Is Downtown Raleigh Safe
Generally speaking, if youre walking alone in downtown Raleigh you will be perfectly safe, particularly during the day. Raleigh is actually one of the safest downtowns in the United States.
That being said, it is a city so you will encounter some people who will ask you for money. But, after living in downtown Raleigh for a few years, I have never had a bad experience. Just use basic safety precautions, like avoiding empty dark alleys at 3am, and you should be fine!
Why You Should Go
Looking for cheap yet fun things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina when its raining or cold? Do yourself a favor, and include the NCMA to your list of places to visit in Raleigh.
Besides its free admission, the museum also houses iconic paintings and rotating exhibits from several legendary artists.
Plan A Fall Road Trip To The Mountains
Nags Head Beach, Outer Banks
If youre interested in getaways from Raleigh, or even just day trips from Raleigh to nearby towns, the fall is a great time to plan a road trip.
The mountains are obviously prime leaf peeping territory and beautiful this time of year. As for the coast, the big crowds and heat of summer have left but the temperatures are still pleasant in the 70s
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Seasonal Drinks & Treats
Graham Cracker Latte from Sir Walter Coffee
Fall is the time for fun pumpkin spiced flavored seasonal coffees and treats, and Oktoberfest style beers. Whether youre a coffee, beer, or cider drinker, put this on your list of things to do in Raleigh in the fall and theres a brewery or coffee shop for you!
A few of our favorites to check out include:
- Raleigh Brewing has their Oktoberfest Lager with notes of sweet caramel, baked bread, and herbal hops.
- Trophy Maywood typically has a Oktrophyfest Marzen
- Big Boss Brewing usually has their Harvest Time Pumpkin Ale, a fall favorite that is brewed with real pumpkin and their own proprietary blend of spices but still tastes like beer.
- Bittersweet offers a Pumpkin Crème Brûlée with house-made whipped cream, spiced pecans & dried cranberry mix. Pairs great with either their Espresso Martini and Irish Coffee!
- Lynnwood Brewing serves up a seasonal Shut Your Pumpkin Pie Hole Wheat.
- Pelagic Beer & Wine currently have a Pumpkin Pie Porter on tap.
- Raleigh Beer Garden ask for a Pumpkin Spice Martini and Shooters at their spirits bar.
- Hayes Barton Cafe make the most amazing cakes in Raleigh.
- The Cupcake Shoppe has a Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (and their cupcakes are all amazing!
- Lucettegrace has a yummy looking Pumpkin Cheescake Eclair.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Eclair. Image by LucettegracePumpkin pie special
PLEASENOTE: These are seasonal items. Please visit each businesses website for up-to-date offerings before driving there!
Other Things To Do In Raleigh & North Carolina
This list wraps up the top things to do in downtown Raleigh, but you might have noticed no restaurants, bars, or breweries are included in this list. Thats because Raleigh has a GREAT food scene along with a number of breweries and bars you should check out, so much so that they deserve their own articles! Its just too hard to fit all the amazing Raleigh activities and attractions in one post!
Here are some additional articles to help you plan your time in Raleigh, North Carolina:
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Give The Oak City Coffee Roasters A Pat On The Back
Aside from being a great accompaniment to your chocolate from the chocolate factory, Oak City Coffee also created a program that employs adults with learning difficulties to make custom Oak City cups. The roasting business started out in 2013, making it a fairly recent addition to the Warehouse District, and its mission is to bring the rarest and richest coffees from South America to Raleigh.
Neuse River Greenway Trail
This is a 27-mile paved trail stretching from Falls Lake in North Raleigh to the Wake County border in southeast Raleigh, but you can break it up into short sections and along the way are winding boardwalk areas, views of historical sites, and suspension bridges.
- Address: a good place to start is Anderson Point Park, which has plenty of parking
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Best Things To Do In Raleigh North Carolina 2022
20 Best Things to Do in Raleigh, North Carolina 2022
Explore city parks, visit various museums, dine at great restaurants, plan a wedding in one of the unique venues, and go on one-of-a-kind, free family adventures on your weekend trip to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Art lovers can spend a morning at the North Carolina Museum of Art, which houses works of art from around the world. Other fun things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina, include food tours, pottery classes, and visits to chocolate factories.
William B Umstead State Park
Exploring William B. Umstead State Park is easily one of our favorite free things to do in Raleigh. For starters, its the perfect place to escape the busyness of the city!
With 5,600 acres and over 20 miles of trails, this state park is one of the best places to go hiking in North Carolina.
Sycamore and Sals Branch are our favorites for beautiful, tree-covered walks.
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Pop Into The Little Theater
Raleigh Little Theater is a community theater that produces around 10 of its own productions each year in an aim to educate and entertain the community with performing arts. This year, the productions include Monty Pythons SPAMALOT, Sweeney Todd and Cinderella. The theater dates back to 1936 and, if you intend to see a play whilst in the city this is where you should see it.
