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Ahhh…. Raleigh, Raleigh, Raleigh. What can I say that hasn’t already been said?… Well… Actually, a lot. Although the city has been voted the number one place to live many times over, it still seems a bit underrated. There are so many things to do in Raleigh that most people don’t take advantage of.

Think about it, when is the last time you thought “Let’s spend our vacation days in Raleigh, NC this year!” It’s a shame too. Raleigh has culture, nightlife, foodie spots, relaxing spa’s, and is centrally located between the mountains and beaches. Whether you’re here for a few days, a week, or making the big move… there is plenty to entertain yourself.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in Raleigh, NC with and without kids.

Come back next week for Part Two of Things To Do In Raleigh. 


Click the links below to instantly jump to different sections

01  Bike The CityRaleigh Walnut Creek Bike Path

Raleigh has an extensive system of trails that offers more than 100 miles for running, walking and biking. There are many neighborhood greenways’s that lead you downtown. Don’t believe me? Check out Bike Raleigh and pick up an area map or head directly to RGreenway.com to download the interactive greenway guide.

TIP: No bike? No problem! You can rent one downtown from Oak City Cycling for a day or a week. 

02  Kayak, Canoe, or Paddle Board The Neuse River

Did you know that Raleigh was rated the #6 most adventurous city in America (out of 100)? Neither did I until today. I guess with a plethora of outdoor activities, it makes sense. This is one of those activities that you can pull double duty on. What I mean by that is, it works for a great date night (twilight paddle), as well as a family day trip. Check Groupon for great deals that pop up occasionally.

TIP: Check out Paddle Creek or Neuse Adventures when planning your trip!

03 Pullen Park

15 things to do in raleigh Pullen Park

Did you know Pullen Park (first established in 1887) is one of the oldest parks in the United States? Complete with a lake, paddle boats, mini-gardens, carousel, mini ride-on boats for the little ones, a train ride around the park, water fun, and separate play areas for children of different ages; this place is not to be missed.

TIP: If you don’t pack a picnic you can buy some pretty yummy eats at the park. You will need to purchase tickets for the rides (they are inexpensive). Cards and cash are readily accepted. Sometimes the park hosts characters (like Letterland) and you’ll want to plan ahead. 

04  Marbles & IMAX

Markedly one of the best things to do in Raleigh with your children. It’s located in the heart of downtown, near the delicious Big Ed’s restaurant. Admission is only $2 per person on Thursday’s between 3pm-7pm.

05  Museum Of Artmuseum of art nc

Not too far from the State Fair Grounds, you’ll find the Museum of Art.  We love using the trail and viewing the (free) outdoor exhibits. With that said, I would go inside at least once. There are interesting pieces abound as well as an overpriced cafe for when hunger strikes.

If you’re visiting Raleigh during the State Fair, save yourself the trouble of finding parking and park here…but only if you don’t mind the walk. Last year we made the trek with 4 kids (one of which was in a stroller).

06  Concerts

Backstreet Boys in Raleigh

If you can’t tell… I’m in heaven

Collectively we’ve seen Lil’ Wayne, Big Time Rush, and Backstreet Boys at Time Warner Pavillion. Hands down, molesting my future husband Nick Carter was the highlight of my year. Before you get all judgy, it was just a little booty grab and I told my husband right after… (as well as all of my family and friends). Besides, he gave me a little smirk after. I think he liked it.

07  Clay Shooting

These are my confessions… I own a handgun and his name is King Julian. It’s because of my great love for King Julian, I mistakenly believed that clay shooting would be easy. At the very least that I would (should) be better at it than what I am.

If we’re keepin’ it 100, I missed EVERY. SINGLE. MOVING. TARGET!! I was the only one out of the group to accomplish such a feat. With that said, I shot the shit out of that stationary target 30 ft away.

Moral of the story, if you break into my home, move slowly. Otherwise, I may have a hard time hitting you.– Though, if I don’t get you, I’m sure my dogs and/or husband will. Save yourself the hassle and don’t even try.

08  Treat Yourself to a Luxurious Spa Day or Awesome Thai Massage

I’m not set to arrive in Thailand until August 2018, with that said, I can’t verify how authentic this experience is. However, I can tell you that Chutikan is the best in the Triangle. Don’t believe me? Just give her a try. — Sukho Thai Massage

If you’d rather have your massage and spa treatment all in one, SkinSense in North Raleigh is my favorite. Plush robes and slippers, calming music, excellent facials, and enjoyable massages… what’s not to like?

09  First Friday’s Downtown

15 things to do in Raleigh First Friday

It only happens once a month, but First Friday is a great way to see and experience downtown. When searching for things to do in Raleigh, this free activity should be at the top of your list.

Events run from 6-9 p.m. unless otherwise noted, and involve tons of galleries, restaurants and other venues in downtown Raleigh.

