Raleigh visitors guide

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Raleigh, North Carolina.

Hello there! If this is your first visit to our blog, welcome. Today we visit Raleigh, NC, a city I know well since I live here!

When I tell people I live in the Raleigh area, people generally say, “Oh, nice! I’ve always wanted to visit North Carolina. It sounds beautiful.” (It is!) OR, “I’ve been to Charlotte, but I don’t know much about Raleigh.” I generally reply that Raleigh and Charlotte may be siblings in the same family, but like most kids — they are as different as can be.

Moore Square, in the heart of Raleigh, with outdoor dining and local shops

Plan your trip to Raleigh

Raleigh music festivals

Raleigh is home to two major music festivals each fall, the Hopscotch Festival and the IBMA Bluegrass Festival. The Hopscotch Festival, September 5-7, 2024, features 160 groups throughout the city, from the main stage at Raleigh City Plaza to small venues in clubs, performing music of all genres. The IBMA World of Bluegrass Festival is September 27th and 28th in downtown Raleigh. The Bluegrass Festival includes free street festival fun for the whole family, and the event coincides with the Whole Hog Barbecue Championship — what a pairing of food and entertainment!

If you can’t make it to one of these events, not a problem. Live music, whether in restaurants and clubs or at street festivals, is playing somewhere in the Raleigh-Durham area year round! The Raleigh area has so much to offer for music lovers, that the CVB created a recommended vacation itinerary just for you — think of it as the Raleigh visitors guide for music lovers!

Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, NC.

Great Restaurants!

I’ve shared before about dining options in Raleigh, including restaurant week. International flavors abound in the region. Today’s Triangle restaurants offer farm-to-table goodness and international cuisine options to rival major urban cities.

Down home goodness is not forgotten, and food inspired by the Triangle’s southern heritage can be enjoyed as well. We recommend The Pit (try the pumpkin skillet cornbread, fried pimento cheese, and bacon bruschetta) or Ole Time Barbecue. By the way, if you’re confused about barbecue (and if you have no idea what I mean, you’re confused), this little song should clear it up!

Affordable fun

Three major interstates (I-40, I-85 and I-95) run through the greater Raleigh area. As with any interstate, hotels follow. And the Raleigh area’s got a lot! You can still get a comfortable, highly rated hotel room in Raleigh for less than $200/night!

For family friendly fun, we recommend these top attractions for kids in Raleigh.

Better than reduced price is free, of course! And there’s lots to do in Raleigh — for FREE!

Local parks and state museums offer free admission year round.

Flowers and a stair rail close ups at Sarah P. Duke Gardens near Raleigh, NC.

Just up the road in Durham, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, ranked among the top 10 public gardens in the United States by tripadvisor, offer free admission (though you must pay to park). On a recent visit to the park, we saw many families enjoying picnics on the open lawns, kids and parents gleefully watching the swan swim across a small lake, and kids skipping along trails. It’s a beautiful place to spend a quietly active family afternoon.

Kid friendly fun

The NC Museum of Natural Science and the NC Museum of History provide enough activities to keep kids busy for days. Add a trip to Marbles Kids Museum and a stroll through the outdoor gardens at the NC Museum of Art for a great week of adventure.

Pullen Park, recently renovated, offers a carousel, mini train ride, peddle boats, tennis courts, walking trails, picnic areas and Pullen Place Cafe offering local foods and snack items. Pullen Park is the oldest active park in North Carolina, the 5th oldest in the United States and the 16th oldest park in the world. It’s one of my favorite places in the entire state!

NC Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

Fun for teens, too

The Raleigh area is home to several major colleges. And, with colleges come all the things teens enjoy. Whether your teen wants to shop til she drops, sip organic, shade grown coffee at an independent coffee shop, or enjoy a sporting event, the greater Raleigh area has it!

Add in adventure sports, like kayaking the Neuse River (okay, that’s a family friendly mild adventure) or scuba diving, and you’ve hit a home run (sports pun intended, though perhaps poorly used).

Have you been to Raleigh? What attractions, restaurants and recommendations would you add to our Raleigh visitors guide?