Visit North Carolina

Cities & Regions

Raleigh, durham & the triangle.

You won't find a better range of ways to treat yourself than in the Triangle of North Carolina. This region boasts award-winning inns, hotels and spas, culinary delights for every taste, and cultural experiences including university gardens, art and history museums, and whimsical whirligigs.

Look & Feel

  • Acclaimed Hotels & Inns
  • Art & History Museums
  • Spa Getaways
  • Award-Winning & Buzzworthy Chefs
  • Vollis Simpson’s Whirligigs

Aerial view of Dorothea Dix Park with Raleigh skyline in distance during daytime

Getting Around


  • Chapel Hill
  • JoCo & Smithfield
  • Raleigh Area
  • Rocky Mount

Getting There

Things to do.

furniture, museums, gaming, film sites, etc.

restaurants, food tours, breweries, wineries, etc.

historic sites, cherokee history, ghosts, etc.

theme & water parks, gems, zoos, aquariums, etc.

parks, beaches and fun for 4-legged visitors

beaches, waterfalls, state & national parks, etc.

camping, hiking, fishing, water sports, etc.

romantic attractions, spas, health & wellness, etc.

golf, motorsports, horseback riding, etc.

Content Type

Filter arts & entertainment, filter eat & drink, filter history & heritage, filter kids & family, filter natural attractions, filter outdoor adventures, filter romantic getaways, filter sports, lonnie poole golf course at nc state university.

visit raleigh or durham

There's some fall color going on in Rocky Mount! My drive along the 64 was really pretty too this morning 😍 . . . Pixel XL ... .. . . . #hikenc #visitnc #northcarolinaisgorgeous #ncoutdoors #ncstateparks #discover_carolinas #raleigh #wanderlust #ig_color #canon_amateur #woods #northcarolina #outaboutnc #naturalnorthcarolina #tnc_nc #ncoutdoor_inc #welovenc #visitnc #ncstateparks #shotonpixel #sunset #sunsets #northcarolinaoutdoors #ncoutdoors #imagesofnorthcarolina #traillife #cycling #northcarolina #trails #onlyinnorthcarolina

#VisitNC @VisitNC

Tasting Moonshine

Firsts that last, attractions & activities in this region, escape to storybook settings at castles, palaces and mansions, trips that transform, places to stay in this region, tee time: golf courses in central north carolina, plan an adventure on a north carolina campus, places to eat & drink in this region, the lion king in durham-- save on attractions & hotels, events in this region.

visit raleigh or durham

Where the player finds quiet in The Game, the circle is complete. . . . . . . . . . #tobaccoroadgolf #est1998aged20years #mikestrantzmonday #mikestrantz #stewartcabin #tobaccoroad14 #beautifulgolfcourses #thegolfstagram #visitnc #thisisgolf #whyilovethisgame #golf #golfer #golftravel #golfcourse #golfcoursephotos #golfphotography

Explore the Tastes and Adventures of Raleigh and Durham

visit raleigh or durham

Lower Haw River as seen from Bynum Bridge #visitnc visitnc pittsborocvb downtownpittsboro #northcarolina #graffiti #bynumbridge #trianglenc #weekends #rtpnc #ncstateparks #ncparks ncstateparks #optoutside #diversifyoutdoors #qpochikers #brownpeoplecamping #hikingadventures #hiking #hikenc

Explore Raleigh, Durham & the Triangle

5 Bed and Breakfasts for Cozy Getaways

Go urban hiking: reconnect with the energy of outdoor museums, parks and paths.

visit raleigh or durham

sweet dreams are made of this. who am i to disagree? . . . #dameschickenandwaffles #dames #durham #durhamnc #exploredurham #visitdurham #durhamfood #durhameats #trianglenc #yelptriangle #trianglefoodies #triangleeats #northcarolina #northcarolinafood #ncweekend #visitnc #ignorthcarolina #chickenandwaffles #foodporn #foodgram #eurythmics #vsco

Ends: 6/15/2024

2024 Outdoor NC Pledge Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes, clayton sculpture trail, celebrate north carolina's industrial evolution by visiting these sites, central north carolina highland games, stay on a farm in north carolina, smithfield ham & yam festival.

visit raleigh or durham

How’s your #quarantine going #downtownraleigh ? I’m enjoying the fresh cool air today! #citydog #visitnc #explorethetriangle #muttsofinstagram

Things to Do in Raleigh, NC - Raleigh Attractions

Things to do in raleigh, explore popular experiences, tours in and around raleigh.

visit raleigh or durham

Private Pedicab Tour of Downtown Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

Raleigh Historian-Guided Downtown Walking Tour

visit raleigh or durham

Fun City Scavenger Hunt in Raleigh by Wacky Walks

visit raleigh or durham

Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

Private transportation

visit raleigh or durham

Rockin Raleigh Scavenger Hunt

visit raleigh or durham

Durham Dash Scavenger Hunt

visit raleigh or durham

Polaris Slingshot Type R Rental in Morrisville

visit raleigh or durham

Private Cooking Class in Durham with an Expert Home Cook

visit raleigh or durham

Murder Mystery Detective Experience Chapel Hill, NC

Tours & sightseeing.

visit raleigh or durham

Top Attractions in Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

Other Top Attractions around Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

What travelers are saying

Malik Hassan

  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • North Carolina Museum of Art
  • Pullen Park
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • Umstead State Park
  • JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
  • Neuse River Trail
  • Historic Yates Mill County Park

Our French Travels

Raleigh vs. Durham: Which City To Visit In The Triangle?

Both Raleigh and Durham are part of the rapidly growing Research Triangle Park. Both have lots of activities, restaurants, bars, universities, and event spaces. But, there are lots of differences between the two cities too. If you’re planning on visiting central North Carolina, where should you plan to spend most of your time? Let’s explore Raleigh vs. Durham and which is the better city to visit. But, if you want to explore even more cities in North Carolina outside of these two, check out these options .

Raleigh vs. Durham: The Big Differences

The 2021 census population of Raleigh, NC is 469,124 and about half that at 285,527 in Durham. Raleigh is also the State Capital of North Carolina, and as such has many of the state offices and official buildings located within it. Both Raleigh and Durham are the seat of their respective county governments though. Durham is known as the “City of Medicine” with healthcare being a major focus with over 300 medical and health-related companies. Durham is also ranked as much more racially diverse, ranking 95th in the country compared to Raleigh’s 129th-place finish. With the linguistic ranking (diversity of languages spoken), Durham ranked only slightly higher at 186 th place nationally, compared to Raleigh in the 189 th place.

Raleigh vs. Durham: Things To Do

When you’re visiting any destination, ensuring that you won’t get bored is often a priority. Let’s compare Raleigh and Durham head-to-head in the categories of things to do.

Outdoor Activities

Durham has 68 city parks , as well as 2 indoor pools, 3 outdoor pools, and 4 spray grounds. Raleigh has more than 200 individual parks and 8 Pools, but only two Splash Pads. If you’re traveling with a furry friend, Raleigh has 7 Dog Parks, whereas Durham has only 5. Raleigh’s dog parks are also free, whereas you have to purchase an annual membership to the Durham Dog Parks. So, Durham might win in the “finest public garden” and most spray pads categories. But, loses in the number, size, and access to parks categories.

  • Winner: Raleigh

Daphne in a field of Sunflowers in Raleigh, NC

History & Educational Activities

This category is another example of where being the state capital has its advantages. Raleigh boasts 12 museums, but 4 of them are state-owned and operated museums. Durham has 6 museums, but 3 of them are part of universities. Although Raleigh doesn’t seem to have anything like the Duke Lemur Center, I don’t think that gives them the win in this category.

Malls & Shopping Centers

When it really comes down to discussing malls and shopping centers, it really centers around just two of them. Although we list 4 for each city, the only two that really matter are Crabtree Valley Mall and Streets at Southpoint. Although Crabtree Valley Mall is larger, at 1.34 million square feet of retail space, making it the largest enclosed mall in the Research Triangle. It barely beats out Streets at Southpoint which stands at 1.33 million square feet. Crabtree Valley Mall has slightly more stores and restaurants than Streets at Southpoint. But, Crabtree Valley Mall has around 10 million shoppers annually, whereas Streets at Southpoint has around 13 million per year. As somebody who has spent considerable time at both malls, I prefer Streets at Southpoint as well, despite it having slightly fewer stores and space.

  • Winner: Durham

A picture of the inside of Streets at Southpoint

Concerts & Shows

If you want to see a major concert, you’ll be heading either to Raleigh or some cases nearby Cary for the Koka Booth Amphitheater . Most big concerts are held either at the PNC Arena or the Coastal Credit Union Amphitheatre. But, if you want to see a touring Broadway performance, you’ll likely only find that at the Durham Performing Arts Center . The Durham Chamber of Commerce does list some free music events such as the free Music In The Gardens or Summer Concert Series , but those don’t compare to the major concerts and events held in Raleigh.

Raleigh vs. Durham: Colleges & Universities

Higher education in the Research Triangle Park is a big deal. Between the two cities, there are 11 colleges and universities, with 8 of them being in Raleigh alone. Both NC State and Duke University are both ACC Schools and the rivalry can be felt in both cities. But, in terms of the number of schools, students, and programs offered, Raleigh takes all three.

Raleigh vs. Durham: Festivals & Fairs

Although both cities have event calendars full of events happening every weekend, there are stark differences in the type of events. I feel confident that you could find something to do in either city during a trip, but which one you would prefer depends on your passions. Durham has a lot more art, culture, and history type events. Raleigh has more concerts, parties, and food type events. Of course, with Raleigh having the NC State Fair, that also puts them at an unfair advantage.

A large crowd at a fair with fair rides in the background

Raleigh vs. Durham: Food & Drink

Anyone who knows me knows that food is one of my passions. We commonly eat in both Raleigh and Durham, and the food scene has different vibes. Raleigh is about taste , and Durham is about fresh. Raleigh has two food halls with lots of options, to Durham’s one. But, Durham has two regular farmer’s markets to Raleigh’s one. The one that Raleigh has is actually state-owned and operated. I personally have had incredible food in both cities and still have a huge list of places in both cities left to enjoy.

  • Winner: Tie

Learn about all the wonderful things to do in Raleigh here !

Raleigh vs. Durham: Hospitals & Medical Centers

Durham is known as the “City of Medicine” and 1 in 4 workers are employed in healthcare. The biggest hospital system in Durham is Duke University Hospital, commonly just known as Duke. It’s affiliated with Duke University as a teaching hospital. Duke University Hospital has been ranked as the #1 hospital in North Carolina for several years in a row now. Duke Health includes three hospitals, including one in Raleigh. The Duke Hospital system had over 57,000 inpatient stays in its Durham campuses.

Raleigh has the WakeMed Health & Hospitals system with two major hospitals located within Raleigh and one located elsewhere in Wake County. WakeMed is a teaching hospital for both the US Army and WakeTech. WakeMed had just over 43,000 inpatient stays on their Raleigh Campuses. Raleigh is also served by a local UNC REX Health hospital (based out of Chapel Hill).

Raleigh vs. Durham: Hotels & Places To Stay

Durham has nearly 8,000 hotel rooms across the city. Raleigh has more than 160 hotels , with over 1,200 hotel rooms within the downtown district alone. Both cities include both the luxurious, mid-range, and cheaper hotel options. Both include both locally owned and chain hotels. There is also a huge selection of Airbnb Rentals in both cities.

Empty hotel bed with a nearby table with tea

Raleigh vs. Durham: Frequently Asked Questions

How do i get around raleigh and durham.

Both cities have great taxi services and plenty of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Neither city has a subway or metro service. Each city has a bus service, known as “ GoRaleigh ” and “ GoDurham ” respectively. In order to connect the two cities, there is another bus service called “ GoTriangle ”. Each bus service has pretty good coverage of their respective cities and areas.

What is the Research Triangle Park (RTP)?

The Research Triangle Park (RTP) is a 7,000-acre area which is the largest research park in the United States. Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill make up it’s three points. Each of those three cities has a large university and teaching hospital located within. In RTP there are over 375 different businesses wiith over 65,000 employees. Numerous Fortune 500 companies have made RTP their headquarters. Also, within RTP is housing, restaurants, bars, and more making it an ideal place for a new business to set up offices.

How long should I plan to visit?

Each city has a growing number of things to see, do, and explore and you could spend a few days in either location. I would suggest allocating at least 3 days to visiting either city. Luckily, the cities are only about 30 minutes apart, so you could also plan a week in Central North Carolina and hit both of them.

In Conclusion: Raleigh vs. Durham. Which is better to visit?

Raleigh and Durham are both unique cities with their own draws. Raleigh is more industrial, hard-working, and designed to meet the needs of its citizens. Durham is more fun and artsy with a more relaxed and laid-back feeling. But, when it comes to which is where I would recommend spending your vacation, in all but two categories, Raleigh wins. Durham gets the win in healthcare for having the number 1 hospital in the state, and number one in shopping due to its significantly nicer mall.

But, for the most part, Raleigh has more to do, more to eat and drink, and more concerts and events to see. Raleigh also has significantly more things for free. However Raleigh and Durham are only about 30 minutes apart, so you could make the trip and visit both. While you are here, there is so much more to see in Central North Carolina that makes the trip worthwhile. Come visit us and decide for yourself. If you want to learn more about Raleigh, read our post about things to do in the city here .

' src=

Chris and Sara logo

34 Things to Do in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill

Guy and girl standing with art installation at North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh

Planning a trip to Raleigh, Durham, or Chapel Hill? We've got you covered!

If you've never been to North Carolina, it's worth a trip. From the rolling mountains of Asheville and winding road of the Blue Ridge Parkway, to the heart of the state in the Research Triangle with its museums and delicious foods, to the beaches on the coast that welcome you with miles and miles of quiet sands. No matter what you're looking for, North Carolina's got it.

Today we're focusing on the Research Triangle: Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Let's just get right into it!

Traveling to Raleigh, NC soon? Checkout our travel vlog from our time in Raleigh!

Looking for something specific? Use the links below to jump to a section.

  • In a hurry? Checkout the blogpost summary with a quick list of each place listed in this travel guide!

What is North Carolina's Triangle Area?

  • Things to do in Raleigh
  • Things to do in Durham
  • Things to do in Chapel Hill
  • Our other travel guides for North Carolina

Maybe you've heard people refer to the "The Triangle" in North Carolina. While many states have areas where multiple cities intersect and form a larger community out of multiple smaller ones, the North Carolina Research Triangle Area is different in that each city is very different but also incredible similar. Let me explain...

There are three cities that make up the Triangle: Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. To start with the similarities, each city is home to a major university that each has a large impact on its individual city, specifically when it comes to basketball. Each of the towns houses a top tier basketball team and there are fierce rivalries between them (especially between UNC and Duke). Everyone has a team and they'll let you know who they're for. Each of the three towns is also very southern in feel. Maybe not so much the politics or traditions, but the friendliness and delicious southern food can all be found in the Triangle Area.

You may have noticed I referred to it as "The Research Triangle" and that's because it's an incredible education and scientific driven community. From the universities to medical and tech companies moving into the area, there's always something new being discovered and, you guessed it, researched.

Let's start with Raleigh. Raleigh is not only home to North Carolina State University (primarily an engineering school), but it's also the state capital of North Carolina. It's the largest of the cities in the Triangle and it's an unusual combination of young and vibrant thanks to the thriving college and young professional scene and serious and political due to it being the base for all government affairs in the state. Personally I'm not much for politics (although I respect them) and I still really enjoyed living in Raleigh.

Up next is Durham. Durham is the more industrial feeling of the three cities. In its past it was a major hub for tobacco. While its tobacco days are in the past its redefining itself as a young, artistic, and vibrant city that still appreciates the past and where it all started. Duke University has called this town home for years and the student population has a large impact on the city as a whole.

The last of the three cities is Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill is definitely the smallest of the three cities which is why I love it. I'm always partial to a good college town! The University of North Carolina is home in Chapel Hill and its beautiful, sprawling campus gives the entire city a feeling of home. It also makes me want to crack open a book at a coffee shop and sit and read for hours on end.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Chris & Sara (@chrisandsara_)

Things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina

Ah, Raleigh. This was the town we called home when we were dating and it's where we got engaged. This place holds a lot of nostalgia for us and every time we return we enjoy walking down memory lane eating at our favorite restaurants, visiting our favorite hotspots, and catching up with a few old friends.

While the whole Triangle Area is a wonderful place to visit (and/or call home), personally we think Raleigh is the best of the three cities. It certainly has the most to offer given that it is the largest of the three cities, but aside from that it's more diverse in its offerings. here are our favorite things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina!

visit raleigh or durham

  • Explore the North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art is a great place to visit when in Raleigh. It features an impressive collection of artwork from a variety of different time periods and cultures, including ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, Renaissance paintings, and contemporary works. The museum also has a number of interactive activities for visitors to enjoy, such as art classes and workshops.

Bonus: During the summer months the museum hosts a summer concert series and movies on the lawn. Be sure to check the schedule if you're planning to visit during the summer months!

Getting there: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

visit raleigh or durham

  • Visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the most popular attractions in Raleigh. It features a wide range of exhibits focusing on natural history, including dinosaurs, mammals, birds, insects, plants, fossils, and more. There are also interactive displays that allow visitors to explore the museum's collections up close.

Getting there: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Pullen Park Train, Raleigh, NC

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Pullen Park

Pullen Park is one of the oldest parks in Raleigh and it offers plenty of outdoor fun for visitors. There are two playgrounds for kids to enjoy, carousel, as well as a miniature train ride around the park grounds. Other activities include paddle boats on the lake, bike rentals, tennis courts, and more.

Getting there: 520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

  • Visit Historic Oakwood Cemetery

Historic Oakwood Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Raleigh and is home to some fascinating gravesites from various wars and conflicts throughout American history. Visitors can take guided tours through the cemetery or explore it at their own pace to learn more about its history and inhabitants.

Getting there: 701 Oakwood Ave, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

  • Shop at Cameron Village Shopping Center

Cameron Village Shopping Center is one of Raleigh's premier shopping destinations with over 100 stores ranging from high-end boutiques to local shops selling unique items from around town. There are plenty of restaurants located within the center as well where visitors can grab a bite after shopping or just relax with friends over coffee or drinks. We recommend grabbing a cup of frozen custard from Goodberry's on a hot day ( Goodberry's is one of our 35 favorite places to eat in Raleigh! ).

Getting there: 2034 Cameron St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

  • Checkout Moore Square

Moore Square is located in downtown Raleigh and has a rich history as a gathering place for locals since the 1700s. Today the area is home to Moore Square Market (a farmers market that runs Sundays May-October), regular events, and is surrounded by some of Raleigh's best restaurants.

Getting there: E Hargatt St and S Blunt St | Google Maps

Umstead Park, Raleigh, North Carolina

Take a Stroll Through William B. Umstead State Park

William B Umstead State Park is located just outside downtown Raleigh and it offers plenty for nature lovers to enjoy including miles upon miles of trails perfect for hiking or biking along with plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities in its forested areas . There are also picnic areas located throughout the park where visitors can stop for lunch before continuing their exploration.

