There are plenty of cities in North Carolina that are visit-worthy, but you rarely hear of Raleigh as one of them. However, Raleigh is definitely worth the trip—even if it’s a detour—because of all the unique venues and sites that you could visit there. The capital of the state, Raleigh is at the heart of North Carolina. It may be far from the Atlantic coast, but this city center certainly makes up for it. The city is famously known as the “City of Oaks” because of the many oak trees that line its streets. If not for that, here are 10 different things that you can see and do in Raleigh, especially if you’re a first time visitor.
1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
If the giant globe outside the building doesn’t make you want to come in, the fact that it’s the largest natural history museum in the Southeast should. There are plenty of dinosaur skeletons, whale skeletons, walk-through dioramas, and even live animals to see and learn about. If you’re up for some real science education, this is the place to go.
2. Pullen Park
Raleigh is full of parks to sit in and enjoy, but Pullen Park is the city’s first public park. It’s full of activities to do and trails to walk. The park has a scale train, paddle boats, a merry-go-round, playgrounds, an indoor carousel, concession stands, and plenty of picnic areas to enjoy.
3. Neuse River Trail
If you’re looking for more of an outdoor adventure, a nature trail is the perfect option. The Neuse River Trail offers well-maintained biking and walking trails with stunning scenery. You can cross a number of creeks while you’re on this trail. If you’re up for a bike ride, you can rent one on location.
4. North Carolina Museum of Art
Every city boasts its own art museum, and North Carolina is the same. However, the North Carolina Museum of Art offers a little more than the typical. It has an amazing permanent collection, a large outdoor amphitheater, and the largest museum park in the nation—a whopping 164 acres of parkland and nature trails.
5. State Capitol
Located on Edenton Street, the State Capitol building is something that you can’t miss. The building itself is a beautiful work of architecture, but a tour of the interior will give you a glimpse of how historic North Carolina. Built in 1840, the State Capitol also happens to be classed as a National Historic Landmark.
6. Marbles Kids Museum
This museum is open for kids of all ages. Whether you’re 6 or 60, there are plenty of things for you to enjoy at the Marbles Kids Museum. If you’re looking to feel young at heart, visit the museum to do interactive games, make music, watch some films, or even learn something new.
7. JC Raulston Arboretum
Some say that people don’t spend enough time outdoors anymore. Well, if the outdoors looks like the JC Raulston Arboretum, we might want to be outdoors more than usual. This arboretum houses one of the largest collections of plants in the Southeast US. You can join the tour on Sundays or just walk the gardens on your own any day.
8. Mordecai House
Raleigh is never short on history, and if curious about seeing how people lived in the 18th century, the Mordecai House is the place to go. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1785 and is the oldest house in the city. The Mordecai houses some of the city’s oldest and most valuable treasures today.
9. North Carolina Executive Mansion
This Victorian-style mansion has been the home for North Carolina governors since 1890. Since then, it’s housed the families of 28 governors. The interior of this mansion is something that’s definitely worth to see. You can do a free tour of the house and gardens as long as you make an appointment a couple of weeks in advance.
10. Yates Mill
Located at the Yates Mill County Park, this restored mill dates back to around 1756 and is the only mill that’s still standing in the county. You can tour the mill for a small fee, and when you’re finished, you can explore the 574 acres of wildlife refuge that’s su