Looking for the best things to do in Raleigh, NC? Then you’ve come to the right place!
Raleigh is the capital city of North Carolina and it’s a city with a lot of fun things to do. Whether you like art, history, chocolate, science, entertainment, or something else, there are a lot of great activities to choose from.
If you’re wondering what to do in Raleigh, I got you covered! In this guide, I included the best attractions, fun activities, great museums, and much more so you can make the most out of your time in this amazing city.
Best Things To Do in Raleigh
Learn New Things at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a museum that is located in downtown Raleigh. It is the oldest museum in North Carolina and is dedicated to science and nature.
At the museum in downtown Raleigh, you can find various permanent interactive exhibits through which you can learn about different science disciplines.
One of the exhibits is all about the rare nature of the state of North Carolina, including extinct species.
Another exhibit focuses on the gemstones that were found in North Carolina.
There’s also an exhibit dedicated to prehistoric North Carolina. Here, you can see fossils that were discovered in the state.
In addition to these permanent exhibits, there are also special, temporary exhibits and events at the museum.
Address: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Enjoy a Show at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium
The Raleigh Memorial Auditorium is a venue that is part of the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts. This specific venue is the largest of the four venues that you can find at the center.
The Raleigh Memorial Auditorium has a capacity of 2354 people and a history that goes back to the year 1932.
Throughout the years, many famous artists, such as Frank Sinatra and Jerry Seinfeld performed at the venue. In addition, the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium was the host of various Broadway musicals.
Nowadays, the venue is used for all sorts of events, including dance performances, musicals, and many other types of events. This is also great if you’re looking for things to do at night in Raleigh.
Address: 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Do a Factory Tour at the Videri Chocolate Factory
The Videri Chocolate Factory is a chocolate shop and chocolate factory that you can find in downtown Raleigh.
You can visit the factory and do a tour which is amazing if you’re looking for fun things to do in Raleigh. This is possible every day of the week.
There are two tours to choose from: a self-guided tour and a guided tour.
The self-guided tour can be done for free, and it is also possible to sample free chocolate during this tour.
During the guided tour, a staff member of the Videri Chocolate Factory shows you all the steps that go into the chocolate-making process.
Instead of doing a tour, or in addition to doing a tour, you can go to the cafe of the factory to enjoy delicious chocolate while having a cup of coffee.
Address: 327 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Check Out the Collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art
The North Carolina Museum of Art is an art museum in Raleigh that was founded in 1956.
The museum showcases the People’s Collection which consists of all sorts of items from within the state of North Carolina, but also outside of it. The items that you can see here span a period of more than 5,000 years.
From paintings to sculptures to decorative arts, and from Italian to Greek to American works, there’s much to see at the museum.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, you can often attend an event at the museum. For example, there are lectures and film screenings.
Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607
Play Arcade Games at Boxcar Bar + Arcade
Boxcar Bar + Arcade is a fun place with several locations in the state of North Carolina. You can find one of its locations in downtown Raleigh.
This is a video arcade where you can play all sorts of arcade games and pinball machines, including vintage ones. Some of the games that you can find here are Donkey Kong Jr. and Ms Pacman.
In addition to that, Boxcar Bar + Arace is a full bar as well, so you can get great food and drinks, including beer and wine, here.
On the weekends, you can enjoy great live music at the live music stage of Boxcar Bar + Arcade as well.
Address: 330 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
See Contemporary Art at CAM Raleigh
CAM Raleigh, or the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, is a museum solely dedicated to contemporary art.
The museum doesn’t have a permanent collection. Instead, the museum showcases exhibitions of contemporary works by living artists from all around the world.
Each exhibition is different and you are able to see all kinds of unique works at the museum.
Besides that, the Vendor Market takes place at CAM Raleigh every first Friday of the month. This is a great event where you can buy unique items.
Address: 409 W Martin St, Raleigh, NC 27603
Go to the PNC Arena and See a Game
The PNC Arena is an indoor arena that you can find in Raleigh.
Lots of different types of events take place at the arena, including all kinds of sporting events.
The PNC Arena is the home of both the Carolina Hurricanes, which is a team that competes in the National Hockey League, and the basketball team of the NC State Wolfpack of North Carolina State University.
Besides sporting events, the PNC Arena is also used for concerts, comedy shows, and many other types of events that can be great to check out if you’re looking for activities in Raleigh, including shows by famous artists.
Address: 1400 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607
Go to the City of Raleigh Museum
The City of Raleigh Museum is one of the best museums in Raleigh. You can find it on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. The museum is located in a historic hardware store.
At the City of Raleigh Museum, you can learn about the history of the city through various exhibits, including permanent exhibits and exhibits that are at the museum for a limited time only.