Getting there: 8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Martin Marietta Center For The Performing Arts, NC

Catch a Performance at Martin Marietta Center For The Performing Arts

The Duke Energy Center For The Performing Arts is located right next door to William B. Umstead State Park. This venue hosts a variety concerts, plays, musicals, comedy shows, dance performances, lectures, symposiums, film screenings, art exhibitions, family events, festivals, workshops, special events, etc throughout its calendar year.

Getting there: 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

North Carolina State Capitol

Learn About Local History At The North Carolina State Capitol

The North Carolina State Capitol building was built in 1840 and today serves as both an historic landmark as well as one housing various government offices . Visitors can take guided tours through this building which will provide them with insight into both state politics as well as local history.

Getting there: 1 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Watch A Game At PNC Arena

PNC Arena is home to both NHL ice hockey team, the Carolina Hurricanes , which the city loves . If you want to feel a part of the community, be sure to catch a lively 'Canes match. PNC Arena also hosts concerts and other events, so be sure to check their calendar to see what's on the agenda.

Getting there: 1400 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Spend An Afternoon At Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum offers plenty for children & families alike ! This interactive museum features multiple exhibit halls filled with hands-on activities designed specifically for kids ages 1-10 such as building blocks & giant bubble makers ! They even have special theme days during certain weeks so be sure check their website ahead time plan your visit accordingly!

Getting there: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Explore Nature At Lake Johnson Nature Park

Lake Johnson Park provides visitors with access gorgeous wetlands full diverse wildlife such migratory birds & turtles. Here you'll find multiple trails perfect walking & jogging along with canoeing & kayaking opportunities available rent nearby marina. Additionally there's also fishing allowed certain times year depending season so make sure familiarize yourself regulations before heading out!

Getting there: 4601 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Morgan Street Food Hall, Raleigh, NC

Grab A Bite To Eat At Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall houses over 20 different eateries all under same roof making it great spot grab quick bite eat without having worry about choosing just one. We always recommend a this spot for families and/or large groups where different people might be craving different things. At a food hall everyone is sure to find something that fits their fancy!

Getting there: 411 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

  • Visit North Carolina State University

NCSU is home to a vibrant student life scene with plenty of clubs, organizations, sports teams, and social events happening year round on campus. Visitors can take a tour or attend one of the university’s many cultural events such as concerts, plays, lectures, films screenings, art shows, etc., which are open to both students and non-students alike! We always recommend people checkout the James B. Hunt Jr. Library (it's pretty cool!) and grab a cup of coffee at Jubala (or favorite!) just across the street from the schools iconic Memorial Belltower .

Getting there: 101 Current Dr, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Take in Some Art at Contemporary Art Museum (CAM)

CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) is dedicated solely to contemporary art from around the world with rotating exhibitions featuring works from emerging artists as well as established ones like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein among many others. Visitors can explore CAM's permanent collection or attend one of their lectures or workshops that cover topics ranging from photography to video art installation pieces.

Getting there: 409 W Martin St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

visit raleigh or durham

Enjoy a Concert at Red Hat Amphitheater

This 5,000 seat amphitheater is located right in the heart of downtown Raleigh. During the summer months this venue hosts some of the biggest names in music. Our idea of the perfect summer date night in Raleigh is grabbing dinner at Poole's Diner then walking across the street to Red Hat Amphitheater for a show.

Getting there: 500 S McDowell St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Neuse River Trail, Raleigh, NC

Enjoy Raleigh's Extensive Bike and Pedestrian Greenways

Raleigh is home to miles and miles of paved trails for cyclists and pedestrians alike. One of my absolute favorite things to do in Raleigh is to look at the map , pick a trail, and just start running. The trails have always felt incredibly safe and they're very well maintained. My favorite trails are the Neuse River Trail and the Crabtree Creek Trail.

Discover Raleigh's Greenway System

Learn About Local History At Mordecai Historical Park

Mordecai Historical Park is another great attraction located near downtown Raleigh where visitors will learn about local history dating back centuries. The park features the birthplace of US President Andrew Johnson, who's home is now a museum. Visitors can also catch a trolley tour of the city from this location.

Getting there: 1 Mimosa St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

  • See the North Carolina Executive Mansion (the Governor’s Mansion)

Located in downtown Raleigh, the Governor’s Mansion is an iconic landmark in North Carolina and a great place to visit when you’re in town. Tours are available but must be booked at least two weeks in advance.

Getting there: 200 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Videri Chocolate Factory, Raleigh, NC

  • Tour Videri Chocolate Factory

Not only is Videri one of our favorite dessert spots in Raleigh, it's also a fun place to checkout. The shop is a bean to bar chocolate factory meaning that they take the chocolate through the entire process from green bean to chocolate bar right in house. The shop features a self-guided mini tour where you can see the chocolate makers working on everything from roasting the cocoa to making delicate truffles.

Getting there: 327 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC | Google Maps

Durham, North Carolina

Things to do in Durham, North Carolina

Located just down the street from Raleigh is the town of Durham, North Carolina. Famous as being home to Duke University, Durham has a colorful history to its present day self as a quaint town with lots to do.

  • Visit Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Duke Gardens is a 55-acre botanical garden located on the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC. The gardens feature over 5 miles of walking trails through lush gardens filled with trees, flowers and other plants from around the world. Visitors can take part in guided tours or explore on their own to discover all that Duke Gardens has to offer!

Getting there: 420 Anderson St, Durham, NC | Google Maps

Discover Science at the Museum of Life and Science

Located on a 84-acre campus, Durham's Museum of Life and Science is a must-visit for anyone interested in the natural world. The museum provides interactive exhibits, an onsite butterfly house, and a farmyard where kids can meet farm animals.

Getting there: 433 W Murray Ave, Durham, NC | Google Maps

Duke University Chapel, Durham, North Carolina

Visit Duke University's Chapel

Duke University's chapel is an iconic part of the University's skyline. With its gothic architecture and rich history, it is a must-see for any visitor. The chapel often hosts concerts and other cultural events which would be the perfect way to experience its incredible acoustics.

Getting there: 401 Chapel Dr, Durham, NC | Google Maps

  • Explore the American Tobacco Historic District

This district, which was once the headquarters of the American Tobacco Company, has been transformed into an entertainment hub replete with restaurants, bars, shops, and even a theater. It's a great place to explore and soak up some local history.

Getting there: 300 Blackwell St #104, Durham, NC | Google Maps

Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina

  • Attend a Durham Bulls Game

Baseball fans shouldn't miss out on an opportunity to visit the iconic Durham Bulls Athletic Park . Try to catch a game if the season's right, or take a tour of the stadium if it's not baseball season. Visitors of all ages will enjoy this favorite American past time in a city that loves to support their team!

Getting there: 409 Blackwell St, Durham, NC | Google Maps

  • Dine at the Durham Food Hall

From seafood to barbecue, the Durham Food Hall has a myriad of dining options for everyone. It is a great place to taste the local flavors and enjoy a meal.

Getting there: 530 Foster St Suite 1, Durham, NC | Google Maps

  • Visit the Nasher Museum of Art

Located at Duke University, the Nasher Museum of Art is recognized for its contemporary art collection. The museum hosts rotating exhibits, so there's always something new to see. The permanent collection is composed of over 10,000 works of art and the rotating exhibit fills a 65,000 sq/ft space. No matter if you're there to see the rotating exhibit or the permanent collection, you're sure to have plenty of amazing works to set your sights upon.

Getting there: 2001 Campus Dr, Durham, NC | Google Maps

Downtown Durham, North Carolina

  • Take a run, ride, or walk on the Tobacco Trail

The Tobacco Trail is an idyllic spot in Durham that you should not miss while visiting. This 22-mile trail, built on a historic railroad track, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts providing a peaceful setting for walking, cycling, or running. It's a trail that features natural beauty and historical significance, taking you through lush landscapes and remnants of North Carolina's rich tobacco industry past. Make sure to pack a picnic, as there are several rest spots along the way where you can relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Getting there: Google Maps

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Things to do in Chapel Hills, North Carolina

Chapel Hill is the third city in North Carolina's Triangle Area. Home to the University of North Carolina, this is the quintessential college town. From delicious food to beautiful shaded walkways through campus and a vibrant music scene, this little town has it all.

  • Visit Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

As one of the oldest and largest planetariums in the United States, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center offers incredible star-gazing opportunities, science exhibits, and interactive displays. A visit here is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Getting there: 250 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC | Google Maps

  • Stroll through the North Carolina Botanical Garden

Experience the rich biodiversity of the region at the North Carolina Botanical Garden . This 1,000-acre garden offers a stunning display of native North Carolina plants and features nature trails, carnivorous plant collections, and more.

Getting there: 100 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC | Google Maps

North Carolina flag

  • Take a Campus Tour at the University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , one of the oldest public universities in the U.S., offers guided campus tours. It's a great chance to soak up the historic atmosphere and see the famous Old Well.

Getting there: 209 South Rd, Chapel Hill, NC | Google Maps

  • Wander around the Ackland Art Museum

Located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, the Ackland Art Museum houses a collection of over 18,000 works of art. The museum features diverse exhibitions from Asia, Europe, and America and offers educational programs for all ages.

Getting there: 101 S Columbia St, Chapel Hill, NC | Google Maps

  • Explore the Carolina Basketball Museum

For sports enthusiasts, a visit to the Carolina Basketball Museum is a must. The museum chronicles the history of the UNC basketball program, showcasing jerseys, trophies, and other memorabilia.

Getting there: 450 Skipper Bowles Dr, Chapel Hill, NC | Google Maps

  • Enjoy the Franklin Street Area

Franklin Street is a vibrant area in downtown Chapel Hill known for its array of shops, restaurants, and bars. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a meal, do some shopping, or catch some live music.

Getting there: Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC | Google Maps

Downtown Raleigh, NC

In a hurry? Here's the quick list summary of this travel guide.

Things to do in raleigh, north carolina.

  • Enjoy outdoor activities at Pullen Park
  • Take a stroll through William B. Umstead State Park
  • Catch a performance at Martin Marietta Center For the Performing Arts
  • Learn about local History at the North Carolina State Capitol
  • Watch a hockey match at PNC Arena
  • Spend an afternoon at Marbles Kids Museum
  • Explore nature at Lake Johnson Park
  • Grab a bite to eat at Morgan Street Food Hall
  • Take in some art at Contemporary Art Museum (CAM)
  • Enjoy a concert at Red Hat Amphitheater
  • Enjoy Raleigh's extensive bike and pedestrian greenways
  • Learn about local history at Mordecai Historical Park

Things To Do in Durham, North Carolina

  • Discover science at the Museum of Life and Science
  • Visit Duke University’s Chapel

Things to do in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Life this post checkout our other travel guides to the carolinas.

  • 35 Best Restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina That Locals Love
  • 24 Fun-Filled Things to do in Greenville, South Carolina
  • 21 Best Places to Eat and Drink in Greenville, South Carolina
  • 9 Weekend Trips from Atlanta, Georgia Worth Taking

You May Also Like

Cobblestone street in Loreto, Mexico at sunset

The Ultimate Traveler's Guide to Loreto, Mexico: 21 Must-Do Activities

Donuts from The Holy Donut in Portland, MAine

The 33 Best Places to Eat & Drink in Portland, Maine

Land Cruiser in the desert in Baja, Mexico

Everything to Know About Crossing the Land Border from the USA into Mexico (by car, RV, or van)

visit raleigh or durham

We're Chris and Sara

visit raleigh or durham


  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Newsletters
  • Sweepstakes
  • North Carolina

The 21 Best Things To Do In Raleigh, According To Locals

Our ultimate guide to North Carolina’s capital city.

visit raleigh or durham

  • Food & Drink
  • The Sounds of Raleigh
  • Get Outside
  • Raleigh Culture


Raleigh, Durham , and Chapel Hill may be grouped together into what’s known as North Carolina’s Research Triangle , but each destination has its own distinct personality, attractions, and reasons to visit. The state’s capital, Raleigh mixes your typical city features—tall buildings, museums , dedicated green spaces, and a variety of restaurants and bars—with a decidedly North Carolinian authenticity and quaintness. 

“Raleigh offers the best of both worlds,” says Sarah Shepherd, owner of Heights House Hotel . “It’s a close-knit community, but [it] also has the culture and sophistication of a bigger city.”

Ashley Christensen, chef and proprietor of AC Restaurants —a hospitality group that includes five dining establishments in Raleigh—echoes that sentiment, describing the City of Oaks as “vibrant.” Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit fuel the city’s growth, and there’s a clear passion for showcasing what the region brings to the table. 

“Raleigh is filled with great restaurants, bars, and bakeries, and is surrounded by lots of really cool agricultural entities—from small farms and ranches to cheese producers, to heirloom grain projects,” Christensen says. Outside of the food world, Raleigh leverages its natural beauty, dedication to learning, and shared history to create one of North Carolina’s most underrated cultural hotspots. 

Thinking of planning a trip to the Research Triangle? Read on to discover the best things to do when visiting Raleigh. 

Get Your Fix of Raleigh’s Finest Food and Drink

Get a table at stanbury.

Jeff Bramwell

“From its neighborhood location to its unassuming atmosphere and amazing food… [Stanbury] is always a win,” says Angela Salamanca, owner of Raleigh’s Centro and Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria . The walk-in-only establishment offers a variety of small plates and cocktails, but the menu changes daily. In many ways, Stanbury reflects Raleigh’s own personality; it’s casual and spirited, but elevated and thoughtful. ; 938 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27604; 919-977-4321

Order the Mac and Cheese at Poole’s Diner

Angie Mosier / Visit Raleigh

Southern comfort food can come in many forms, but it’s hard to beat the famous macaroni au gratin at Poole’s, Christensen’s first restaurant in Raleigh. Made with grana padano, Jarlsberg, and white cheddar, it’s a dish that can only be described as indulgent. And yes, it’s worth every bite. ; 26 S McDowell St, Raleigh, NC 27601; 919-832-4477

Sip on a Cocktail at Heights House Hotel

Plant & Sprout

Even if you’re not spending the night Heights House Hotel—a restored Italianate mansion from the 1800s—carve out some time in your schedule to visit the property’s bar, known as The Parlor, and its common spaces. “There’s afternoon tea, a great bar, and a mix of contemporary art and period furnishings,” says Paul Baker, Ph.D., the executive director of CAM Raleigh . ; 308 S Boylan Ave, Raleigh, NC 27603; 919-594-1881

Feast Your Way Through a Food Hall

Brian Strickland / Visit Raleigh

If you, or the group you’re traveling with, can’t seem to make a decision on where to eat, head to one of Raleigh’s spacious food halls. Morgan Street Food Hall, located in the Warehouse District, is home to 20-plus culinary concepts, including handcrafted burger spot CowBar, Oak City Fish & Chips, and Curry in a Hurry. Alternatively, you can head to Transfer Co. Food Hall , which boasts 50,000 square feet of vendors, makers, restauranteurs, and more inside the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shops. ; 411 W Morgan St Raleigh, NC 27603; 919-307-4481 ; 500 E Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601; 984-232-8122

Fill Up on Baked Goods at Boulted Bread

Anna Routh Barzin 

Recommended by Christensen (so you know it’s going to be good), Boulted Bread is a craft bakery and stone mill that features an open bakehouse as well as indoor and outdoor seating. “Start your day here with a coffee from locally roasted beans, and the essential Boulted Bread Morning Bun… [made of] fresh croissant dough rolled with cinnamon, sugar, and lemon zest, and then coated in crunchy cane sugar post-bake,” she says. ; 328 Dupont Cir, Raleigh, NC 27603

Tuck into Some North Carolina Barbecue at The Pit

A visit to North Carolina wouldn’t be complete without a plate of barbecue . Raleigh has a few different spots, but Baker recommends The Pit. “My family has eaten there for birthdays, Thanksgivings, and when friends who haven’t tried barbecue before come to town,” he says. “The staff almost provides a tutorial in the Southern tradition of barbecue and the accompanying regional sauces.” His must-try dishes? The brisket and the fried pimento cheese balls. ; 328 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601; 919-890-4500

Follow the Raleigh Beer Trail

Visit Raleigh

Craft beer found a welcoming home in the greater Raleigh area. Today, more than 40 breweries are featured on the Raleigh Beer Trail passport , an interactive checklist that allows beer drinkers to earn prizes as they visit participating establishments. Looking to just hit a few of them? Try Little City Brewing & Provisions Co., Neuse River Brewing & Brasserie, or Crank Arm Brewing Company. ; 400 W North St Suite 120, Raleigh, NC 27603; 919-502-7155 ; 518 Pershing Road, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27608; 984-232-8479 ; 319 W Davie Street, Raleigh, NC 27601; 919-324-3529

Pick Up Local Produce at the State Farmers Market 

State Farmers market

Open 363 days per year, the State Farmers Market is the perfect place to go when you want to balance out the heavier Southern food you’ve experienced over your trip. Admission is free, so you can wander the 30,000 square feet of North Carolina produce stands, specialty shops, and restaurants at your leisure. “It’s a really special thing to have access to,” says Christensen. ;1201 Agriculture St, Raleigh, NC 27603;

Soak Up the Sounds of Raleigh

Attend one of the state’s best music festivals.

Garrett Poulos / Visit Raleigh

Raleigh has more than 80 music venues and hosts a number of music festivals throughout the year. IBMA World of Bluegrass and Hopscotch Music Festival mark the calendar in September, and J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival is held annually in April. ; 615-256-3222

Catch a Show at Red Hat Amphitheater

Southern summers are defined by a few things—like catching lighting bugs, slicing fresh tomatoes for a sandwich, visiting on the front porch until long after the sun goes down, and attending outdoor concerts. “Catching a show at Red Hat Amphitheater is a must. Grab dinner at a downtown restaurant and then stroll on down to catch a great band and one of Raleigh’s best sunsets (especially with the Shimmer Wall just across the street),” recommends Christensen. ; 500 S McDowell St, Raleigh, NC 27601; 919-996-8500 

Take Advantage of the Outdoors

Explore the city by foot .

David Kuhn / Visit Raleigh

The “best view of the city,” says Salamanca, can be found as you walk over Boylan Bridge; be sure to stop for a quick photo opp too. If the weather is nice, head to the Historic Oakwood neighborhood, where you can admire the area’s 19th-century Victorian-era homes. Pro tip: Download the free walking tour brochure before you go. 

Visit Pullen Park

Keenan Hairston / Visit Raleigh

Pullen Park holds the title of first public park in North Carolina, and it has the distinction of being the fifth-oldest operating amusement park in the United States (and the 16th-oldest in the world). Today, it’s a wonderful outdoor space where you can rent a pedal boat, go swimming, ride a carousel, take an art class, and more. Children will also find plenty of fun on the miniature train and expansive playground. ; 520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606; 919-996-6468

Explore the Neuse River Greenway Trail

© Michael Robson / Visit Raleigh

Part of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Neuse River Greenway Trail grants visitors access to 27.5 miles of paved pathways open for walking, running, and biking . Along the way, you’ll see wetlands, suspension bridges, agricultural fields, and historical and interpretive signs providing more information about the area. ; 1721 Riverview Rd, Raleigh, NC 27610; 919-996-3285,

North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Take a Hike at William B. Umstead State Park

Ten miles from downtown Raleigh, you’ll find William B. Umstead State Park. Hiking trails and campgrounds are open to the public, and there’s even horseback riding, if that’s more your speed. Water-based activities include fishing and boating on Big Lake, where you can rent canoes and rowboats. ; 8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

Discover the Past at Historic Yates Mill County Park

Wake County Government

If you’ve previously researched the best things to do in Raleigh, you may have come across images of the Historic Yates Mill, a fully restored and operable 18th-century water-powered mill. Found inside the 174-acre Historic Yates Mill County Park, the mill is free to visit, but you can pay a small fee to take a guided mill tour from March through November. ; 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603; 919-856-6675

Soak in the Culture 

Experience the north carolina museum of art.