Fred G Bond Metro Park
Bond Metropolitan Park is the largest municipal park in Cary on 310 acres and offers opportunities for many types of recreation including 4.2 miles of trails, a variety of athletic fields, disc golf, a challenge course, playgrounds, boating, kayaking, picnicking and much more.
- Website: Town ofCary.org
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Go Shopping At The Triangle Center
The Triangle Center, located just off of Highway 1 is arguably the best place to shop in the city of Raleigh. The mall has all of the major shops you would expect from a city mall as well as some good places to eat. The mall is open from 10-9 Monday Saturday and Noon until 6pm on Sundays.
For Those Who Love Music
The first Friday of each month is a special day in Raleigh, NC. It’s a great way to experience Downtown Raleigh, with live music, great people, and a lot of fun lining the streets of Raleigh. First Friday in Raleigh, NC is a free self-guided tour of downtown’s hot spots, local art galleries, studios, museums, and more!
The events typically run until 9 pm, though the hours may vary between locations.
Many restaurants, retailers, and bars will support First Friday in Raleigh with specials for those participating in the affair. First Friday flags are easy to spot outside participating venues.
Here are the participating venues for First Friday in Downtown Raleigh, NC!
Concerts / Live Music
Live music is by far and away one of the best things to do in Raleigh! You can find it almost anywhere around the city whether it’s at a concert venue, or simply a restaurant turned live music/bar on a weekend.
Raleigh has the most music in N.C. and plays host to a wide variety of artists. You will find mainstream artists like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, or local live music cover bands all playing in the area.
The Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, Redhat Amphitheatre, and Koka Booth Amphitheatre are three of the top venues in the Raleigh area.
North Carolina Symphony
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Sample The Country Club Lifestyle
The North Ridge Country Club is set on around 400 acres of lush, green, rolling hills and is a place for the wealthy to socialize and interact. If you are visiting the state, it makes a good place to visit to sample the good life or try your hand at the 18 hole golf course which is immaculately maintained. The Country Club also holds many charity and special events throughout the year which are open to non-members and worth visiting.
Visit The Joel Lane House
Also known as Wakefield, Joel Lane House was built in the id 18th Century and is the former home of Joel Lane otherwise known as the Father of Raleigh. In 1769 Joel Lane built his home in a rural part of North Carolina and it was here that he facilitated the location of North Carolinas capital city. The home is fully restored and looks as it would have done when Joel Lane lived within. The house was once described as the best house for 100 miles.
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Tazza Kitchen Cameron Village
Tazza Kitchen is a modern, stylish and spacious restaurant where patrons are greeted with delicious aroma of sizzling meat, garlic, and wood fire.
A lively and friendly atmosphere with casual bistro-style seating makes you feel right at home. The food and wines are superb, and the prices are reasonable. The menu showcases dishes inspired by the cuisine of Italy and Baja California and the ingredients are sourced from well-known farmers and food artisans, many of whom are local.
Chefs Justin Burchill and Jared Dalby create many dishes using wood-fired cooking. Entrees are accompanies by small-production wines and unique local brews. The chefs are highly environmentally conscious and utilize hormone and antibiotic-free meat and poultry, as well as sustainably harvested seafood.
432 Woodburn Road, Raleigh, North Carolina, Phone: 919-835-9463
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Visit The St Paul Ame Church
The St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church is an impressive Gothic building in Downtown Raleigh but it is the history of the building and the people who run it that are most fascinating. The church was built by the first independent congregation of African Americans in Raleigh. A walk around the church tells the fascinating story that actually began ten years before the construction of the church.
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Jose And Sons Raleigh North Carolina
As you enter Jose and Sons Bar & Kitchen, a sign proclaiming Hello Yall will welcome you and set the tone for your visit. That sign predicts the beautiful Mexican and Southern cuisine mix that spices up the menu.
The teal and red walls and the various milk jugs and depictions of roosters are reminiscent of Mexico and help create a welcoming, lively and warm atmosphere. The food is an imaginative blend of flavors that food critics have praised.
The Ibarra brothers, proud to celebrate their Mexican heritage and their father Josés love for food, own and run this popular restaurant. The lively bar with a tequila tower and bourbon right in the middle of the restaurant is a local favorite.
Address: 327 W. Davie St. Suite 102, Raleigh, North Carolina
Romantic Evening Kind Of Date
Photo: Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen & Bar/Facebook
This dining option is particularly good during the spring or the fall, when you can go up to the patio. Their greek cuisine is fantastic, especially the Lamb Shank, their pasta, and the Chicken Athenian. Make sure to save some space for dessert, and make reservations if you are going on a Friday night!
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Free Things To Do In Raleigh
Thanks to all the fun and FREE things to do in Raleigh, weve enjoyed so many days, nights, and weekends there without spending much money at all.
Of course, weve eaten out at tons of the citys restaurants before fun-packed date nights. But there are tons of admission-free activities in Raleigh throughout the year. Whether youre searching for summer sunflowers, some of the states best museums, or more fun, our guide has you covered for all of it!