One of the permanent exhibits is the “Hello! We are Raleigh” exhibit. This exhibit is all about the general history of the city and you can find artifacts, photos, and stories here.
There are also exhibits dedicated to a specific part of the city’s history. For example, one of the exhibits at the museum is about the flag of the city.
Address: 220 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Shop at Shops at Village District
Village District is an area and shopping center in Raleigh that opened in the year 1949.
It is an open-air shopping center where you can find many different types of stores, including locally-owned and family-owned stores.
You can also find national retailers at the shopping center and the center is home to many different types of restaurants, making it easy to both shop and dine at Village District.
Throughout the year, lots of events also take place at Village District. For example, during the holiday season, there are special events. You can also sometimes enjoy live music events at the center.
See the North Carolina State Capitol
The North Carolina State Capitol, the state’s capitol building, is one of the best landmarks in Raleigh. It’s a capitol building that has been in use since the year 1840.
The building used to house all branches of the state’s government, but a part of it moved to other buildings.
The North Carolina State Capitol is a beautiful historic building made in the Greek Revival style. The building has also been a National Historic Landmark since the year 1973.
The building is currently being renovated, so tours of the building are not possible. However, when there are no renovations, it is possible to do a tour of the North Carolina State Capitol.
Address: 1 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Do a Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh
It is possible to do a trolley pub tour of Raleigh. This is a 2-hour public tour on a Trolley Pub.
This is a very fun thing to do in Raleigh during which you ride a special kind of large bike together with a group of other people. Together, you can pedal the bike forward from one pub to the next.
The tour lets you discover several of the city’s pubs in a fun way. At each pub, you can choose from a variety of drinks and great food.
In addition to that, you can explore the city in a fun way while riding the bike.
Go to an Event at Moore Square
Moore Square is a historic green space that dates back to the year 1792. You can find a lot of different things at Moore Square.
One of these is the Moore Square Visitor Center, where you can see interesting exhibits related to the history of Moore Square.
You can also find places where you can get food at Moore Square.
In addition to that, a variety of events take place at the Square.
For example, during some months of the year, you can attend the Moore Square Market here.
Throughout the year, there are also trivia events and events with live music. One of the events with live music is “Jazz in the Square”, during which you can listen to free live jazz performances.
See a Show at the Lincoln Theatre
It is an intimate historic venue where lots of different types of events take place.
You can attend concerts of many different types of genres at the theater. Sometimes, you can attend other types of events here as well, so it can be great to check out which events take place at the theater if you’re wondering what to do in Raleigh.
Address: 126 E Cabarrus St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Go to the Marbles Kids Museum
This is a children’s museum where you can find all kinds of interactive and fun exhibits through which children can learn new things while having a lot of fun.
One of the exhibits is the “Around Town” exhibit. This exhibit consists of a variety of miniature versions of the community. Children can learn about “how people live, work, and play” at this exhibit.
Another fun and educational exhibit is the “Kid Grid” exhibit. Through this exhibit, children can learn about many aspects of electricity, from generating electricity to electric cars to power outages.
Address: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Dine at the Morgan Street Food Hall
The Morgan Street Food Hall is a food hall that is located on West Morgan Street in downtown Raleigh.
At this food hall, which you should not confuse with a food court, you can find various local eateries and restaurants in one space.
Because of this, you can go to the food hall with several people, order the food you all like most, and then enjoy it in the same area. Also, the food hall makes it possible to discover new types of food.
From pizza to empanadas to curry to tacos, you can get it all at the food hall.
You can also have fun at the food hall, as there are options for entertainment. For example, you can find Epic Axe at the food hall, which is an axe-throwing venue.
Address: 411 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27603
Go to a Concert at the Meymandi Concert Hall
The Meymandi Concert Hall is a concert hall that you can find in downtown Raleigh. This concert hall is part of the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts, like 3 other venues.
The Meymandi Concert Hall is the home of the North Carolina Symphony and it is a great place to go if you want to have an amazing concert experience. The concert hall has great acoustics and great seats.
For example, you can enjoy a great classical music concert at the Meymandi Concert Hall.
There are also sometimes concerts during which you can enjoy music from famous movies, and during the holiday season, you can enjoy special seasonal concerts.
Address: 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Explore the Attractions of Pullen Park
Pullen Park is a public park that you can find close to downtown Raleigh.
In the park, you can find all kinds of fun attractions for children, and going to the attractions is one of the best things to do in Raleigh.
For example, you can find the Pullen Park Carousel in the city park. This is a classic wood carousel that dates back to the year 1900. It has many hand-carved animals.
In addition to that, there’s a miniature train at Pullen Park that children can ride.
