What to do and see in Raleigh, North Carolina: The Best Places and Tips

If you're looking for a getaway that's fun for the whole family and easy on your pocket, look no further than Raleigh. With more than 20 free attractions, this stately and energetic capital city offers an affordable way to enjoy history, culture and the good old outdoors. Spend the day hopping between the three state museums of art, history and natural sciences: all offer free admission. Visitors are free to wander around the grounds of the State Capitol, where they can also observe the legislative process. Stroll past the graves of Civil War generals at a historic cemetery or meander along cobblestone streets of City Market. Shop for the greenest broccoli, reddest apples and tastiest homemade treats around at the State Farmers Market. With over 150 parks, lakes and green ways in Raleigh alone, there is ample opportunity to enjoy golf, biking, swimming, boating and other outdoor adventures.

1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601-1029 Museums, Science Museums, Natural History Museums
Excellent
77%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2185 reviews

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The Southeast's largest natural history museum features dinosaurs, whale skeletons, live animals, walk-through dioramas, special exhibits, hands-on science education and accessible scientists. IMLS National Medal Finalist, 2014.

Reviewed By fwmaggie_12 - OhioOhio

Fun place

The kids loved it. 10, 6 & 4 all thought it was great. Free entrance with parking nearby. We then walked to the market for lunch.

2. Pullen Park

408 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606-2149 Nature & Parks
Excellent
76%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1246 reviews

Pullen Park

Richard Stanhope Pullen founded Pullen Park on March 22, 1887. Once farmland, Mr. Pullen donated the land as a gift to the City of Raleigh to be used as parkland. He characterized it as on old cow pasture, red and rocky. He intended this land to be used for the recreation use and pleasure of the inhabitants and the visitors to the City of Raleigh. Through his visions, Pullen Park became the first public park in North Carolina.

Reviewed By VChapman11 - Raleigh, North CarolinaRaleigh, North Carolina

Nice park for All ages

Pullen Park has something for everyone. The have a separate playground for older children and then one for toddlers. This makes it nice so the smaller children have their own space. The sand area is set up the same way, one for older children one for todd

3. North Carolina Museum of Art

2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607-6433 Museums, Art Museums
Excellent
73%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1702 reviews

North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the leading art museums in the American South, the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) recently completed a major, three-year expansion that places it in the front ranks of museums nationwide. The NCMA offers a permanent collection spanning more than 5,000 years, a variety of celebrated exhibitions and public programs, an amphitheater for outdoor performances, and the nation’s largest museum park—164 acres of trails and parkland containing major works of art.

Reviewed By bluemoonsymphony - United StatesUnited States

Free culture and art

Stopped by here on a Friday night and also returned on Saturday afternoon. Free admission which is great. This is a terrific place to walk around and get some culture. Nice art pieces. They had a lot more than I was expecting: modern, old, artifacts, all

4. Marbles Kids Museum

201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601-1437 Museums, History Museums, Science Museums, Children's Museums More
Excellent
74%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1065 reviews

Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum is a hands-on, interactive destination that inspires children to be creative thinkers, active learners and confident individuals in today's world. With five galleries and two outdoor escapes, there is no shortage of activity for kids birth to 12 and their families. The campus also features the Wachovia IMAX Theatre at Marbles Kids Museum. This 267-seat giant-screen experience is the only 3D capable IMAX theatre in North Carolina.

Reviewed By JMH101 - Newtown, PennsylvaniaNewtown, Pennsylvania

Fun with the Grandchildren

We took our 2 young grandsons here for an afternoon of fun and they had such a good time that they didn’t want to leave.Our youngest grandson really enjoyed the mini golf in the game room. Our older grandson’s favorite thing was the hockey rink where he p

5. North Carolina Museum of History

5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601-1011 Museums, Specialty Museums
Excellent
69%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 853 reviews

North Carolina Museum of History

Explore more than 14,000 years of North Carolina history, from the state's earliest inhabitants through the 20th century. The major exhibition The Story of North Carolina features fascinating artifacts, multimedia presentations, and an interactive format for all ages. Other exhibits highlight the state's military history, sports heroes, decorative arts and more. Monthly programs include children's programs, craft demonstrations and family events. The Museum Shop, featuring North Carolina crafts, and the on-site restaurant Pharaoh's at the Museum are open daily. Admission is free, although some special exhibits require a fee. Free parking is available on weekends in the Jones/Edenton Street lot. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Reviewed By Wade S - Winston Salem, North CarolinaWinston Salem, North Carolina

Awesome!

This museum is one of the best I have been to. The WWI exhibit is awesome. We learned a lot of history about the war. The North Carolina history was great too. Never to old or young to enjoy this museum. The museum is free admission.Wow, that made our day

6. Umstead State Park

8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617-7501 Nature & Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas, State Parks
Excellent
67%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 432 reviews

Umstead State Park

Sandwiched between downtown Raleigh and the airport, this oasis of green features a stand of 300+ year-old hardwood trees, more than 32 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, camp sites and lots more for nature lovers.