North Carolina Museum of Art / Visit Raleigh

The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCAM) is on the must-see list for most Raleighites. “The exhibits and outdoor grounds are one of my favorite spots in Raleigh—especially ideal for exploring as a family, and introducing to visiting friends,” says Shepherd. The indoor exhibitions, which span thousands of years, and the outdoor Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park are both free to the public. “You can either visit the museum itself, which has an extraordinary collection, or you can take a stroll down the park. Bring a picnic, stay and watch the sunset. It is a real treat,” says Salamanca. ; 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607; 919-839-6262

Walk the Galleries of the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM)

Baker, who became the executive director of the CAM Raleigh in 2022, notes that the museum includes works from both emerging as well as established artists. Past exhibited works include those of Durham-based photographer Kennedi Carter, the youngest person ever to shoot the cover of British Vogue . The museum goes above and beyond regular exhibitions, though. CAM also plays host to the North Carolina Artists Exhibition, “where visitors can see a juried exhibition of emerging artists from around the state,” says Baker. ; 409 W Martin St, Raleigh NC. 27603; 919-261-5920

Explore the Shelves at Liberation Station

Courtney Winter Martin

North Carolina’s first Black-owned children’s bookstore, Liberation Station , recently opened its doors in Raleigh, following a pop-up in 2019. The store aims to “[make] representation accessible and [amplify] Black voices ” by providing books and gifts that display diversity and inclusiveness. “Our 4-year-old son, August, loves books, and we’ve begun building his library of children’s books with engaging stores like Liberation Station. They also house a collection of letters written by Frederick Douglass that patrons can view and learn more about historical and archival documents,” says Baker. , 208 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601

City of Raleigh

Tour the Pope House Museum 

Over 3,000 Pope family artifacts can be found inside the Pope House Museum. Once home to the only Black man to run for mayor of a Southern capital during the Jim Crow Era, Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, the house museum gives visitors a look into one of Raleigh’s most fascinating families. Admission is free, but tours are first-come, first-served. , 511 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Enjoy a College Football Game

Grant Halverson  / Stringer / Getty

Raleigh might be a big city, but it’s also a college town . If you’re visiting during football season, you may be able to catch a game. “Raleigh is home to several collegiate football rivalries including North Carolina State University and UNC (in nearby Chapel Hill) and the longstanding Shaw University and Saint Augustine’s University rivalry,” says Baker. “Tailgating, socializing on fraternity and sorority plots, and bragging rights are all part of the North Carolina football tradition.”

Treasure Hunt at the Raleigh Market or City Market

Raleigh Market

Whether you’re casually browsing or looking for something specific, you’ll find exactly what you need at either Raleigh Market or City Market. The former is located at the historic NC State Fairgrounds, and over 500 vendors participate in the indoor-outdoor shopping flea and antique experience. Boutiques, shops, art galleries, restaurants, and specialty stores line the cobblestoned streets of City Market. If you’re doing a bout of morning shopping, fill up at Big Ed’s, which describes its menu offering as “country cooking at its best.” ; 4285 Trinity Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607; 919-839-4560 ; 215 Wolfe St., Raleigh, NC 27601 ; 5009 Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609; 919-747-9533

Related Articles

This is Raleigh

24 Hours in Raleigh (Itinerary) what to do in Raleigh for 1st timers!

If you only have one day and don’t know what to do in Raleigh, I have called this city my home for over 10 years and the below 24 hours in Raleigh itinerary is what I suggest for visitors to get a reel feel for Raleigh – the culture, the history, the food and drink scene, and the Southern community feel.

Family of four walking across a bridge with city buildings in the background.

I put this itinerary together from my own personal experiences. These are the places I take visiting friends and family and are some of the most “Raleigh experiences to have ” in the City of Oaks.

This itinerary includes suggestions on where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, the top morning and afternoon activities and experiences to have, where to go for pre-dinner and after-dinner drinks, and the top hotels to stay in.

As one of the South’s most vibrant and eclectic mid-size cities, I have a fun 24-hours planned for you in the capital city of North Carolina, whether you are in town for business, to visit family or friends, or are looking to move to Raleigh like us!

Mom and two daughters posing for a photo with a sign saying Raleigh behind them.

Of course, I suggest you stay longer than one day as there are so many cool things to do in Raleigh, so check out our 48 hours in Raleigh guide for even more recommendations. Ok, allow me to show you around and take the guesswork out of your trip to Raleigh!

After-dinner drinks (or activities)

24 hours in raleigh, big ed’s city market.

big eds

You’ve arrived in The South and there’s no better introduction to Raleigh and its welcoming community than Big Ed’s in historic City Market, the best Southern style breakfast in Raleigh.

This is the local experience you’re looking for. They’ve been serving up generous portions of Southern comfort food since 1958. Here you’ll enjoy a laid-back vibe with a collection of funky antiques hanging from the ceiling, warm Southern hospitality, and food like what grandma used to make.

Especially popular for their GIANT pancakes, local country ham, fried chicken, aged ribeye steak & eggs, sliced pork loin, fried catfish, fluffy biscuits, and double-brewed sweet tea. Read our full review .

Alternate breakfast options:

Couple sitting at a booth in a diner eating breakfast

  • Mecca Restaurant – oldest of the Raleigh restaurants. Historic setting with red stools along a long counter, a black and white checkered floor, and wooden booths. Serving unpretentious and comforting meals since 1930, this is one of the few true diners left in Raleigh.
  • State Farmers’ Market Restaurant – another popular place for locals to get a country breakfast and Southern dining experience. Start each meal with their highly acclaimed biscuits!
  • A Place at the Table – Raleigh’s pay-what-you-can-afford cafe. Amazing concept and staff. Consider the Huevos Rancheros or build your own biscuit. Great coffee too.
  • See our full guide on where to eat the best breakfast in Raleigh (13 local hot spots).

Since moving to Raleigh in 2004, the local coffee and cafe scene has improved considerably. As Australians, we are fussy and take our coffee recommendations seriously, and below are a select few we recommend.

The Morning Times

People sitting at tables and chairs outside a coffee shop enjoying breakfast

The Morning Times is right in the heart of downtown and a short walk from Big Ed’s. It’s one of the popular coffee shops in downtown with the locals. We typically order lattes (our kids love their cookies) and we enjoy sitting either in the cozy upstairs that doubles as a small art gallery, or on the sidewalk in the sun. Solid breakfast burrito here, too!

Heirloom Brewshop

Cup of coffee

Possibly our favorite coffee spot in downtown is Heirloom Brewshop in the Warehouse District. This is a specialty coffee shop, premium tea house, sake bar and kitchen all rolled into one with an Asian-inspired menu.

A pink espresso machine and wood slat ceiling are focal points, and large windows allow in lots of natural light. Choose from a full coffee bar of options, and their gluten-free Mochi Donuts are a hit. Read our full review of Heirloom .

Jubala on Hillsborough St

Two mugs of coffee on a table.

Located across the street from NC State University and just a 5-minute drive from downtown,  Jubala Coffee is another of our favorite Raleigh coffee shops. Known for their tasty small bite’s menu and professionally trained baristas   who make excellent lattes and the full spectrum of coffees.

Their biscuits are my favorite in Raleigh (my pick is the bacon + fried egg + pimento cheese) and our kids are big fans of their Nutella & Banana Waffles.

Morning Activities

Raleigh is home to excellent museums and because of the quality and number of free museums in the city, Raleigh is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the South”. 

NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Display of a dinosaur Skelton in a museum

Located in the heart of downtown, the Museum of Natural Sciences is North Carolina’s most visited museum and one of the top attractions in Raleigh . Explore over 4 floors of exhibits including walk-through dioramas, live animals, microbes and meteorites, 3D movies, and there’s a fantastic permanent collection of dinosaur and whale skeletons. 

NC Museum of History

Historical memorabilia and artifacts inside a history museum.

If you’re more into history, across the street from the Natural Sciences museum is the Museum of History . Founded in 1902, more than 400,000+ people a year visit this museum and on display are 150,000 artifacts and more than 14,000 years of history.

NC Museum of Art

Young girl looking at large steel ring art sculpture

Art lovers should head to the impressive NC Museum of Art which is home to more than a dozen beautiful indoor gallery spaces showcasing art from around the world. You can either self-explore or take an engaging tour, see performing arts and participate in family workshops.

Don’t miss taking a stroll through the attached Anne & Jim Goodnight Museum Park, a 164-acre park and trail system that features more than a dozen commissioned works of art. 

Marbles Kids Museum

a little girl playing with toys

If you’ve got young kids (up until the age of about 12), Marbles Kids Museum is one of the  best things to do with kids in Raleigh . There are two levels of kid-focused museum activities here with dozens of hands-on exhibits and the state’s only 3D-capable IMAX theater. For even more museums, read our full guide to the 8 top museums in Raleigh .

Below is a short list of local restaurants all centrally located and based on a few select categories to help you get a taste of Raleigh and places popular with the locals.

two plates of food on a table

In case you don’t know, North Carolina is a barbecue state and enjoying a plate of bbq in Raleigh is one of those “welcome to the South” moments you should experience.

  • Sam Jones BBQ is famous in Eastern NC. They smoke whole hogs on site and are popular for their chopped BBQ, fried chicken, ribs, and baked flat cornbread. And I’m a big fan of their smoked turkey sandwich!
  • The Pit Authentic BBQ is another of the popular BBQ spots in Raleigh. They serve whole-hog, pit-cooked Eastern-style bbq and their signature items include Baby Back Ribs and Chopped BBQ, plus their Brunswick Stew, Heirloom Cabbage Collards, and Fried Green Tomatoes are popular.

Southern American

People sitting down to lunch inside a restaurant

  • Beasley’s Chicken + Honey – popular Southern dining experience in downtown by famed chef Ashley Christensen. They specialize in Fried chicken and sandwiches, and are popular brunch spot on weekends.
  • Parkside Restaurant – a retro-industrial restaurant serving traditional Southern comfort food the locals love. They do an excellent burger, plus chicken & waffle sandwich, prime rib, and other popular Southern dishes.

Burger with cheese, red peppers, lettuce and avocado.

  • Burger Village – If you’re looking for grass-fed, organic, and exotic burgers look no further. Choose from exotic meats like bison, elk, boar, and ostrich, plus your standard offerings such as beef, salmon, and chicken. Read our full review .
  • MoJoe’s  – classic local neighborhood burger joint serving excellent burgers along with wings and pub-style appetizers. I love their Carnivore burger with a side of tater tots. Indoor and outdoor seating. See more burger suggestions here .

Plates of Mexican food in a restaurant.

  • Gringo A Go Go – one of the popular Mexican restaurants in Raleigh with their colorful outdoor patio, real Mexican food and seasonal hand-crafted Margaritas. Brunch on Sundays. Read our full review .
  • Centro – Modern Mexican food in the heart of downtown. Funky little place with a laid-back Mexican vibe and atmosphere, Centro utilizes organic and local ingredients in flavorful ways. See more Mexican restaurants here .

For even more places to eat lunch including food halls, sandwich shops, and cafes see our complete guide to 40 spots to eat lunch in Raleigh .


A woman and children sitting at table on outdoor patio

  • Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen  – amazing rooftop patio and authentic Greek food, you can’t beat the food and vibe here. Traditional favorites like Baklava Sticky Buns, Gyro hash, Greek Omelet, Baked Eggs and Pita, Moussaka, and lamb burger!
  • Sitti (Lebanese) – popular restaurant serving versions of authentic Lebanese dishes in an upbeat atmosphere with communal tables or your own space.

Afternoon activities

Umstead state park.

Woman walking down a hiking trail in the forest.

Now you have a full stomach it’s time to get some steps in. An easy 15-minute drive from downtown brings you to one of the best outdoor places in Raleigh, and one of the state’s most visited parks – William B. Umstead State Park . 

This natural oasis surrounds three man-made lakes and has over 22 miles of trails ranging from easy to moderate. If you love to get active on nature trails through the forest, or do some biking, trail running, picnicking, canoeing, or even horseback riding, then Umstead is calling you!

A great introductory trail is the 2.8-mile Sal’s Branch Trail. However, if you’re up for a woodland walk, the Sycamore Trail is a 7.2-mile loop and the longest trail. But possibly my favorite trail is the 6-mile loop, Company Mill Trail .

Lake Johnson Loop Trail

People walking across a bridge at a lake surrounded by forest

If you love lake trails, Lake Johnson is our favorite of the lakes in Raleigh and just a 10-minute drive from downtown. The fully paved 3-mile greenway loop around the eastern side of the lake is popular with students at nearby NC State University and families. There’s a 700-foot-long boardwalk across the center of the lake, a boat house, small beach area, and picnic shelters. 

Pullen Park (young kids)

Young girl riding a carousel at a park

One of the top Raleigh attractions for kids is historic Pullen Park which dates back to 1887. It was the first public park in North Carolina and is the fifth oldest operating amusement park in the US.

Here you can ride a historic carousel and miniature train, rent pedal boats, let the kids run free on the playgrounds, have a picnic or even grill out in one of the picnic areas.

Explore Historic Neighborhoods

Aerial view of a city skyline with a warehouse district in the foreground

If you’re not into nature hikes and prefer to stick more to the downtown area, Raleigh has some excellent historic neighborhoods to explore either on foot or by car.

Historic Oakwood & North Person St

Historic home with a front porch

Historic Oakwood dates back to the 1800’s. It rose after the Civil War and is home to magnificent oak trees, Grand Victorians and modest bungalows. Check out this  Free walking tour  and don’t miss the magnificent  Oakwood Cemetery

North Person Street  borders historic Oakwood and is possibly my favorite street in Raleigh. Shop at local boutique stores and a bookstore, or grab a bite to eat or drink at many of my favorite spots in the city:

  • Edge of Urge – boutique store specializing in clothing, jewelry and accessories.
  • Unlikely Professionals – part dive bar, part retail store.
  • So & So Books – independent local bookstore.
  • Two Roosters – handcrafted ice cream by an NC State grad.
  • Pelagic Beer & Wine – craft retail beer store and tasting room. 
  • Standard Beer + Food – hip and contemporary brewery with tasty tacos.
  • Oakwood Pizza – New York style pizza.
  • William & Company – fantastic local neighborhood cocktail bar.
  • Krispy Kreme – the second original store in the world (after Winston-Salem)
  • Crawford & Son – fine dining by award-winning chef, Scott Crawford.

Boylan Heights

boylan heights raleigh nc

Historic  Boylan Heights  is another of the premier neighborhoods in Raleigh. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Craftsman bungalows sit along with transitional Queen Anne/Colonial Revivals and Dutch Colonials, while mature trees dominate the streetscapes.

  • Rebus Works – coffee shop and tasty treats plus gallery run by artists.
  • Boulted Bread – popular local bakery.
  • Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing – excellent drinks + small paltes and views!
  • Vault Craft Beer – old bank turned brewery.
  • Dorothea Dix Park  – Raleigh’s largest city park.

The Warehouse District:

Aerial view of a city skyline with a warehouse district in the foreground

The six-block Warehouse District was transformed from its former red-brick industrial buildings into a vibrant mix of restaurants, cafes, bars, a brewery, a food hall, boutique shopping, art museums, studios and technology firms.

  • Need another coffee? Go to Black & White Coffee , a great little coffee shop inside the Videri Chocolate Factory.
  • Videri Chocolate Factory – sample yummy chocolates, and get soft serve ice cream!
  • The Flourish Market – a unique women’s gift and boutique clothing store. 
  • Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) – displays new and emerging work by local and national living artists. Free admission.
  • 311 Gallery – home to 12 artist studios, an exhibition gallery and a gift shop.
  • Father & Son Antiques – modern furnishings, vintage clothing and accessories, records and books.
  • Raleigh Denim Workshop – exclusive well-crafted jeans!
  • Morgan Street Food Hall – Raleigh Rolls offers unique rolled ice cream with delicious toppings!

Pre-dinner drinks

There are some great bars and Raleigh breweries that are perfect for a pre-dinner drink (or all occasions). Below are a select few of our personal favorites.

People sitting at a table drinking with a city skyline in the background.

  • Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing – we take all first-time visitors here for the wow moment. The best view of the Raleigh skyline from their outstanding outdoor patio is paired with excellent craft beer and unique cocktails.
  • Crank Arm Brewing – the guys at Crank Arm are super passionate about craft beer and bikes. Relaxed and friendly vibe here in the Warehouse District. My pick: Road Hazard Hazy IPA.
  • Raleigh Beer Garden – not an actual brewery, but with 350+ beers on tap, at time of opening they became the world record-holder for largest selection of draft beer!

A woman sitting on a couch in front of a fire drinking wine.

  • Vita Vite Art Gallery + Wine Bar – premier wine bar that doubles as an art gallery. Excellent selection of wine and relaxed atmosphere. Locations in the Warehouse District and North Hills.
  • Barcelona Wine Bar – as global travelers we cannot resist a place that takes us away on a quick vacation without needing to jump on a flight. An array of Spanish wines and tapas transporting you to the streets of Barcelona. 

Whiskey & Cocktail bars


  • Whiskey Kitchen – repurposed industrial building and beautiful open space. Over 300 whiskies plus craft cocktails and beer and wine, you can’t go wrong here.
  • William & Company – cozy local neighborhood cocktail bar next to Historic Oakwood. Fresh and unique craft cocktails created by top-notch bartenders!

Modern American

White car parked outside a restaurant.

  • Stanbury – Probably the most unique of the dining experiences in Raleigh. Outstanding food and terrific ambiance in a quirky, rustic venue with excellent service! Their menu changes daily ( updated on their Facebook ) and features modern cuisine via small plates and entrees (the best steak I’ve had in Raleigh), plus craft cocktails. No reservations here, walk ins only!

Woman having dinner with a bowl of curry

  • Bida Manda – we spent 12 months in Southeast Asia and don’t hesitate to say this is best of the Asian restaurants in Raleigh , and my favorite Southeast Asian restaurant in North Carolina. Well renowned for its authentic Laotian cuisine with ample vegetarian and gluten free options.
  • Five Star Restaurant – named after the owner’s grandfather who was the equivalent of a Five Star General in the U.S. Army and served in the Republic of China (Taiwan) armed forces. Highly regarded by the locals. My pick: the   Pork Dumplings and Crispy Sesame Beef.

Pizza and a bottle of red wine

  • Giorgio Pizza Bar – Get a true taste of Italy in North Hills by famed restauranter, Giorgios Bakatsias. Delightful pizzas and pastas with accompanying Italian wines.
  • Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar – enjoy the ultimate outdoor dining experience near downtown on their open-air secluded patio by the pool.

