

The Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh constantly changes its exhibits because they are focused on uplifting contemporary artists. Check out their website to find out about their current exhibits.

7. Fun for Adults in Raleigh

If you’re looking to get a drink and enjoy more adult activities, Raleigh is the place to be! The local restaurants, bars, and breweries have excellent selections of cocktails and craft beers to try. 

Raleigh Beer Trail

Want to make an adventure out of your drinking experience? Join the Raleigh Beer Trail. There are over 25 local breweries to visit in Wake County, and the Beer Trail provides tasting information at many of Raleigh’s local bars.

To participate, you will need a Raleigh Beer Trail Passport, which you can download online. The passport has information on all the participating breweries in the area. 

When you get to a brewery, just show them your passport to get a stamp on its corresponding square. You get a bottle opener for getting five stamps, plus a beer koozie if you get ten stamps, and a Raleigh Beer Trail T-shirt if you get fifteen stamps.

Don’t forget: you have to be 21 years old to participate and to receive prizes. You don’t need to purchase a beer at every brewery, and you definitely don’t have to be a beer connoisseur to enjoy the Raleigh Beer Trail.

Raleigh Beer Garden

The Raleigh Beer Garden is one of the must-see spots in Raleigh. Located downtown, this beer garden has won multiple Guinness World Records for the bar with the world’s largest draft beer selection, with over 350 beers on tap.

Exterior of the Raleigh Beer Garden in Raleigh, NC

The building also features outdoor seating and a rooftop garden to enjoy. If you get hungry, you can grab handcrafted pizzas, charcuterie plates, burgers, sandwiches, and more.

8. Fun for Kids in Raleigh

Raleigh, North Carolina truly is a city for people of all ages and walks of life. You can definitely bring children to many of the previously mentioned outdoor activities like parks, trails, markets, fairs, and festivals. But there are also unique indoor activities for children to enjoy in Raleigh.

Kids Museums

Designed to encourage discovery and imagination, Marbles Kids Museum believes kids learn and grow through play. They focus on creating entertaining and educational moments. So the museum incorporates hands-on exhibits, themed programs, and inspiring movies into its experience. This is a great way to help your kids connect, communicate, and collaborate with each other in a healthy way.

One of the top attractions in Raleigh is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. This is the largest natural history museum in the Southeastern United States, so all ages are welcome to enjoy the exhibits. But there are parts of the museum particularly designed for children.

This is North Carolina’s most visited museum and offers natural history exhibits, classes, and fun events that are devoted to science. This is a great museum for kids because they learn about natural sciences through programs and exhibits about the environment, biology, geology, and more.

Adventure Courses

Kids ages 10 and up can zip and swing through the trees at Go Ape’s treetop adventure course. The park includes zip lines, Tarzan swings, and obstacles as high as 50 feet in the trees. Open March through November every year, this course is a fun, interactive experience for groups, families, and friends.

If you have kids ages four to seven, there are other courses that you can take them to at TreeRunner Adventure Park. Located in North Raleigh, they also feature zip lines and Tarzan swings, as well as suspended bridges and over 70 obstacles. There is an adventure for someone of every age in Raleigh.

Conclusion

Raleigh, North Carolina is a charming Southern city with many unique activities you won’t be able to find anywhere else. With a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities, Raleigh is a destination for people with all kinds of interests. Whether you are looking for fun for adults or kids, there are options for all ages.

Raleigh has so much to offer with its festivals, fairs, trails, parks, museums, and more. No matter if you’re visiting or looking to move to the Raleigh area, this is a must-see city in North Carolina with a great community and many things to see and do.

FAQs

What festivals are hosted in Raleigh, North Carolina?

Music festivals like Hopscotch Festival, Dreamville Festival, and ‘Cuegrass North Carolina are all hosted in Raleigh. Got To Be NC Festival, the North Carolina State Fair, and Triangle Oktoberfest are also held in Raleigh, NC.

Which museums are located in Raleigh, North Carolina?

Raleigh is home to the North Carolina Museum of Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, among others.

What activities can adults do in Raleigh, North Carolina?

Adults in Raleigh can visit the Raleigh Beer Trail to win prizes for visiting local breweries. Adults can also visit the Raleigh Beer Garden, which holds the world record for the most beers on tap in one establishment, with over 380 beers on tap.

Nicole Ting is an engineer and a freelance writer based in Houston. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering and a Certificate in Creative Writing. You can find her writing poetry in a local coffee shop on Saturdays.

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I am from Sacramento, California and earned my BA in Literature from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. I am currently enrolled in the English MA program at University of Oregon, researching forest management policy and environmental studies. In my free time I enjoy watching basketball, cooking, reading, gardening, and trying new hot sauces.