Another attraction is the “Kiddie Boats” attraction. This attraction is like a carousel, but instead, children sit in a floating boat.
It is also possible to play all sorts of carnival games in Pullen Park. These are only available during some months of the year.
Have Fun at Adventure Landing
Adventure Landing is a family entertainment center with various locations throughout the United States. One of the locations can be found in the city of Raleigh.
At Adventure Landing Raleigh, there are a lot of fun things to do.
For example, there are 3 unique 18-hole miniature golf courses with many unique elements, such as waterfalls and mountains. These miniature golf courses are great for all ages.
There is also an arcade with more than 75 games, there is a go-kart track here, and you can also find a laser tag arena at Adventure Landing.
Address: 3311 Capital Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27604
Get Ice Cream at Two Roosters Ice Cream
Two Roosters Ice Cream is an ice cream store that was founded in 2015 and which has several locations in Raleigh. One of the locations can be found on East Franklin Street.
At this ice cream store, you can get delicious and unique flavors of high-quality ice cream. Some of the flavors that you can get here include honey and strawberry. The flavors at the ice cream store often change.
Besides regular scoops of ice cream, you can also get other types of ice cream treats here, such as ice cream cakes and pies. Going to this ice cream store is also one of the most fun date ideas in Raleigh.
Address: 215 E Franklin St, Raleigh, NC 27604
Attend a Show at the Stewart Theatre
The Stewart Theatre is a theater with 759 seats that you can find at the North Carolina State University. The theater has great acoustics and comfortable seats.
You can see performances of NC State Live at the theater. These performances are very diverse.
For example, you can often attend dance performances, concerts, and other types of events at the Stewart Theatre.
Address: 2610 Cates Ave, Raleigh, NC 27695
Do a Tour of the North Carolina Executive Mansion
The North Carolina Executive Mansion is a house that serves as the official residence of North Carolina’s governor.
The house dates back to the year 1883 and is a great example of a Queen Anne-style building. The house is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you want to learn more about the building, you can do a public tour of the North Carolina Executive Mansion. These tours are free, but you need to make a reservation in advance. Also, the tours are only available during some months of the year.
Besides that, sometimes, there are events at the house, and going to one of the events is also a great thing to do in Raleigh. For example, during the holiday season, you can visit the house during the “Holiday Open House”. During this event, you can tour the house, see its decorations, and enjoy live local music.
Address: 200 N Blount St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Go to an Event at the JC Raulston Arboretum
The JC Raulston Arboretum is a botanical garden and arboretum that belongs to the North Carolina State University.
The Arboretum has beautiful plants and flowers, and lots of events take place at the JC Raulston Arboretum throughout the year.
For example, there are events during which you can learn about horticulture from a panel of horticulturists.
The “Garden Story Walk”, which is an event during which you go for a walk in the garden and read pages of a book that are displayed throughout the garden, is a great event to go to.
There are also classes in the garden through which you can learn about plants, and there are fun events for children.
See the Memorial Belltower
The Memorial Belltower is a tower that you can find at Henry Square on the campus of North Carolina State University.
The tower dates back to the year 1937 and is a memorial to the students of the university who gave their lives during World War I. Besides that, the tower is central to celebrations and events of the university.
Address: 2011 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27607
Enjoy a Drink With a View at Level7
Level7 is a rooftop bar that makes for a great activity in Raleigh. It is located at the AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills on the 7th floor.
You can enjoy a variety of drinks made by small-batch distilleries and other types of drinks at the rooftop bar, as well as delicious Spanish-influenced tapas-style bites.
While doing that, you can enjoy a great view of the city of Raleigh when you are at Level7.
In addition to that, you can start your day by having breakfast here as well. There is a Breakfast a la carte menu with many options to choose from.
Address: 101 Park at N Hills St, Raleigh, NC 27609
Visit the Gregg Museum of Art & Design
The Gregg Museum of Art & Design is an art museum of the North Carolina State University.
The museum has a collection of more than 50,000 objects that are very diverse. The objects in the museum’s collection come from across the world and from many periods in time.
The permanent collection includes paintings, ceramics, sculptures, photos, and many other types of items.
There’s also often something new to see at the museum, as there are about 6 new exhibitions at the museum each year. These also include traveling exhibitions from other museums.
There are also many events that take place at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design. For example, you can often attend lectures or see film screenings here.
Address: 1903 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27607
See an Opera Performance at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater
The A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater is one of the four venues of the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts. This venue has 600 seats and has an intimate atmosphere. Each seat is less than 70 feet from the stage, which makes for a great experience.
Many opera, dance, and live music performances take place at the theater throughout the year, and attending a performance here is an incredible activity in Raleigh.