Vegetarian & Vegan

plates of vegan food

  • Fiction Kitchen – 100% vegan restaurant that combines creative flair with classic Southern comfort foods like “chicken and waffles”, to globally inspired plates like Vegan charcuterie board, potato chaat, curry bowl, homestyle meatloaf, and risotto. Excellent cocktails.
  • Irregardless Cafe – iconic vegetarian restaurant and the oldest in Raleigh. Seasonal menu that features an array of vegetarian and vegan options, plus meat and seafood (something for everyone) Cozy and fun community vibe and live music. 

Fine Dining


  • Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern – for a special occasion, enjoy an exquisite fine dining experience inside a Second Empire Victorian that incorporates history, Southern charm, gourmet meals and excellent service.
  • Crawford & Son – perfect date night experience for those who want an intimate setting but with a little buzzy vibe. Casual yet elegant with innovative dishes beautifully presented by award winning chef, Scott Crawford.

For even more places to eat, see our guide to our favorite downtown restaurants , and our guide to the best gluten free restaurants .

Two cocktail glasses on a table in a bar

  • Watts & Ward – my favorite of the underground bars in Raleigh. A craft cocktail bar founded upon the underground spirit of the 1920s. Leather seating, rustic tables, dim lighting and bookshelves full of history. Inventive cocktail menu and low-key music.
  • Dram & Draught – excellent whiskey bar with a range of whiskeys from around the world, plus seasonal cocktails, wines, and draught beer from Raleigh (and beyond).
  • Bittersweet – if you enjoy the concept of a dessert bar, a place where you can get bourbon with your pie, or champagne with your cake, then consider Bittersweet. A bar I love to go to in downtown for an Espresso Martini and Irish Coffee.
  • See a show at the Performing Arts Center (home to the Carolina Ballet and the NC Symphony).
  • Catch a concert at Red Hat Amphitheater .
  • Or see an intimate live music performance at The Lincoln Theater .

If you’re looking to party late into the night, the main nightlife area of Raleigh is the Glenwood South Entertainment District which is lined with bars, breweries and restaurants.

Hotels in Raleigh

Hotel building i downtown Raleigh surrounded by trees and carparking spaces

There is a growing list of hotels in Raleigh to choose from. Below is my handpicked selection:

  • Residence Inn Raleigh  – cozy apartment style (all-suite)   accommodation and perfect for couples and families. Excellent central downtown location, walk to everything!
  • Marriott Raleigh City Center  – in the middle of it all in downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville Street. Good for leisure or business travel. 
  • The Casso  – boutique hotel and super convenient to the Glenwood South Entertainment District and the Warehouse District.
  • StateView Hotel  – located on NC State University’s Centennial campus, you feel like you’re a million miles away in the forest by a lake, but you’re just a 3-mile drive from downtown!
  • Heights House Hotel  – boutique hotel in historic Boylan Heights on the edge of downtown. This historic landmark dates to the 1860s.
  • NOTE:  if you are looking for  hotels near Raleigh Airport, stay here.

There you have it. If you don’t know what to do in Raleigh, now you do! This 24 hours in Raleigh guide will give you a real taste of the city, its culture, history, food and drink scene.

If you have longer than one day and you’re in town for one of our cool festivals or sporting events , be sure to check out our 2 days in Raleigh guide .

About The Author

' src=

Craig Makepeace

Change location, find awesome listings near you.

  • Travel Planning Guide

A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Durham vs. Raleigh for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families


  • Pros & Cons
  • Attractions
  • Public Transit
  • Walkability
  • More time in Durham or Raleigh?
  • Which is Cheaper, Durham or Raleigh? (Travel Cost Comparison)

Which is Bigger, Durham or Raleigh?

  • When to Visit Durham or Raleigh?

Should you visit Durham or Raleigh?

Which is cheaper to visit which is more expensive for vacation.

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Durham and Raleigh can help you decide which place is right for you.

Durham is a diverse, student-filled, and sports oriented city. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Raleigh is a suburban-style, friendly, and southern city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. Other popular activities here include museums, nightlife, and food.

Durham and Raleigh: Pros and Cons

  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Less popular with couples

Is there more to do in Durham or Raleigh?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Raleigh than Durham. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Raleigh is very popular for its big city activities, while Durham attracts visitors for its museums and shopping. Durham is famous for its college town vibe as well as being the home of the famous Blue Devil basketball team. Raleigh is famous for its many museums and being the home to North Carolina State University. It is also well known for North Carolina State University.

How is Durham different from Raleigh?

Which is better for a holiday.

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Raleigh and Durham. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Durham or Raleigh?

Durham is well known for its museums and landmarks. Also, Raleigh is still popular, but not quite as popular for its historical sights.

Durham offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Duke University is one of the most popular destinations in town. There are several museums on campus as well as the famous Duke Chapel. Elsewhere in Durham there's the Durham Museum of Life and Science.

Raleigh is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. As the state capital, there are a number of free museums in the area. There are also some kid-friendly options and other activities that are affiliated with the colleges and universities. Popular options include the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (free), the NC Museum of History (free), the NC Museum of Art (free), and Marbles Kids Museum.

Is the Food Better in Durham or Raleigh? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Durham and Raleigh can be difficult as they are each nice in their own way.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Durham area. Barbecue is a favorite around town. You'll also find plenty of restaurants that cater to the student population, particularly along Nineth Street near Duke's campus.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Raleigh. In addition to the standard chain restaurants, you'll find a number of local eateries with great southern dishes. Try some southern classics like barbecue, pimento cheese, and fried chicken and waffles. There are also good international options including Nepalese, Laotian, and Ethiopian flavors.

Is Durham or Raleigh Better for Nightlife?

Both Durham and Raleigh are nice when it comes to partying.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Durham. The younger population tends to hang out near campus and along Nineth Street. If you're looking for something less student oriented, head to downtown Durham.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Raleigh. Head to downtown Raleigh or the areas around NC State University for some of the best nightlife. Trivia nights and happy hours are popular and you'll find breweries popping up in many places.

Is the Shopping Better in Durham or Raleigh?

Durham is a popular place for its shopping areas. However, Raleigh is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Many visitors go to Durham to go shopping. The Streets of Southpoint is the best mall in the area. Other shopping areas include Brightleaf Square and Nineth Street.

Raleigh is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Durham or Raleigh Better for Families?

You'll find nice kid-friendly activities in either Durham or Raleigh.

Durham is a family-friendly place to visit. A highlight for kids is a visit to the Durham Museum of Life and Science. It has both an indoor and an outdoor section and brings science to life for families. There's also an impressive playground and climbing area. Other activities in town include the Notasium and Eno River State Park. If you plan ahead you could also organize a trip to the Duke Lemur Center.

Raleigh is a family-friendly city. For such a small city, Raleigh has a number of unique kid-friendly activities like the popular Pullen Park and Marbles Kids' Museum. Pullen Park has small rides and a playground that are perfect for young kids. There's also the NC Museum of Natural History which is free and fun to explore with kids.

Is Durham or Raleigh Better for Couples?

Durham is a popular place for couples. However, Raleigh is not particularly known for romance.

Durham is a good city for couples to visit. Have a picnic at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens or spend the day hiking at Eno River State Park. In the evening there's a wonderful selection of restaurants around town. Then you can check out a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center or see a Durham Bulls game.

Raleigh is not the best destination for a couple to visit. While it's often overlooked by couples who want a weekend away, there are a number of museums and some nice restaurants to explore.

Is Durham or Raleigh Better for Students?

Durham and Raleigh are both great destinations for students and younger travelers.

Durham is very popular with students. Duke University has a stunning campus with a world class garden. There's also nearby Nineth Street, which has shops, restaurants, and bars that are geared toward the student population.

Raleigh is a great city to visit as a student. The city has a diverse student population with many nearby universities and colleges.

Is Durham or Raleigh Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Durham is a city with a few options for its public transit. However, Raleigh is not particularly known for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit is generally limited in Durham . There are buses around town, but you really need a car to explore the area.

Public transit is quite limited in Raleigh. The city's public transportation options are limited to a few bus lines that are mostly used by students.

Is Durham or Raleigh a more walkable city?

Durham and Raleigh both are reasonable when exploring on foot.

Durham is generally not very walkable. Downtown Durham and a few areas near Duke University are the most walkable areas.

Raleigh is generally not a very walkable city. The city is somewhat walkable in the downtown area, but everywhere else you'll need a car.

For even more information, also check out Is Durham Worth Visiting? and Is Raleigh Worth Visiting? .

Should I spend more time in Raleigh or Durham?

How long in durham or raleigh.

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Durham and Raleigh. In our opinion, Durham has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Durham than Raleigh . In general, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Durham, and 2-3 days is enough time in Raleigh.

Families should spend more time in Durham than Raleigh. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Durham, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Durham than Raleigh. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Durham that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Durham than Raleigh if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Durham.

  • How many days in Durham or Raleigh? Ideal Length of Stay Durham 1-3   Raleigh   2-3

One day in Durham or Raleigh?

In Durham, you'll find nightlife and food. This city offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Many travelers enjoy the food and museums when visiting the destination of Raleigh. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Durham or Raleigh?

In Durham, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Durham has to offer.

Raleigh is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Durham or Raleigh?

Durham is a great place to explore. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Raleigh. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A week in Durham or Raleigh?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Durham. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Durham. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Travelers enjoy the food and museums when visiting the friendly destination of Raleigh. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from San Francisco , The Best 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles , The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America , and The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America .

Which place is cheaper, Raleigh or Durham?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

  • Durham Prices USA Prices Raleigh Prices USA Prices
  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day Durham $ 162 Raleigh $ 189

The average daily cost (per person) in Durham is $162, while the average daily cost in Raleigh is $189. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Durham and Raleigh in more detail.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person Durham $ 92 Raleigh $ 104
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room Durham $ 184 Raleigh $ 208

Compare Hotels in Durham and Raleigh

Looking for a hotel in Durham or Raleigh? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.


Hotels in Durham

Hotels in Raleigh

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Local Transportation

  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc. Durham $ 33 Raleigh $ 37

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Raleigh

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Raleigh:

  • Raleigh to Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) - Departure Private Transfer: $59
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Raleigh Arrival Private Transfer: $59
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Durham - Arrival Private Transfer: $63
  • Durham to Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) - Departure Private Transfer: $63
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Raleigh - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $119
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Durham - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $126

Is it cheaper to fly into Durham or Raleigh?

Prices for flights to both Raleigh and Durham change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day Durham $ 44 Raleigh $ 57

Typical Food Prices in Raleigh

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Raleigh:

  • The Pit Authentic BBQ (for 3) $ 84

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Raleigh

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Raleigh.

  • Private Cooking Class in Durham with an Expert Home Cook: $104


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc. Durham $ 26 Raleigh $ 37

Tours and Activities in Durham

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Durham are as follows:

  • True Crime Tour: $13
  • Downtown Durham Historic Walking Tour: $16
  • Durham African American History Tour: $16
  • Durham NC: Art Walking Tour: $20

Tours and Activities in Raleigh

Here are a few actual costs in Raleigh for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Durham by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Self-Guided City Game: $10
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Chapel Hill, NC: $15
  • Raleigh Historian-Guided Downtown Walking Tour: $16
  • Guided Walking Historian Tour in Downtown Durham: $16
  • Raleigh Downtown: Historic Walking Tours: $16
  • Raleigh Ghost and Urban Legend Tour: $16
  • Raleigh African American History Tour: $16
  • True Crime History Guided Walking Tour: $16
  • Ghosts and Ghouls Hauntings Walking Tour: $26
  • Raleigh Ghosts and Ghouls Hauntings Tour: $30
  • Raleigh Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day Durham $ 34 Raleigh $ 27

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Durham and Raleigh, we can see that Raleigh is more expensive. And not only is Durham much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Durham would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Durham and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Raleigh would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Raleigh than you might in Durham.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Durham Expensive? and Is Raleigh Expensive? .

Raleigh has a larger population, and is about 35% larger than the population of Durham. When comparing the sizes of Durham and Raleigh, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.

When is the best time to visit Durham or Raleigh?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Durham or Raleigh in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Durham and Raleigh. Most visitors come to Durham for the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Raleigh because of the city activities and the family-friendly experiences.

Durham is around the same temperature as Raleigh in the summer. The daily temperature in Durham averages around 79°F (26°C) in July, and Raleigh fluctuates around 79°F (26°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Raleigh this time of the year. In Durham, it's very sunny this time of the year. Durham usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Raleigh during summer. Durham gets 259 hours of sunny skies, while Raleigh receives 259 hours of full sun in the summer.

Raleigh receives a lot of rain in the summer. Durham gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Durham usually receives around the same amount of rain as Raleigh. Durham gets 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain, while Raleigh receives 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain each month for the summer.

  • Summer Average Temperatures July Durham 79°F (26°C)   Raleigh   79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Durham or Raleigh in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Durham as well as Raleigh. The autumn months attract visitors to Durham because of the shopping scene. Also, the city's sights and attractions are the main draw to Raleigh this time of year.

In the autumn, Durham is around the same temperature as Raleigh. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Durham in October average around 61°F (16°C), and Raleigh averages at about 61°F (16°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Raleigh. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Durham this time of the year. In the autumn, Durham often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Raleigh. Durham gets 211 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Raleigh receives 211 hours of full sun.

Durham usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Raleigh. Durham gets 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain, while Raleigh receives 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain this time of the year.

  • Autumn Average Temperatures October Durham 61°F (16°C)   Raleigh   61°F (16°C)

Should I visit Durham or Raleigh in the Winter?

Both Raleigh and Durham are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Durham this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Raleigh for the museums and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Raleigh. It's quite cold in Durham in the winter. In January, Durham is generally around the same temperature as Raleigh. Daily temperatures in Durham average around 40°F (5°C), and Raleigh fluctuates around 40°F (5°C).

Durham usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Raleigh during winter. Durham gets 162 hours of sunny skies, while Raleigh receives 162 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Durham usually receives around the same amount of rain as Raleigh. Durham gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while Raleigh receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain each month for the winter.

  • Winter Average Temperatures January Durham 40°F (5°C)   Raleigh   40°F (5°C)

Should I visit Durham or Raleigh in the Spring?

Both Raleigh and Durham during the spring are popular places to visit. Furthermore, many visitors come to Raleigh in the spring for the activities around the city.

Durham is around the same temperature as Raleigh in the spring. The daily temperature in Durham averages around 60°F (16°C) in April, and Raleigh fluctuates around 60°F (16°C).

In Raleigh, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Durham. In the spring, Durham often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Raleigh. Durham gets 251 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Raleigh receives 251 hours of full sun.

Durham usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Raleigh. Durham gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while Raleigh receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain this time of the year.

  • Spring Average Temperatures April Durham 60°F (16°C)   Raleigh   60°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Raleigh and Durham

Related articles for durham, related articles for raleigh.

visit raleigh or durham

Subscribe to our Newsletter

By signing up for our email newsletter, you will receive occasional updates from us with sales and discounts from major travel companies , plus tips and advice from experienced budget travelers!

Some of the links on this website are sponsored or affiliate links which help to financially support this site. By clicking the link and making a purchase, we may receive a small commission, but this does not affect the price of your purchase.

  • Privacy / Terms of Use
  • Activities, Day Trips, Things To Do, and Excursions

Raleigh   Travel Guide

visit raleigh or durham

10 Best Things To Do in Raleigh

Updated September 1, 2022

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

  • All Things To Do

visit raleigh or durham

Neuse River Trail Neuse River Trail free

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?!"

visit raleigh or durham

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences free

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."

visit raleigh or durham

Pullen Park Pullen Park free

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.

Recent visitors, particularly families, can't say enough about Pullen Park, though some recommend visiting on the evenings and weekdays when it's less crowded.

visit raleigh or durham

Popular Tours

Private Pedicab Tour of Downtown Raleigh

Private Pedicab Tour of Downtown Raleigh

(31 reviews)

from $ 60.00

Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

(938 reviews)

from $ 45.00

Murder Mystery Detective Experience Chapel Hill, NC

Murder Mystery Detective Experience Chapel Hill, NC

(4 reviews)

from $ 14.99

visit raleigh or durham

North Carolina Museum of Art North Carolina Museum of Art free

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.

One TripAdvisor user, who calls the North Carolina Museum of Art "one of the loveliest spots in Raleigh," also has this to say: "The grounds are a wonderful blend of sculpture, garden and pastoral beauty. Parking is plentiful. Restaurant is imaginative in presentation and menu selection. Collection is always evolving and not overwhelmingly vast."

visit raleigh or durham

William B. Umstead State Park William B. Umstead State Park free

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.

"At over 5,000 acres, it can be crowded along popular trails close to parking areas," one TripAdvisor user said. "However, go more than a mile up a trail … and it's very quiet. There are dozens of hiking trails, great birding opportunities, several lakes, boating/canoeing, and fishing."

visit raleigh or durham

North Carolina Museum of History North Carolina Museum of History free

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. 

Visitors were especially delighted by the museum's preservation of the historic homes, and many say they were enchanted by the stories about the wars and North Carolina's origins.

visit raleigh or durham

Marbles Kids Museum Marbles Kids Museum

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.

Visitors to Raleigh with children in tow highly recommend this museum, citing the bottom floor's age-specific diversions as particularly engaging for youngsters. Others advise leaving plenty of time to enjoy the museum's diverse exhibits, and potentially even splitting up a visit here across two different days, noting the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming for the younger set.

visit raleigh or durham

Raleigh City Market Raleigh City Market free

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.

Recent visitors say that although the selection of shops is small and somewhat overpriced, the salespeople and restaurateurs are affable and their products are excellent.  

visit raleigh or durham

Raleigh Historian-Guided Downtown Walking Tour

(3 reviews)

from $ 16.00

Fun City Scavenger Hunt in Raleigh by Wacky Walks

Fun City Scavenger Hunt in Raleigh by Wacky Walks

from $ 10.00

Rockin Raleigh Scavenger Hunt

Rockin Raleigh Scavenger Hunt

from $ 21.60

visit raleigh or durham

North Carolina State Capitol North Carolina State Capitol free

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.

The Capitol is open for visits Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free guided tours, which many recent visitors highly recommend, are held on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. You'll find the building downtown on East Edenton Street. For more information, visit the website . 

visit raleigh or durham

Historic Yates Mill County Park Historic Yates Mill County Park free

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.

Some visitors say that the Historic Yates Mill County Park is the perfect spot to indulge in some fresh air and tranquility. "We found this by 'accident' and it was one of our favorite stops in Raleigh," one TripAdvisor user said. "If you like the outdoors and quiet trails, you should check it out."

visit raleigh or durham

Explore More of Raleigh

The Umstead Hotel and Spa

Best Hotels

World Map

When To Visit

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.


