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Raleigh, North Carolina

North Raleigh

North Raleigh, encompassing the expansive area north of Midtown Raleigh, is home to a growing number of large residential enclaves along with hundreds of restaurants, large retail stores, entertainment complexes, parks and recreation areas.

Family entertainment, especially for large groups, is easy to find, with options like Galaxy Fun Park, Adventure Landing, Defy Gravity and Launching Pad Trampoline Park, to name a few. These options make North Raleigh the go-to destination for mini golf, go-kart racing, roller skating, bowling, trampoline fun and other activities that the whole family will enjoy. 

Enjoy outdoor adventures at one of the area’s parks and adventure courses. Shelley Lake Park offers 53 acres of woods and scenic greenway trails, and visitors are welcome to fish, canoe, kayak, sail or rent boats. Durant Nature Preserve is a 237-acre facility that offers five miles of trails, a playground, picnic areas and more. Adventure seekers can zip, swing and climb through trees at Go Ape Treetop Adventure & Treetop Junior.

When it’s time to feed the crew, head to Rise Biscuits & Donuts for a freshly-made donut or biscuit, or visit one of the dozens of popular North Raleigh restaurants, including Bella Italia Ristorante, Nantucket Grill, Chow, Margaux’s Restaurant, Winston’s Grille or Saint Jacques French Cuisine.

RDU/Brier Creek

Aptly named for its proximity to RDU International Airport, the RDU/Brier Creek area is home to hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, restaurants, breweries and an array of family fun. Two of the largest concentrations, Brier Creek Commons and Alexander Place Promenade, offer a premium collection of national names in shopping, dining and entertainment.

RDU International Airport, a recently expanded, world-class air travel facility, is located about 15 miles from downtown Raleigh and was recently ranked #3 in a North America Airport Satisfaction Study by J.D. Power and Associates.

Popular with kids of all ages, RDU Observation Park provides sweeping views of the airport’s 10,000-foot runways and is located near the Air Traffic Control Tower. Watch take-offs and landings while listening to pilot-to-tower communications on the audio speakers located on the elevated observation platform.

To escape the noise and find serenity in the outdoors, William B. Umstead State Park allows you to explore nature paths or walk along 22 miles of hiking trails meandering through the forest. Also offered are camping, picnicking, canoe rentals, fishing, a visitor center nature study and 13 miles of horseback-riding and mountain-biking trails.

Not far down the road is the acclaimed Angus Barn restaurant. A family-owned institution for more than 50 years, Angus Barn serves Certified Angus Beef, aged in-house. This award-winning steakhouse has one of the largest wine cellars in the country and also includes the lively Wild Turkey Lounge, which is open daily with a light menu and full bar selection of beer, wine and fine spirits.

Three of the area’s several dozen craft breweries call the Brier Creek area home, including Lynnwood Brewing Concern,Sumit Vohra’s Lonerider Brewing Company and Gizmo Brew Works. Lynnwood Brewing Concern is located within Lynnwood Grill, featuring one of Raleigh’s most popular rooftop decks, while Lonerider has become one of Raleigh’s fastest-growing craft beer producers, offering weekly tours and tastings. Gizmo is a small brewery and tap house with a welcoming, neighborhood feel.

Midtown Raleigh

The Midtown Raleigh area includes four different shopping, entertainment and dining districts all within a short drive—North Hills, Crabtree Valley, Village District and the Five Points neighborhood—plus plenty of hits in between! Each of the four areas is walkable, giving you access to all the awesome things to do at each.

  • Village District

Village District has been a Raleigh favorite since 1949, transformed through the years and spanning six city blocks. Locals and visitors have mingled in the shopping area for decades, making it a tradition and a classic spot to dive into local offerings and also national favorite shops and restaurants. For eats, Cantina 18, Flying Biscuit, Village Deli and Rise Biscuits & Donuts are a few highlights. In a shopping mood? Charlotte’s, Tin Roof Teas and The Local Squirrel are good places to start! 

  • Crabtree Valley

Visitors travel hours to visit Crabtree Valley Mall to shop and dine, with 220 stores, including Michael Kors, Coach, Apple, The North Face, Tommy Bahama, H&M and more. The fun extends even beyond the mall—directly across the street is the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley, offering up delicious dining it its Braise restaurant, plus a beautiful terrace to enjoy drinks from the bar and time with friends. The area also offers up plenty of other, walkable hotels, extending options.

