8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Raleigh, North Carolina (2022)
What’s your idea about vacationing in a Capital city? Well, if you know about Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, the idea of being there must be supremely exciting. Named after writer and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, this short-lived English settlement was always destined to be North Carolina’s capital. Raleigh is blessed with countless Oak trees lined in its streets which also gives it a nickname, “the City of Oaks.” Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, boasting green, thriving outdoor landscapes, a bustling technological hub, art, culture, and an amazing southern treasure.
Raleigh is a beautiful, loving, and extremely livable city. Raleigh’s center may possess modern glass and steel construction, but once you get into exploring other sections of the city, you will also come across greenways and parks. Raleigh is popular amongst tourists since it is home to a range of amazing tourist attractions. Visitors can find museums, theatres, cemeteries, memorials, historical structures, and much more to explore. Exciting enough? Then why don’t you join us and learn about the Top 8 Tourist Attractions to Explore When in Raleigh?
8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Raleigh, North Carolina
Have a look:
1. North Carolina State Capitol
Travelers who are keen on learning the history of governance must visit the North Carolina State Capitol when in Raleigh. It is one of the United States best-preserved examples of Greek revival architecture and is a proud home to the state government. Once a legislative seat for the state government, today, its supreme court, state library, and general assembly have moved out. However, despite that, this historical and architectural structure is still a marvel to explore. The Capitol building today is home to some government offices though enthusiasts can still take a tour inside. This excellent sightseeing tour is a part of Raleigh’s historic Trolley Tour and is one remarkable experience. The building operates from Monday through Saturday and is also open for Guided and Self-paced tours.
2. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
A popular top-rated tourist attraction in Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a destination you can’t miss. It is the largest natural science museum in the southeast United States and is located in downtown Raleigh. The museum consists of two buildings, one of which focuses on methods behind science, and the other offer several educational exhibits. Exhibitions here are in the form of both permanent and rotating/traveling displays. The range of options you will come across includes the Living Conservatory, the Arthropod Zoo, the Prehistoric Section, the Discovery Room, the Nature Research Centre, and more. Individuals who are curious about planets and the things around them must visit the SECU Daily Planet, a three-story theatre. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is one of those places that entertain every single visitor despite their age and interest. Not only for exploration, but the museum also offers room to rent for small gatherings like birthday and anniversary parties.
3. North Carolina Museum of History
Another excellent attraction in downtown Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of History, has been operating for over a century now. Its huge 55,000 square foot gallery displays over 15000 artifactual items both in its permanent as well as temporary exhibits. A visit here will allow you to come across Native American tools, period dressings from the Revolutionary War era, Civil war weapons and military gear, and Native American tools. One of the not-to-miss exhibitions is The Story of North Carolina, the largest inside the museum. It also consists of a well-equipped 315-seat auditorium, several classrooms, and an extravagant research library. North Carolina Museum of History covers more than 14,000 years of history. Not only through artifacts, but it engages visitors through presentations and interactive exhibits. The museum operates seven days a week and is free to visit.
4. North Carolina Museum of Art
For art aficionados, there is nothing better than the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Operating since 1956, the museum showcases all the wonderful art things from Ancient Greek, Roman Sculptures, early American Art, pre-Columbian works, Egyptian Burial Artwork, and Roman sculptures and artifacts. The art collection here is literally chock full of the most awe-inspiring art in the state, including some excellent artwork by the famous Frida Kahlo. What’s special about visiting the North Carolina Museum of Art is that you will come across some very rare and special edition artworks that are nowhere else to be found. It is also one of the only two (American) museums that is home to Jewish Art. Not only the indoors but the outdoor museum featuring sculptures, gardens, and a peaceful reflecting pool, too, is worth exploring. Apart from admiring different forms of art, visitors can also participate in workshops, lectures, and films or enjoy performing art shows.
5. Historic Oakwood
The Historic Oakwood is another downtown Raleigh find that is important to add to your North Carolina itinerary. This 19th-century neighborhood covers nearly 190 acres and is a part of the National Register of Historic Places. Even today, one can come across several 1800s preserved and restored homes that are still intact with their original glory. The historic buildings aren’t just about the old glory, but it also features some of the finest examples of different architectures like Neoclassical, Victorian Style, and more. While you decide to stroll past the streets of this historic neighborhood, you will get to observe the beautiful Tucker House, which is an excellent example of Neoclassical Revival-style architecture, and flaunt the gorgeous gardens. Further, go across the Historic Oak View Country Park or tour the Capitol Area Visitor’s Center. Historic Oakwood is blessed with both indoor and outdoor wonders, which makes it an all-season affair.
6. Historic Yates Mill (The Country Park)
A popular outdoor attraction in Raleigh, the Historic Yates Mill is a part of the namesake Country Park. Yates Mill is a circa 1756 gristmill and the centerpiece of the park. It is one of those 70 gristmills that served the United States for a long, but Yates is still the one continuously operating even after the long span of 200 years. The Mill operates from March through November, offering tours, events, programs, and exhibits. Visitors can learn how the water wheel powered the millstones and come across several period costumes that belonged to millers. Besides the Mill, these 174 acres of country park store a lot of lovely picnic shelters, educational exhibits, manicured gardens, walking and hiking nature trails, a boardwalk that allows for fishing, an environmental research center, a wildlife refuge, and much more. So visitors can get close to serenity, beauty, history, architecture, and wildlife all at once.
7. Pullen Park
Pullen Park was the first public park established in North Carolina in the year 1887. Besides that, it is the 16th oldest amusement park in the world and the fifth oldest amusement park in the United States. The park covers 66 acres of land and is known for housing a community center, an arts center, several playgrounds, a community center, an amusement park, and a fantastic aquatic center. The 1921 famed Dentzel Carousel is perhaps one of the park’s most popular features. In addition, the northern end of Pullen Park continues hosting theatre performances inviting thousands of guests throughout the year. Another exciting thing to do in Pullen Park is taking a ride on the C.P. Huntington miniature train and the Gustave A Dentzel Carousel. For more fun, kids can take a kiddie boat ride, whereas adults can rent a cruise around Lake Howell. There’s nothing better than checking out Pullen Park in Raleigh, North Carolina, for all-rounded fun and never-ending entertainment.
8. JC Raulston Arboretum
Last but not least on our list of Popular tourist places in Raleigh is the JC Raulston Arboretum. This delightful outdoor landmark is also home to one of the most diverse as well as largest collections of plants for landscape use in Southeast the United States. A visit here will allow you to breathe in the sweet aroma of annual and perennial blooms, as well as soak in the shade of Asian Valley. Every single plant here is collected and evaluated to suit and grow in local North Carolina conditions. Some of the popular garden spreads in JC Raulston Arboretum include the Swindell Contemplation Garden, the White Garden, the Wall Garden, the Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden, the Perennial borders, and more. JC Raulston Arboretum is a year-round tourist attraction since plants here are sown so that one or the other grows every single season. The attraction is free to visit and operates throughout the week.