Top 10 Raleigh Attractions You Simply Can't Miss

Last Updated on October 04, 2023 by Nikki Jain

Vacation in the capital! Raleigh is the proud city center of the stunning state of North Carolina. It is known as a bustling technological hub, an inspiring outdoor wonderland, and a welcoming Southern treasure.

There are ample of Raleigh attractions to explore, ranging from the personal intricacies of art to the thrilling tales of history, right down to the ethereal beauty of the forests. So much is wrapped into such an exciting city; you may need a checklist to get through it all.

Check out these top 10 tourist attractions in Raleigh to get started on your dream vacay.

Must-See Raleigh Attractions

Table of Contents [Show]

Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use my affiliate link.

1: North Carolina Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of Art

Experience art like never before! The North Carolina Museum of Art is a showcase of all things wonderful. From the intricate designs of modernism to the expression of Frida Kahlo, this museum is chock full of some of the most awe-inspiring art in the state.

Some that you can see year-round, and some that are limited edition and well worth the wait. Throughout the year, the NCMA hosts several different exhibitions like the works of Leonardo Drew to John James Audubon’s The Birds of America.

There are also regular, year-round exhibits that give visitors beauty in the eyes of the pass-holder! With such a variety, the only guarantee is that everything here will be nothing short of stunning.

Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607

2: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Flickr/Sergey Galyonkin

As the oldest museum in North Carolina, the Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the must-see Raleigh attractions. It has drawn visitors and curious minds for years on years and continues to dazzle its spectators.

It is a place for all ages to come and explore their sense of wonder. Few other places leave such a lasting, educational mark that is both fun and free. It is one of those places that will leave fond memories for many years to come, as well as some killer trivia answers you’ll be proud to know.

Even further, there is a little something for everyone here! Natural Sciences encompasses a broad area of study that gives each intricacy to our world its own spotlight.

Check out some of the rotating exhibits, dive into the wide world of physics, or maybe even check out the zoo. There is an arthropod zoo, a living conservatory, and plenty of exhibits on marine life as well. This is one place that makes entertainment an all-day affair.

Address: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Visit Website

3: Historic Yates Mill County Park

Historic Yates Mill County Park
Dreamstime/Paul Brady

Enjoy the embrace of history surrounded by the wonders of nature! Historic Yates Mill County Park is one of the best places in Raleigh for all ages and interests.

With a rich and detailed history, enthusiasts will never be bored--- and with a sprawling outdoor park--- families, kids, couples, and everything in between can enjoy some fun in the sun.

The centerpiece of it all is the Yates Mill itself. This is an old gristmill that dates itself all the way back to 1756. It is well preserved and situated in the beautiful landscape of Raleigh’s natural beauty. There are few better places to get history, serenity, nature, and fun all wrapped into one.

Address: 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC

4: Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum
Flickr/Chris Short

Get the creativity flowing! Marbles Kids Museum is one of the best things to do in Raleigh, solely dedicated to shaping and growing young minds.

There is plenty to play here, and yet with all the fun to be had, it hardly feels like learning at all. Kids will love to explore their natural curiosity in some of these exhibits, thinking creatively and intuitively in an open arena.

They can socialize, work together, and even release some of that excitable vacation energy, all the while learning some valuable lessons.

The Marbles Kids Museum is $7 for entry and is open every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (till 7 on Thursdays).

While this location is catered to children ages birth to 10, there is enough to keep teens and adults interested in movies hosted at the IMAX theatre. The Marbles Kids Museum is fun that lasts a lifetime.

Address: 201 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Visit Website

Also Read: 15 Best Museums in Raleigh

5: Neuse River Trail

Neuse River Trail
Flickr/James Willamor

Take a hike! If you’ve ventured into North Carolina for your weekend getaway, there is no way that the stunning, lush forests haven’t caught your eye yet.

Raleigh is specifically known for having some of the nicest, most serene hikes in all of North Carolina.

It is the perfect place to admire the gentle shift of trees in the wind or to find some serenity on the banks of a babbling brook. It is a great place both for an exciting day of trailblazing or for a relaxing day strolling.