The 50 Best Hotels in the USA 2024

Christina Maggitas February 6, 2024

visit raleigh or durham

The 32 Most Famous Landmarks in the World

Gwen Pratesi|Timothy J. Forster February 1, 2024

visit raleigh or durham

9 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in Florida for 2024

Gwen Pratesi|Amanda Norcross January 5, 2024

visit raleigh or durham

24 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the U.S. for 2024

Erin Evans January 4, 2024

visit raleigh or durham

26 Top Adults-Only All-Inclusive Resorts for 2024

Zach Watson December 28, 2023

visit raleigh or durham

Solo Vacations: The 36 Best Places to Travel Alone in 2024

Lyn Mettler|Erin Vasta December 22, 2023

visit raleigh or durham

26 Cheap Beach Vacations for Travelers on a Budget

Kyle McCarthy|Sharael Kolberg December 4, 2023

visit raleigh or durham

The 50 Most Beautiful White Sand Beaches in the World

Holly Johnson December 1, 2023

visit raleigh or durham

The 26 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Rachael Hood November 16, 2023

visit raleigh or durham

44 Cheap Tropical Vacations That Feel Expensive

Holly Johnson|Alissa Grisler November 10, 2023

visit raleigh or durham

15 Best Things to Do in the Triangle, North Carolina

What to See in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill

Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson  / Getty Images  

The Triangle region is a diverse area of North Carolina made up of several cities that have their own distinct personalities including Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill . Whether you're heading to the college town of Durham , where Duke University students attend classes or out to the State Capitol Building in Raleigh, there's plenty to do in this lush mountainous region any time of year.

Visit the Gardens at Duke University

Duke University is set in the heart of Durham. Here, you can stroll the grounds of the West Campus and take in the gothic architecture and the quadrangles of the residential campus. You also won't want to miss the Sarah P. Duke Gardens with its sprawling magnolias, where you can stand under the wisteria-covered gazebo and take in the magnificent formal gardens and koi pond. At Duke University, you could spend the whole day discovering the nooks and crannies of the native plant areas or losing yourself in the colors of the rose circle.

Take a Tour of North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University is located in Raleigh, the state capital. Start your tour at the Bell Tower at Hillsborough and Pullen that serves as a gateway to the main campus. Other highlights on the campus include the Brickyard, Gregg Art Museum, and the Solar House. Also, across Hillsborough street on the main campus is Mitch's Tavern, the oldest bar on the street and place where some scenes from the movie​ ​"Bull Durham" were filmed.

Finish Your College Circuit at UNC at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest public university in the United States and consistently ranks at the top of the list of public universities nationwide. Today, the campus is a mixture of old and new. Visitors should make sure to stop by the Old Well, which is a symbol of the University. Campus lore says students who drink from the well will have good luck. Additionally, the on-campus arboretum is a wonderful place for a springtime stroll.

Browse Local Products at the Raleigh Farmers' Market

The Raleigh Farmer's Market is one of five farmers' markets owned by the state of North Carolina and operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You can wander through 30,000 square feet of North Carolina-grown fresh produce (during the growing season) and plants (from March through October). The Raleigh Farmers Market is where you can find the freshest and widest variety of produce and plants in the area, but you also won't want to miss the market shops offering meats, cheeses, crafts, bakery items, and North Carolina wines. 

Walk Through the North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh is the state's premier art destination. Hosting major national touring exhibits, the museum is also home to one of the largest collections of Renoir sculptures in the United States and one of only two permanent displays of Jewish art in an American art museum. The 164-acre Museum Park is home to more than a dozen monumental sculptures, and the grounds feature an amphitheater that hosts three seasons of music, movies, and other programs. Iris, the restaurant located within the museum, is a wonderful place for brunch. Admission to the Museum’s permanent collection and Museum Park is free, but there is a charge for some special exhibitions and programs, such as concerts, films, classes, and performances.

Witness History at the North Carolina State Capitol

The North Carolina State Capitol building in Raleigh, completed in 1840, is one of the finest and best-preserved examples of a major civic building in the Greek Revival architecture style. It contains its original 1840 legislative furniture, constructed by a local cabinetmaker, and is preserved by the State of North Carolina as a historic shrine, offering free admission to guests on weekdays year-round. Similar points of interest near the capitol building include the State Legislative Building and the Executive Mansion.

Go out on the Town at Glenwood South

The Glenwood South District of downtown Raleigh is the hip and trendy home to restaurants, shops, and nightlife. On warm evenings, the streets come to life with crowds of locals and tourists alike, making the neighborhood's al fresco restaurants great for exceptional people watching. The district’s nightlife completed a significant residential boom, with more than 900 new condos and apartments in the development.

Stop by the Nasher Museum of Art

The Nasher Museum of Art is dedicated to global contemporary and post-modern art. A burgeoning private collection supports an ever-changing array of forward-thinking exhibits and multimedia installations from diverse artists, authors, and timelines. The Nasher Museum is located at Duke University in Durham, making it the perfect addition to your trip to the campus.

Relax at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science

This indoor/outdoor children's discovery museum is appropriate for toddlers as well as teens. Highlights of the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science include the butterfly house, the train ride (for younger children), the native animal habitats of wolves and bears, the dinosaur trails, and the outdoor play areas. The museum also hosts successive hands-on exhibits and special programs throughout the year.

Explore the Shops at the American Tobacco Campus

The American Tobacco Campus is adjacent to the Durham Bulls baseball park and the Durham Performing Arts Center and is also home to five restaurants. The Campus is a registered historic site and makes use of the original American Tobacco Factory built in the 1800s, but the addition of modern buildings has transformed it into a mixed-use development. The area is constantly adding retail and office space and eventually will include 380 residential units as well. The beautifully-landscaped public space is the site of a popular summer music series.

Escape to Nature at Jordan Lake

Located west of Raleigh and south of Chapel Hill and Durham, Jordan Lake is a North Carolina Recreation Area that's one of the largest summertime homes of the bald eagle, the symbol of the United States for more than 200 years. Vast, undisturbed areas provide the perfect home for the bald eagle; there's plenty of fish to eat and a mature forest for roosting. Jordan Lake offers multiple swim and camping areas, and there are limited boat rentals available from Crosswinds Marina.

Take a Hike Through Eno River State Park

For hikers, the 24 miles of trails around the Eno River offer some of the most scenic walks in the area. The Bobbitt Hole Trail is a favorite, leading to a lush spot where water rushes over rocks in the spring, summer, and fall. All trails are blazed and signed, but you can request a park trail map for descriptions and distances at the Park Ranger station or online.

Dribble Over to the Carolina Basketball Museum

 Zeke Smith/Wikimedia Commons

For all the Carolina basketball fans out there, there's no greater destination than the Basketball Museum. Located in the Dean E. Smith Center on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, the museum features artifacts, videos, photos, plus statistical and historical panels that highlight the history of the Carolina Basketball program. The museum includes video tributes to coaches and players as well as interactive presentations highlighting Carolina's 18 Final Four appearances and 17 ACC tournament championships. The museum is open to the general public Tuesday to Saturday, and admission is free.

Take a Walk Down Franklin Street

A number of years ago, Sports Illustrated called Chapel Hill the "Best College Town in America." One of the reasons is that the campus seamlessly flows into East Franklin Street, blurring the lines between school and city. Walk down Franklin Street, and you can peruse the shops or grab a cup of coffee at a local cafe. When the stars come out, this part of town becomes the center of campus nightlife. If you come on a football weekend or basketball game day, you'll be caught up in a swarm of Carolina Blue and highly contagious Tar Heel fever.

Stay Out Late on First Fridays in Raleigh

First Friday is a year-round Raleigh tradition. On the first Friday of each month, museums, art studios, and shops offer extended hours, and all the participating restaurants offer specials. Many of the art venues have live music and the museums host special programming. Look for the First Friday Flags to easily locate participating venues, and a free detailed map and guide will be available at each location.

Public Golf Courses in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill

Things to Do and See in Chapel Hill-Carrboro

12 Best Things to Do in Durham, North Carolina

The Best College Towns to Visit in 2019

The Top 15 Things to Do in Raleigh

The Best College Towns To Visit in 2019 According to Your Zodiac Sign

Best Spas in North Carolina

The 9 Best Day Trips From Charlotte

The Best Staycation in Every State

50 Best Free Things to Do in Washington, DC

The 13 Best Destinations in College Basketball

10 Best Free Things to Do in North Florida

Estimated Driving Times to Hilton Head, South Carolina

12 Best Things to Do for Free in Salt Lake City

The Most Architecturally Significant Building in Every State

25 Historic Buildings in Washington, DC

visit raleigh or durham

  • Attractions and Landmarks
  • Food and Wine
  • Restaurants

visit raleigh or durham

Dreaming of your next trip?

I agree to the Forbes Travel Guide Privacy Policy , Terms , and Cookie Policy . I understand I can withdraw my consent at any time.

Sign up for our newsletter

a travel and style blog

Touring the Triangle: A Long-Weekend Travel Guide for Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

NC Capitol Building

I nearly titled this post “Troubles in the Triangle,” because it was a rollercoaster of a trip.

Not because anything really went wrong in the cities themselves, but because our flights home kept getting canceled, doubling our trip length.

But despite moments of panic at the thought of incurring unexpected expenses and trying to handle accommodations and car rentals, we ultimately chose to embrace our extra time in the area and to spend a couple of days as we might if we lived in Raleigh.

And while we probably would have structured our itinerary a little differently if we knew in advance that we were visiting for six days, we still enjoyed the freedom that more time allowed and took full advantage of slower-paced days.

Today I’m sharing photos and info about the places we visited in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. You’ll note much of this list is Raleigh-heavy thanks to the location of our Airbnb , though we did spend a little time in each of the three main cities. If you’re headed there as well, here’s what we can recommend after our visit:


Collage of images from the Durham Farmer's Market, Pullen Park, NC Museum of Art, and City Museum in Raleigh

Hit the Markets

We visited both the Durham Farmer’s Market  and the Moore Square Market in Raleigh (as opposed to the large State Farmer’s Market, which we visited in Charlotte ), and I was definitely impressed with the selection (and Liege waffles ) in Durham and the relaxed nature of the small market in downtown Raleigh.

North Carolina Museum of Art

We could have easily spent all day at the North Carolina Museum of Art , inside and out. There are two full wings of permanent and rotating exhibitions and the grounds outside feature sculptures and trails. This would be a perfect place to hold a picnic with friends on a beautiful day!

Pullen Park

Pullen Park is the oldest public park in North Carolina and the fifth-oldest amusement park in the country. This would make a great family outing or get-together location for a large group. We loved seeing all of the excited faces waiting in line to ride the carousel and mini-train!

Alamo Drafthouse

We don’t typically go to the movies, and certainly not while we travel (really, it’d been more than a year or two since seeing our last film in theatres), but Alamo Drafthouses are always a fun experience. It was nice to beat the midday heat in this old strip-mall location with a B movie and a local beer!

Catch a Concert at Red Hat Amphitheater

We always like to see which musical groups are playing when we travel, and the Red Hat Amphitheater is a popular venue in Raleigh for larger acts. We managed to snag last-minute tickets to The Raconteurs ‘ show (but there’s no photo evidence, thanks to the use of Yondr cases!). Pro-tip: eat and drink to your hearts’ content before the show, as the prices at the venue are steep.

City of Raleigh Museum

I wandered into the City of Raleigh Museum because I was looking for postcards. I found some, and a lot of information about the state’s capital city. The venue is small and unassuming, but that’s what makes it so refreshing.


Collage: Acai bowl from Raleigh Raw, Curry at Bida Manda, Tacos from El Toro, Burgers at MoJoes


We almost didn’t go to Poole’s . After all, it’s the place to dine, and the prices were steeper than we were looking to pay on a more budget-focused trip. But after a filling late lunch, we figured we’d just go to try their famed mac and cheese and call it a night. But as we were swayed into ordering a drink and burrata, we still wound up with a $60 tab.

To be honest, we just stopped by both Morgan Street Food Hall and Transfer Co. Food Hall without purchasing anything as we had recently eaten. Sometimes these places can feel a tad generic, but as I mentioned in my post on Amsterdam , food halls are great if you’ve only got one day in a city.


Zweli’s is purported to be the only Zimbabwean restaurant in the U.S., so we had to visit! We enjoyed our meals immensely, noting the common themes comfort food around the world presents: warm, filling, and served in bowls.

Raleigh Raw

I would eat at Raleigh Raw every day if I could (but we had other places to visit, so we only ate here twice). And can I just say, there’s definitely a missed opportunity here – why wouldn’t you name this place “Rawleigh?” (I’m available for hire for naming businesses and also writing greeting cards, if you’re looking for someone). The Khaleesi acai bowl is the way to go!

Taquería el Toro

You can pretty much tell how authentic a Mexican restaurant is by how they answer the phone. The staff at Taquería el Toro answered in Spanish, so I knew we were in for a treat. These are easily some of the most authentic tacos in the Southeastern United States, and the grocery store adjacent to the restaurant is worth a stroll as well.

MoJoe’s Burger Joint

Michael was craving a burger, and boy was it a burger he got at MoJoe’s Burger Joint . There are lots of ways to customize your burger if you so choose, but don’t skip the pimento cheese!

Bida Manda has an incredible rating on Google Reviews and for good reason. Laotian food isn’t something we can find in our hometown, and here it is done well and is approachable. Go at lunch for better prices (it’s not the cheapest meal), and expect to be full all day from their curries.

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque

I know – everyone says to go to The Pit (yet somehow, everyone also says don’t go to The Pit), but we ended up at Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque in downtown Raleigh. The establishment has been serving up Texas-style brisket and NC-style pork since 1938, and we figured it had to do something right to stay in business that long. It didn’t blow our minds, but it offered a little something for every meat-eater.

The Raleigh Times

The Raleigh Times was there for us when no one else was. Not many places are open for a late dinner on a Wednesday – well, other than places we’d already been – so we joined the crowd ( minus Obama ) for some Belgian beer and tacos and salads.

The Original Q Shack

The Original Q Shack is a little bit of a drive from Raleigh or Durham but is clearly popular with locals! As always, we think sharing a platter is the way to go when eating at a BBQ restaurant.


Collage: coffee from Videri, the pastry case at lucettegrace, a liege waffle from jubala, and an ice cream sundae at maple view farm

Videri Chocolate Factory

Videri is probably already on your list, but just in case it isn’t, I’ll list it here! You can get your coffee from Black & White Coffee Roasters and sweet fix here at the chocolate factory. They weren’t working during our visit, but if you happen to time your stop right, you can watch the workers making some delicious chocolate!

Boulted Bread

Of all the places we visited in the Triangle, Boulted is the place I miss the most. It was located within a seven-minute walk from our Airbnb and has some of the best bread I’ve ever had (and trust me – I’ve eaten a lot of bread). I think about those chocolate croissants daily (is that weird?) and we’re currently rationing out slices of their Blue Emmer from our freezer.

Heirloom Coffee, Tea + Sake

We popped into Heirloom looking for something sweet as it was late at night, and Heirloom delivered. A mochi doughnut was fried to order and it hit the spot .

Jubala Coffee

Jubala really cares about its coffee, and it seems customers are encouraged to linger over a cup. We took ours to-go (with a Liege waffle, can you tell we’re a little obsessed?), but it would be a great place to hang with friends or get some work done.

Maple View Farm

On a whim we ended up at Maple View Farm for ice cream, thinking it would just be a quick stop for a scoop. Boy, we were wrong! Everyone was there, and we waited in line for a long time, watching the sun start to drop and the cows in the distance before finally making it inside for a scoop (thank you, cows!).

BREW Coffee

The Raleigh location of BREW Coffee was a nice place to top off our energy levels and hang in the A/C while we figured out our next spot. We loved their wall of mugs, where we even spotted one from our Alma Mater!

Morning Times

We spent several hours upstairs at The Morning Times in downtown Raleigh getting work done on our laptops. Upstairs is well-suited to working remotely, with plenty of tables and outlets.

Two Roosters Ice Cream

Two Roosters uses local milk in their ice creams, and they seem to have fun experimenting with flavors . One of my favorite aspects of small ice cream shops is the lack of “overrun” or air whipped into the ice cream. It makes for a dense, rich experience!


Although it’s technically also a bar, we stopped at Bittersweet on our last evening to satisfy our chocolate cravings on the way home. The whole menu looked amazing, but the chocolate chip ice cream sandwich won our vote!


At this point, it’s almost embarrassing how much of a sweet tooth I have, but the pastries at lucettegrace were too pretty to pass up.


Collage: drinks and snack at Apero, beer in a glass at Crank Arm, the menu at Ponysaurus, and the saucers on the ceiling at Flying Saucer Emporium

I hung out at Ramblers for a bit one afternoon while Michael walked back to pick up our rental car (it was hot out ), and enjoyed a local beer on draft. As a reward, I picked up a six-pack of their many NC beers for him to enjoy later at our Airbnb.

Brewery Bhavana

The beers at Brewery Bhavana aren’t classified by the style of beer – they’re classified by the feeling they evoke. Hang at the bar, walk around the bookshop to find your new favorite book, or perhaps create your own bouquet to bring to someone as a gift!

We visited Apero ( now closed ) for its namesake – an aperitif one evening before dinner. The small establishment serves up a short list of cocktails, wines by the glass, and small plates. The burrata was delicious, as was the vermouth on tap!

Gallo Pelón Mezcalería

You can’t expect us to skip over a mezcal bar, can you? We visited Gallo Pelón one night for cocktails and antojitos. The nachos seem the best value by far if you’re looking to pair something with your strong drink (you will, promise!).

Ponysaurus Brewing

The website alone made us want to visit Ponysaurus ! Even if you don’t get a chance to visit, you’re sure to see their beers on tap around town.

Crank Arm Brewing

You don’t have to be bike-confident to enjoy the beers at Crank Arm Brewing . They have a great outdoor space, too, if the weather is nice.

Flying Saucer Emporium

Well, we didn’t finish 200 beers to get our names on the ceiling at the Flying Saucer Emporium , but we did enjoy both local and imported beers on tap! This would be a great place to please a crowd of beer lovers.

Upstairs from Virgil’s Taqueria is Level Up ( now closed ), a small arcade bar that happens to serve beer and tacos (and it was where we consoled ourselves after learning our flight home was canceled a second time). The tacos are just alright, but the atmosphere is nice and chill.

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

An arcade bar without a chill atmosphere is Boxcar Bar . At least for the location in Raleigh, that is. It felt like everyone and their dog were inside, drinking local beers and playing a variety of arcade games, old and new.

Trophy Brewing

We didn’t go a day without seeing someone wearing a Trophy Brewing tee while in Raleigh, and we finally decided to pop into the location downtown. We weren’t ready for food when we arrived, but the menu looked delicious!


Collage: Goods at Edge of Urge, Very & Vogue, Port of Raleigh, and Art of Style

I honestly can’t remember how I came across Indio , but I’m glad I popped in! The shop is located within the cute Brightleaf Square and features many local designers like Pamut Apparel .

Vert & Vogue

I do remember where I first saw Vert & Vogue : on the Garmentory website, which is one quick tool I use for finding unique shops when I travel. I fell in love with a few Wwake designs while in the shop, as well as some gorgeous earrings by local darling Peppertrain .

Port of Raleigh

Oh man – I hope you have space in your bag! Port of Raleigh ( now closed ) has so much for the houseware-obsessed, even from places like Utilitario Mexicano , which was such a delight to find as we love to visit them in Mexico City !

Little Boho Valley

This shop is a little less my style, but I’d be remiss to not mention Little Boho Valley ( note : relocated to Pittsboro). It’s a cute, funky little shop with a very hippie-aesthetic (incense smells and all!).

Edge of Urge

I only stopped by Edge of Urge for a moment, but I had to stop myself from trying to pick up local items from their beauty and wellness section. There are lots of cheeky items to be found in the store as well!

