Raleigh travel guide

Raleigh Tourism | Raleigh Guide

You're Going to Love Raleigh

Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and home to a number of universities. Named after Sir Walter Raleigh, it has a handsome Downtown and a great food and music scene. The city is home to some excellent museums and galleries and the large student population helps to create an exciting nightlife.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Raleigh

1. Museums

Raleigh is home to some great museums, such as the City of Raleigh Museum and the North Carolina Museum of History.

2. Pullen Park

Pullen Park is an excellent nature park, complete with boat rental, hiking trails, fairground rides, and a lovely miniature railway.

3. Historic Sites

The city boasts many fascinating historic sites, such as Yates Mill County Park, Mordecai Historic Park, and Historic Oakwood.

4. Performing Arts

Raleigh has a number of good performing arts venues and organizations, such as Theatre in the Park and North Carolina Opera.

5. The Nightlife

The city has a great selection of bars and clubs, such as Noir and Goodnight's Comedy Club.

What to do in Raleigh

1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Great Fun for Kids

Regularly ranked as one of America's best museums, the Museum of Natural Sciences is educational and entertaining in equal measure. You may have to dodge a few school parties here and there, but it's worth it. Installations telling the story of NC's natural world, with dinosaur skeletons, aquariums, cinemas and much, much more. In truth, there's so much here that a day might not be enough, but it's free to enter, so feel free to go back another day.

2. Pullen Park: More than Meets the Eye

Located just west of Downtown Raleigh, the 66 acres of Pullen Park offer a blend of family fun and tranquility. Kids will adore the carousel (made in 1900 by an Italian master craftsman) as well as the kiddie boats and model train, while grown-up kids tend to enjoy the pedalos on the park's lake. With an Olympic-sized pool, an air-conditioned theater center and ceramics and art workshops at the Pullen Art Center, it's much more than a park -- it's the hub of Raleigh's community.

3. North Carolina Museum of Art: A Cornucopia of Visual Delights

Tucked away in western Raleigh near the University, the NC Museum of Art first opened its doors in 1956. Since then, it has accumulated a fantastic collection which spans all of the world's continents and more than 5,000 years of history. Highlights include bronzes by Rodin and a fantastic collection of Dutch and Flemish masters, but there's something for all art lovers here. And the museum's amphitheater is also a wonderful summer concert venue, so make a day of it with a unique fusion of art and music.

4. North Carolina State Capitol: The Heart of the Tar Heel State

This is where everything gets done in Raleigh. The Capitol is an elegant building at the heart of the city which dates back to 1840. It might not host the legislature any more (that's moved opposite the Natural History Museum), but it's still where the Governor works. These days, the Capitol Tour provides a vivid peek into how the state's government functioned for over 100 years and also includes a meticulous reconstruction of how the State Library would have looked in 1856.

5. JC Raulston Arboretum: The Rose of Raleigh

As you'll know if you visit the Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina has some majestic plants, and the JC Raulston Arboretum is the place to see them. Raulston himself was a pioneering horticulturalist and the arboretum was opened in his memory after a fatal car crash in 1996. It's a fitting memorial, extending over 40,000 square meters. Overload your senses with fragrances in the Paradise Garden or the Klein-Pringle White Garden, settle down for a rest in the peaceful Japanese Garden or wander through the many zones, taking in a plethora of colors and smells.

North Carolina Museum of Natural SciencesNorth Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Pullen ParkPullen Park
North Carolina Museum of ArtNorth Carolina Museum of Art
North Carolina State CapitolNorth Carolina State Capitol

1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Great Fun for Kids

Regularly ranked as one of America's best museums, the Museum of Natural Sciences is educational and entertaining in equal measure. You may have to dodge a few school parties here and there, but it's worth it. Installations telling the story of NC's natural world, with dinosaur skeletons, aquariums, cinemas and much, much more. In truth, there's so much here that a day might not be enough, but it's free to enter, so feel free to go back another day.

2. Pullen Park: More than Meets the Eye

Located just west of Downtown Raleigh, the 66 acres of Pullen Park offer a blend of family fun and tranquility. Kids will adore the carousel (made in 1900 by an Italian master craftsman) as well as the kiddie boats and model train, while grown-up kids tend to enjoy the pedalos on the park's lake. With an Olympic-sized pool, an air-conditioned theater center and ceramics and art workshops at the Pullen Art Center, it's much more than a park -- it's the hub of Raleigh's community.

3. North Carolina Museum of Art: A Cornucopia of Visual Delights

Tucked away in western Raleigh near the University, the NC Museum of Art first opened its doors in 1956. Since then, it has accumulated a fantastic collection which spans all of the world's continents and more than 5,000 years of history. Highlights include bronzes by Rodin and a fantastic collection of Dutch and Flemish masters, but there's something for all art lovers here. And the museum's amphitheater is also a wonderful summer concert venue, so make a day of it with a unique fusion of art and music.

