Fun things to do in Raleigh:
Our list of things to do in Raleigh comes from the most highly rated activities, events and our editorial liberties.
SUMMER EVENTS IN RALEIGH- Staycation ideas for the entire family.
SUMMER FUN FOR KIDS!
RALEIGH PARKS, TOURS, MUSEUMS & OUTDOOR FUN-GREAT FOR THE KIDS!
Pullen Park near downtown Raleigh is the first public park in North Carolina’s history, circa 1887. A 66.33 acres public park in Raleigh, North Carolina west of downtown, adjacent to the campus of North Carolina State University, between Western Boulevard and Hillsborough Street. The park features picnic areas, a concessions stand along with several small rides including the Park Carousel, train, and kiddie boats. Pedal boats are also available for rent seasonally on the park’s large pond. The Pullen Aquatic Center, Pullen Arts Center and Theatre In the Park are also located on the park grounds. It is one of the most famous and known parks around the Raleigh/Durham area. Great entertainment for all ages here!
Marbles Kids Museum is a nonprofit children’s museum located in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina in the Moore Square Historic District. Its mission is to “inspire imagination, discovery and learning through extraordinary adventures in play and larger-than-life Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles experiences.” It was created through the merger in 2007 of two existing children’s museums: Exploris and Playspace.
For a current list of 3-D movies and events, CLICK HERE.
By the way, our Raleigh Sightseeing City Bus Tour stops at Pullen Park!
Go Ape! It’s Summer! Treetop Adventure…..
Go Ape Treetop Junior courses offer a 1 to 1.5 hour outdoor experience designed specifically for those young adventurers in your tribe. Made up of 20 obstacles and 2 zip lines, our Junior courses are packed with excitement, delivering offers a treetop experience that will leave lasting memories.
Kid Friendly Tours……
Raleigh Haunted Footsteps Ghost Walk
The “Raleigh Haunted Footsteps Ghost walking tour” is a family friendly 1.5 mile walking tour designed for goblins (children 8 year & older please) seeking a unique and different downtown Raleigh experience. What is the difference between a ghost and spirit? Are they all scary? What exactly is an orb and why are they different colors? We will answer all your questions and more during this tour.
Durham Dark & Mysterious Ghost Walk
The “Durham Dark & Mysterious Ghost Walk” is a family friendly 1.5 mile walking tour designed for adults and kids (children 8 years & older please) seeking a unique and different downtown Durham, North Carolina experience. The tour combines local ghost stories, folklore and local history as it takes you to six different Ghost & Paranormal sites including Bull Durham Factory, Kress Store Building, Devil’s Teacher, Hotel Malbourne Memory, Snow Building and the Liggett-Myers Factory stories are on the itinerary.
SUMMER Nightlife in Raleigh
RALEIGH PUB CRAWL & HAUNTED ADVENTURE
Tobacco Road Tours has two great tours that include a visit to and around this the modern southern city. Great bars, pubs, beers and cocktails await you on the Raleigh Pub Crawl & Haunted Adventure. Guest experience a fast paced 2.5 hours of paranormal, ghost and haunting stories & folklore in between four cleaver and hip bar stops! Favorite activity in Raleigh, NC for sure. This tour starts at 7:30pm and meets in downtown Raleigh.
RALEIGH SIGHTSEEING BAR CRAWL
A little earlier in the evening, enjoy the Raleigh Sightseeing Bar Crawl Tour (4:30pm-6:30pm). TRT is hosting a FUN, humorous and educational Raleigh Sightseeing Bar Crawl. Learn some Raleigh & North Carolina history, hear some very STUPID laws that our state legislature created. Imbibe at some cool, hip, cleaver Raleigh watering holes off the beaten path. Tobacco Road Tours presents the rich tales that Raleigh, NC has to offer.
RALEIGH CRAFT COCKTAIL TOUR
Talking about whiskey & bourbon, Tobacco Road Tours has an interesting offering known as the Raleigh Craft Cocktail Tour from 5:00-7:00pm each Saturday in downtown Raleigh. Explore the bar scene in a relaxed, but fun way.
We stop at THREE very different types of bars in three different districts in downtown Raleigh bars on the Raleigh Craft Cocktail Tour. Oh, did we mention, the cocktails are included!
Whiskey, particularly Bourbon is on a bit of a “revival” lately. The birth of Bourbon is a deliciously ironic tale of an inventor who was a Baptist minister by day and distiller by night – Elijah Craig. He is credited with inventing Bourbon in 1789, but what he really invented was the process of aging corn whisky in charred oak barrels. The result was a somewhat sweeter and smokier tasting alcohol.
Bourbon is nowhere as complex as wine, or even scotch, but there are a few things you should know. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. By law, for a whiskey to be bourbon it must be made in the U. S. and bottled at 80 proof (40 percent alcohol by volume) or higher. It can be made anywhere, but 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky.