Art of Style

Walking into Art of Style ( now closed ) felt a lot like walking into my own closet – almost every garment in the shop is black!  Staff are friendly, and you’ll likely find a number of things you’ll want to take home with you.


Chances are you’ll arrive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) on a domestic flight, as there are limited direct international flights available to and from RDU. The airport is located midway between the two cities, which is pretty helpful if you haven’t decided which city to make your home base yet. Raleigh edged Durham out for us slightly (though there is a lot going on in downtown Durham!), and we picked an Airbnb that was within walking distance of downtown Raleigh. Ultimately, this ended up being a lifesaver for us as the host offered multiple rooms, so we were able to book a different room within the same house as we dealt with canceled flights. Frankly, it’s the first place we’d look to stay on a return trip to Raleigh as the prices are very reasonable and it’s so close to the city center (it’s a great base if you’re attending a concert at the Red Hat Amphitheater – close enough that you can hear the music acts once you step outside, but far enough that the noise doesn’t carry indoors).

You should note that the Triangle covers a large portion of the map – so expect to rent a car if you’re looking to visit more than one city. Like most places, it’s best to approach your itinerary by neighborhood to avoid losing valuable travel time to shuttling back and forth between the cities. Unfortunately, public transit in the area wasn’t sufficient for our visit, and wasn’t worth even bothering to try; locals will continue to reiterate that a light rail between Raleigh and Durham is in the works.

As far as safety goes, we never felt unsafe while in the area. That being said, a few locals mentioned that there are high crime rates in the area and there is a noticeable presence of unhoused people in downtown Raleigh. I always advocate for not letting fear keep you from traveling, but just making sure to keep your wits about you and practicing your “city smarts.”

With more time in Raleigh and Durham

Since we expected to be in the Raleigh area for just three days, we weren’t prepared to do many outdoorsy activities – and that I regret! There are many lakes in the area and several botanical gardens, too. Further afield lie both the mountains and the beach. Who says you can’t have it all?

Enjoyed this post? You may also like:

  • The Best of Bull City: The Essential Weekend Travel Guide for Durham, North Carolina
  • Checking In: A Review of Unscripted Durham
  • Traveling Light: A Packing List for a Weekend in Durham, North Carolina
  • A Car-Free Summer Weekend in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • North Carolina High Country Winter Travel Guide
  • Checking In: A Romantic Staycation at The Dunhill Hotel in Charlotte, NC
  • A Weekend in Wilmington: How to Spend Three Days in this Riverfront North Carolina City (plus a visit to Wrightsville Beach!)
  • Weekend Travel Guide: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Weekend Getaway Guide: Columbia, South Carolina
  • The Ultimate Weekend Travel Guide to Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Traveling Light: A Packing List for Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Weekend Travel Guide: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • The Sweetest Winter Holiday Weekend Getaway Guide: Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Checking In: A Review of Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City, Tennessee
  • Carolina Day Trip: Albemarle, NC
  • Carolina Day Trip: Concord, NC
  • Carolina Day Trip: Davidson, NC
  • Carolina Day Trip: Lexington, NC
  • Carolina Day Trip: Salisbury, NC
  • Carolina Day Trip: Winston-Salem, NC
  • Carolina Day Trip: A Perfect Late-Summer Day of Shopping and Dining in York County, South Carolina
  • Restaurant Review: Kindred in Davidson, NC
  • Traveling Light: Charlotte, North Carolina Packing List
  • Traveling Light: Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach Packing List
  • 12 Things You Should Know Before Riding Amtrak’s Piedmont Train
  • All Travel Guides by Destination
  • Exclusive Discounts + Promo Codes

Have you spent time in the Triangle? Which city is your favorite?

2 Comments on “ Touring the Triangle: A Long-Weekend Travel Guide for Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina ”

GIrl this guide is FIRE! You cover literally all the things you want to know and made it skim-able for those in a hurry! Thanks so much for this guide

There are a surprising large number of outdoor activities to do in the Raleigh area, and if you are willing to go to outskirts too there are LOADS! Glad you enjoyed this amazing area! Thanks for your list, really highlights the beauty we have here 😀

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

You may also like...

Traveling Light: A Packing List for a Weekend in Durham, North Carolina

Let's Roam Explorer

The Best Things to Do in Raleigh, North Carolina

Are you looking for the best sights and attractions in the Triangle? Don’t miss our list of the top things to do in Raleigh!

visit raleigh or durham

Raleigh is the second-largest city in North Carolina after Charlotte and is located southeast of Durham.  It is known as the City of Oaks thanks to the prevalence of beautiful oak trees that line the city streets. As the state capital of North Carolina, Raleigh is home to an astonishing array of museums and the Raleigh-Durham area is home to many great universities. The area is a mecca for cultural activities and vibrant neighborhoods and the perfect destination for people who love to explore diverse and multicultural cities.

Raleigh makes an excellent weekend getaway or is a great addition to a road trip of the southeast of America.  It is less than two hours from Wilmington, three hours from Charlotte , and just over four hours from Charleston . 

We know that planning a trip is not always the most enjoyable part of vacation so we have put together a travel guide full of fun things to do in Raleigh to help get you started!  Below you will find our list of things to do and see in Raleigh NC! 

Explore Raleigh with Let’s Roam

If you want a really unique and fun-filled way to explore some of the wonderful things that Raleigh has to offer, don’t forget to grab our Downtown Raleigh Scavenger Hunt .  This will have you laughing your way through the city streets as you attempt to solve your next clue in a race against your friends, coworkers, or family. 

Get to Know the Area

As with many major US cities, Raleigh is made up of a variety of interesting neighborhoods and suburbs and has been combined with other cities to form a large metropolitan area. The result is a fantastic blend of places with unique histories and identities and sometimes it feels like you are lucky enough to get to visit three wonderful places during one trip!

Downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh is compact and walkable and has a youthful energy.  There is a lot of green space downtown and, of course, it isn’t called the City of Oaks for nothing! Throughout the downtown area, you will find historic neighborhoods, vibrant street art, locally-owned shops, restaurants, and bars as well as breweries and swanky cocktail lounges.  Some of our favorite spots include Morning Times , a split-level coffeehouse that serves up some of the best coffee in the city, and Garland where you can get delicious meals prepared with locally sourced ingredients and a unique Indian/Asian fusion. 

Everything in Downtown Raleigh is easily accessible either on foot or on the free R-LINE circulator bus. It is also a great place to cycle. This means that you can leave the car at the hotel and fully immerse yourself in the city (and try all of the delicious craft beer that you want!)

Warehouse District 

The Warehouse District is located within Downtown Raleigh and consists of six blocks of converted industrial buildings.  The Warehouse District’s days as an industrial area are long gone and it is now full of art galleries, restaurants, and innovative businesses.  While you are there, try to visit the Morgan Street Food Hall where you can try a huge variety of local food options or grab a locally produced craft beer in a laid-back environment. 

If you are looking for something sweet, head over to Videlri Chocolate Factory .  This boutique chocolate factory proudly displays all of its chocolate-making equipment and you can take a self-guided tour of the factory floor to see the miracle that is chocolate production from start to finish.  It is a great place to learn something new and sneak in a few samples of the factory’s wonderful creations.  There is an outdoor patio where you can relax at the end of your tour 

Glenwood South District

Although Glenwood South District may not have the big attractions that Downtown Raleigh and the Warehouse District do, it is still a place that you will want to spend a few hours exploring, especially if you are a foodie or culture vulture.  In Glenwood South, the streets are overflowing with restaurants, nightlife options, art galleries, and interesting shops.  Many of these are located in the district’s former warehouse buildings which adds an aura of chic-ness to everything. While you are in Glenwood South, make sure to stop by the Raleigh Beer Garden which has more than 350 beers on tap and holds the records for the world’s largest beer selection.  This place is heaven for beer lovers and you can find some incredibly unique concoctions there which are pretty much impossible to find anywhere else. 

The Triangle

The Raleigh – Durham – Cary metropolitan area is fittingly referred to as the “Triangle” and it is easy to visit all three places during one trip.  As mentioned, each city has played its own role in North Carolina’s history and this has shaped a unique character and charm.

Cary was founded in 1750 and was an important stop on the North Carolina Railroad which spurred the development of the city.  Today, it is a treasure trove of historic sites including the Carpenter, Green Level,  and Cary Historic Districts, the Ivey-Ellington House, and Nancy Jones House. 

It is one of the fastest-growing towns in the southern United States and has a plethora of restaurants, shops, and parks. The recent growth explosion has led to an influx of new businesses include a brewery, bars, bakeries, coffee shops, and more.  It is a lovely spot to spend a day during your trip to Raleigh and since it is so close to Raleigh, it could even be used as a base when visiting the area. 

Cary hosts an array of cultural and art festivals throughout the year so make sure to check the city’s schedule of events before you go and book accommodations well in advance just in case.  Cary is located about 20 minutes west of Raleigh.

Located about 30 minutes north of both Raleigh and Cary, Durham is the home of Duke University as well as world-class museums, spectacular gardens, and delicious eateries.   It is also a wonderful place for hiking and biking and active travelers will love the American Tobacco Trail which runs for nearly 23 miles along an old railroad bed. The Wake County government offers interesting and educational programs focusing on the history and natural environment of the area. It is an amazing place to lose yourself in nature, especially since you don’t really have to worry about losing the trail!

Visit the Landmarks

Raleigh is overflowing with historic sites and important landmarks.  From historic homes to North Carolina’s state capitol, there is a lot to see! If this is your first time visiting the Raleigh-Durham area, you may want to start the visit by checking out the history museum. This will help give you a great base knowledge on the historical sites located in the region as well as the fascinating array of people who have lived in North Carolina. The best part is that it is free to enter.

North Carolina Executive Mansion

The North Carolina Executive Mansion is the official residence of the Governor of North Carolina. Built in 1883, the mansion ion is also considered a meeting space, historic site, and event space.  The house is one of the best examples of Queen Anne-style of Victorian architecture in North Carolina.  It is possible to tour the mansion during select times of the year.  Reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance through the Capital Area Visitors Services.  If you know your travel dates and really want to visit the mansion, it is a good idea to book your tour as soon as possible to avoid any potential disappointment.

North Carolina State Capitol

Located right in the heart of Downtown Raleigh, the North Carolina State Capitol is one of the city’s most important landmarks. It was completed in 1840 and has been the seat of government ever since.  It is a great example of Greek Revival architecture and it has been restored to its mid-19th century appearance with breathtaking results.  It is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside and we highly recommend visiting it. It is possible to take a self-guided tour of the Capitol building where you can learn more about the North Carolina state government and the history of this beautiful building.

As the first building constructed for the higher education of African-American women in the United States, Estey Hall was truly groundbreaking when it was built in 1874.  Women were able to study home economics, religion, music, and art in the hall and it was also their dormitory. The beautiful brick building is located on the campus of Shaw University and is the school’s oldest surviving building.  It was closed as a dormitory in 1970 and has been used as office space since then.

As Raleigh’s main indoor arena, the PNC Arena hosts many of the city’s biggest events including Carolina Hurricanes ice hockey games, concerts, conferences, and more.  The arena is about a 20-minute drive from Downtown Raleigh and is close to the North Carolina Museum of Art and Museum Park. It is a great spot to watch a concert or see a show and can easily be combined with a trip to the art museum and museum park for a fun-filled day of culture!

Hit the Museums  

For being a relatively small city, Raleigh has a great variety of museums to check out.  Many of them offer interesting education programs, special events, and summer camps which provide wonderful opportunities to learn more about subjects that you are passionate about or even spark an interest in something new! Whether you love art, can’t get enough of history, or are traveling with young kids and basically do whatever they want, Raleigh has something for all ages and interests. Many of the museums have free admission which is like the icing on the cake!

North Carolina Museum of Art

As one of the best art museums in southeastern America, the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) showcases art from over 5,000 years of history.  The museum is divided into two buildings, one holds the permanent collection while the other hosts the museum’s rotating exhibits.  In the West Building, you can see works of art from antiquity to the present day including American, African, Egyptian, and European art including sculptures, paintings, and photographs.  There is also an extensive sculpture garden featuring works by Rodin.  Even if you have been to the museum in the past, it is always worth visiting again as the temporary exhibits are always impressive and thought-provoking.  The museum also boasts one of the biggest museum concert venues in the United States so make sure to check the schedule to see if there is anything interesting when you are there.

Next door to the museum, you can find the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park.  The Museum Park is the largest museum art park in the United States covering an impressive 164 acres of land.  Within the park, there are trails and monumental public art installations that are designed to show the connection between art, people, and nature.  You can visit the park on foot or bike and if the weather is nice, it is a nice spot to throw down a blanket and have a picnic or take a power nap! In the summer, the museum hosts movie screenings, concerts, and performances ranging from dance recitals to poetry slams.   It is also one of the city’s most popular places for Instagram photos so make sure to keep your phone handy to catch the perfect shot!

Admission to the museum and art park is free and if you get hungry, you can use the money that you saved on tickets to pop into the onsite restaurant which specializes in American cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. Sounds like a pretty fantastic day (and night) at the museum!

North Carolina  Museum of History

North Carolin has a rich history and one of the best places to learn more about the state’s ups and downs is the North Carolina Museum of History .  Located in the heart of Downtown Raleigh, the museum takes visitors through 14,000 years of history.  History comes to life through the use of historic artifacts, multimedia presentations, hands-on,  interactive exhibits that are perfect for kids, dioramas, and two life-size historic houses.  Highlights of the museum include items salvaged from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, a full-size replica of the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft, the 1903 Wright Flyer, and a lunch counter that was used as the site of a sit-in during the Civil Rights Movement.

The museum pays special attention to some of  North Carolina’s most legendary people such as Daniel Boone, Michael Jordan, Flora MacDonald, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, and First Lady Dolley Madison.  There is also a North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame where you can see items from your favorite North Carolina athletes.  There is free admission and there really is something for everyone here. 

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Located right across the street from the history museum, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is southeastern America’s largest natural history museum.  Spreading across four floors, the museum has Nature Exploration Center where you can check out exhibits focusing on prehistoric North Carolina, find out what it is like to be a bug, meet a sloth, and see the world’s most complete Acrocanthosaurus dinosaur.   There is also a Nature Research Center where you can learn about the weather, fossils, and space and come face to face with fish, reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies.  Like Raleigh’s other museums, the Museum of Natural Sciences is also free to enter and a must-visit for science lovers!

Marbles Kids Museum

Located in the Moore Square District of Downtown Raleigh, the Marbles Kids Museum is an interactive and innovative museum where kids are encouraged to use their “marbles” (Seriously, how great is that name?).  Spread out over two fun-filled floors, the museum features a wide variety of hands-on exhibits and is aimed at children 10 and under.  At the children’s museum, kids learn through play and they have the opportunity to go on a jungle safari, practice their future professional skills as a news reporter, architect, artist, or pirate…….ok, maybe piracy shouldn’t be a future profession, or dress up as a jungle creature.  All of the activities in the museum are designed to help stimulate emotional, intellectual, social, and physical development. 

The museum also has an IMAX theater showing interesting documentaries and a cafe in case you need to grab a bite to eat or a much-needed coffee.   Make sure to allow yourself at least two hours to get through all of the exhibits and activities because we all know how painful it can be to drag an unhappy kiddo out of a museum. 

Pope House Museum

The Pope House Museum is located in the former home of Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope.  Pope, who was mixed-race, ran for mayor of Raleigh in 1919 despite threats of violence and rampant discrimination and was the only African-American man to run for mayor in a major southern city during the horrific Jim Crow era.  This courageous man serves as an inspiration and role model for overcoming adversity and a visit to the Pope House Museum gives an interesting look into his life.  His house is still furnished with many of his personal belongings and you can tour the house by appointment. 

City of Raleigh Museum

Located on Fayetteville Street in the historic 1874 Briggs Building, the City of Raleigh Museum is dedicated to telling the Raleight’s fascinating 200-year history.  The Briggs Building still has many of its original features which makes it the perfect setting for this trip back in time.  During your visit, you can learn more about the experience of local residents during World War II and the Civil Rights Movement and see artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries.  Admission to the museum is free.

The City of Raleigh Museum also hosts the Fayetteville Street Walking Tour every Saturday afternoon.  This stroll down “North Carolina’s Main Street” tells you about the stories behind the street’s historic buildings.  It is an interesting way to spend an afternoon learning more about this interesting little street and the surrounding neighborhood.

CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) Raleigh

This non-collecting contemporary art museum is located in Raleigh’s Warehouse District. CAM Raleigh showcases work by local and national living artists.  The exhibits are always changing and there are frequent special programs and events making no two trips to the museum the same. CAM is located in an early 20th-century produce warehouse and is a strong reminder of the revitalization that the district has experienced. 

Gregg Museum of Art & Design

Part of NC State University, the Gregg Museum of Art & Design “sparks creativity and encourages exploration.” The Gregg Museum has a permanent collection of more than 35,000 items including ceramics, design and decorative arts,  Native American art, apparel, and pieces created by self-taught artists. The museum features around six new exhibitions per year so there is always something new happening at the Gregg. 

Joel Lane House Museum

Located just west of the Warehouse District stands the Joel Lane House Museum .  The house was built in 1769 by Joel Lane using enslaved labor and is the oldest house in Raleigh. It was once called the “best house for 100 miles” and was the site of many historic events. Although Lane is known as being both the “Father of Raleigh” and the “Father of Wake County” (he must have been pretty busy!), strangely, very little is known about him.   

Although the man behind the house is a bit of a mystery, you can take guided tours of the property and learn what little there is known about Lane as well as what life was like on a North Carolina plantation during the late 18th century. Tours are available Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Immerse Yourself in the Performing Arts

As the capital of North Carolina, Raleigh is home to the North Carolina Symphony, North Carolina Opera, and the North Carolina Theater. It is THE place to get a bit of a cultural fix in the Southeast and what better way is there to spend an evening than getting all dressed up to see world-class talent in a beautiful theater?

North Carolina Symphony

With more than 175 performances held around the state throughout the year,  the North Carolina Symphony certainly knows how to keep busy! The symphony offers tickets at special prices for students, and young professionals making performances a bit more accessible to everyone and it is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon or evening. 

North Carolina Opera

As the region’s main opera company, the North Carolina Opera has a full line-up of some of the world’s most famous operas.  The performances are all outstanding quality and generally take place at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts located right in Downtown Raleigh. This makes it easy to squeeze in a show after a day of sightseeing.  

North Carolina Theater

As Raleigh’s home for Broadway musicals, the North Carolina Theater brings the bright lights of Broadway to North Carolina.  The professional theater group performs six Broadway shows per year and it is the perfect way to see some of your favorite shows without having to travel to New York.  The theater website has a full list of the shows coming up so if there is something that you really want to see, you may actually want to schedule your trip to Raleigh around the performance schedule!

Explore the Parks

The Raleigh/Durham area is surrounded by parkland with many options for outdoor activities and other fun things to do. Thanks to Raleigh’s moderate weather, it is possible to enjoy the great outdoors all year long! Whether you are looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city or a deep dive into a pristine forest, there is something for everyone here!

