Raleigh was chosen as the North Carolina state capital in the late 1700s. This was due to its central location within the state, as well as the city's distance from the ocean. Lawmakers feared that choosing a capital close to the ocean would open it up to attacks from the sea, which is why they decided to select a city in the state's inland section. During the 1800s, the city began to grow significantly, particularly after the end of the American Civil War in the 1860s. Later, newspapers began to publish in the city, and many institutions such as churches, schools and businesses decided to call the city home. During the 20th century, the city saw continued growth, as well as the construction of some of the area's first skyscrapers. Today, Raleigh is lauded regularly as one of the top cities in the country in which to live.
As one of the most important cities in the southern portion of the United States, Raleigh, North Carolina, is an attractive destination for many travelers. It enjoys a lovely climate throughout most of the year, though summers can be unbearably hot. Additionally, it offers some wonderful geographic and man-made features that make it distinctive. There is much to do and see in the city, and visitors are encouraged to spend several days there in order to have the most positive experience.
Things to Do
Visit the North Carolina Museum of Art
Eye-catching exhibits, a unique park, and a professional library make the North Carolina Museum of Art a must-visit Raleigh attraction. Children will especially enjoy the museum's multiple trails. To get the most out of your visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art, consider taking a guided tour of the establishment. Tours are offered daily and do not require a reservation.
Explore Umstead State Park
North Carolina is known for its numerous state parks. Umstead State Park happens to be one of North Carolina's most popular parks. In addition to camping, visitors can also take part in boating, biking, and hiking. Unbeknownst to many people, Umstead State Park contains a National Natural Landmark. The Piedmont Beech Natural Area covers approximately 60 acres within the park. The landmark's main goal or purpose is the protection of mature beech trees.
Tour the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site
History buffs won't want to miss a visit to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. The attraction's newly refurbished visitor's center is a great place to start your tour. Before you leave, be sure to visit the Harper House. The downstairs area of the house is set up to look like a Civil War field hospital. The upper level of the house contains unique domestic furnishings. The Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site covers quite a bit of ground, so plan your visit accordingly. Older visitors and those with young children may want to tour this historic site over a two day period.
Visit the Museum of Natural Sciences
Like the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural Sciences is a must-see attraction! Top exhibits include the Living Observatory, Tropical Connections, and Mountains to the Sea. Besides featuring a variety of top-notch exhibits, the Museum of Natural Sciences also boasts educational films and live programs. Children will especially enjoy the museum's numerous hands-on-activities. Be warned, touring this museum in its entirety will take more than a few hours time.
Check Out the JC Raulston Arboretum
Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to the JC Raulston Arboretum. The arboretum is actually a part of North Carolina's University. It consists of a Butterfly Garden, a Paradise Garden, and even a Reading Garden! All in all, the JC Raulston Arboretum boasts more than 10 well-designed gardens. The only downside to this top Raleigh attraction is that pets are not allowed.
In the Raleigh, North Carolina area, one of the best ways to get around is via the bus. They have a great bus system known as Capital Area Transit. With Capital Area Transit, you can on a number of different buses that go all over the city and the surrounding area. In addition to the regular buses, you can also get on the R Line bus that transports people to the downtown area. One of these buses comes to its stop around every 10 minutes, so it is easy to find a bus to take you to where the action is.
Another good way to get around the city is with a taxi. One of the nice things about getting a taxi in Raleigh is that you do not have to wait on a specific scheduled bus to arrive or go to a certain bus stop. You can get a taxi to come where you are, and drop you off anywhere inside the city. This makes it a lot more convenient than having to wait at a bus stop or walk from a specific drop-off point.
An alternative to getting a taxi is a car service. With a car service, you can get picked up by a driver and taken anywhere you need to go. The cars and the services provided are a little bit better than what you can expect from a taxi. You will probably have to pay a little bit more for a car service, but it can provide you with some extra perks.
Become one of the unique features of Raleigh is the trolley system. The city offers free trolley rides for anyone who wants to take one. The trolley system only runs during the evening, on Thursday through Saturday. This makes it an ideal option for enjoying a night out in the downtown area. It really gives you a glimpse of old-world transportation, while taking in the beauty of the city at the same time.