For a list of Raleigh’s 50 Best Bars click here. Thanks to Raleigh Magazine for this list.
EXPLORE THE GREAT OUTDOORS!
Summer is the best time to visit the WRAL Azalea gardens: if you are reading this make plans NOW to explore these wonderful Azalea gardens in Raleigh, NC. Raleigh has a burst of Spring color, sounds, tastes and fragrances; let them awaken you in WRAL’s gardens. The gardens are located on Western Boulevard behind the WRAL TV station. There is no charge to enter or park! The gardens are open year round from dawn to dusk.
There are even picnic tables available for self catering of your breakfast, lunch or dinner. What could be a better Raleigh NC experience. No alcohol is allowed. Make sure to remove all trash please. Sitting on approximately 3/4 of an acre, you will find trails, cleaver art and water features in the serene Raleigh getaway destination.
We highly recommend bringing your camera as there are over 45 different of flowers plus fountains, wind chimes, art work, birdhouses and more! If you decide to go: call 800-532-5343 or 919-890-6000 for additional information. The WRAL Gardens are located near Centennial & Central campuses of NC State University off of Western Blvd and Avent Ferry Road. Enjoy!
Want to explore more of Raleigh’s nature? Consider joining us on Tobacco Road Tours professionally guided city tour: The Raleigh Sightseeing City Bus Tour & Tasting, which focuses on a variety of Raleigh City people, places and events about Raleigh, NC. It is three hours and includes stops to Pullen Park, the Joel Lane House, the State Capitol building, historic Fayetteville Street, Mordecai Historic Park and various other stops in downtown Raleigh.
RALEIGH FOOD TOUR
Want to explore, savor, taste and here folklore stories from a gifted story teller? Then consider taking our professionally guided city tour: the Raleigh Culinary & Cultural Walking Tour running Saturday afternoons. This fun tour focuses on a variety of Raleigh City people, places and events about Raleigh, NC. The three-hour long tour includes food, local beverages and key investigative stops for guests to experience the REAL Raleigh.We will explore the different districts in the heart of Raleigh sampling the best food Raleigh has to offer. Our small group tours are intimate, fun and informal, where the people behind Raleigh’s food meccas welcome you like a friend and give you the inside scoop on what makes their food culinary masterpieces.
The Delicious Way to Savor the City!
Buy the way, the food tour is a great way to show your out of town guests the City of Oaks. You can book the event as a private tour for your friends, family or for a business function.
EXPLORE NC MUSEUMS, ARBORETUM & FAIRGROUNDS
NC Museum of History
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the North Carolina Museum of History is located in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Admission is free. Special programs include educational programs for children and families as well as craft demonstrations, music concerts, and other events for visitors and members. The Museum Shop features an assortment of North Carolina–made crafts and products. The museum houses the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and has up to 12 exhibits on displace at any given time.
North Carolina and World War I is now open at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, N.C. and will run until January 6, 2019. Also, be sure to check out the Story of North Carolina exhibit. The Story of North Carolina, the largest exhibit ever produced at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh, opened to rave reviews in 2011. This permanent exhibit traces life in North Carolina from its earliest inhabitants through the 20th century. Admission is free. This exhibit will commemorate the centennial of the U.S.’s entry into World War I and will focus on N.C.’s role in the War to End All Wars on the Western Front in France and Belgium. You’ll experience a re-created trench warfare environment to discover what life was like for Tar Heel soldiers.
Did you know North Carolina was first in flight? The N.C. Museum of History is providing a temporary home for the reproduction 1903 Wright Flyer from the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center in Kill Devil Hills. The Outer Banks site is undergoing a rehabilitation project through summer of 2018. It’s a great time to see this replica.
JC Raulston Arboretum & NC Fairgrounds
Do you like botanical gardens? Then you should check out JC Raulston Arboretum near the North Carolina Fairgrounds .The JC Raulston Arboretum is a nationally acclaimed garden with one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants. Plants especially adapted to Piedmont North Carolina conditions are collected and evaluated in an effort to find superior plants for use in southern landscapes.
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Raleigh, NC is known as a small Smithsonian city because our North Carolina Museum of Art, Natural Science and History. The Museum of Art charges a small entrance fee. The Museum of Natural Science and the Museum of History are both complimentary or FREE to visit. Yes, free. Amazing isn’t it. What can you get for free these days. Well, in Raleigh a lot!
The Museum of Natural Sciences has a number of new exhibits this spring including: Race- Are we so different? Love animals? Meet them daily at the museum or become a naturalist at The Naturalist Center – The Naturalist Center provides visitors access to an extensive collection of specimens for individual research, student exploration, or for general interest. . Get up close and person and ask the experts questions. Click here for details and times.