For example, there are several annual performances by the Carolina Ballet that take place at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater.
Address: 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Stroll the State Farmers Market
The State Farmers Market in Raleigh is a 7-day-a-week year-round farmers market where you can go to shop for local goods.
From fruits and vegetables to gifts to many other items, there’s a lot to discover at the market.
The market consists of various indoor and outdoor shopping areas.
One of these is the “Market Shoppes”, which is a large building where you can find a variety of specialty shops and vendors. Another building is the “Farmers Building” where you can shop for fresh produce, plants, and specialty items from local farms.
You can also find various restaurants at the market, such as the State Farmers Market Restaurant, where you can enjoy delicious Southern food.
Address: 1201 Agriculture St, Raleigh, NC 27603
Go to a Show at the Raleigh Little Theatre
The Raleigh Little Theatre is a community theater that was founded in the year 1936 by local performers. You can find the theater at 301 Pogue Street in Raleigh.
The theater is one of the country’s oldest continuously operating community theaters, and it is a great place to experience the local theater scene of the city.
Lots of different shows take place at the theater. The theater produces 10 productions each year, and the theater makes its own costumes.
Some of the productions of the theater are great for all ages, such as family musicals. You can also sometimes see a movie screening at the Raleigh Little Theatre.
Address: 301 Pogue St, Raleigh, NC 27607
Go to an Event at the Dorton Arena
The Dorton Arena is a large arena with a capacity of more than 7,500 people. You can find the arena at 4286 Trinity Road.
The arena, which has a beautiful and unique design, dates back to the year 1952 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A large variety of events takes place at the arena, including concerts, sporting events, and many other types of events.
Address: 4285 Trinity Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607
See a Movie at Marbles IMAX
Marbles IMAX is a movie theater that you can find at the Marbles Kids Museum. At this place, you can see movies on a very large screen while enjoying great sound at the same time.
The newest blockbusters are shown at the movie theater.
Besides that, there are all kinds of 3D documentaries that take place at Marbles IMAX. These documentaries all last 45 minutes and are scheduled on a rotating basis.
One of the documentaries is all about human exploration of space, including future missions to Mars. The name of this documentary is “Journey to Space 3D”.
Another documentary that is great is “Pandas 3D”. This is a documentary that was filmed at the Chengdu Panda Base in China. During it, you can learn all about Giant Pandas.
Address: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Learn About History at the North Carolina Museum of History
The North Carolina Museum of History is a Smithsonian-affiliate history museum that makes for one of the best activities in Raleigh.
At the museum, you can find all kinds of artifacts and other objects related to the history and culture of North Carolina.
There are interesting permanent exhibits that focus on certain, specific parts of the state’s history.
For example, there’s one exhibit called “1920s Drugstore”, where you can see original objects from the former 1920s J. C. Brantley Drugstore.
You can also find the NC Sports Hall of Fame at the museum. Here, you can find more than 200 items through which you can learn about the sports legends of the state of North Carolina.
Besides that, there are also traveling exhibitions and special events.
Address: 5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Have Fun at Crazy Axe
Crazy Axe is an axe-throwing venue that you can find in the city of Raleigh. At this place, you can experience the fun and increasingly popular, activity of axe-throwing.
During this, you throw axes at a wooden target and compete with your friends. Axe-throwing is a lot like darts, except that you use an axe.
Besides throwing axes, you can also enjoy great food and drinks at Crazy Axe.
Crazy Axe has two locations in the city. One of these is located on Capital Boulevard and the other one is at Garner Station Boulevard.
Address: 208 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601
Go to an Event at The Rialto Theatre
The Rialto Theatre, located at 1620 Glenwood Avenue, is a performing arts venue and movie theater where lots of different events are held.
The Rialto Theatre is a historic venue that recently opened again after renovations.
You can go there for concerts, comedy shows, movies, and many other types of shows.
Address: 1620 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27608
Go to a Performance at the Kennedy Theatre
The Kennedy Theatre is one of the four venues of the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts.
This is a small and intimate theater with 150 seats where you can often enjoy great local theater productions and other types of shows.
One of the events that take place at the Kennedy Theatre is “The Dessertery”. This is a holiday event during which you can enjoy sweets, hot cocoa, and live entertainment.
Address: 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC 27601
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What To Do in Raleigh Tips
If you’re deciding what to do in Raleigh, such as visiting a museum, I recommend finding out if there are restaurants near the place that you plan on visiting. You can have lunch or dinner before or after doing an activity on this list to have a better time in Raleigh.
Raleigh Things To Do Map
I hope I helped you find some fun activities in the city. Thanks for reading my guide to the best things to do in Raleigh, NC!