Skyline view of Raleigh, NC

City Guide / Raleigh-Durham

Fun Things to Do in Raleigh, NC

By Bri Hand | Nov 2, 2021

If you’re looking for a city that’s as bustling and eclectic as it is welcoming and warm, you’ve come to the right place. There are plenty of fun things to do in Raleigh, NC, to keep you busy for days on end. Whether you’re just passing through the North Carolina capital for a short visit or are planning an extended stay in the area, be sure to fill your calendar with nightlife, outdoor adventures, and flavorful dishes while exploring the City of Oaks.

In this guide, you’ll find a mix of a few must-see spots, along with some treasure troves that are a bit off the beaten path. Find out what’s to love about these corners of this North Carolina city below and add this list to your itinerary for the next time you’re looking for something to do in Raleigh, NC:

  1. Transfer Co. Food Hall
  2. North Carolina Museum of Art
  3. Pullen Park
  4. Raleigh Little Theater
  5. JC Raulston Arboretum
  6. Raleigh Farmers Market
  7. Videri Chocolate Factory
  8. Specialty Coffee Shops

With that said, get to know these Raleigh attractions:

1. Eat your heart out at Transfer Co. Food Hall 

Traveling foodies won’t be sad they’ve stopped in this part of North Carolina—even if it’s just for the dining experiences alone. This city is abuzz with nightlife, theater, and outdoor activities, but don’t forget to save room in your schedule—and your stomach—for some of the best restaurants in Raleigh, NC

One of the eateries earning high honors? The Transfer Co. Food Hall in Patterson Green. When you can’t seem to settle on a location for lunch or dinner, why not combine an assortment of mouthwatering dishes and expert vendors all in one place? Add this 50,000-square-foot dining space to your list if you’re keen on quality eats such as:

  • North Carolina oysters on the half shell from Locals Oyster Bar. Combine them with a cocktail and some freshly caught fish for the full experience. Cooking at home? Order your wild-caught seafood here for an at-home spread to impress your house guests. 
  • Colorful charcuterie boards and homemade pasta from Alimentari at Left Bank. Don’t leave without trying one of their signature tigelles, flatbreads stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables, as per Northern Italian tradition. 
  • Ice cream cookie sandwiches from Captain Cookie. Owners Juliann and Kirk Francis first got their start managing the Cookiemobile, a frequent favorite on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. Now, they’ve planted roots at the Transfer Co. Food Hall, enticing dessert lovers of all kinds to their windows. 

Downtown Raleigh in particular is home to fantastic restaurants, so be sure you take some time to explore these eateries!

2. Visit the North Carolina Museum of Art

North of downtown Raleigh, NC, you’ll find the state-of-the-art North Carolina Museum of Art. This attraction is home to several diverse exhibitions featuring everything from the architecture of light to art deco cars and Renaissance paintings. Aside from educational exhibits, be sure to check out the NC Museum calendar of events for things like: 

  • Outdoor yoga
  • Film showings
  • Dance fitness
  • Birding
  • Tai chi
  • Archaeology talks
  • Photography festivals
  • Monster Drawing Rallies 

Clearly, the North Carolina Museum of Art isn’t your usual run-of-the-mill art museum. Admission to the permanent collection and park is free of charge, but be sure to book your tickets in advance for special exhibitions and events like concerts, films, classes, and performances.

CAM Raleigh is another NC museum worth checking out for its contemporary art.

3. Have a picnic at Pullen Park

Pack a basket with nut butter and jelly sandwiches, watermelon, or whatever your preferred picnic-going snacks are, and spend the day relishing in the sunshine and green space at Pullen Park

With over 66 acres of public park space and walking trails, this city oasis is a must-see for residents and visitors alike. It’s the very first to be established in North Carolina, and it’s located just a couple of miles west of downtown Raleigh. Here, you can carve out a space to read a book or pass the hours of the day people-watching or practicing yoga. Come back another time for other outdoor activities such as:

  • Getting your exercise in with a friend by playing a game or two of tennis at their first-come, first-serve courts. 
  • Outdoor theater events and live music shows. 
  • Taking yourself and the little ones in your life for a ride on the historic Dentzel Carousel, dating back to 1921.
  • Challenge yourself to the City Hike, a hiking trail that starts in Pullen Park, onto the Rocky Trail, and back again to the park.