Want to get some activity in? Crabtree Valley has quick access to the Capital Area Greenway Trail System’s Crabtree Creek Trail, where you can run, walk or bike through miles of scenic trails—and it connects to the Neuse River Greenway Trail! 

  • Five Points Neighborhood

The intersection of Glenwood Ave., and Fairview and Whitaker Mill Rds., hence the neighborhood’s name, brings together a network of local shops and restaurants, plus a 1942 cinema showing foreign and independent films. Grab a local beer at Nickelpoint Brewing Co., Neuse River Brewing Company or Lonerider at Five Points, then head down to Lilly’s Pizza for a delicious pie or NOFO @ The Pig for Southern dining and an eclectic gift shop to explore. Another must is Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery, with its 1940s nostalgia feel and award-winning desserts.  

  • North Hills

North Hills shopping and entertainment district offers up some of the destination’s most beloved events, local shops, delicious food and top-notch hotels, including N.C.’s first AC Hotel and the four-star Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel.

North Hills Mall originally opened in 1960 was converted into Raleigh’s first enclosed mall in 1967. Natives remember the mall as a go-to spot for shopping popular stores and for dining and mingling. And it’s come a long way since then, now as a giant, open-air, walkable district offering more than 130 local shops, restaurants, bars, spas, a theater, an outdoor live music venue and more.

Shopping standouts include the area’s hub of author appreciation, Quail Ridge Books, posh men’s clothier Peter Millar, Charlotte’s and Kendra Scott. Hungry? Dip into Another Broken Egg Café, Level7 or Vivace. The list goes on with Yard House, Chuy’s and much more.

North Hills has become a prime gathering spot for locals and visitors with awesome events at Midtown Park and The Commons. See the full schedule here as events are posted.

West Raleigh

There are several reasons why Raleigh has been called the “Smithsonian of the South”: this district contains at least a couple of them. The free-admission North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the premier visual arts museums in the South, featuring a dramatic gallery building, a world-class collection including more than 30 Rodin sculptures, a center for special touring exhibitions and a 164-acre Museum Park.

Located in the middle of West Raleigh is North Carolina State University’s (NCSU’s) main campus; this is the state’s largest university, known for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. While on main campus, stop by the Gregg Museum of Art & Design, the university’s collecting and exhibiting museum with more than 35,000 objects. Also, you’re just a short walk from shopping and dining on Hillsborough St. More attractions in walking distance are Raleigh Little Theatre, one of the nation’s longest-running community theatres (1936), and the long-running Theatre In The Park (Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre). Be sure to enjoy a walk through the attached Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden, featuring 1,200 roses of 60 different varieties and other bulbs, annuals, trees and shrubs.

Bordering the main NCSU campus is historic Pullen Park, originally founded in 1887. Pullen Park is one of North Carolina’s most iconic family attractions, featuring a 1911 Gustave A. Dentzel menagerie carousel, a C.P. Huntington miniature replica train ride, community center, boat rentals, arts center, ball fields, tennis courts, picnic shelters, playground, outdoor café and the long-running Theatre In The Park (Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre).

A short drive down Hillsborough St., past the NCSU main campus, is the state-of-the-art PNC Arena, which welcomes over 1.5 million guests and plays host to more than 150 events each year, including the NCSU Wolfpack men’s basketball games and a number of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament first and second round games. PNC Arena is also the home of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, winners of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals. Disney On Ice, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé and other international touring acts bring their biggest shows to PNC arena. Across the parking lot, you’ll find Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the NCSU football team. 

Adjacent to Carter-Finley Stadium is the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. If you’re visiting in mid-Oct., be sure to join the more than one million attendees who visit the North Carolina State Fair, the state’s largest annual event. The 10-day fair features livestock, agricultural, arts and cultural exhibits, an amusement midway and nightly, nationally acclaimed musical performances. During the rest of the year, the fairgrounds host of variety of other events. Most notably, The Raleigh Market, the state’s largest of its kind, sets up shop here every weekend, weather permitting.