4. North Carolina State Capitol: The Heart of the Tar Heel State

This is where everything gets done in Raleigh. The Capitol is an elegant building at the heart of the city which dates back to 1840. It might not host the legislature any more (that's moved opposite the Natural History Museum), but it's still where the Governor works. These days, the Capitol Tour provides a vivid peek into how the state's government functioned for over 100 years and also includes a meticulous reconstruction of how the State Library would have looked in 1856.

5. JC Raulston Arboretum: The Rose of Raleigh

As you'll know if you visit the Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina has some majestic plants, and the JC Raulston Arboretum is the place to see them. Raulston himself was a pioneering horticulturalist and the arboretum was opened in his memory after a fatal car crash in 1996. It's a fitting memorial, extending over 40,000 square meters. Overload your senses with fragrances in the Paradise Garden or the Klein-Pringle White Garden, settle down for a rest in the peaceful Japanese Garden or wander through the many zones, taking in a plethora of colors and smells.

North Carolina Museum of Natural SciencesNorth Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Pullen ParkPullen Park
North Carolina Museum of ArtNorth Carolina Museum of Art
North Carolina State CapitolNorth Carolina State Capitol

Top activities & attractions in Raleigh

Where to Eat in Raleigh

The Armadillo Grill on Glenwood Avenue is excellent for Mexican, while the Falls River Smokehouse on Litchford Road is a great place for BBQ. You'll pay around $12 for dinner in a budget restaurant and $30 in a more upscale establishment.

Most popular restaurants in Raleigh

Vegetarian
Wonderful (649 reviews)
American
Wonderful (569 reviews)
Italian
Wonderful (428 reviews)
Southern
Wonderful (391 reviews)
Seafood
Wonderful (372 reviews)
Asian
Wonderful (348 reviews)

When to visit Raleigh

Raleigh in September
Estimated hotel price
$133
1 night at 3-star hotel
Raleigh in September
Estimated hotel price
$133
1 night at 3-star hotel

Raleigh has a humid subtropical climate with cool winters and hot, humid summers. Spring is warm and dry and an ideal time to visit.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Raleigh

Plane

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) has good domestic and some international connections. The 100 bus will take you downtown for $2.25. A taxi costs around $33.

Train

Amtrak runs services to Raleigh from New York; Washington, D.C.; and Florida. Fares from New York are around $97.

Car

The I-40 connects Raleigh from the west and I-85 and 95 give access from the East Coast. U.S. 1 runs through Raleigh on its way from New York to Florida.

Bus

Greyhound offers services to Raleigh. Fares from New York start at $54.

Airports near Raleigh

Airlines serving Raleigh

United Airlines
Good (2,985 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,406 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,534 reviews)
KLM
Good (364 reviews)
Air France
Good (447 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,609 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,408 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,193 reviews)
SWISS
Good (498 reviews)
Iberia
Good (972 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,330 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,713 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (1,113 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (295 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (606 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (124 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Good (399 reviews)
Finnair
Good (742 reviews)
Scandinavian Airlines
Good (461 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (355 reviews)
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Where to stay in Raleigh

Cameron Park - this is a historic area just to the west of downtown. It has a variety of Colonial Revival and Queen Anne architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Popular Neighborhoods in Raleigh

Capitol Area Historic District - this is another historic area. In the heart of downtown, it has a number of examples of Classical Revival and Late Gothic Revival buildings.

Historic Oakwood - this area is full of splendid mansions and the Oakwood Cemetery. It is renowned for its gardens and Christmas Candlelight Tour.

Most popular hotel in Raleigh by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Raleigh

Most booked hotels in Raleigh

Hyatt House Raleigh / RDU / Brier Creek
Excellent (8.9, 1985 reviews)
$142+
Hyatt Place Raleigh/Cary
Excellent (8.6, 1430 reviews)
$124+
Embassy Suites Raleigh - Crabtree
Excellent (8.4, 876 reviews)
$172+
Country Inn & Suites by Radisson RaleighDurham Air
Excellent (8.2, 1139 reviews)
$104+
Hilton Raleigh North Hills
Good (7.8, 1220 reviews)
$159+
La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Raleigh Durham Intl AP
Good (7.7, 739 reviews)
$83+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Raleigh

Public Transportation

Capital Area Transit and the Triangle Transit Authority provide bus services in and around Raleigh. Fares are from $2.25.

Taxi

Raleigh has plenty of reliable taxi firms. Fares are an initial $2.45 and then $2.50 per mile.

Car

Raleigh has a simple grid road system, with the U.S. 401 being the main route through the city. Car rental is from $35.

The Cost of Living in Raleigh

Shopping Streets

Seaboard Station in downtown is the place for local independent stores, while the Crabtree Valley Mall on Glenwood Avenue is the largest mall in the region.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk in Raleigh is priced at $0.92 and a dozen eggs costs $2.77.

Cheap meal
$12.00
A pair of jeans
$40.14
Single public transport ticket
$1.50
Cappuccino
$3.64
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