North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA)
The exhibits indoors are beautiful and well curated. The outdoor spaces are great to visit (and free) when the weather is nice. Check their calendar for outdoor events, like movies in the summer.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St., Raleigh
A natural history museum with bugs, sloths, and cool exhibits about dinosaurs.
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd., Raleigh, NC 27603
174 acre wildlife refuge and environmental research center—hiking trails, a 24-acre pond and Historic Yates Mill, Wake County’s last remaining gristmill.
6901 Play Golf Way, Raleigh
Like Top Golf – it’s a spot you can have food and drinks while hitting golf balls at a high-tech driving range. Like golf crossed with video games.
Raleigh Flea Market
4285 Trinity Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607
It’s at the state fairgrounds. Dig through all the junk and maybe find a treasure!
State Farmers’ Market
1201 Agriculture St., Raleigh, NC 27603
Browse produce, flowers, NC jellies, jams, and other treats. This is a big market with concrete and permanent roofs – it’s not the most beautiful, but can be fun to browse. Also, there’s two restaurants on site:
218 S Blount Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Fantastic Asian small plates. Highly recommend all their types of dumplings. They also have delicious beer and cocktails. And the dining room is gorgeous! It’s hard to get reservations, but worth the effort. Or drop in and try to get a seat at the bar.
A Laotian restaurant – run the the Brewery Bhavana folks. Their piña coladas are amazing, but the food is even better. You can’t go wrong here.
426 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC 27601
A popular spot that serves elevated Southern dishes. Famous for their macaroni au gratin (decadent mac and cheese). Reservations recommended.
827 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27603
My favorite Raleigh brewery, and this location serves killer pizza.
Sam Jones BBQ
The only spot for NC barbecue in Raleigh that I recommend. Try this for a taste of the best the area offers for chopped pork BBQ, fried chicken, and pork ribs. Recommend the saw and collard greens, too.
Tip: avoid every other BBQ place you see. Especially avoid The Pit, no matter what any hotel employees or randos in town tell you.
Krispy Kreme Donuts
549 N Person St, Raleigh, NC 27604
Open 6am – 10pm every day
Started in Winston-Salem, NC, these classic donuts are famous for their HOT NOW sign that lights up when donuts are coming off the line fresh. This historical location has been around for a very long time and you can watch the conveyor belt turn out donuts by the dozen. A hot Krispy Kreme donut is very, very soft and yeasty and will literally melt in your mouth. If you grew up on traditional donuts these will seem odd at first, but them a chance. Don’t mess around with the filled donuts – much too sweet.
Bright Spot Donuts
1501 Sunrise Avenue, Raleigh
Open in the mornings with 3 types of kinda fancy donuts.
Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant
220 Wolfe St, Raleigh
Authentic, Southern-style home cooking. Hearty meals and a great spot for breakfast or lunch.
Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery
2000 Fairview Road, Raleigh
An institution in Raleigh. A great place for simple food, but HUGE for desserts. Try the chicken pot pie or meatloaf, but you must try a dessert!
Transfer Co. Food Hall
500 E Davie St, Raleigh
A warehouse converted into a space with over 12 vendors selling food and drinks. Plenty of outdoor seating, too.
Morgan Street Food Hall
411 W Morgan St, Raleigh
The other food hall in Raleigh. Over 20 vendors selling food and drinks.
The Roast Grill Hot Weiners
7 S West St, Raleigh, NC 27603
A hole-in-the-wall, historical spot for hot dogs. No fries, no burgers, just hot dogs. Get two dogs all the way with a bottle of Coca-cola for an old-school Southern experience. You may needs a Tums after. ;)
Cloo’s Coney Island
2233 Avent Ferry Rd Ste 102 Raleigh, NC 27606
If you’re in the mood for some filling, delicious burgers, hot dogs, and fries. I recommend getting a couple of sliders, fries (so crispy!), and a Coke. They have the pebble ice! It’s inn a nondescript strip mall. Not fancy.
Goodberry’s Frozen Custard
Incredible local ice cream chain created by an NC State grad. They have vanilla and chocolate every day, plus one rotating flavor. Multiple locations, but none downtown. Check their website for the flavor of the day.
Videri Chocolate Factory
327 W Davie St, Raleigh
Chocolates, ice cream, and coffee. All good things. Close to Crank Arm Brewing (see below).
10 E Hargett Street, Raleigh
Coffee, pastry, bagels.
938 N Blount Street, Raleigh
Hot, new restaurant in town. I haven’t tried it, but all reviews are stellar. No reservations, so show up when they open. They have lovely outdoor seating options, too.
Breweries and bars
If you just want their beer, they have a few different locations around Raleigh. See the Restaurants section of this page for their location with pizza (it’s on Morgan St).
Fox Liquor Bar
A speakeasy-style bar in a basement. High-end cocktails and some small snacks, but not a place for a meal. Our favorite drink here: the Ava Gardner.
Crank Arm Brewing
319 W Davie Street, Raleigh, NC
Local brewery with great beer and a bicycle theme.