The NC Museum of Natural Science is truly amazing. This museum is the oldest established museum in North Carolina and the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. As of 2013, it was the states most popular museum or historic destination with 1.2 million visitors annually. In 2014, it was one of ten museums and libraries in the United States to receive the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
William B. Umstead State Park
The museum’s campus consists of four facets: the Nature Exploration Center (NEC; formerly the “Main Building”) and the Nature Research Center on Jones Street in Downtown Raleigh, the Prairie Ridge Eco-station satellite facility and outdoor classroom in northwest Raleigh near William B. Umstead State Park.
NC Museum of Art
For you Art & Photography Lovers…head over to the North Carolina Museum of Art to view: Student Exhibition: Teens, Inspired. This exhibit is an annual juried exhibition of work by high school students from across the state who are inspired by the Museum’s collection to create original poems and art.
NC Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh, North Carolina opened in 1956 as the first major museum collection in the country to be formed by State legislation and funding. Since the initial 1947 appropriation that established its collection, the Museum has continued to be a model of enlightened, versatile collections with free admission to it’s permanent collection. Today, it encompasses a collection that spans more than 5,000 years of artistic work from antiquity to present day art, an amphitheater for outdoor performances, and a variety of celebrated exhibitions and public programs. Be sure to make time to enjoy lunch, dinner or their famous brunch at the incredible Iris Restaurant.
The Museum of Art’s Park is over 160 acres incorporating sculptures, art, landscaping, natural trails and woodlands… and it is growing once again. From now until July 2016, they will be be creating a new campus entrance and streetscape, increasing parking capacity, creating water-treatment and native grass gardens, and expanding bicycle and walking paths connecting the Museum’s gallery buildings to the Park.
The Museum features more than 40 galleries as well as more than a dozen major works of art in the nation’s largest museum park with 164-acres. One of the leading art museums in the American South, the NCMA recently completed a major expansion winning international acclaim for innovative approaches to energy-efficient design.
City of Raleigh Museum (COR)
Current exhibit: Our War: Voices of Raleigh’s World War II Veterans.
“The “Our War…” exhibit will tell the tale of two different sides from Raleigh and how its residents who went to war had vastly different experiences in the same conflict. Though 70 years have passed, many personal events of the war are fresh in the minds of the veterans. By sharing their stories, these veterans give us a revealing look at what it was like to grow up in 30’s/40’s Raleigh and leave for war. By collecting their stories in their own words it is hoped the exhibit will be a testament to the varied contributions of Raleigh’s diverse residents.”
NC WINE TOURS & FARMERS MARKET
What about NC Fresh? Fresh agriculture that is. The NC State Farmers Market is the place to explore. The popular Farmers Building is 30,000 square feet of space where North Carolina farmer’s sell fresh produce, plants, and other specialty items produced on local farms. If you want to implement the Farm to Fork movement into your menu planning, it’s easy because plants are available starting in March and local fruits and vegetables are sold throughout the growing season. Don’t forget the Market Shoppes, Truckers Building, Wholesale Terminal and Markets Imports. It’s a great place to shop for local, fresh foods all in a really FUN and FRESH place.
Want to explore NC’s wineries, but not sure where to start. Believe it or not, North Carolina has approximately 100 wineries across the state! An easy way to experience NC Wine Country is on a wine tour. The Haw River Wine Trail Tour and Yadkin Valley Winery Tour takes you front and center into the heart of NC Wine country. Full day trip inclusive of souvenir wine glasses and a gourmet lunch. Meet the wine makers and much more.
These are private tours are require a minimum of 10 participants. Call Tobacco Road Tours about these tours: 919-371-2653.
RALEIGH STATE CAPITAL & HISTORIC OAKWOOD
Raleigh is full of interesting historic places including the Historic Oakwood Cemetery, which was founded in 1869 near the North Carolina State Capitol in the city’s Historic Oakwood neighborhood. The Historic Oakwood Cemetery contains two special areas within its 102 acres, the Confederate Cemetery, located on the original two and one-half acres, and the Hebrew Cemetery, both given for that purpose by Henry Mordecai in 1867. The cemetery is located in a wonderful Victorian neighborhood with the same name, Historic Oakwood.
Tobacco Road Tours offers private Historic Raleigh Tours! Stroll the streets and go back in time and go where Raleigh’s roots began & where the City has evolved today, including Historic Oakwood.
Tobacco Road Tours offers guided city tours, pub crawls, haunted walking tours, family reunion services, corporate activities/events & spouse tours, culinary & food, craft cocktail, private event and receptive tour services and much more.
Contact Tobacco Road Tours if you have questions regarding this list or if you would like more information about our tours, events and activities.. It was written by Tobacco Road Tours staff and is subject to our personal interpretations of the research and information at hand when written in 2016-2017 and is updated periodically.
Looking to relocate to the area? Tobacco Road Tours offers relocation tours of the Triangle area? Contact us and we’ll set something up for you.
Please let us know if the list, and links, were of value to you and your visit to Raleigh. Thanks, TRT.
Thinking about visiting Durham. See our Things to Do in Durham page for ideas.