Dorothea Dix Park

Covering more than 300-acres of land, Dorothea Dix Park is the largest park in Raleigh and is located on the edge of downtown.  Here, you can find meadows and fields where you can frolic and play, tree groves that provide a lovely spot to relax in the shade, and a great series of events held throughout the year including live music performances, outdoor yoga, and art exhibitions.  There is also a dog park so you can bring your furry friends along. 

Pullen Park

Established in 1887 and designed as the first public park in North Carolina, Pullen Park has been a source of family fun for nearly 135 years. The park is home to an old-school amusement park that is the 16th oldest amusement park in the world. The park proudly boasts the Gustave A. Dentzel Carousel built in 1911, an authentic train car, a kiddie boat ride, and a miniature train.  Within the park, you can also find tennis courts, a baseball field, pedal boats, and an aquatic center.  It is a good idea to allow around 2-3 hours to visit all of the attractions in the park and if possible, try to come on weekdays as the weekends can get very busy.   Admission to the park is free and you can purchase tickets to individual rides.  Pullen Park is located adjacent to North Carolina State University just west of Downtown Raleigh. 

JC Raulston Arboretum

The magnificent JC Raulston Arboretum is located at North Carolina State University and is one of the country’s most acclaimed gardens.  It has one of the biggest collections of landscape plants in the Southeast with more nearly 6,000 different perennials, annuals, shrubs, vines, and trees coming from more than 50 countries around the world. During a visit to the arboretum, you can stroll through stunning themed gardens and be transported to far-away lands.  You can also join a guided tour specially designed for families   Admission is free of charge and this is one of the best places to spend a beautiful day in Raleigh. 

William B. Umstead State Park

Formerly known as the Crabtree Creek Recreational Demonstration Area, the William B. Umstead State Park is a fantastic spot for hiking, running, cycling, and horseback riding in the park’s 5,000 acres of forests, as well as canoeing on the park’s three man-made lakes. It is also a great place for camping if you want to spend a night sleeping under the stars.  There is a visitor center in the park where you can learn more about what there is to do while you are there and get detailed information about the park’s hiking trails.  The park is only a 15-minute drive from Downtown Raleigh but feels like it is in a different world!

Historic Yates Mill County Park

Stretching across 174-acres of land, the Historic Yates Mill County Park is home to hiking trails, Wake County’s last 18th-century gristmill, and an adjoining pond. More than 70 similar mills once operated near Raleigh yet the Yates Mill is the only one to survive until today.  Hiking trails crisscross the park and there are picnic areas where you can stop to grab a snack.

Lake Johnson Park

Spread out across 300-acres of land, Lake Johnson Park features a beautiful lake, two miles of unpaved paths, and a three-mile greenway loop that is part of the larger Walnut Creek Greenway Trail and is great for walking or biking.  There is a 700-foot long boardwalk spanning the lake and nearby, you will find a boathouse, picnic shelters, and a small beach.  Although swimming is not allowed, it is possible to rent paddleboards or small boats and go fishing on the lake. 

Falls Lake State Recreation Area

The Falls Lake State Recreation Area is a collection of access points along a 12,000-acre reservoir.  With more than 300 different campsites, the park is one of the best places to catch some Zzzzzs under the stars, and during the day, you can head out onto the lake for a day of swimming, paddling, fishing, or boating.  There is also a wide array of hiking trails nearby if you prefer to keep your feet on solid grounds. 

Plan Your Getaway(s)  

There are many cool places located within a few hours’ drive from Raleigh that are definitely worth checking out.  From charming college towns to national parks teeming with wildlife, one of the best things about visiting Raleigh is being able to leave it!

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is located less than 40 minutes from Downtown Raleigh and is the home oft hee the University of North Carolina.  A charming college town, Chapel Hill has been called “America’s Foodiest Small Town” and has oodles of restaurants to choose from.  In fact, Franklin Street, Chapel Hil’s main drag, alone has more than 200 bars, restaurants, shops, and other small businesses which makes it a fantastic place for an afternoon stroll or an evening out at the bars.  While you are there, you can also explore the beautiful UNC campus or check out Southern Village, a newly built town that serves as a great example of “New Urbanism”   There are also many historic places to see,  vibrant street murals, and walking tours where you can learn more about this adorable little town. 


Fayetteville is another interesting city with a rich history. Located just over an hour from Raleigh, Fayetteville has played an important role in American military history, including the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.  As a result, there are many interesting historical sites to see there. 

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Just over three hours from Raleigh, the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is located in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The wildlife refuge is home to black bears, red wolves, woodpeckers, American alligators, and migratory birds. While you are there, try not to miss the Murphy Peterson Wildlife Drive . With over 15 miles of road, there are plenty of options to choose from and many opportunities to spot wildlife.  The park also offers guided tram tours during the summer and fall. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Things to Do in Raleigh

If you want a really unique and fun-filled way to explore Raleigh, check out the Downtown Raleigh Scavenger Hunt . 

There are many fun things to do in Raleigh. Highlights of the city include the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Marbles Kids Museum, and Lake Johnson Park. Read the Best Things to Do in Raleigh for more!

Absolutely! Raleigh has some amazing museums on offer with lots of hands-on exhibits for kids as well as a plethora of parks. Read the Best Things to Do in Raleigh for more kid-friendly ideas.

Featured Products & Activities

Top Things to Do in Raleigh, NC

Places to visit in raleigh, explore popular experiences, tours in and around raleigh.

visit raleigh or durham

Private Pedicab Tour of Downtown Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

Raleigh Historian-Guided Downtown Walking Tour

visit raleigh or durham

Fun City Scavenger Hunt in Raleigh by Wacky Walks

visit raleigh or durham

Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

Private transportation

visit raleigh or durham

Rockin Raleigh Scavenger Hunt

visit raleigh or durham

Durham Dash Scavenger Hunt

visit raleigh or durham

Polaris Slingshot Type R Rental in Morrisville

visit raleigh or durham

Private Cooking Class in Durham with an Expert Home Cook

visit raleigh or durham

Murder Mystery Detective Experience Chapel Hill, NC

Tours & sightseeing.

visit raleigh or durham

Top Attractions in Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

Other Top Attractions around Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

What travellers are saying

Malik Hassan

  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • North Carolina Museum of Art
  • Pullen Park
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • Umstead State Park
  • JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
  • Neuse River Trail
  • Historic Yates Mill County Park

Never Ending Footsteps

How to Spend Three Days in Raleigh, North Carolina

visit raleigh or durham

Originally designed as a capital city, Raleigh’s destiny as a historic place was written on its first day. After gaining the nickname, the City of Oaks, Raleigh has preserved much of its natural parks. Because of this, locals and travelers can enjoy a beautiful garden city, that’s surrounded by state parks.

Arts and culture are a big part of what makes Raleigh such a great place to visit. Beyond the parks, you’ll discover museums, galleries, historic districts and performing arts.

If you’ve thought about exploring the capital of North Carolina, then wonder no more. With our ultimate 3 days in Raleigh itinerary, we can help you experience all the city has to offer.

visit raleigh or durham

Where to Stay in Raleigh

There are several great neighborhoods to stay in while experience Raleigh. The most popular choice is the downtown area. Close to several museums, attractions and the local nightlife, you’ll enjoy many top things to do within walking distance.

Families will love staying within the Oakwood area. The historic district is a breath of fresh air from the downtown area but also comes with its own attractions, with several major museums and beautiful parks.

For those traveling on a budget, check out Crabtree Valley. North of downtown, there are public transport options to get closer to the city. While there are some great local parks and hikes to do, including the Crabtree Creek Trail.

visit raleigh or durham

The Best Time of Year to Visit Raleigh

For the majority of the year, Raleigh, North Carolina, is a great place to be. The spring starts early, with blooming flowers and leafy greens returning to the city. The parks come to life and exploring on foot is pleasant. Plus, attractions like the Yates Mill have reopened after their winter slumber.

Summer is another fun time to visit, Theatre in the Park is at its peak and the festival season is in full swing. The days can be warm, so long hikes may be off the table. But with plenty of lakes and fascinating indoor museums, there are plenty of ways to cool off.

With that all said, it’s hard to beat visiting Raleigh in the fall. Crowd numbers have dropped off and hotels tend to be cheaper. But most importantly, the fall foliage is spectacular. Hiking through the many parks or simply strolling through downtown comes with a burst of color. While there’s no better time to enjoy the famous Raleigh Beer Garden.

visit raleigh or durham

Day One: Nature, Museums, and Historic Oakwood

Surrounded by beautiful nature, begin your three days in Raleigh, North Carolina by exploring some of the best greenways around the city. Before you tuck into some fantastic museums and galleries, get in your steps or jump on a bike and enjoy the Capital Area Greenway System.

All counted Raleigh has 180 miles (290km) of greenway trails waiting to be explored. The system is made up of 28 individual trails, creating one of the top attractions in town.

Some of the popular trails include the Neuse River Greenway and the Sal’s Branch Trail. However, if you are on foot, you’ll love the picturesque Lake Lynn Trail. The paved 2.8 mile (4.5km) walk provides gorgeous waterfront scenery, without taking a huge chunk out of your day.

If you want to get about on two wheels, then head to the Bike Guy , for bike rentals on the greenway. The 23 mile (37km) trail is a local favorite and follows an abandoned railroad bed through the woods.

visit raleigh or durham

Now, with the day’s exercise behind you, it’s time to experience one of the top indoor activities in Raleigh, North Carolina. The North Carolina Museum of History features both permanent and traveling exhibits that include the history of European settlers, period costumes from the Revolutionary War, along with artifacts and weapons from the Civil War.

One of the top exhibits explores African American history in North Carolina, including slave trade and an in-depth look at the Civil Rights Movement. The museum is also the location of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Pay a visit to learn famous sports figures from the past that created a storied legacy in the state.

visit raleigh or durham

From the museum, enjoy a short 1 mile (1.6km) walk to Historic Oakwood. The spectacular neighborhood is the largest preserved historic district in North Carolina. Formed in the 19 th century, the neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places, with dozens of homes from the 1800s restored to their peak condition.

Before venturing too far into the district, stop by the Capitol Area Visitor’s Center and pick up a map. The map comes with ample information about what streets to explore, neighborhood history and the story behind many individual homes.

visit raleigh or durham

One of the top homes in Historic Oakwood is the Tucker House. The stunning neoclassical home is surrounded by beautiful gardens and provides a wonderful glimpse into early life in Raleigh.   

visit raleigh or durham

Finish off at the Historic Oak View Country Park where you’ll discover an antebellum farmhouse from the late 1800s. The park comes with a history center, Plank Kitchen and the memorable Cotton Gin House. The surrounded orchards and open spaces are great for relaxing and enjoying a picnic with friends and family.

visit raleigh or durham

To add the cherry on top of a history-focused afternoon, head back towards downtown Raleigh and visit the State Capitol. The building is a striking example of Greek Revival architecture and is a National Historic Landmark. 

Around the building, which opened in 1840, are a series of statues and monuments. None more important than the George Washington statue. Here, the first President of the United States is draped in Roman General attire. 

After experiencing the beautiful grounds around the Capitol, you are free to explore the interior for free. You can complete a self-guided tour of the historic building, once home to the Governor and Supreme Court. Guided tours also occur at 10am and 1pm on weekdays.

visit raleigh or durham

From the State Capitol, you’ll have only a short walk into Raleigh’s rejuvenated Warehouse District. Here you’ll visit the Morgan Street Food Hall, the perfect spot to try the best food that the south has to offer, in one place.

The trendy spot has been open to locals and travelers since 2018 and quickly became a must visit. The food hall houses almost 20 vendors serving up unique twists of classic local dishes along with international cuisine.

With a lively atmosphere, you can spend your time sampling different foods or simply enjoy a big dinner. Wash it all down with a Boba Brew, an authentic bubble tea, or take your evening to the next level with a champagne bucket!

visit raleigh or durham

Where to Eat on Day One in Raleigh

For your first meal in Raleigh, make your way to Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant. Found within the historic City Market, Big Ed’s is a huge establishment serving down-home southern comfort food.

Kick back and enjoy some modern Mexican food to begin your evening in Raleigh. Using organic and local ingredients, Centro offers the best downtown tacos in an energetic setting.

visit raleigh or durham

Day Two: Markets, Art, and Play

Begin your second day in town at the Raleigh Farmers Market. With the crisp morning air floating around, there’s no better place to be than right here. The city’s market is one of four major farmers markets in North Carolina. While local markets are always fun to explore, the sheer size of the Raleigh Farmers Market dwarfs many around the country.

Wondering the aisles, you’ll find everything you can think of from fresh seasonal produce, meats and cheeses to delectable baked eats. The market covers 75 acres and is also home to a fantastic range of hand-crafted creations, candles, soaps and art work.

Along with several onsite restaurants, the Raleigh Farmers Market is a great spot to sample wine from around the state and simply enjoy local culture. There are several major festivals throughout the year, from Watermelon Day in July to Sweet Potato Day in September.

visit raleigh or durham

With some fresh produce in hand, head to William B. Umstead State Park to soak in some more beautiful scenery in North Carolina. The expansive park is home to miles of trails that connect three man-made lakes. 

Popular among hikers, runners, cyclists and even horse riders, the park is a lovely spot for a picnic. Fishing is a common activity on the Big Lake and you’ll see many anglers throwing out a line. You can join them or explore the large lake, thanks to canoe and rowboat rentals. 

In the summer, the park opens up campgrounds to experience some nature under the stars. However, no time in the park would be complete without discovering the fallen red oak tree. Home to a not-so-secret art project, the trunk of the oak has been carved to into an elaborate piece of art. You can discover the fallen red oak tree by hiking the Graylyn Trail.

visit raleigh or durham

From Umstead State Park, you’ll be within walking distance of the North Carolina Museum of Art. Upon opening in 1956, the gallery became the first state-funded art museum. On the inside, discover pieces from the Renaissance, burial artwork from Egypt along with classic sculptures and artifacts from ancient Rome and Greece.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is also one of just two museums in the United States to offer a permanent exhibit focusing on Jewish art. Although you’ll enjoy exploring on your own, the museum offers some wonderful guided tours. Learn more about each gallery hall and exhibit, with the option of joining workshops, lectures and sometimes performing arts shows.

Outside the museum, there is a spacious park with over a dozen art pieces. Wander the grounds to round off the experience. 

Next up, one of the top things to do with kids in Raleigh, North Carolina, the Marbles Kids Museum. If you’ve come to Raleigh with the young ones in tow, then let them run free and explore the many interactive exhibits. 

The kids will love going on a musical journey at Tree Tunes, roaming the Kid Grid and exploring a world of horticulture in the Sun Sprouts exhibit. If you have a child under three, then no stress, the Toddler’s Hollow is a safe playground just for them.

Give the kids a laminated picture map and they can plan their afternoon at the Marbles Kids Museum. While they’re off on that adventure, enjoy the on-site cafe or have a picnic. Later come together and enjoy a blockbuster film on the IMAX Theatre screen.

visit raleigh or durham

One way to experience the local beer scene in Raleigh is to complete the Raleigh Beer Trail . Whether you find time in the afternoon or embark on a pub crawl at night, the trail features 25 local breweries that serve up craft beer and favorites from around the States. 

visit raleigh or durham

Where to Eat on Day Two in Raleigh

For breakfast you can’t beat Plates Neighborhood Kitchen. Featuring a modern brunch and an inspired farm-fresh menu, enjoy a healthy take on your brunch favorites.

For lunch, dine out at one of the oldest restaurants in Raleigh. The Mecca opened in 1930 and the family-owned restaurant oozes nostalgia, good times and great food.

For dinner, look no further than Cafe Luna. Serving Tuscany-inspired Italian, the art-filled restaurant has been a popular evening spot since the 1990s. Complement your delicious dinner with an extensive wine menu.

visit raleigh or durham

Day Three: Mills, Pedal Boats, and Beer

Begin your last day in Raleigh, exploring the city’s best museum. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is found downtown and is one of the biggest museums of its kind in the South. 

Comprising two buildings, one full of educational exhibits and the other focusing on science, you could spend an entire day learning about the world. On your arrival, grab a map and plot out your morning, as there’s still much to do in Raleigh. 

Some of the best permanent exhibits include an exploration of the North Carolinian coastline, mountains and human history and the Anthropoid Zoo. The Prehistoric Section is sure to impress, with the only legitimate Acrocanthosaurus skeleton found on earth! However, you can’t leave before visiting the SECU Daily Planet exhibit which comes with a huge three-story theater.

visit raleigh or durham

After a morning of natural history, head to the location of a historic man-made mill. The Yates Mill first operated in the 1700s and didn’t stop spinning until the 1950s.

The water-powered gristmill is the last of its kind. At its peak, there were over 50 mills operating in the county. The mill is open from March until November and you can discover the original equipment and how it all operates. To add to the experience, you can see millers in period costumes grinding the corn.

Afterwards, stretch out the legs by exploring the expansive wildlife refuge where Yates Mill is located. One of the top trails follows the end of Mill Pond, with boardwalks providing a popular place to fish.

visit raleigh or durham

Another fun thing to do in Raleigh, North Carolina with kids is to explore the first public park in North Carolina. The gorgeous Pullen Park opened in 1887, but is more than just a green urban space. There is a classic carousel to experience and you can explore the park on a miniature train.

Activities for couples and families include getting out on the picturesque Lake Howell via pedal boats. The young ones will also have a blast exploring on the kiddie boat ride. 

Throughout the year, Pullen Park is home to Raleigh’s Theatre in the Park . If you’re lucky, you can end your three days in Raleigh with a live show among wonderful nature.

If not, then not to worry. You can toast to an epic three days in town at the Raleigh Beer Garden. With over 350 beers on tap, trying to decide on one with be a challenge. After all, it hold’s the world record for the largest selection of draft beer. 

The huge venue comes with three levels, an abundance of outdoor space, patio and rooftop bar. Grab a pint and soak in the views.

Where to Eat on Day Three in Raleigh

Kick start your last day in Raleigh by dining at local favorite. Poole’s is located in a 1940s era diner. The retro-chic setting isn’t the only thing that will make you smile. The seasonal brunch menu is rated as one of the best in the city.

If you’re downtown on day three and looking for a lunch spot, then make your way to Capital Club 16. The European-inspired cuisine also comes with traditional American fare and amazing vegetarian options.

visit raleigh or durham

Final Thoughts

The charming city of Raleigh, North Carolina, is a wonderful choice for a three day escape from regular life. The historic city is a delight to walk around and there are many fun things to do both inside and out, so you’ll never have to worry about the rain foiling your plans.

The growing dining scene presents not just amazing southern cuisine, but foods from all around the world. Combine that with state parks, beer gardens, museums and interesting architecture and you have a recipe for a fun 3 days away from home!.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Thanks so much!

You can follow along on my travels through my social media accounts below

Sorry you didn't find this article useful!

Help me improve it by leaving your comments below

All feedback is anonymous and emailed directly to me. If there's anything I can do to improve the quality of this article, please do let me know and I'll make the suggested changes within 24 hours

Lauren Juliff

Lauren Juliff is a published author and travel expert who founded Never Ending Footsteps in 2011. She has spent over 12 years travelling the world, sharing in-depth advice from more than 100 countries across six continents. Lauren's travel advice has been featured in publications like the BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, and her work is read by 200,000 readers each month. Her travel memoir can be found in bookstores across the planet.

