11 Fun Ways To Spend A Day In Raleigh, North Carolina

things to do in raleigh nc
Molly
Molly
Updated

Raleigh is a diverse, vibrant city full of interesting things to do. From outdoor sports to beer trails to museums, this area has something for people of all ages and preferences. These 11 things to do are just the beginning of all the excitement you can have in this city.

1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Nature Research Center
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user RadioFan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This science museum is the largest of its kind in the Southeast region and the oldest museum in North Carolina. As you walk up to this building, a towering globe will greet you on the street outside, giving you just a glimpse of the magic to come.

Explore four floors of everything from North Carolina habitats, flora and fauna, gemstones, fossil skeletons, interactive exhibits, and more. The museum also hosts rotating special exhibits, such as the RACE exhibit that will be on display until October 2017.

If you happen to be in town on Thursday night, be sure to catch the Science Café, a weekly talk given by experts in various fields over delicious food provided by the museum café.

NC Museum of Natural Science

Address: 11 W Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

Website: NC Museum of Natural Science

2. Bike the American Tobacco Trail

American Tobacco Trail Foliage
Source: Photo by user Mr.TinDC used under CC BY-ND 2.0

The American Tobacco Trail (ATT) is 22.6 miles (42.8 km) long, stretching from Durham to Cary. It passes through three counties, three cities, and ends near a large lake. The trail is divided into three sections, portions of which are also open to wheelchair, rollerblade, and equestrian use.

The trail follows an old rail line and will take you beside creeks, through towns, and over busy highway bridges. If you like bike touring, there is no better way to get an intimate view of all areas of Raleigh.

American Tobacco Trail

Website: American Tobacco Trail

3. Raleigh Beer Trail

Raleigh Beer Trail
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

With more than 25 breweries in the city and a culture that has a taste for local, quality beer, Raleigh is a great place for brewery tours. The Raleigh Beer Trail makes brewery hopping an organized and fun experience – they even have prizes!

Just download the passport from the website below and print. Take the passport around to any of Raleigh’s 30 brewery locations listed and gather stamps. Once you get enough stamps for a prize, just snap a photo, send an email including your mailing address, and receive a present in the mail. Top prize is a Raleigh Beer Trail T-Shirt for 15 breweries visited.

There’s no time limit on brewery visits, they issue one “trail” per year, but only the bravest can complete all 15 in one day.

Raleigh Beer Trail

Website: Raleigh Beer Trail

4. North Carolina Museum of Art

NC Art Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Justin Doub used under CC BY 2.0

The North Carolina Museum of Art is the premier place in Raleigh for all art gatherings. A large portion of the museum is free and open to the public, and the other portion consists of special rotating exhibits available for a small fee.

The museum also hosts a large outdoor sculpture garden with a 1-mile (1.6 km) trail looping through it and the surrounding woods. When a new sculpture is opened either permanently or temporarily, the museum typically hosts a free “party in the park,” featuring local musicians, food trucks, and more.

The NCMA is big on community outreach and events, hosting summer outdoor movie nights, band nights, drawing parties, art classes, book clubs, and art outreach targeted to young children, teens, and college students. Come find your inner artist and join in the fun here.

North Carolina Museum of Art

Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607

Website: NCMA

5. Yates Mill County Park

Yates Mill
Source: Photo by user Larry Lamb used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Built in 1756, this fully restored gristmill is one of the hidden gems of Raleigh. The mill operated for over 200 years and is the only surviving workable gristmill in the region. Admission to the grounds is free, and a guided tour can be purchased for 5 USD a person.

The grounds and the mill are absolutely gorgeous. The entire property is a wildlife refuge, and among other things, you will find ducks and turtles basking on a serene pond and a rare breed of snake sunning on rocks (don’t worry, they’re blocked off in their own special area and are non-venomous).

One of the Raleigh’s most popular photography spots, you’ll find amateurs and professionals alike snapping photos of the mill and the landscape. There are also several miles of hiking trails for exploration.

Yates Mill County Park

Address: 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603

Website: Yates Mill

6. Frankie's Fun Park

Miniature Golf
Source: Photo by user Scott Akerman used under CC BY 2.0

Frankie’s Fun Park is a great way for the entire family to spend an afternoon. With mini golf, a go-kart course, batting cages, arcades, a sky trail, bumper boats, and more, there is something to do here for kids of all ages.

