North Carolina has an abundance of Southern charm, especially in Raleigh, the booming tri-metropolitan area that’s also the capital of the state and encompasses the cities of Durham and Chapel Hill. It’s also named as one of the top 10 best cities to live in if you’re young and ambitious. Besides being the hot spot for jobs, it’s also known as a charming vacation destination. Here are the top things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina, when you’re visiting.
The Trio of Museums
There are three must-see museums in Raleigh. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is ideal for those who love the natural world, the North Carolina Museum of Art is suitable for art lovers and the North Carolina Museum of History will please history lovers. All three should be on every vacationer’s bucket lists.
Urban Oasis Times Two
Just a few minutes outside of downtown Raleigh, you’ll find not only a beaver, raccoon and deer habitat but also more than 35 trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking at William B. Umstead State Park. This picturesque urban setting is also ideal for canoeing, fishing and picnicking. The Neuse River Trail, also known as the Raleigh Greenway, is a 28-mile long wide path for walking, biking and enjoying nature.
An Old-Fashioned Amusement Park
Head to Pullen Park, located west of downtown Raleigh next to North Carolina State University to experience the fifth-oldest operating amusement park in the United States. It’s a frugal thrill at one dollar for many rides, but it’s a place of beauty and the home of the bronze statue of Andy and Opie Taylor from “The Andy Griffith Show.”
History Unfolds at the Yates Mill
A 174-acre wildlife refuge, Historic Yates Mill County Park, is also one of the last water-powered gristmills in the area. There you can hike and fish from the boardwalks. It’s also known as a tranquil place where you can enjoy fresh Southern air and an escape from the daily grind.
Go on the Beer Trail
Raleigh loves kids ― and adults. Visit Raleigh’s 25-plus breweries on the Raleigh Beer Trail and win prizes just by sampling every brew. Every brewery has a story, so get to know more about the first female-owned brewery plus many more stories while you’re enjoying the trail to earning your T-shirt and beer huggers.
Stop by the State Capitol
The State Capitol building isn’t just your ordinary National Historic Landmark dating back to the 1800s. It’s also a fine example of one of the best-preserved pieces of Greek Revival architecture, restored to its original mid-1800s grandeur.
Tour the Governor’s House
History buffs love the tour of the North Carolina Executive Mansion, the home to North Carolina’s governors since 1890. The Victorian-style mansion offers free tours of the house and gardens but does require a reservation.
Visit the City Cemetery
It’s not necessarily a ghost walk, but it might feel like one in this cemetery that was established in 1798. The particularly atmospheric iron fence that surrounds the property was put in place to keep cattle from trampling the graves. The cemetery has three areas, one for citizens, one for visitors and one for slaves.
Visit the Videri Chocolate Factory
After your history lessons and museum tours, discover chocolate at the Videri Chocolate Factory for a self-guided tour and samples. It’s a quick tour mostly given by watching workers through viewing windows. The sweet treat at the end makes it all the more worthwhile.
Frankie’s Fun Park
You enter an exotic landscape of waterfalls and greenery when you play mini golf at Frankie’s Fun Park. The game is one of many attractions at the park. Fun House is like a hamster maze for kids, while Spider Web is like a Venus fly trap. Windstarz, Drop Zone and Sidewinder are fun rides, and The Dark Ride XD is an interactive movie experience. Hold onto your harness as you dangle four stories above the earth on Sky Trail, and watch out for the lights when you play laser tag. There’s year-round fun to be found at the park.
Things to do in Raleigh include visiting Pullen Park, the first public park in North Carolina. Founded in 1887, the park is located on Hillsborough Street, an iconic arts, culture and recreation destination. Rides at the park include a carousel, train, kiddie boats and paddle boats. The Aquatic Center includes a large swimming pool, and the Arts Center features gallery exhibits and art studios. Theatre In The Park performs original musicals, comedies and more. Pullen Place Cafe is close to the Welcome Center.
Go Ape! Treetop Adventure
Strap on your harness and get ready for a canopy tour of the Blue Jay Point Country Park. Zoom through the air on one of the zip lines, cry out as you try the Tarzan swings and test your skills on the log swing and apple picker’s ladder. See how fast you can climb the rope ladders and how long it takes you to navigate the spider’s web.
William B. Umstead State Park
At this park feel free to take a canoe out on one of the lakes or cast a line to see what you can catch. Bike or hike along the trails that take you through wooded areas and to many of the lakes. Choose from dozens of trails and spot the different bird species along the way.