Things To Do In Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh Skyline

Raleigh, North Carolina is the second largest city in North Carolina after Charlotte. Because of its many oak trees, it's known as 'City of Oaks' and covers the land area of 142.8 mi.² with a city population of 451,066. TripAdvisor describes it as an energetic and stately capital city with plenty of inexpensive things to do outdoors as well as historical and cultural attractions that are family-friendly for out-of-state visitors. They recommend visiting some of the state museums, touring Civil War graveyards, or just exploring the outdoors by biking, golfing, boating or swimming.

Fun & Educational Activities

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601-1029 / 1 919-707-9800 / Website

One of the more popular things to do is visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. This is the largest natural history museum in the south-east and some of its prize features include whale skeletons, hands-on instructional science exhibits, as well as live animals. Visitors were happy about this all age, family-friendly science center, which has interactive exhibits that help young children learn something with hands-on activities.

One out-of-town visitor said that it was a fun and mash-up of a museum and a science exhibit- be sure to plan ahead so you have enough time to see all of the curios. Another out-of-town visitor traveling in from Charlotte said that it was a family-friendly destination that pairs well with a late day visit to the beach.

A tourist who came in from New York City, and was looking for fun and inexpensive things to do, said it was pretty cheap, and you should budget at least two hours to fully explore everything this science museum has to offer. A Kentucky resident drove through North Carolina on the way to Florida and tells us that this all age museum was a fun and inexpensive side tour- they enjoyed eating in the café and exploring the butterfly room. An especially spacious museum, local area residents are routinely rewarded by revisiting it- saying there's always something new on display.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a remarkable place. 134 years young and asking and answering the questions of ‘what do we know’? ‘How do we know what’s happening now and how do I get involved?’

A Tourist’s Perspective

There’s something for everybody here- if you’re a museum, professional or if you’re just somebody that’s a general visitor, we have the sort of grand old museum that you imagine from your childhood, where they have walkthrough dioramas with lots of animals, but if you have a taste for the new and for the cutting edge, the new facility that they just created is chock full of high-tech exhibits and digital technology.

Its cornerstone is the Daily Planet Theater, which is a three-story high, fully immersive space that surrounds you with digital images and sounds. They do live presentations in that space, as well. The space has also featured town hall meetings and in terms of visual content, there are over 50 titles that related to visual poetry, nature, science, and about wonder in general.

You can sort of just take it at your own speed and watch beautiful images and beautiful quotes that inspire you to think about what motivates people that work in the sciences, and the laboratories here at the Nature Research Center. The labs at the Center are fantastic and they’re they’re publicly viewable with glass walls letting you see what bonafide researchers are doing.

There is a lot of collaborative work going on between museum researchers and university scientists and students, again in communication and full view of public, where they can come in and see the stuff happening right in front of their eyes. The museum’s laboratories have really become a model for these kinds of collaborations. It’s a very special venue in which these researchers can work and communicate with the public, and bring science really to the forefront of outreach education.

Another means of outreach are the museum’s special events presented throughout the year. The biggest annual event is a Bug Fest which is held every September and attracts more than 35,000 visitors to learn about the fascinating world of arthropods and even have the opportunity to eat bugs.

Finally, the museum is a great venue for event planners to host their private receptions or science-oriented functions for up to 2,300 guests per event. After-Hours events can be staged throughout both wings of the museum. The Research Center wing has an environmental conference center, specially designed for smaller meetings during the day.

The museum also holds reptile and amphibian day, every March, which attracts 10 to 15,000 visitors astronomy days every January, attracting about 10,000 visitors. These programs are free educational events open to the public and it sets the museum apart as being an exciting venue for the public to interact with scientists and educators.

The Yates Mill County Park

4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603-3912 / 919-856-6675 / Website

Another interesting destination is the historical Yates Mill County Park- it is described as the last operating, water-power gristmill in Raleigh. It was restored and now is a 174-acre park that is operated in partnership with NC State University, Gatesmill Associates, and the County- it's open every day of the year all the way from 8 AM in the morning to sunset.

One visitor who took a guided tour advised that you call ahead to ensure that the guided tours are available on the day you'll be visiting. Savvy local area residents say that the Welcome Center is a great place to start your tour because it has a variety of compelling facts and information about the mill including family-friendly, hands-on learning exhibits. Other visitors were impressed by the waterfall and dam, saying that the park has several different trails which are beautiful to walk-with the opportunity to witness local wildlife. Children seem to especially enjoy watching the dam release water and the wheel turn- there isn't a gift shop, though. 

The Marbles Kids Museum

201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601-1437 / 919-834-4040 / Website

Another fun destination is the Marbles Kids Museum- it is an interactive space that inspires young ones to be confident and active learners. Tourists say they enjoyed the IMAX theater, the piggy bank, the pirate ship, saying that their children love visiting and experiencing a range of different intellectual and physical activities.

Compared to more sophisticated museums, this one is really designed for children, per se, providing a space for hands-on learning experiences that the parents don't have to facilitate. It is primarily an indoor space-providing a great way to entertain a large family, all long budget.

Our Favorite Raleigh Venues

What Real Estate Agents Are Saying About Raleigh

Raleigh is a spectacular place to live and Raleigh residents are proud of where they live as North Carolina’s capital city Raleigh is home to the state government, prestigious public and private universities and a thriving job market. It was even ranked in a CNN poll in 2015, as the number one city in the US for job growth, a vibrant, downtown, rich local culture, top-rated schools and desirable neighborhoods make this city a top choice among homebuyers.

It’s no wonder that Raleigh ranks among the best cities for jobs, the best cities for foodies and the best places to live. It’s also a city for any adventurer. If the great outdoors is calling you don’t have to leave Raleigh to answer it, Raleigh is filled with parks and scenic gardens. The City of Raleigh maintains more than 100 miles of Greenway trails throughout its Capital Area Greenway system, including the Neuse River Trail, which connects Raleigh hikers with the Mountains-to-Sea-Trail.

On summer days when the water is calling you can visit nearby Falls Lake or Jordan Lake for swimming, boating and camping. Raleigh is also rich in history and culture and there’s always something fun to do in Raleigh. You could spend a Saturday exploring Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh, which often features music festivals, food trucks, outdoor movies and parades. Take a tour of the State Capitol or the North Carolina Museum of History for a glimpse of Raleigh’s local and national importance. Experience a fast-paced sporting event at NC State University’s Carter-Finley Stadium or watch the Hurricanes take on their opponents at the PNC Arena.

And let’s not forget the shopping at fabulous places like Crabtree Valley Mall Triangle Town Center, North Hills or Cameron Village. The list of adventures you can have in Raleigh is endless. Raleigh may be known for its parks, its performing arts venues and its proximity to Research Triangle Park.

But residents know that Raleigh has a wide variety of neighborhoods and homes to choose from whether you’re looking to buy a larger house close to a top-rated Wake County school or a smaller home near your favorite shopping center, you can find your favorite place, or even your dream home in one of Raleigh’s beautiful communities.