How to Spend 24 Hours in Raleigh, North Carolina (Updated 2024)

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


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

I’ve referred to as Raleigh, North Carolina, residence for over 10 years. As one of many South’s most vibrant and eclectic burgs, this state capital is likely to be one of many fastest-growing midsize cities within the US. It frequently tops the “finest locations to reside and work within the US,” but it surely nonetheless affords small-town allure and Southern hospitality. My spouse and I made a decision to boost our children right here due to this combine.

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

Many guests cease in Raleigh as a part of a highway journey or for work and thus don’t at all times have loads of time to totally discover it. Nevertheless, even in the event you simply have at some point, you may nonetheless see so much.

Under is my private information to the most effective 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 CarolinaThe 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 group of funky antiques hanging from the ceiling, together with heat Southern hospitality and meals like Grandma used to make. Particularly well-liked are their large pancakes, native nation ham, fried rooster, 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 well-liked 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 CarolinaA 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, town has usually been known as “the Smithsonian of the South.”

The implausible Museum of Pure Sciences is North Carolina’s most visited museum. There are over 4 flooring of displays 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 12 months 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, residence to greater than a dozen stunning gallery areas showcasing artwork from around the globe. You possibly can discover by yourself, take an attractive tour, or see some performing arts. Don’t miss taking a stroll via the 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, whose path system via 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 CarolinaAn 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 severely within the state capital. It’s a type of “welcome to the South” moments all meat eaters ought to expertise.

In Raleigh, they primarily do Japanese-style barbecue, by which the entire hog is slow-cooked over scorching coals; the meat is then pulled, given a little bit 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 may 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, Japanese-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 possibility. It smokes entire hogs on-site every single day and is well-liked for its chopped barbecue, fried rooster, ribs, and baked flat cornbread. It additionally serves one among my favourite sandwiches in Raleigh, the smoked turkey!

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

Afternoon exercise: Umstead State Park

A man walks down a leafy trail in Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North CarolinaA 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 among North Carolina’s most visited state parks: William B. Umstead State Park, which is definitely 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 straightforward to reasonable. Should you love nature trails, biking, working, picnicking, canoeing, and even horseback driving, put Umstead in your itinerary.

A terrific introductory path is the two.8-mile Sal’s Department Path loop, which is usually shaded and flat, with tall timber and a lake view. Should you’re up for a woodland stroll, the Sycamore Path is a 7.2-mile loop and the longest path. One other well-liked 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 aspect is well-liked with NC State college students and locals. There’s a 700-foot-long boardwalk throughout the middle of the lake, a boathouse, a small seashore 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 backgroundA group of people sit at a table at Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing with the skyline of Raleigh, North Carolina in the background
One of the best 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 wonderful small-plate menu too!

Whiskey lovers can head to the attractive open area and hip venue Whiskey Kitchen, that includes a repurposed industrial vibe by 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 affords an amazing choice of wine in an aesthetic and relaxed ambiance.

Dinner: Stanbury

The exterior of Stanbury restaurant in Raleigh, North CarolinaThe exterior of Stanbury restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina
Stanbury might be essentially 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 day by day, options fashionable delicacies (together with the most effective steak I’ve had in Raleigh), plus craft cocktails.

Bida Manda is hands-down the most effective of the Asian eating places in Raleigh. Its presumably 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.

On the lookout for Mexican meals in Raleigh? Gringo A Go Go is a former fuel station and now one of many extra well-liked 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 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 stuffed with historical past. It affords 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.

Should you benefit from the idea of a dessert bar — a spot the place you may get bourbon together with your pie or champagne together with your cake — then contemplate Bittersweet, the place I like to go for an espresso martini and Irish espresso.


Should you solely have 24 hours in Raleigh, this one-day itinerary is what I recommend for first-time guests who need 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, a web site devoted to sharing all the most effective issues to do in Raleigh. Initially from Australia, he first moved to Raleigh in 2004 and fell in love with town of oaks. He’s a journey addict, sports activities fanatic, seashore lover, and passionate craft beer drinker. You possibly can observe him on Instagram at @ThisIsRaleigh.

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E book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to discover a low-cost flight. They’re my favourite search engine as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned!

E book Your Lodging
You possibly can ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the largest stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low-cost accommodations.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes unsuitable. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. My favourite firms that supply the most effective service and worth are:

On the lookout for the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most effective firms to make use of whenever you journey. I listing all those I exploit to save cash once I’m on the highway. They’ll prevent cash whenever you journey too.

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