Heres how weve organized this guide:
- Free Things to Do in Raleigh
- Free Things to Do in Raleigh
- Free Events in Raleigh
Each section within this guide covering free things to do in Raleigh is alphabetized by place name.
This post is a part of our series covering things to do in Raleigh and elsewhere in Central North Carolina. If youre searching for places to stay, check out these cool Airbnbs in Raleigh!
Hike At Umstead State Park
Sals Branch Trail, Umstead State Park
William B. Umstead State Park is North Carolinas most visited state park and a natural oasis just 15-minutes from downtown and one of the top places to go in Raleigh.
Surrounding three man-made lakes, if you love nature trails through the forest, biking, trail running, picnicking, camping, canoeing, and horseback riding and havent visited Umstead yet, take advantage of the ideal fall weather and leaf colors!
We suggested the easy 2.8 mile Sals Branch Loop Trail as a good place to start!
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North Carolina Executive Mansion & Gardens
Located a couple of blocks from the state capitol, the North Carolina Executive Mansion is the official residence of the Governor of North Carolina and their family. It is open at different times throughout the year for tours as well as always hosting a festive holiday tour season. If you are interested in touring it, you must book your tours at least 2 weeks in advance.
- Open: Open for tours but must be booked ahead. Tours are seasonal and are held Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:45 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:15 p.m., and 2:45 p.m.
- Address: 200 N Blount St., Raleigh, NC
- Cost: Free
- Website: For details on touring the Executive Mansion visit the website.
For When It’s Raining
Love eating? Love movies? Maybe a cocktail to go with them both? Here’s something fun for you to do in the Raleigh area even when it’s raining!
CineBistro takes the “dinner and a movie” concept to a whole new level! The movie-going experience has never been better with amenities like reserved seating in cozy, over-sized reclining leather seats, full-service in-theatre dining, and state-of-the-art movie viewing. You can enjoy great American dishes, wines, and cocktails while watching great flicks.
Popcorn and candy are available as well!
Almost every day there is a show, or some fun being had at the Lincoln Theatre. From Concerts to plays, to super bowl screenings the Lincoln Theatre provides the people of Raleigh with all sorts of things to do for when it’s raining!
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Ghoulish Gourds Scavenger Hunt
Where: Mordecai Historic Park 1 Mimosa Street, Raleigh, NC
When: Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. and Sundays 1:00 4:00 p.m. through October.
Where: Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve 5229 Awls Haven Drive, Raleigh, NC
When: Every Sunday in October, 3:00 3:45 p.m. October 31st storytime will be pumpkin-themed.
Visit the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve each Sunday for a seasonal story and activity. On Halloween, the storytime will be all about pumpkins! While its a free program for preschoolers and up, online registration is required.
Where: Wake County Libraries
When: October 24th through October 31st
Visit your local Wake County Public Library to show off your costume , check out the spoooooky displays, and find your favorite Halloween themed books. Plus, kids will get fun surprises, too!
Where: 201 Dixie Trail, Raleigh, NC
When: October 24th, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Visit Forest Hills Baptist Church for their annual Trunk or Treat celebration. With lots of decorated trunks , plus fresh popcorn, bounce houses and inflatables, and even a free dinner from Wicked Links Sausage Company, this is a fun event for the whole family.
Where: 2305 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh, NC
When: October 25th, 6:30 p.m. 8:00 p.m.
Where: Laurel Hills Park 3808 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh, NC
When: October 28th 6:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.
Where: Learning Together 568 E Lenoir Street, Suite 204, Raleigh, NC.
The Best Places To Go On A Date In Raleigh Nc
RALEIGH IS A SPREAD OUT CITY that grows fast, like a drop of oil in water, so it requires some driving to move around. It has everything you would want from a large city, including indie and eclectic options all around. Many places look inconspicuous outside, but once you go in, theyre creative wonderlands.
As an avid urban explorer, Ive always strived to find those hidden surprises each city has to offer. I want to share the places my wife and I have found while dating in Raleigh. Please take this a work-in-progress list, and comment with your own favorites below.
Photo: Videri Chocolate Factory/Facebook
Theres a Chocolate Factory in Raleigh, and its free to visit! Make sure you ask for a hot cocoa, and sit down for a while. If youre keen, you can go to The Pit Barbecue, Circa 1888, or Boxcar Arcade across the street for a fun contrasting night!
Photo: Flying Biscuit Cafe Raleigh/Facebook
An awesome place right in the middle of Cameron Village. Ask for a Piedmont omelet with a biscuit and Apple butter. Best biscuits in Raleigh by far! If youre adventurous, you may also want to Google about the Cameron Village subway, hidden underneath the nearby Library.
Editors note: Café de Los Muertos is permanently closed
Best brewed coffee in Raleigh, hands down. You can even taste the beans origin. Nuff said.
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