Raleigh, NC is a pretty amazing city during any season. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve lived there for 20 years. After spending my childhood, teens, and the beginnings of adulthood in Raleigh there are a few suggestions I can confidently make to visitors.
Raleigh is all about the art. There are countless studios, museums, and galleries scattered around downtown and surrounding area. These are my top suggestions if you are interested in photography, painting, etc.
North Carolina Museum of Art: I would 10/10 recommend the Art in the Park which is a continuation of walking trails that have a lot of really unique sculptures and contemporary art displayed in the surrounding fields/ grassy areas. It’s also dog friendly!
The Mahler Fine Art Gallery: This is more of a standard gallery that carries work from various artists and has multiple exhibitions for the artwork.
The Litmus Gallery and Studios: Litmus has sculpture workshops that I have personally never done but have heard good things about and recommend if anyone is interested in something like that. They also have galleries/ studio rental but I enjoy the unique art they display throughout the year.
I’ll make this simple, for beer go to Raleigh Beer Garden.
For fun and games but an epic environment go to Boxcar.
For a literal hole in the wall (technically its behind a wall) unique experience check out The Green Light.
If you’re feeling the British pub vibe your destination is London Bridge Pub.
All of these are local favorites and ten times better than your typical bars.
Check out the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts which is located right in the sweet spot of downtown Raleigh. This building has 3 theaters and a concert hall and is always showing something. I recommend seeing Nutcracker or The Christmas Carol (which are both shown annually) if you are looking for an upcoming winter show to attend. I’ve seen them both multiple times and they never cease to leave me on my feet.
There are a freaking plethora of places to eat in Raleigh. So many places it’s not even funny. But my top recommendations (coming from me, a local) have to be Angus Barn, Cowfish, Firebird, Shuckers, 18 Seaboard. If you’re looking for something more inexpensive check out Red Hot and Blue for the best dry rub ribs you will ever taste. And then there is Barry’s Cafe for cheap but good burgers, breakfast, and beer.
North Hills shopping center has live music year around. So long as you check out their website, you can surely find a day that works for you.
You can also look into the different festivals that happen throughout the year in the Raleigh/downtown area. The next one is the New Year’s Eve celebration (the acorn drop) smack in the middle of downtown. It’s called the acorn drop because the sort of famous Raleigh Acorn in Moore Square gets dropped like the ball in NYC. It’s the Raleigh-est thing Raleigh can possibly do.
But my favorite season for festivals in the city is Autumn where they have the Hopscotch Music Festival (4 days, over a 100 bands, over 10 venues- all downtown), Beericana Craft Beer and Music Festival, World of Bluegrass, NC State Fair, and Raleigh Christmas Parade (which is sort of in the fall, but not really).
In summary, it’s endless.
For the outdoorsy people…
Blue Ridge Parkway (although it’s technically in Asheville) has waterfalls, trails, camping, fishing, etc. A fun outdoor ropes course/zip-line I did with my family was Go Ape, which isn’t too hard on the youngsters but can still get them out and moving around. Pullen Park is also fun for the family or a few friends. Then there is Frankie’s Fun Place, which is half indoor half outdoor with go karts, mini golf, a high ropes course, indoor slides, arcade games, bowling alley, and laser tag. Frankie’s can be a little pricey if you want to do everything but I still go there and I’m an adult because it is just that great.
For the indoorsy people…
Try Triangle Rock Club for a fun upper body workout or the Triangle Shooting Academy if you want to learn how to shoot (they rent out guns and ammo if you don’t have your own). There are multiple Defying Gravity locations (an indoor trampoline park) that my younger brothers and even my ex-boyfriend loved. For the kids, Marbles Kids Museum is an interactive and educational experience that my brothers and I loved to go to when we were growing up. There’s also an IMAX theater right beside it! If you’re looking for something low-key, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences is a pretty cool and free place I grew up going to on school field trips and even took some of my college friends to while we were killing time downtown!
Anyways, I hope you guys find something in here that you can do the next time you visit Raleigh, or if you already live here maybe I suggested something you haven’t seen yet! Feel free to comment any of your own suggestions because I know that by no means did I even scratch the surface of all of the things to do in Raleigh.