4. Catch a show at The Raleigh Little Theater

The Fairmont district in West Raleigh is home to the beloved Raleigh Little Theater. This community stage has been keeping adventurers of all ages entertained since 1936, making it one of the oldest operating community theaters in the entire country. With classes for kids and adults, summer camps, and school-based programs, Raleigh Little Theater is committed to educating about the performing arts no matter your age. 

Visit their website to find more information regarding the latest productions and other events such as costume sales, movie showings, and musical performances. Or, get involved in the action by auditioning for a show or volunteering with set assembly, ushering, stage management, and more. 

5. Swoon over plants at the JC Raulston Arboretum 

Whether you’re a deeply committed plant parent who wants to scope out some inspiration for your next urban garden project or are just looking for a way to spend a beautiful day outside, check out the JC Raulston Arboretum, located just outside the North Carolina State University campus. 

Bring a friend and fall in love with more than 6,000 taxa displayed across 10 acres of botanical garden space. Plus, this attraction is free of charge to the public. What more can you ask for? If you’re itching for something extra, attend a lecture or sign up for a course covering everything from garden soils to plant propagation. 

6. Stock up on fresh produce at the Raleigh Farmers Market

Pick a new recipe and head down to the Raleigh Farmers Market to get whatever fresh ingredients you need for an at-home dinner and game night with friends. This farmer’s market is open year-round, seven days a week, allowing guests to get lost in 75 acres of organic produce, meat, cheeses, and handcrafted gifts from across the state of North Carolina. 

Plus, there are several local restaurants on-site offering up freshly caught seafood, country cooking, and outdoor dining space. 

7. Satisfy your sweet tooth at The Videri Chocolate Factory

Located in the heart of the Warehouse District, the Videri Chocolate Factory is the sweetest attraction in town for self-guided tours and confectionery snacks. Finding out more about the process of making chocolate is fun, but getting to sample freshly made chocolate bars and bonbons is even better. Stick around after your tour for a cup of cocoa at the cafe, or stop by their walk-up window to grab a soft-serve ice cream on the go. 

If you need another reason to love the Videri Chocolate Factory, head over to their website to find all the transparent details about where their ingredients are sourced from and how they’re committing to sustainable and ethical production practices. 

8. Get your caffeine fix at a specialty coffee shop

Specialty coffee is for those who take their morning espresso seriously. What sets it apart from a standard cup of joe? In order to be considered top-tier specialty coffee, it must reach a score of 80 points or higher on the Specialty Coffee Association’s 100-point scale, often requiring it to be grown in special conditions and brewed by a certified cupper.

Fortunately for coffee fanatics, this North Carolina city is overflowing with specialty coffee spots. Here are a few you’ll want to add to the top of your list:

  • Pine State Coffee is the perfect place for an on-the-go latte or for shopping online if you prefer to brew at home. You can also find bags of their specialty beans sold at several locations throughout the city, including Taste Beverage Company, Raleigh Provisions, Turner Street Market, and more. 
  • Don’t miss 42 & Lawrence in the centrally located Moore Square. They’re serving up an assortment of espresso drinks, freshly baked pastries, and a cozy atmosphere ideal for catching up with friends or working from your laptop. 
  • Shop Joe Van Gogh Coffee’s single-origin coffees online, or swing by for a coffee at their Raleigh location or one of their other brick-and-mortar locales in Durham and Chapel Hill. They’re also deeply committed to sustainability, so you can feel good about supporting a cafe that’s doing its best to serve top-notch coffee while reducing its impact on the environment. 

Other fun things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina

If you’ve exhausted the list above, no worries! Here are some honorable mentions worth checking out while you’re in town: 

  • North Carolina Executive Mansion
  • Raleigh Rose Garden
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • Jordan Lake
  • Warehouse District
  • Pope House Museum
  • Cameron Village
  • Falls Lake
  • The Mordecai House
  • Whiskey Kitchen
  • Wake County

Put a roof over your Raleigh adventures with Landing

After visiting any of these places, you’ll realize that the City of Oaks is bursting with southern North Carolina charm. Whether you’re prancing through Pullen Park, stuffing your reusable bags with goodies from the Raleigh Farmers Markets, or catching the latest exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art, come to rest at the end of your fun-filled day in an apartment that’s got all the comforts of home. 

With Landing, you can hop from city to city for as long as you like without having to worry about binding leases or transporting furniture. Plus, each of our luxury apartments in over 375 cities comes fully furnished. If you decide on moving to Raleigh, NC, we can find the right apartment in one of the best neighborhoods in Raleigh

Learn more about becoming a Landing member, and browse our available apartments today! 

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About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.