A short drive away is the State Farmers Market, Raleigh, considered one of the nation’s best and most modern markets. More than fresh vegetables, it’s a family adventure. Visitors can enjoy 75 acres of indoor and outdoor specialty shops, restaurants and a garden center, with fruits, vegetables, meats and gifts from across the state.

Downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh, N.C., is where historic neighborhoods, world-class museums, Southern diners, outdoor green spaces, performing arts venues, local shops, breweries and underground cocktail spots all work together to create one incredible cultural hotspot.

It’s where you can tour a chocolate factory, play classic arcade games, park your bike outside a bicycle-themed brewery, indulge in a plate of whole-hog, pit-cooked barbecue, pick up a pair of locally hand-crafted denim jeans and visit a contemporary art museum—all within in a 100-step radius.

Some of the state’s most visited attractions (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Marbles Kids Museum and North Carolina Museum of History), plus a host of critically acclaimed restaurants on a national level (Poole’s Diner, Raleigh Beer Garden and more) call the center of the city home.

New in downtown Raleigh! Sip n’ Stroll Downtown social district
Launched Aug. 15, 2022, visitors to downtown Raleigh can drink beer, wine or cocktails as they walk through a defined area of downtown Raleigh, seven days a week from 11am-10pm! See the district boundaries and participating businesses (and their level of participation) here!

Downtown Raleigh has seen a surge of growth in recent years thanks to a slew of artists, entrepreneurs, creative class innovators, restaurateurs, business leaders and other passionate minds that had a vision for downtown that would make it a special place to visit—a place where people from all walks of life, backgrounds and futures would come together to share enriching experiences. That’s why you’ll find murals on the sides of buildings and posters at business entrances that read, “Are All Welcome Raleigh, N.C.” and “Welcome to Raleigh, Y’all.”

It’s all easily accessible, too—downtown streets are easy to navigate by walking, cycling (using Cardinal Bikeshare) or catching a short rideshare service or taxi ride.

East Raleigh

Steeped in history, East Raleigh continues to grow as visitors become residents and plant their roots in this diverse, evolving area. Begin your visit with an outdoor history lesson at Historic Oak View County Park. This antebellum farmstead features an 1855 Greek Revival house, detached kitchen, cotton gin house, livestock barn, carriage house, pecan grove and herb garden. Enjoy picnic facilities and stop in the Farm History Center, where kids can enjoy the interactive learning experience of the “Farmer’s Corner.”

In addition to the historic neighborhoods, preserved antebellum homes and buildings with unexpected stories to tell, you’ll also want to take time to explore Saint Augustine’s University. Located on a beautiful, 122-acre campus minutes from downtown Raleigh, this HBCU was founded in 1867 and is home to several historic landmarks, including Saint Augustine’s University Historic Chapel, the oldest landmark on campus. 

Ever wonder how small-batch spirits are created? Uncover the secret during a distillery tour at Oak City Amaretto or Raleigh Rum Company, where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the distilling process and enjoy an educational afternoon (followed by a tasting of samples).

If you’ve got kids in tow, plan a visit to Raleigh IcePlex, North Carolina’s only Olympic-sized ice rink. If you’ve worked up an appetite, East Raleigh is home to a wide variety of cuisines, including down-home southern food at Jack’s Seafood and Soul Food and Thai and Malaysian delights at Red Pepper Asian.

South Raleigh

Located just south of downtown, this area is one of the city’s most rapidly growing districts. With multiple parks, eateries and entertainment options, South Raleigh is the perfect place to spend a day during your visit.

Take a few hours to explore Juniper Level Botanic Garden, a 28-acre education, research and display garden with more than 23,000 unique plants from around the world. Visitors can also enjoy Historic Yates Mill County Park, a 174-acre wildlife park that features hiking trails, historic Yates Mill and the mill’s 24-acre pond.

Golfers can choose between three courses in South Raleigh: Eagle Ridge Golf Club, a 6,904-yard course designed by 1992 U.S. Open Champion Tom Kite; Raleigh Golf Association, one of Raleigh’s oldest courses, with its 27 holes (18 that are open to the public); and 401 Par Golf, a nine-hole, par-three course that is great for beginners.

For a sweet treat, the locally owned and operated Goodberry’s Frozen Custard is a Raleigh favorite, serving 100%, all-natural frozen custard made fresh hourly.

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