The Old North State, better known as North Carolina is one of the underappreciated darlings of the east coast of the U.S. We can’t blame travelers though as it has a lot to contend with including New York, Florida, Missouri, and so many more. On this trip, we are going to put the state on the highlight but we are narrowing our sights down to Raleigh. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and it also serves as the county seat of Wake County. Also known as the City of Oaks, Raleigh is one of the top cities for tourism in North Carolina but other than that, the city itself is filled with some of the most welcoming people in the U.S.
Raleigh is considered as one of the earliest examples of a planned city in the U.S. When the American Revolutionary war in 1788, Raleigh was chosen as the site of the state capital. It was incorporated to be just that in 1792, meaning it was one of the cities that became the first capital in a state.
Because of its fast progress during the early years of American history, Raleigh was able to develop faster well into the industrial age. Now, it is one of the most planned and most developed cities in North Carolina. Aside from having a rich history and friendly people, Raleigh is also known for its booming sports and tourism economy.
In terms of tourism, Raleigh isn’t short on exciting activities and worthwhile places to visit. You’ll surely get your fill of traveling in this city but before we get to those, here are some important things to take note of.
- 1 How To Get To Raleigh, North Carolina
- 2 Getting Around Raleigh, North Carolina
- 3 Best Time To Visit Raleigh, North Carolina
- 4 Things to Do in Raleigh NC
How To Get To Raleigh, North Carolina
If you aren’t in or around North Carolina, the best way for you to get into the city is via the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). This airport was a former hub of American Airlines and Midway Airlines but not it remains as one of the largest national airports that are without a hub status. Take note, this airport takes over 10 million passengers daily.
The RDU serves flights to most major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Miami and more. Moreover, it offers international flights to destinations such as Paris, London Heathrow, and many others more. From the RDU, you can reach downtown Raleigh by taking the #100 bus right outside the airport’s gates.
If you are driving to the city, take the Interstate 40 from the east. Two and a half hours east on the highway and you’ll reach Wilmington in Raleigh. Alternatively, Interstates 85 and 95 can get you to Raleigh though not directly. However, these roads will give you easy access to the city from the Eastern Seaboard so it is a great option as well.
You can also travel via public commute thanks to Amtrak. There are three routes that pass by the Raleigh Station. The first is Piedmont which gets to the city in over three hours. The Carolinian and SilverStar are two long-distance routes which will also take you to the city. The Carolinian will follow the path of Piedmont south to Charlotte while the Silver Star heads south through Columbia and Savannah to Florida. Both aren’t direct trips to the city but will take you to neighbor towns instead.
Getting Around Raleigh, North Carolina
Several car rental companies are readily available at the RDU so you can rent a car to get to the downtown area, and later on around the city via driving. Additionally. Ride-sharing services are available in the city as well you can opt to take these instead if you don’t want the hassle of moving around the city blindly.
Keep in mind that the city is strict on the implementation of driving laws. Unless you want your car towed, be sure to study on the road laws and follow them without fail.
In terms of public transportation, there are two bus authorities in the city. The first is the Triangle Transit Authority whose buses have routes between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Moreover, it passes to top tourist destinations such as Research Triangle Park and the RDU. If you are traveling strictly within the city limits, then take the Capital Area Transit which runs daily and way into the late hours of the night.
There are also taxis in the city and they are quite abundant. In fact, there are a total of 36 licensed taxi operators in the city so you never have to wait too long to get a ride.
Best Time To Visit Raleigh, North Carolina
The best months to visit Raleigh, North Carolina are from September to October. During these months, the temperatures are in the low 80s which is perfect for traveling around the city. During November, the temperature significantly drops to the low 40s and 50s so be sure to bring a coat. The bad thing though is that the rates will be at their highest during these months so book your trips early to avoid paying at the peak price.
On the bright side, you can enjoy various key events at the city during this time such as SPARKcon, Bugfest and Hopscotch Music Fest in September, and the Wide Open Bluegrass and the North Carolina State Fair in October.
If you are hoping to get the cheapest rooms in Raleigh, then you may want to visit from January to March. Not only are the rooms at their cheapest, but there will also be fewer people as well. During these months, winter is still very present so expect very cold temperatures. Again, pack some heavy and warm clothing to keep yourself comfortable.