The park also offers food and a full service bar, so families can spend the entire day here having fun.

Frankie's Fun Park

Address: 11190 Fun Park Dr, Raleigh, NC 27617

Website: Frankie’s Fun Park

7. Raleigh Little Theatre Rose Garden

Rose Garden
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

This beautiful corner of Raleigh is listed as a Special Events Venue, but is free and open to the public 7 days a week. It is one of just three accredited gardens in North Carolina, and is the display garden for all new roses presented by the All American Rose Society. The garden includes sixty beds and 56 varieties of roses, as well as hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, miniatures and antiques.

Upon arrival, you’ll park on the street and walk down a stone path into a hidden valley. Seeing the garden from above is an amazing sight, as the land before you opens up to more beautiful and vibrant roses than you can imagine.

Raleigh Little Theatre Rose Garden

Address: 301 Pogue St, Raleigh, NC 27607

Website: Little Theatre Rose Garden

8. Segway Tours

Segway Tours
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Tony Hisgett used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Triangle Glides is the paramount Segway tour company in the Raleigh area. Offering multiple tours nearly every day, this company provides a unique way for visitors to see the city. They strive to find new ways of looking at Raleigh, offering tours such as Downtown Discovery, City Center, Historic Oakwood, and the popular Raleigh’s Darkest Secrets Tour. They provide training, helmets, and an audio pack to fully enjoy this experience.

Segway Tours

Address: 323 Blake St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Website: Triangle Glides

9. Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park - Road and trees 2014
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Monumenteer2014ca... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Umstead State Park is the largest state park in the area. Covering 5,599 acres (2,266 hectares) and spanning around Cary, Durham, and Raleigh, you can find entrances to this wooded oasis all around the Raleigh area. More than 20 miles (32 km) of trails will take you beside creeks, lakes, and through woods. Be prepared to see local wildlife such as deer, squirrels, turtles, and more. While easily accessible and very close to the city, once you enter here you’ll forget you were just around concrete and asphalt, and be able to soak up the joy of being in nature.

Umstead State Park

Address: 8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

Website: Umstead State Park

10. Downtown nightlife

Bar Nightlife
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

The nightlife in downtown Raleigh assures a good time. One of the best places to start is at a semi-hidden bar called Fox Liquor Bar. Here you will find a large supply of custom crafted cocktails. You can even request a “bartender’s choice,” or a drink made just for you.

If you’re in the mood for a more club-like atmosphere, head over to Ruby Deluxe. This liberal club hosts numerous local DJs and advertises itself as a “mainly queer space, straight people allowed if they’re cool.” Locals have affectionately dubbed it the “sparkle dungeon,” and people of all kinds enjoy a fun night dancing and drinking here – although probably not Republicans; the bar staff all wear shirts that say “no republicans allowed.”

For craft beer aficionados, Paddy O Beer’s is a must-stop. With several rotating taps and a patio, this place always has a wide selection. You can also find cases of rare beers here for purchase. Raleigh Beer Garden is another stop for great draft beers - with 3 levels, 5 bars with countless taps, and outdoor seating with games, visitors can easily spend an entire night here enjoying the company of old and new friends.

Fox Liquor Bar

Website: Fox Liquor Bar

Ruby Deluxe

Website: Ruby Deluxe

Paddy O Beer’s

Website: Paddy O Beer’s

11. Marbles Kids Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Marbles Kids Museum is a place of interactive fun and learning for children 10 and under. Exhibits include a fire truck complete with outfits for kids to try on, a vet clinic, interactive farm, Lego city building space, hula hoops, painting, and more. They even have a large indoor pirate ship. Allow your kids to run and play and learn through hands-on experiences.

Marbles Kids Museum

Address: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Website: Marbles Kids Museum

This is just the beginning

This is just the beginning of all the things you can do in Raleigh. Even people who have lived here for a year still find exciting new things to do every weekend. Keep an eye out for special events and enjoy all the fun to be had in the city.

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Fun Ways To Spend A Day In Raleigh, North Carolina
Source: Trip101.com

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Molly is a technology marketing and sales professional. She earned a Bachelor's degree from Baylor University and has been writing for many years. Currently, she is a contributor at trip101.com...Read more

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