If you are visiting Raleigh, one of the more unique ways to get around is on a segway. Many travelers rent segways as a way to travel around the city instead of walking. They are very comfortable to ride on, and they can go faster than what you would go while walking. These are great if you plan on checking out some of the sites near downtown.
Where to Shop?
Crabtree Valley Mall
Crabtree is a favorite shopping destination for locals and everyone in central Raleigh. This is one of the best malls for all of your shopping needs. Popular stores like Sephora, LUSH and Macy's are located here. The food court will satiate your hunger after a long day of shopping. Crabtree will keep you busy for hours, and it is a great spot for visitors to shop at.
This specialty shop sells paper goods, wedding invitations and other small gifts. Paper goods are a great gift for someone special. Cute Buttons is a boutique shop and may not be open as long as other shops. Check their hours before visiting.
The Pink Alli
This boutique shop caters to those that love cute gifts. Cocktail glasses, candles and other pink and cute gifts are sold here. This store is popular amongst locals and has tons of variety for your next party or gift exchange.
This women's boutique is a trendy shop that sells the hottest clothing of the season. This shop is suitable for professionals and women that are seeking chic, modest and trendy clothes.
Saks Fifth Avenue
The hottest designer department store is available in the Raleigh area. Saks sells designers like Gucci, Prada and Chanel. They have a price range for all budgets. Quality clothing is always available at Saks. They also sell fine jewelry, fragrances and cosmetics.
Triangle Town Center
More than 150 shops make up Triangle Town Center. This upscale center has major department stores as well as shops like Abercrombie, Sephora, Aldo, LOFT, Louis Vuitton and many more. This center is sure to please everyone in your family. There is even a popular children's area for playing and relaxing.
Cary Towne Center
This shopping center has over 140 restaurants and shops for all of your shopping needs. American Eagle, Ann Taylor and Macy's are just a few of the great stores waiting for you here. Cary Towne Center frequently hosts sales and special events. Dining options range from casual to fine dining.
Cary Downtown Farmer's Market
This market is one of a dozen or so that sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Crafts and handmade goods are also sold alongside the fresh food. The farmer's markets of the Raleigh area are a great way to support the locals and get unique gifts, clothes or accessories to take home with you.
Ray Price Capital City Bikefest
Ray Price Capital City Bikefest is a family friendly event that features music, entertainment, food, refreshments and motorcycles. The Bikefest benefits the North Carolina National Guard and Homes for Our Troops.
Raleigh Greek Festival
Held every September at the state fairgrounds, the Raleigh Greek Festival is sponsored by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and features Greek food, music, dancing and activities.
Festival of Cheese
Put on by the American Cheese Society, the Festival of Cheese features a cheese competition and samples of more than 1600 varieties of cultured products and specialty items from all over North America.
North Carolina State Fair
Held every October at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh, the North Carolina State Fair features live entertainment, rides, games, refreshments, an exhibit hall and livestock competitions.
International Festival of Raleigh
The International Festival of Raleigh is held every September at the Raleigh Convention Center. A global celebration, the festival features activities, music and food from around the world.
North Carolina Gourd Festival
Held annually at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh, the North Carolina Gourd Festival features a gourd craft competition, gourd seeds and gourds from around the world.
Pagan Pride Days Festival
Put on by the Central North Carolina Chapter of the International Pagan Pride Project, the Pagan Pride Days Festival is held every September at the state fairgrounds and includes entertainment, food, workshops and children's activities.
Crape Myrtle Festival Grand Gala
Named after the hardy flower, the Crape Myrtle Festival Grand Gala is held annually and features hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction. Proceeds from the gala benefit those living with HIV or AIDS.
DogGoneFast Flyball Tournament
Put on by the DogGoneFast Flyball Club of North Carolina, the Flyball Tournament features dog relay races and is held at the state fairgrounds every September.
Chinese Moon Festival
Hosted by the Chinese-American Friendship Association of North Carolina, the Chinese Moon Festival celebrates Chinese and Asian culture and features Asian entertainment, food and exhibits.
Capital Area Handbell Festival
Put on by the Raleigh Ringers, the Capital Area Handbell Festival is held every November at the state fairgrounds and features handbell workshops, lunch and a holiday music concert.
Amran Shrine Circus
The Amran Shrine Circus is held annually at the state fairgrounds in Raleigh. Proceeds from the circus benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children.