All places participating in First Friday will have flags outside.

10  Visit The North Carolina Symphony

Boring you say? Well, you clearly didn’t see Boyz II Men in concert with the NC Symphony… I did, and it was awesome! The kids have loved going when they have themed nights, such as The Cat In The Hat, or Star Wars. You also can catch them outdoors during the summer concert series.

11  Go Ape!

15 things to do in Raleigh Go Ape
Who wants to come with me? They’ve been on my radar since they opened, but I haven’t found time to go yet. Check Groupon as they often have great deals. Come back and let me know how you enjoyed living out your Tarzan fantasies.

12 A Night Out On The Town

15 things to do in raleigh roof top drinking

The irony of saying a “night out” then adding a picture during the day 🙂


Whether you want a sophisticated night out complete with steaks at The Capital Grille and martini’s across the street on the rooftop bar.
Cornerstone – love the ambiance and the fact that I don’t have to strain to hear the person sitting next to me (at least when sitting outside).
Milk Bar– I hate it… but to be fair, I seem to be in the minority. Maybe if I was 21 it would be my scene, but I’m past the point of blaring-ly loud music and tremendously long lines being my idea of fun. Plus a friend had my hopes set high when he said all the people that go look like they belong in Miami Beach… Maybe it was an off night, but Miami Beach it was not.
Raleigh Times– I would be remiss if I did not add this little gem in here. I actually enjoy coming here during the day before the party goers arrive. I think this is everyone’s first stop when bar hopping. Little known fact… it’s the ONLY place in Raleigh to eat delicious cheese curds. Note that I said delicious. A few other places serve them but they’re mediocre at best.

Transportation in Raleigh

If you’re flying, you’ll likely come in through Raleigh- Durham International Airport. A little tip if you’re an active duty service member– You can use the USO lounge to eat, rest, and relax while you wait for your flight.

In our experience, Raleigh has proven fairly easy city to navigate. With that said, I recommend you rent a car. As the public transportation leaves much to be desired.

Downtown Raleigh is also very easy to walk (or rent a bicycle). Not able or willing to rent a car? That’s ok. The Uber machine is alive and well. Just stay near the city center for access to the bus line and in a walkable area. Uber for all other locations. Get a FREE RIDE and $5 off your first four rides when you download the Uber app, register, and use promo code:kalynr51ue (or just sign up with here).

Our Favorite Places To Eat


Cloo’s Coney Island – As a Chicago Native, I can appreciate their attempt at the Chicago Dog. With that said, I come here for the philly cheesesteak sandwich and cheese fries.
Stromboli’s – My A1 since Day 1. I ate here the first week I moved to Raleigh and it’s stuck with me ever since. The whole menu looks pretty good, but my favorites are Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Chicken Alfredo, and the Veggie Calzone. * Present your military i.d for 25% off on Wednesdays*
Dame’s Chicken N Waffles– Get the daily dish with wings and vanilla schmear. You can thank me later.
Fiesta Mexicana – HANDS DOWN THE BEST MEXICAN IN THE TRIANGLE. Trust me. I’ve searched throughout. They have multiple locations but we only eat at this one. * 5131 NC 42 Highway West #270, Garner, NC 27529
Porter Farms– Not actually in Raleigh, but we make the 30-40 min drive strictly for ice cream more than we probably should. It’s all fresh and homemade, plus they have the best strawberries (and strawberry pickin’) in the triangle. Out of everything I’ll miss in Raleigh, this will be the number 1. Cherry Chocolate Chunk I will see you again… I promise.
Subconscious and Jersey Mikes- Yeah, yeah one is a national chain. It doesn’t mean I like it any less.


Taverna Agora- Delicious Greek food, with the best rooftop dining in the Triangle. Oopah!
Capital City Grille– New kid on the block. They opened recently and I think they stole some of Ruth Chris’s staff. I’ve been 3 times now and 2/3 were fantastic.
Ruth Chris– If you know me, you know I’m biased towards Ruth Chris. The lamb chops, filet, mushrooms, caesar salad, and drinks are all fantastic. At one point this was my weekly spot, which just shows how much I love them. I’ll admit the past two times I’ve gone have been mediocre, but everyone has an off day or two.
Vinnie’s – Once upon a time (before they took the pecan pie off the menu) they held the top spot. I’ve gone solo, on date night, and with my children. Each time I’ve enjoyed myself. They also have free deviled eggs. Usually, I pick the “devil” out and eat the egg plain.
Check back next week for Part-Two of Things To Do Near Raleigh, NC. We’ll tackle day trips to the mountains, fun in the outer banks, interesting museums, live sports, festivals, and more!
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Think I missed the mark completely? Agree with my choices? Let me know in the comments! 

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