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Spend 24 Hours in Raleigh, North Carolina (Up to date 2024)

The skyline of Raleigh, North Carolina

Posted: 1/4/24 | January 4th, 2024

On this visitor submit, Craig Makepeace (co-founder and writer of shares the right way to spend 24 hours in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I’ve known as Raleigh, North Carolina, dwelling for over 10 years. As one of many South’s most vibrant and eclectic burgs, this state capital could be one of many fastest-growing midsize cities within the US. It often tops the “greatest locations to reside and work within the US,” however it nonetheless presents small-town attraction and Southern hospitality. My spouse and I made a decision to lift our children right here due to this combine.

Nicknamed “the Metropolis of Oaks” for the sheer variety of majestic oak bushes that line the streets, in addition to providing ample inexperienced areas and trails, Raleigh is dwelling to wonderful museums, a thriving restaurant scene, infinite craft breweries, enjoyable festivals and occasions, and college-town vibes!

Many guests cease in Raleigh as a part of a street journey or for work and thus don’t all the time have a whole lot of time to completely discover it. Nonetheless, even should you simply have at some point, you’ll be able to nonetheless see rather a lot.

Under is my private information to one of the best issues to do in at some point.


Breakfast: Large Ed’s Metropolis Market

The interior of Big Ed's restaurant, with lots of diners sitting at tables and antiques hanging from the ceiling in Raleigh, North Carolina
There’s no higher Southern breakfast and introduction to Raleigh than at Large Ed’s in historic Metropolis Market, serving beneficiant parts of Southern consolation meals since 1958.

Right here you’ll get pleasure from a laid-back vibe underneath a set of funky antiques hanging from the ceiling, together with heat Southern hospitality and meals like Grandma used to make. Particularly standard are their large pancakes, native nation ham, fried hen, aged rib-eye steak and eggs, sliced pork loin, fried catfish, fluffy biscuits, and double-brewed candy tea. That is the native expertise you’re searching for.

Alternate breakfast choices embody The Mecca, Raleigh’s oldest restaurant, based by Greek immigrants in 1930; and the State Farmers’ Market Restaurant, one other standard place for locals to get a rustic breakfast and Southern eating expertise!

Morning exercise: Museums

A mom and daughter stand in front of a dinosaur skeleton at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina
After filling up on a hearty meal, soak up a museum. Raleigh has some wonderful ones, and due to the standard and variety of free museums it has, the town has usually been known as “the Smithsonian of the South.”

The improbable Museum of Pure Sciences is North Carolina’s most visited museum. There are over 4 flooring of reveals to discover, together with reside animals, walk-through dioramas, microbes, meteorites, and 3D films, plus a terrific everlasting assortment of dinosaur and whale skeletons.

If historical past is your factor, throughout the road is the North Carolina Museum of Historical past. Based in 1902, it welcomes greater than 400,000 guests a yr to see its 150,000 artifacts from over 14,000 years of historical past.

Artwork lovers ought to head to the free North Carolina Museum of Artwork, dwelling to greater than a dozen stunning gallery areas showcasing artwork from around the globe. You possibly can discover by yourself, take a fascinating tour, or see some performing arts. Don’t miss taking a stroll by means of the 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, whose path system by means of pure areas options greater than a dozen commissioned artworks.

Lunch: The Pit Genuine BBQ

An overhead view of two heaping plates of BBQ with Southern style sides in Raleigh, North Carolina
North Carolina is an enormous barbecue state, and having fun with a plate is one thing they take very critically within the state capital. It’s a kind of “welcome to the South” moments all meat eaters ought to expertise.

In Raleigh, they primarily do Jap-style barbecue, during which the entire hog is slow-cooked over scorching coals; the meat is then pulled, given just a little chop, and dressed with a vinegar-based sauce. Sometimes, it’s served as a sandwich or a plated dish, with all the standard Southern sides you’ll be able to deal with.

The Pit Genuine BBQ is without doubt one of the hottest such spots in Raleigh. Because the identify suggests, it proudly serves genuine whole-hog, pit-cooked, Jap-style barbecue. Positioned within the Warehouse District, it’s well-known for child again ribs and whole-hog chopped barbecue. And for sides, take a look at the Brunswick stew, heirloom cabbage collards, and fried inexperienced tomatoes.

Well-known in NC, Sam Jones BBQ in downtown is one other wonderful choice. It smokes complete hogs on-site daily and is standard for its chopped barbecue, fried hen, ribs, and baked flat cornbread. It additionally serves one in all my favourite sandwiches in Raleigh, the smoked turkey!