Things to Do in Raleigh NC
Raleigh is one of the cities in North Carolina that you should consider adding to your travel list. But not just because it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Rather, you must see the weird but interesting things to do in Raleigh NC. Yes, you read it right. While it is one of the places known as one of the top hubs for tech entrepreneurship, this city also has no shortage of weird, fun, mysterious, and interesting things to do that every traveler must-see. In case you’re wondering what kind of things we’re talking about awaits you, here’s a peek at some of them. However, note that not all of the activities on this list are family-friendly and not for the faint of heart.
With just a glance even from afar, you’ll definitely expect that the Cloud Camber will give you one of the extraordinary tours. With its walls made of large dry stone blocks that shaped it like a rocky igloo with a lurch green turf that sits atop, this low-lying hut really looks like a spot straight out of the movie, The Hobbit. But it turns out, it’s just a camera obscura, built by British artist Chris Drury. While nothing seems to make people’s jaw drop, visiting it is still one of the unique and interesting things to do in Raleigh NC because you’ll never find one like this in other cities. In case you want to see it, the Cloud Chamber is located in the NCMA’s Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. Note that you’d have to walk a bit to get to the actual hut. Still, the sight and experience are all worth it.
2Joel Lane House Museum
This museum house draws flocks of tourists and locals alike because of the tours guided by costumed docents that will really make you learn more about the life on the late 18th-century plantation in North Carolina and how it changed over time, the Joel Lane House Museum is also visited by many people because of the mystery that surrounds the person who built it namely Joel Lane. People only know him as the “Father of Raleigh” because he sold the land to the state of North Carolina to establish the city. He is also known as the “Father of Wake County” because he was the one who sponsored the bill that enabled its creation. However, other than that, little is known about him as there’s no image of him and no one knows about what his motives were. But who knows, visiting the Joel Lane House Museum might shed more light on his identity. Regardless if you find clues of who he really is, visiting the museum is still one of the good things to do in Raleigh NC.
3The Duke’s House
If you’re up for some chilling trip, wandering around the Pullen Park Loft Apartments and the nearby train tracks are one of the top things to do in Raleigh NC that we highly recommend. Back in the 1920’s, this is where the Duke’s house stands where his guests would party and get very drunk. But one night, rumor has it that three of his guests who were all young women and their tipsy driver ran off the Ashe Ave Bridge and crashed onto the train tracks below. Everyone died on the spot, with the driver being decapitated. According to the tittle-tattle, apparitions can be seen on the Duke’s front porch and people believe that it was the three women who died in the said accident. The driver’s spirit, on the other hand, is said to be seen wandering the train tracks in search of his head. However, the Duke’s house is already demolished. Still, if you’re brave enough, you can wander around the area and hunt for ghosts.
4Dos Taquitos Restaurant
Located in Glenwood Ave downtown, Dos Taquitos restaurant is also one of the places in Raleigh that you should visit. This is because of the delicious Mexican food that they serve that’s enough to refuel you after a long day of exploring the city. However, this place isn’t just for the foodies and hungry customers. Apparently, it is also visited by brave-hearted people because of the apparent paranormal activities. And nope, this isn’t a mere marketing strategy. It turns out that the speculations rooted from the deaths that occurred there back in 1995. According to reports, there have been 6 deaths recorded that happened in the building. 4 of which are results of murder.
Workers, as well as diners, have reportedly experienced hearing whispers, knocks, and other chilling happenings that typically occur in sequences of 3, which some believe is a mocking of the Holy Trinity. That said, visiting this place is also one of the top things to do in Raleigh NC that we recommend but only for the brave ones.
5Angus Barn Restaurant
Another restaurant that’s not to be missed when in Raleigh is the Angus Barn. However, it’s not actually because of the food. While their food is worth talking about, particularly the restaurant’s steak, there is also another thing that makes it worthy of that spot on your travel itinerary – and that is the restaurant’s butt-kicking machine made by Tom Haywood n Croatan. Yes, it exists and having your butt kicked by this machine is one of the weird but fun things to do in Raleigh NC that you shouldn’t miss. However, note that it’s not situated inside the restaurant; rather in a little gazebo in the restaurant’s parking lot.
6RDU Observation Park
Visiting the RDU Observation Park is also one of the top things to do in Raleigh NC. However, we recommend that you visit it right after you arrive in the city or before you leave, particularly if you’re traveling by plane. This is because the place is actually located at the airport. Here, you can get to see a good uncluttered view of RDU’s 10,000-foot runway. Aside from the fact that you can get to have a good look at planes as they take off and land, you can also get to relax in the observation park. Plus, you can listen to pilot-tower communications via audio speakers on the observation platform. It’s a unique and relaxing experience so don’t miss this activity out too.
