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

On this visitor publish, Craig Makepeace (co-founder and writer of shares the best 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 perhaps one of many fastest-growing midsize cities within the US. It recurrently tops the “finest locations to reside and work within the US,” however it nonetheless provides small-town appeal 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 timber that line the streets, moreover providing ample inexperienced areas and trails, Raleigh is residence to glorious 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 street journey or for work and thus don’t all the time have quite a lot of time to totally discover it. Nevertheless, even in case you simply have someday, you’ll be able to nonetheless see so much.

Under is my private information to the very best issues to do in someday.


Breakfast: Huge 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 Huge 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 beneath a set of funky antiques hanging from the ceiling, together with heat Southern hospitality and meals like Grandma used to make. Particularly widespread 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 embrace The Mecca, Raleigh’s oldest restaurant, based by Greek immigrants in 1930; and the State Farmers’ Market Restaurant, one other widespread 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, absorb a museum. Raleigh has some glorious 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 implausible 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 motion pictures, 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 lovely gallery areas showcasing artwork from around the globe. You may discover by yourself, take an interesting 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 artistic endeavors.

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 severely 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 Japanese-style barbecue, wherein the entire hog is slow-cooked over sizzling coals; the meat is then pulled, given a bit of chop, and dressed with a vinegar-based sauce. Usually, 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 among the hottest such spots in Raleigh. Because the title suggests, it proudly serves genuine whole-hog, pit-cooked, Japanese-style barbecue. Situated within the Warehouse District, it’s well-known for child again ribs and whole-hog chopped barbecue. And for sides, try the Brunswick stew, heirloom cabbage collards, and fried inexperienced tomatoes.

Well-known in NC, Sam Jones BBQ in downtown is one other glorious choice. It smokes entire hogs on-site day by day and is widespread for its chopped barbecue, fried hen, ribs, and baked flat cornbread. It additionally serves one in every of my favourite sandwiches in Raleigh, the smoked turkey!

If pork barbecue just 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 among the hottest locations in Raleigh, and one in every of 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 comprise over 22 miles of trails, starting from simple to average. Should you love nature trails, biking, operating, picnicking, canoeing, and even horseback using, 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 widespread 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 widespread 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
One of the best view of the Raleigh skyline will be had from Wye Hill and its excellent outside 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 fanatics can head to the attractive open house and hip venue Whiskey Kitchen, that includes a repurposed industrial vibe wherein 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 provides an excellent choice of wine in a cultured and relaxed environment.

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 superb service! The menu, which modifications each day, options fashionable delicacies (together with the very best steak I’ve had in Raleigh), plus craft cocktails.

Bida Manda is hands-down the very best 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 widespread downtown eating places, given its colourful outside 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 Twenties. Assume leather-based seating, cozy nooks, rustic tables, dim lighting, and bookshelves filled with historical past. It provides an creative cocktail menu and low-key jazz occasions.

However if in case you 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 contemporary 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 along with your pie or champagne along with your cake — then take into account 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 group. (After all, 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 the very 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 may observe him on Instagram at @ThisIsRaleigh.

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