Reviewed By Avbrannen - Atenas, Costa RicaAtenas, Costa Rica

A Great Place for a Picnic or a Day's Hike

Umstead State Park is part of the heart of the Triangle area. The Park takes up over 5,000 acres. No matter if your passion is hiking, trail running, mountain biking, or horseback riding, Umstead Park offers an extensive network of hiking and multi-use tr

7. State Farmers Market

1201 Agriculture St, Raleigh, NC 27603-2366 Shopping, Flea & Street Markets
Excellent
67%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 271 reviews

State Farmers Market

Seven days a week, serious food connoisseurs and regular folks, carefully pick through mounds of gorgeously presented fresh local produce at this popular open market, which is owned by the State of North Carolina.

Reviewed By sgw44 - Wilmington, North CarolinaWilmington, North Carolina

Great produce and fruit, reasonably priced

If you want 'farm to table', this is the place to go. Lots of appealing produce and fruit, all reasonably priced. Most items are from local farms in Johnston or Harnett counties. In the fall though, there is a great selection of apples from western NC mou

8. Neuse River Trail

Raleigh, NC Outdoor Activities, Nature & Parks, Hiking Trails
Excellent
82%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 233 reviews

Neuse River Trail

Reviewed By Sightsee_Eat - Worthington, OhioWorthington, Ohio

Great park at the dam

My brother lives on Possum Track, and when I visit from Ohio, we take walks after my long drive, in the neighborhood, sometimes to see the lake and where the old road was. This last time we walked the old road bed up to the top of the dam on the other sid

9. JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University

4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606-1457 Nature & Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas, Gardens
Excellent
69%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 329 reviews

JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University

Part of the North Carolina State University, this eight-acre garden contains a wide variety of cold hardy temperate zone plants.

Reviewed By BG37 - Atlanta, GeorgiaAtlanta, Georgia

Indigenous Plants!

Wonderful opportunity to look, listen, and learn at this NCSU facility! Free to view, classes, tours, and events.

10. Historic Yates Mill County Park

4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603-3912 Sights & Landmarks, Nature & Parks, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Sites More
Excellent
57%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 244 reviews

Historic Yates Mill County Park

Yates Mill is the last operating, water-powered gristmill in NC's capital county. The 18th century mill was restored, and the 174-acre park developed, through a partnership among the County of Wake, Yates Mill Associates, and NC State University. The park is open 361 days per year, from 8 am to sunset. The visitor center with its 2,200 square feet of exhibit space is open 8:30 am to 5 pm. The historic mill is open for guided tours Mar-Nov each year for public tours on weekends (fee: $3-5) and also by appointment on weekdays for organized groups.

Reviewed By mcdh4561 - Fredericksburg, VirginiaFredericksburg, Virginia

An old mill and a new museum

This park has acres of water, the old Yates mill, and a fine interpretive center and mini-museum. The interior exhibit of a mill directs your view to the outside, and then you look, there is the historic mill in full view across the millpond. close-up pho

Share :

Feature News

What to do and see in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: The Best Places and Tips

Myrtle Beach is all at once a spring break destination, golfing destination, retirement community, and family vacation spot. Take in a foot-stomping show at the Carolina Opry, or cheer on your favorite knight at Medieval Times. Mingle with the fishermen of Springmaid Pier, then stop for ice cream along the boardwalk. Shop and dine at one of the area’s many outdoor entertainment complexes, or simply explore the many beaches of the Grand Strand – all with a personality of their own.

Top 10 Things to do in Branson, Missouri

Branson has limitless possibilities for a memorable vacation. While visiting you can: attend star-studded performances at Branson’s many live shows; enjoy Silver Dollar City, one of the world's top theme parks; take in the beauty and adventure of the Ozark Mountains and three pristine lakes; play some of the best golf in the Midwest; visit museums highlighting the area’s rich history and culture; relax at spas and resorts; and shop at Branson’s many boutiques, galleries and outlets.

10 Things to Do in Seattle That You Shouldn't Miss

In Seattle you simply can’t skip the Central Public Library – a modern architectural marvel of glass grids, unusual shapes, and a “book spiral” that climbs four stories. Stroll over to Pike Place Market to visit the original Starbucks and play catch with a fishmonger. In the heart of the city lies Chihuly Garden and Glass, which will dazzle you with its colorful and delicate works. Glide to the top of the Space Needle for panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges and Puget Sound.

10 Things to Do in Pigeon Forge That You Shouldn't Miss

Set against the misty blue backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is a gateway to 500 thousand acres of Appalachian wilderness. If hiking over 800 miles of mountain trails and camping in dense ancient forests isn't your thing, head over to Dollywood for a different sort of fun. Founded by country queen, Dolly Parton, Dollywood combines rollercoasters, waterslides, and live bluegrass and gospel concerts, with a down home country fair.

Top 10 Things to do in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is a true oasis, a vacationer’s paradise in the middle of the Arizona desert. Here, you’ll find resorts and spas, canyons and red rock formations. Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon are great hiking spots, and the dramatic architecture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a religious experience itself. When the sun dips down below the horizon it introduces the best show in Sedona: the night sky.