Overall, Neuse River Trail is a wide 33-mile-long hike that winds down the Neuse River. It is suitable for just about every kind of explorer and makes for some truly unforgettable memories.

Address: Neuse River Trail, Raleigh, NC 27610

Visit Website

Also Read: Best Places To Live in North Carolina

6: Historic Oakwood

Historic Oakwood
Flickr/Warren LeMay

Spreading over just about 190 acres, Historic Oakwood is an absolute must-visit place in Raleigh for those interested in the history of Raleigh.

Here, visitors can find some of the best-preserved homes in the South, ranging from Victorian style to neoclassical.

Oakwood is generally known in terms of its roots in the confederacy. There is a cemetery and a few notable homes that encompass some of the old tours found in Raleigh and several other relics that speak of years long passed.

It also has just the right amount of modernization, complete with mom and pop style stores and some of the best food in NC.

Address: Oakwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27601

Visit Website

7: Pullen Park

Pullen Park

Get a breath of fresh air! Pullen Park is an outdoor extravaganza that puts North Carolina’s stunning weather at its forefront.

Here, you can play the day away with canoeing, merry-go-rounds, jungle gyms and so much more.

This location is an extensive Raleigh favorite wherein locals and tourists alike come to bask in the day.

Take a nice stroll, bring a good book, or let the kids release some of that youthful energy and you’ll soon realize why Pullen Park is one of the best Raleigh attractions.

As if it wasn’t already a deal, Pullen Park is free! Free to enter, roam, and relax under the North Carolina sun.

There are a few activities here that do require payment (like the carousel or the boat rides), but there is an even greater number of free events. And if you really want to cool off, be sure to check out the Pullen Park Aquatic Center.

It is a vast 50 meter by 25-yard pool with plenty of Olympic laps, leisure pools, exercise programs and so much more. Make a splash!

Address: 408 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606

8: Umstead State Park

Umstead State Park
Flickr/Gerry Dincher

Raleigh is home to numerous outdoor activities, but one of the best things to do in Raleigh is Umstead State Park.

Ranging short of 6,000 acres, visitors are welcome to enjoy plenty of space to hike, jog, bike, ride, and enjoy the day under a canopy of trees.

If the day isn’t enough, there is even a top of the line camping grounds where travelers meet like-minded trailblazers and then set off on their next big adventure come daybreak. Even if camping isn’t really your style, there is plenty to enjoy in this outdoor oasis.

This attraction is made even more impressive by having no entrance fee to walk the park! However, if you want to get involved in some of the activities, there are a few costs to be aware of.

Boat rentals typically cost around $7 per boat and are available from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

While fishing is allowed in certain areas, all recreational activity must follow the regulations of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Otherwise, bring a picnic, a camera, and that wandering spirit and Umstead State Park will quickly become a memorable favorite.

Address: 8801 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

9: North Carolina State Capitol

North Carolina State Capitol
Flickr/Ron Cogswell

Visit the capitol in the capital! Raleigh is the proud home to the state government of North Carolina and details this in some truly gorgeous buildings.

The Capitol building was once the legislative seat of the state, and although the supreme court, state library, and general assembly have since moved elsewhere--- it is still a marvel of a building to visit. It is a true testament to Raleigh architecture and is now marked as a historic site.

Overall, fans of architecture and historical governments alike will find this Raleigh attraction to be remarkable. Come and see for yourself!

Address: 1 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Visit Website

10: North Carolina Museum of History

North Carolina Museum of History

Located in the downtown area, the North Carolina Museum of History is one of the can't miss spots in Raleigh. 

It is full of all the brave, harrowing, introspective stories that brought NC to the state it is today.

As the capital city’s historical museum, Raleigh hosts some of the most unique exhibits that truly detail how the past molded our present and continues to shape our future. There is so much to explore, from 3D movies to the fossils of history.

And it’s free! Open 7 days a week and located next to the other top Raleigh attractions, the museum is a great way to spend the day if you are venturing downtown.

There are plenty of delicious eateries and fun photo ops scattered about the main destination. Once inside, the whole family can enjoy a day with all the fun that flows from exhibit to exhibit.

Address: 5 E Edenton St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Visit Website

North Carolina Travel Guide

Explore Guide