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.
SPRING EVENTS IN RALEIGH
Celebrate Earth Day
The City of Raleigh Annual Environmental Awards program recognizes individuals and organizations that are good stewards of the environment in our community. The 10th Environmental Awards Celebration will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at the Fletcher Theater in downtown Raleigh.
Details of the Event:
- April 25, 2017 | 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- AJ Fletcher Theater Opera Theater (2 E. South Street, Raleigh N.C. 27601)
- Doors open at 6:30 p.m., Awards Celebration begins at 7 p.m.
- Dessert Reception afterwards
- Free and open to the public
April 2017 is Beer Month in North Carolina, and the Raleigh has over 25 breweries to explore and celebrate with festivities and one-of-a-kind brews throughout the month. As the number of craft breweries continues to grow, so does the enthusiasm among the brewers and fans, making Raleigh a capital of craft beer. START CELEBRATING
A ribbon cutting featuring historians, interpreters, reenactors and more will open the North Carolina Museum of History exhibit North Carolina and World War I (4/8; exhibit runs 4/8/17-1/6/19). DETAILS
For you Art & Photography Lovers…head over to the North Carolina Museum of Art to view the Ansel Adams: Masterworks (February 4 through May 7, 2017) exhibit. Nearly 50 photographs from the legendary American photographer will be on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Museum of Natural Science
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. Get up close and person and ask the experts questions. Click here for details and times.
City of Raleigh Museum (COR)
This May marks the centennial of the US entry into WWI. Chloe, TRT’s Durham guide extraordinaire, worked at the City of Raleigh Museum (COR) in downtown Raleigh (220 Fayetteville Street) this winter to create a display entitled: “The Emblem of Human Mercy: The Birth of Raleigh’s Red Cross”. It explores Raleigh’s Red Crosses efforts to aid in the war efforts. Admission is free and the exhibit will be on display until the end of May. Check it out!
Spring Nightlife in Raleigh
RALEIGH PUB CRAWL & HAUNTED ADVENTURE & RALEIGH SIGHTSEEING BAR CRAWL
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.
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. Booze helps bring out the truth. It’s just that sometimes the truth is a little incoherent! Special offer: Use this BOGO (buy one get one free) code when checking out: RDSBWAM – April & May tours only.
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. You will definitely “score” a New Fashion from Gary, one of Raleigh favorite bartenders on this classic Raleigh cocktail tour. He is a crowd favorite at Landmark Tavern; one of the THREE bar stops on the Raleigh Craft Cocktail Tour.
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!
April & May 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.
It is said that laughter heals and keep us healthy! If this is true, then why not join Tobacco Road Tours on the Raleigh Comedy Bus tour. Offering this unique slant on the our Capital’s history, architecture, politics and the cultural side of North Carolina. Join us as we take you through downtown Raleigh and explore some of the five Oak City districts: Fayetteville Street, Capital, Glenwood South, Warehouse and Moore Square. We have all been to a comedy club, seen comedians on tour & TV. Maybe stand up comedy or improv comedy is your ideal way to share an evening of laughter!
Raleigh is a city that will inspire you…..to laugh that is! The entrepreneurial spirit we see emerging from Raleigh now is not new. Raleigh has a history of homegrown, passionate, innovative and successful leaders dating back to the 18th century. Of course, once you see what good old George Washington is wearing, in one of NC most interesting, and famous statues, you might doubt it.
And – you can bring your own beer and wine on the bus!
RALEIGH PARKS, MUSEUMS & ARBORETUM- 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 IMAX experiences.” It was created through the merger in 2007 of two existing children’s museums: Exploris and Playspace.
By the way, our Raleigh Sightseeing City Bus Tours stops at Pullen Park!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 (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.
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, Raleigh’s breweries and restaurants, 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.
Call us and ask about our private wine 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. Join us every Monday, Wednesday & Friday, stroll the streets and go back in time on Tobacco Road Tours Historic Raleigh Tour! Tobacco Road Tours take you to 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.