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Top 12 Things to Do in Downtown Raleigh, NC

Raleigh is North Carolina’s capital city, offering plenty of exciting attractions for tourists. With a number of museums and outdoor areas, a visit to Raleigh is sure to be an enjoyable experience. Take advantage of all of Raleigh’s attractions when you experience these top things to do in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina.

North Carolina Museum Of Natural Sciences North Carolina Museum Of Natural Sciences
Credit: North Carolina Museum Of Natural Sciences by naturalsciences.org

North Carolina Museum Of Natural Sciences

One of the most popular things to do in downtown Raleigh is to visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. You can spend hours exploring this museum, as it is the largest museum in the Southeast. Learn about North Carolina’s ecology, geography and wildlife. With exhibits on all four floors of the museum, you’ll also see dinosaur skeletons, rocks and minerals and even live animals in the “Living Conservatory.” What is better than the exhibits at this museum is the price, as admission is free here.

North Carolina Museum Of Art North Carolina Museum Of Art
Credit: North Carolina Museum Of Art by ncartmuseum.org

North Carolina Museum Of Art

Another museum to visit while in downtown Raleigh is the North Carolina Museum of Art. This art museum has a spectacular permanent collection of art, but its rotating exhibits truly keep visitors interested and coming back. Those on a budget will love to know that this museum offers free general admission, however, some of the special exhibits may require a fee. Not only is there an impressive collection of art inside the buildings here, but the outdoor Museum Park should not be ignored either.

Videri Chocolate Factory Videri Chocolate Factory
Credit: Videri Chocolate Factory by viderichocolatefactory.com

Videri Chocolate Factory

Chocolate lovers in downtown Raleigh will not want to miss a visit to Videri Chocolate Factory. Stop by the shop to just purchase some of the decadent chocolate treats, or choose to learn more about the chocolate-making process by viewing the techniques firsthand here. The chocolate at Videri is organic and additive-free. Chocolate bars, bonbons, and even coffee drinks are served at Videri Chocolate Factory. You can even purchase baking chocolates and hot chocolate mixes here too.

North Carolina Museum Of History North Carolina Museum Of History
Credit: North Carolina Museum Of History by ncmuseumofhistory.org

North Carolina Museum Of History

Browse the 150,000 historic artifacts at the North Carolina Museum of History while you’re in downtown Raleigh. This museum is a historic relic itself, as it first opened in 1902. The exhibits here cover over 14,000 years of history. The museum has both a permanent collection and rotating exhibits too. Also home to a 315-seat auditorium, classrooms and a library, the North Carolina Museum of History has plenty to offer guests.

Pullen Park Pullen Park
Credit: Pullen Park by ted via Flickr

Pullen Park

Enjoy one of Raleigh’s most popular parks while you’re here. Pullen Park spans 66 acres and features a playground, water play area, mini train, carousel, pedal boats to rent, tennis courts, aquatic center, sports fields and plenty of space to roam. To say the least, plenty of outdoor fun can be had here. Now Pullen Park isn’t exactly in downtown but it is just a short distance away near North Carolina State University.

CAM Raleigh CAM Raleigh
Credit: CAM Raleigh by camraleigh.org

CAM Raleigh

CAM Raleigh is another museum you must visit while in downtown Raleigh. CAM Raleigh, short for The Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, is home to contemporary art exhibits that rotate regularly. The museum’s goal is to introduce fresh modern art to the city, so CAM stays relevant with new material every couple of months. Spanning 20,000 square feet, you’ll want to dedicate some time exploring this downtown Raleigh museum.

North Carolina State Capitol North Carolina State Capitol
Credit: North Carolina State Capitol by Jim Bowen via Flickr.com

North Carolina State Capitol

Raleigh is North Carolina’s state capital city, home to the North Carolina State Capitol building. This stunning building is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Don’t just snap a picture of the outside of the Capitol but also indulge in a tour of the building, learning about the history and the ins and outs of the state’s government. Guided tours of this civic building are free.

Raleigh Beer Garden Raleigh Beer Garden
Credit: Raleigh Beer Garden by theraleighbeergarden.com

Raleigh Beer Garden

After a long day exploring downtown Raleigh, unwind with a cold brew at Raleigh Beer Garden. This beer establishment holds the world record for the largest selection of beer held at one location. This two-story bar offers over 400 different varieties of beer with 350 on tap, and 150 which of those are from local North Carolina breweries. Even indecisive patrons and beer newbies will find that the bartenders here are ready and willing to help you choose the perfect brew for you.

Marbles Kids Museum Marbles Kids Museum
Credit: Marbles Kids Museum by marbleskidsmuseum.org

Marbles Kids Museum

If you’re exploring downtown Raleigh with kids, then a stop at Marbles Kids Museum is a must. Designed for children 10 and under, Marbles Kids Museum has plenty of interactive exhibits to keep the kids entertained. Learn about music, horticulture, art, sports and more at this downtown Raleigh children’s museum. Marbles Kids Museum is also home to an onsite cafe and IMAX theater.

Red Hat Amphitheater Red Hat Amphitheater
Credit: Red Hat Amphitheater by redhatamphitheater.com

Red Hat Amphitheater

Catch a live show at Red Hat Amphitheater. This 6,000-person open-air, outdoor venue found in Raleigh’s warehouse district hosts both big names in music and dramatic acts too. During the summer, Red Hat Amphitheater has a busy schedule, so you may just find your favorite artists gracing the stage here during the summer months.

Historic Oakwood Historic Oakwood
Credit: Historic Oakwood by Fabien CAMBI via Flickr.com

Historic Oakwood

When the weather is nice in Raleigh, take a stroll through Historic Oakwood, a district of Downtown Raleigh home to historic homes and properties. The 19th-century homes in Oakwood are fully restored. The Capitol Area Visitor’s Center has information on walking tours in the area.

North Carolina Executive Mansion North Carolina Executive Mansion
Credit: North Carolina Executive Mansion by Warren LeMay via Flickr.com

North Carolina Executive Mansion

North Carolina Executive Mansion is known as the “People’s House.” Home of the Governor of North Carolina, this stunning mansion was originally built in 1891. Close to downtown’s museums, the Capitol building, and other area attractions, you might as well stop by here for a picture while exploring downtown Raleigh. If you just so happen to be here during the winter, the governor opens the home for tours on select days and times.

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