If pork barbecue isn’t your factor however you continue to desire a Southern eating expertise, Beasley’s Rooster + Honey is a well-liked lunch restaurant by famed chef Ashley Christensen that focuses on fried hen and sandwiches.

Afternoon exercise: Umstead State Park

A man walks down a leafy trail in Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North Carolina
Time to stroll off lunch! Only a 15-minute drive from downtown is without doubt one of the hottest locations in Raleigh, and one in all North Carolina’s most visited state parks: William B. Umstead State Park, which is well accessible from Interstate 40 and US-70. Its greater than 5,000 acres of forest encompass three man-made lakes and include over 22 miles of trails, starting from simple to reasonable. For those who love nature trails, biking, operating, picnicking, canoeing, and even horseback using, put Umstead in your itinerary.

An important introductory path is the two.8-mile Sal’s Department Path loop, which is generally shaded and flat, with tall bushes and a lake view. For those who’re up for a woodland stroll, the Sycamore Path is a 7.2-mile loop and the longest path. One other standard path is the six-mile Firm Mill Path loop.

Alternatively, Lake Johnson, only a 10-minute drive from downtown, is my favourite of the lakes in Raleigh. The three-mile paved greenway loop across the western facet is standard with NC State college students and locals. There’s a 700-foot-long boardwalk throughout the middle of the lake, a boathouse, a small seaside space, and picnic shelters.

Pre-dinner drinks: Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing

A group of people sit at a table at Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing with the skyline of Raleigh, North Carolina in the background
The perfect view of the Raleigh skyline may be had from Wye Hill and its excellent out of doors patio. Take all of it in whereas having fun with refreshing craft beers and distinctive cocktails. There’s a superb small-plate menu too!

Whiskey lovers can head to the gorgeous open area and hip venue Whiskey Kitchen, that includes a repurposed industrial vibe during which to get pleasure from any of over 300 whiskies, plus craft cocktails, beer, and wine. Talking of wine, Vita Vite Artwork Gallery + Wine Bar doubles as an artwork gallery and presents an excellent collection of wine in a cultured and relaxed ambiance.

Dinner: Stanbury

The exterior of Stanbury restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina
Stanbury might be probably the most distinctive eating expertise in Raleigh and one I can’t cease speaking about. It has excellent meals, a beautiful ambiance in a unusual, rustic venue, and wonderful service! The menu, which adjustments every day, options fashionable delicacies (together with one of the best steak I’ve had in Raleigh), plus craft cocktails.

Bida Manda is hands-down one of the best of the Asian eating places in Raleigh. Its probably my favourite Southeast Asian restaurant in North Carolina, if not the US. It’s famend for its genuine Laotian delicacies, together with ample vegetarian and gluten-free choices.

In search of Mexican meals in Raleigh? Gringo A Go Go is a former fuel station and now one of many extra standard downtown eating places, given its colourful out of doors patio space and genuine Mexican meals. The menu is a tribute to the household’s Central Mexican heritage, with recipes handed down from the Guadalajara highlands.

After-dinner drinks: Watts & Ward

A couple having drinks underneath a
Watts & Ward is my favourite (underground) bar in Raleigh, a craft cocktail place infused with the spirit of the Nineteen Twenties. Suppose leather-based seating, cozy nooks, rustic tables, dim lighting, and bookshelves filled with historical past. It presents an ingenious cocktail menu and low-key jazz occasions.

However you probably have dinner at Stanbury, close by is my different favourite cocktail bar, William and Firm, or Willco to the locals. This cozy neighborhood cocktail bar on the sting of historic Oakwood serves up recent and distinctive craft cocktails created by top-notch bartenders.

For those who benefit from the idea of a dessert bar — a spot the place you may get bourbon along with your pie or champagne along with your cake — then think about Bittersweet, the place I like to go for an espresso martini and Irish espresso.


For those who solely have 24 hours in Raleigh, this one-day itinerary is what I recommend for first-time guests who wish to get an actual really feel for the Metropolis of Oaks — its tradition, historical past, food and drinks scene, and sense of Southern neighborhood. (In fact, I recommend you keep longer, as there are many cool issues to do in Raleigh, together with superior festivals and sporting occasions.)

Craig Makepeace is the co-founder and writer of, an internet site devoted to sharing all one of the best issues to do in Raleigh. Initially from Australia, he first moved to Raleigh in 2004 and fell in love with the town of oaks. He’s a journey addict, sports activities fanatic, seaside lover, and passionate craft beer drinker. You possibly can observe him on Instagram at @ThisIsRaleigh.

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