7The Field House
If ghost hunting at the Dos Taquitos Restaurant and at the area where the Duke’s House once stood isn’t enough, you might want to consider investigating the Field House at the North Carolina State University too; it’s also one of the top things to do in Raleigh NC that we also recommend for the brave-hearted ones.
Many people might have known it as the Field House for the Wolfpack and most recently the house of the University Police. However, for some people, this isn’t an ordinary spot at the university. This is because many have reported hauntings as they stayed here. Some say they often hear strange noises and even see apparitions. There are also reports of sightings of shadowy figures and footsteps.
However, in 2013, the building was torn down. Still, you can investigate the grounds where it once stood and see for yourself if the reports are true.
Moore square also has some unique experience to offer for those who are looking for some unique things to do in Raleigh NC. Apparently, this isn’t just a place to relax but it also has a unique 1,250-pound copper sculpture of an acorn that might make your Instagram feed look more unique. Aside from that, what makes it worth seeing is that it is one of the city’s two remaining original parks/green spaces that were established in the 1790s. Hence, you know you’ll also get a glimpse of the city’s history. And speaking of the past, since this has witnessed a lot of stories that even dates back to pre-Civil War Raleigh, rumors say that it gives off “bad vibes,” especially at night, which makes it even more interesting. But are you brave enough to investigate this area?
The heck-Andrews House is one of the first grand residence built in North Blount Street after the Civil War. Designed by architect G. S. H. Appleget for the Confederate Colonel Jonathan McGee Heck, its exterior alone is already worth seeing. But its design isn’t the only thing that makes it one of the most visited landmarks in the city. Apparently, like some the previous Raleigh attractions we’ve mentioned, the Heck-Andrews House is also frequented by locals and tourists alike because of the eerie legends that it holds. One of which is that there is a body buried under the front left corner of the house. There are also rumors that say that the house omits somewhat negative energy that makes some of its visitors feel a profound sense of sadness as they tour the house. That said, it’s definitely worth adding to your list of things to do in Raleigh, especially if you are looking for some chilling adventures.
10St. Agnes Hospital
America is known to have a long history of racial segregation. And you can get a glimpse of the remnants of that history at Raleigh too. If you’ll head to St. Agnes Hospital and look into its history, you’ll see that it was one of the first hospitals and nurse training center that are only for “Blacks” in America. While racial segregation is not a good thing, seeing this place is still one of the best things to do in Raleigh as you can get to enrich your knowledge with the city’s history all the more. However, it is said that the Department of the Interior, the other local groups, St. Augustine University’s alumni are looking for ways to restore this place. Once it’s revamped, we’re sure that it is going to be one of the best places to be if you want to delve deeper into the city’s past. In the meantime, you can only take a look at it from outside. Still, seeing it alone is one of the best things to do in Raleigh.
You might find it weird that visiting a cemetery is included on our recommended things to do in Raleigh NC but don’t pass on it just yet. Apparently, the word says this cemetery has a mysterious statue of an angel. According to the locals and other witnesses, the said statue of an angel will turn its head if you view it at night long enough. On the other hand, some say they felt that the statue’s eyes on them and could see its eyes following them as they move around the area. Hence the name, “The Spinning Angel of Oakwood.” It’s such an interesting thing to see so don’t miss it.
Actually, he has a lot of names. Aside from being called The Raleigh Giant, the locals also call him Big Man, Paint-Can Man, and Muffler Man and seeing him is one of the interesting things to do in Raleigh NC too. However, we’re not talking about a real tall person here. Rather, we’re talking about a huge statue that first appeared at the Giant Decorator, a business that can be found on Downtown Boulevard, holding a can of paint; hence the moniker “Paint-Can Man.” But eventually, a family got him and placed him on display at their strawberry farm on 401 North. What made him so interesting is that he actually has a huge size. He’s so tall that you will not help but look as you drive pass him. While it’s a mere statue with no special effects or whatsoever, it’s still amusing to see.
Mordecai Historic Park is also one of the most toured attractions in the city. But be sure that you have a brave heart to tour this place. This is because the Mordecai House is said to be haunted by its former owners Margaret Mordecai and Mary Willis Mordecai Turk. Many visitors, as well as the house’s workers, have reported seeing a woman wearing a white blouse with a black tie and a lock black skirt haunting the house’s hallways. At times, she can be seen standing on the balcony if you pass by the house late at night. See if you can catch a glimpse of her and tour the house.