Related Posts

visit raleigh or durham

How to Spend One Week in Mauritius: An Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

Ruins at Cahal Pech

How to Spend Two Weeks in Belize: An Itinerary for First-time Visitors

visit raleigh or durham

21 Thrilling Things to Do in Tennessee

visit raleigh or durham

How to Spend Three Magnificent Days in Tbilisi, Georgia: A 2023 Itinerary

old delhi street scene

How to Spend Three Perfect Days in Delhi: An In-Depth Itinerary

visit raleigh or durham

How to Spend Three Magical Days in Cusco, Peru: A 2023 Itinerary

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet Lauren Juliff

Cookies in use

Cookies are used for measurement, ads and optimization. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our  Privacy Policy.


Plan a Trip

visit raleigh or durham

  • Airport Hotels
  • Downtown Raleigh Hotels
  • Midtown Raleigh Hotels
  • Extended Stay Hotels
  • Luxury & Upscale Hotels
  • Bed & Breakfasts
  • LGBTQ-Welcoming Hotels
  • Campgrounds
  • Pet-Friendly Hotels
  • Events You Can't Miss
  • This Weekend
  • Holiday Events
  • Submit an Event
  • Barbecue Guide
  • Mediterranean & Lebanese
  • Vegetarian & Vegan
  • Food Truck Rodeos
  • Downtown Dishes
  • You-Pick Farms
  • Coffee Roasters
  • Tour a Chocolate Lover's Paradise
  • Distilleries
  • Coffeehouses
  • Raleigh Beer Trail Passport Submission
  • Food Tours & Trails
  • Foodie Stories
  • Top 10 Things to Do
  • Collegiate Arts Programs
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Galleries & Arts Centers
  • Family Fun Centers
  • Activity-Based Farms
  • Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • North Carolina Museum of Art and Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park
  • North Carolina Museum of History
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • North Carolina Railway Museum & New Hope Valley Railway
  • Pullen Park
  • Triangle Rock Club
  • Even More Family Fun
  • 10 of the Best Annual Events for Kids
  • Major Venues
  • Concert Venues
  • Live-Music Restaurants
  • Top Clubs and Pubs to See Live Music
  • Places to Go Dancing
  • Cocktail & Cigar Bars
  • Comedy Clubs
  • LGBTQ Nightlife
  • North Carolina Museum of Art
  • CAM Raleigh
  • City of Raleigh Museum (COR Museum)
  • Gregg Museum of Art & Design
  • Wake Forest Historical Museum
  • Even More Museums
  • Historic Sites
  • Government Buildings
  • African American Heritage Attractions
  • Raleigh, N.C., & the Civil War
  • Top Sports & Outdoors Experiences
  • Action Sports
  • Golf Courses
  • Driving Ranges & Mini Golf
  • Parks & Lakes
  • State Parks
  • Horseback Riding
  • Sports & Recreation Centers
  • Spectator Sports
  • Antiques & Thrift Shops
  • Art Galleries
  • Children's & Toy Stores
  • Collectibles
  • Farmers' Markets
  • Flea Markets
  • Guitar & Music Stores
  • Jewelry & Accessories
  • Shopping Areas & Malls
  • Sporting Goods
  • Vinyl Record Stores
  • LGBTQ Shopping
  • Holiday Shopping
  • Signature Experiences
  • 40 Free Things to Do
  • Raleigh's Unique Culture
  • Neighborhood Gems
  • Sports, Outdoors & Recreation
  • Education & Technology
  • Submit an Idea
  • Capital District
  • Fayetteville Street
  • Glenwood South
  • Moore Square
  • Warehouse District
  • East Raleigh
  • Midtown Raleigh
  • North Raleigh
  • RDU/Brier Creek
  • South Raleigh
  • West Raleigh

Things to Do

  • Restaurants
  • Places to Stay
  • Request Visitor Information
  • visitRaleigh insider blog
  • Non-traditional Colleges & Universities
  • Visitor Information Center
  • Travel by Air
  • Rental Cars
  • Other Ground Transportation
  • Travel by Bus
  • Travel by Train
  • Raleigh Pride
  • 25+ Great Rehearsal Dinner Restaurants
  • Photographers
  • Entertainment
  • Restaurants with Group Seating
  • International
  • visitRaleigh the E-magazine Archives

Plan a Trip to Raleigh, N.C.

A visit to Raleigh is more than a trip to a blossoming Southern metropolis—you'll feel enriched and energized the instant you're warmly welcomed by its smart, savvy locals. Raleigh's bright minds head top-tier technology, education and life science institutions; its artists create a bevy of cultural and culinary touchstones; and its storytellers proudly carry on the collective heritage of a rich, historic capital city.

Invigorate your senses by sampling the many flavors of cutting-edge Southern cuisine enhanced by artisan craft brews and spirits. Get your toes tapping to the sounds of emerging music and bands, as well as rollicking bluegrass festivals and more. Discover gifts and treasures from local boutiques, including many handmade and custom designs for truly eclectic finds. And, join in broadening your horizons through an enticing array of visual and performing arts exhibitions. 

Raleigh may be quiet about the fact that it's leading in most recent quality-of-life rankings, but the fact is, you'll enjoy visiting as much as people enjoy living here. Come see what the city will inspire in you. Its authenticity is homegrown by passionate locals, rooted in Raleigh.

Planning info and resources

visit raleigh or durham

Trip Planner

Use our Trip Planner to build your list of things to do while you're here View More

visit raleigh or durham

Visitors Guide

Request our Visitors Guide View More

visit raleigh or durham

Visitor Info Center

Information on restaurants, accommodations, attractions and events View More

visit raleigh or durham

Download maps or explore an interactive Raleigh area map online View More

Right Now  in Raleigh

visit raleigh or durham

Things to Do in Raleigh, N.C: April 2024

Hello, spring! We're nearly a quarter of the way through 2024, and winter weather has been kicked to the curb for good. Sunshine, longer days, major concerts, food festivals, outdoor exploration and more are here to stay—cheers to that . Here's what we're doing in April in the Raleigh area! PPA

visit raleigh or durham

In Bloom: Spring Gardens to Visit in Raleigh, N.C.

The days are longer, the weather is warmer and the flowers are blooming—sure signs of spring in the Raleigh area! The perfect season to explore parks and gardens budding with colorful flowers,...

visit raleigh or durham

The Biggest Food and Drink Events of 2024 in Raleigh, N.C.

Passionate local chefs, brewers and creative types have teamed up to guide the Raleigh area through a foodie resurgence in recent years, bringing you delicious, unique and approachable culinary...

visit raleigh or durham

Sports & Recreation

Robertson millpond preserve: a hidden kayaking gem in wendell, n.c..

Located just east of Raleigh in the town of Wendell, Robertson Millpond Preserve is a hidden, 85-acre refuge for nature lovers, canoeists and kayakers. Opened to the public in 2015, the blackwater...

visit raleigh or durham

Five Reasons to Visit Raleigh, N.C., This Spring

Roll call! Who's up for beer festivals, outdoor concerts, food truck rodeos, special arts exhibits and more? We've got big plans this spring—join us for good weather and good times in...

visit raleigh or durham

Dreamville Festival 2024: J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, SZA, Lil Yachty and More

Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts . Menconi's next book, "Oh, Didn't They Ramble: Rounder Records and the Transformation of American Roots Music," was published in the fall of 2023 by...

visit raleigh or durham

Durham police investigate 2nd fatal shooting on Old Chapel Hill Road in past week

The Durham Police Department is investigating a second fatal shooting on Chapel Hill Road in the past week.

Officers responded to gunshots in the 2800 block of Chapel Hill Road at at 1:06 p.m. Tuesday, according to a news release.

They found a man, whose name has not been released, who had been shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Investigator D. Hall at 919-560-4440 ext. 29319 or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays up to $2,000 for information leading to arrests in felony cases, and callers never have to identify themselves.

On Thursday, police responded to a shooting on the 3400 block of Old Chapel Hill Road, just north of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

They found 43-year-old Samuel Carr of Durham suffering from a gunshot wound. He too was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have not announced any suspects or descriptions of suspects in either case. The News & Observer has contacted police with follow-up questions and will update this story as more information becomes available.

Shootings, homicides down in Durham this year

▪ As of March 23, the latest statistics available, 33 people had been shot in Durham this year. That was down from 46 people shot by the same date in 2023 and 49 the year before.

▪ Four of the people shot this year, not counting the past week’s victims, died from their injuries. That was down from 12 fatal shootings by the same time last year and six the year before that.

▪ All told, as of March 23 there had been five homicides in Durham this year, down from 14 by the same time in 2023.

©2024 Raleigh News & Observer. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris to visit Raleigh this week

WTVD logo

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are coming to Raleigh on Tuesday.

According to a White House press release, Biden and Harris will deliver remarks and participate in a campaign reception.

One of their stops will be in a Raleigh fundraiser event.

The White House said there are more details to come.

First Lady Jill Biden visited the Tar Heel state last week as part of the White House Initiative on Women's Health Research. She delivered remarks on women's health research in Durham.

WATCH | First Lady Jill Biden visits North Carolina to talk women's health

visit raleigh or durham

"So many of us and so many of the women in our lives suffer from health conditions for which we simply don't have the answers or solutions," she said.

In her remarks, Biden called women's health a top priority for her husband's administration. She even announced that the administration would allocate $200 million in fiscal year 2025 toward women's health research.

"Together we can write a new future for healthcare. A future where women leave doctor's offices with more answers than questions," she said.

VP Harris also made a trip to North Carolina earlier this month ahead of Super Tuesday. She spoke in Durham and strengthening entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses, specifically focusing on the city's historic Black Wall Street to help black entrepreneurs launch and scale their businesses.

WATCH | VP Kamala Harris in Durham to discuss White House plan to invest millions in economy

visit raleigh or durham

Related Topics


Top Stories

visit raleigh or durham

Lockdown lifted at NCCU, criminal investigation ongoing: Police chief

visit raleigh or durham

Severe weather risk expands for Wednesday

  • 3 hours ago

visit raleigh or durham

NC State fans flock to see DJ Burns Jr. and DJ Horne at Raleigh event

visit raleigh or durham

Community rallies around DeAngelis family after cancer diagnosis

visit raleigh or durham

Elementary school principal runs off wild turkey with umbrella

Capitol Special Police to continue patrols near GoRaleigh station

Here's how Cumberland County is fighting back against illegal dumping

New housing project in Durham approved unanimously


  1. Visit Durham: 2021 Travel Guide for Durham, Raleigh

    visit raleigh or durham

  2. Top 30 Things To Do in Raleigh

    visit raleigh or durham

  3. Guide Raleigh

    visit raleigh or durham

  4. Things to Do in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill

    visit raleigh or durham

  5. Raleigh-Durham Travel Guide

    visit raleigh or durham

  6. Why Raleigh-Durham Is One Of The Best Places To Live In NC

    visit raleigh or durham


  1. Things to Do in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill

    Plan your visit to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Smithfield and Rocky Mount. Search things to do, events, museums, hotels, restaurants, craft beer and weather in North Carolina's Triangle region. Plan Your Visit Things to Do Cities & Regions Events E-News Travel Guides 1-800-VISITNC ...

  2. Raleigh, N.C.,

    Catch all the events and things to do around Raleigh! Raleigh, N.C., hosts thousands of events every year, including many enriching experiences for your visit. We've got the most music in N.C., a hopping collegiate and professional sports scene and a host of accolade-worthy, homegrown culinary and cultural festivities. View All Events.

  3. Top 30 Things To Do in Raleigh

    North Carolina State Fair (October) Visitors flock to Raleigh during the month of Oct. to be one of the million attendees of the 11-day N.C. State Fair. The state's largest event features livestock, agricultural, arts and cultural exhibits, amusement midway and nightly musical performances.

  4. Things To Do in Raleigh, NC

    Robertson Millpond Preserve: A Hidden Kayaking Gem in Wendell, N.C. Located just east of Raleigh in the town of Wendell, Robertson Millpond Preserve is a hidden, 85-acre refuge for nature lovers, canoeists and kayakers. Opened to the public in 2015, the blackwater... Five Reasons to Visit Raleigh, N.C.,

  5. Best Reasons To Visit Raleigh, NC (a Locals Guide)

    A visit to Raleigh should not start and end within the city's borders. "Only 20 minutes" is a common phrase Raleighites will use when talking about getting anywhere. That's not just within Raleigh borders, but across the entire Wake County, which is comprised of twelve municipalities, each with their own vibrant personalities, charming ...

  6. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Raleigh

    Part of the North Carolina State University, this eight-acre garden contains a wide variety of cold hardy temperate zone plants. 11. Neuse River Trail. The paved trail runs 27 miles through suburbs that seem to vanish in the peaceful atmosphere of the trail.

  7. 90+ Things to Do in Raleigh, NC (Bucket List)

    Hike (or bike) in William B. Umstead State Park. Umstead State Park. 15-minutes from downtown Raleigh is one of North Carolina's best state parks, Umstead State Park, which offers great hiking trails, biking, camping, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding opportunities.

  8. Raleigh vs. Durham: Which City To Visit In The Triangle?

    Durham has 68 city parks, as well as 2 indoor pools, 3 outdoor pools, and 4 spray grounds.Raleigh has more than 200 individual parks and 8 Pools, but only two Splash Pads. If you're traveling with a furry friend, Raleigh has 7 Dog Parks, whereas Durham has only 5. Raleigh's dog parks are also free, whereas you have to purchase an annual membership to the Durham Dog Parks.

  9. 34 Things to Do in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill

    Located on a 84-acre campus, Durham's Museum of Life and Science is a must-visit for anyone interested in the natural world. The museum provides interactive exhibits, an onsite butterfly house, and a farmyard where kids can meet farm animals. Getting there: 433 W Murray Ave, Durham, NC | Google Maps.

  10. 21 Best Things To Do In Raleigh, According To Locals

    Garrett Poulos / Visit Raleigh. Baker, who became the executive director of the CAM Raleigh in 2022, notes that the museum includes works from both emerging as well as established artists. Past exhibited works include those of Durham-based photographer Kennedi Carter, the youngest person ever to shoot the cover of British Vogue. The museum goes ...

  11. 24 Hours In Raleigh (itinerary)

    Lake Johnson Loop Trail. Lake Johnson. If you love lake trails, Lake Johnson is our favorite of the lakes in Raleigh and just a 10-minute drive from downtown. The fully paved 3-mile greenway loop around the eastern side of the lake is popular with students at nearby NC State University and families.

  12. Should I Visit Durham or Raleigh? Which is Better for Attractions, Food

    Should I visit Durham or Raleigh in the Spring? Both Raleigh and Durham during the spring are popular places to visit. Furthermore, many visitors come to Raleigh in the spring for the activities around the city. Durham is around the same temperature as Raleigh in the spring. The daily temperature in Durham averages around 60°F (16°C) in April ...

  13. Events in Raleigh

    Browse the biggest and best picks of the next few months below (and send this to a friend to start picking out your shows!). March Voivod & Prong, March 23 at Lincoln Theatre Okey Dokey x By George, March 23 at. Experience the fun and excitement of Raleigh, NC with our guide to local events!

  14. 10 Best Things to Do in Raleigh

    Ranking of the top 10 things to do in Raleigh. Travelers favorites include #1 Neuse River Trail, #2 North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and more.

  15. Top 10 Things To Do in Raleigh, NC

    Top 10 Things to Do in Raleigh, N.C., Right Now. When you visit the Raleigh area, these are essentials to check out right now. From favorite holiday events to world-class museum exhibits, you haven't fully experienced the destination until you've checked these things off your list.

  16. Trip Ideas

    Ghost Tour. Raleigh, N.C., has a long and storied history, and tales of haunted mansions, graveyards and old state buildings have flourished... View More. Searching for something pre-planned to do in Raleigh, N.C.? If so, we've constructed customized one- and two-day trip ideas plus interest-oriented trip ideas that include a sampling of all ...

  17. Best Things to Do in the Triangle, North Carolina

    400 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601, USA. Phone +1 919-832-1231. Web Visit website. The Raleigh Farmer's Market is one of five farmers' markets owned by the state of North Carolina and operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

  18. Raleigh-Durham Travel Guide

    Raleigh-Durham —sometimes called the Triangle — consists of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. It is in this coastal Southeast state that you'll find the Research Triangle Park, a 6,800-acre research and development center created in the 1950s that is home to more than 50 high-tech companies and enterprises including IBM.

  19. Touring the Triangle: A Long-Weekend Travel Guide for Raleigh and

    Zweli's | 4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd Suite 26, Durham, NC 27707. Zweli's is purported to be the only Zimbabwean restaurant in the U.S., so we had to visit! We enjoyed our meals immensely, noting the common themes comfort food around the world presents: warm, filling, and served in bowls.

  20. The Best Things to Do in Raleigh, NC

    Visit the Landmarks. Raleigh is overflowing with historic sites and important landmarks. From historic homes to North Carolina's state capitol, there is a lot to see! If this is your first time visiting the Raleigh-Durham area, you may want to start the visit by checking out the history museum. This will help give you a great base knowledge ...

  21. 30 BEST Places to Visit in Raleigh (UPDATED 2024)

    See way to experience (1) 7. Umstead State Park. 465. State Parks. Sandwiched between downtown Raleigh and the airport, this oasis of green features a stand of 300+ year-old hardwood trees, more than 32 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, camp sites and lots more for nature lovers.

  22. How to Spend Three Days in Raleigh, North Carolina

    The Best Time of Year to Visit Raleigh. For the majority of the year, Raleigh, North Carolina, is a great place to be. The spring starts early, with blooming flowers and leafy greens returning to the city. The parks come to life and exploring on foot is pleasant. Plus, attractions like the Yates Mill have reopened after their winter slumber.

  23. Plan a Trip to Raleigh, N.C

    In Bloom: Spring Gardens to Visit in Raleigh, N.C. The days are longer, the weather is warmer and the flowers are blooming—sure signs of spring in the Raleigh area! The perfect season to explore parks and gardens budding with colorful flowers, use this list to get out and enjoy sunshine and the beauty of the City of Oaks. WRAL Azalea Gardens The.

  24. Durham police investigate 2nd fatal shooting on Old Chapel Hill ...

    The Durham Police Department is investigating a second fatal shooting on Chapel Hill Road in the past week. Officers responded to gunshots in the 2800 block of Chapel Hill Road at at 1:06 p.m ...

  25. President Biden, VP Harris visit Raleigh, NC on March 26

    Astrid Sabillon, left, helps Vice President Kamala Harris during her visit to Panaderia Artisanal, a Latina-owned bakery on Monday, January 30, 2023 in Raleigh, N.C. Robert Willett rwillett ...

  26. Durham wants to boost tourism with a new convention center

    Durham Mayor Leonardo Williams has previously said that a new convention center would be "much needed" to boost Durham's attractiveness to visitors, ABC11 reported. Yes, but: Finding a centrally located space for a new convention center could be hard in downtown Durham, with land costs rising significantly in recent years, Amey says.

  27. President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris to visit Raleigh this week

    President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris are visiting Raleigh on Tuesday. ... VP Kamala Harris to visit Raleigh this week . Monday, March 25, 2024 9:36AM ... WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham.