100+ Ideas for a Raleigh Staycation, Pandemic Style

Rediscover Raleigh with this neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide of things to do.
by Addie Ladner

Photography credit: Bryan Regan

Like it or not, this holiday will be different than others. Many of us will be staying home with just our families and pandemic pods, missing our usual chances to go on vacation or visit relatives. But here’s the good news: Raleigh’s a great place to be, even during COVID-19. And if you take the chance to explore a different neighborhood, you may just discover a new favorite coffee spot, hiking trail, spot to window-shop or playground for the kids right in your own town. Consider these 100-plus suggestions to enjoy different neighborhoods in Raleigh for your holiday staycation.

University Park/Cameron Village

Anchored by one of the country’s oldest outdoor shopping areas, with plenty of spots to browse and dine, this area also offers charming neighborhoods to walk around with a mix of older homes and new-builds. North Carolina State University is a short walk away and with campus quieter than normal, it’s a great place to spread out for a picnic.

Eat/Drink

  • Grab a latte and apple pie from Benelux Coffee
  • Try a classic sweet potato ham biscuit sandwich from Cafe Carolina. 
  • Enjoy vibrant Latin American inspired dinner on the patio at So-ca
  • Try the brussel sprouts, brick oven goat cheese or tacos at Tazza Kitchen

Explore

  • Stroll around Cameron Village to admire the murals and holiday decor—and, of course, do some shopping. Don’t forget to make some noise on the musical steps!
  • For the kids: play at Isabella Cannon park, especially the small rock wall.
  • Pack a picnic, grab a book and blanket and go relax at the Raleigh Rose Garden.
  • Take the kids to release some energy at Pullen Park.
  • Take the kids, the pets or just yourself with a picnic to North Carolina State University’s Caroline Court.
  • See and learning the history behind the Oberlin Rising monument

Around RDU

The area around the airport not just a place to get out of town—it’s also a gateway to some of our area’s largest and nicest green spaces. 

Eat/Drink

  • Grab a Meditteranean lunch to-go from Neomonde from its nearby locations in Raleigh and Morrisville
  • Visit The Umstead Hotel & Spa for a classy drink on the back patio. 
  • Grab breakfast or lunch from AC at the Park
  • And let’s be honest: you might just want a warm chicken & biscuit from Bojangles or freshly-made french fries from Sheetz if you’re hungry after one of the park explorations below 

Explore

Near NCSU Centennial Campus

The pocket near Raleigh’s biggest university offers a mix of laid-back spots to grab a pizza, coffee or beer with the amenities of having lots of natural areas nearby, enough to make it feel remote even though you’re only about 10 minutes from the inside of town. 

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Mordecai/Oakwood

Raleigh’s oldest neighborhoods are great for strolling to see well-preserved colonial and Victorian-era architecture, with lots of spots to take a break for food and drink, plus places to play too!

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Photography Credit: Justin Kase Conder

Southeast/East Raleigh

Another part of town full of green spaces to explore, east and southeast Raleigh are a quickly growing part of the city with a great close-knit community full of off-the-beaten path places to eat and catch fresh air.

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Five Points

For a small-town feel right in the middle of town, head here. With walkable neighborhoods, a playground and several places to eat and drink (with a handful of craft breweries to boot), this area would make a great outing for a family of young kids.

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Downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh’s so hopping these days we had to break it up! Choose a spot to park and wander…

Glenwood South District

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Warehouse District 

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Boulted Bread baker Joshua Bellamy

Boylan Heights 

Eat/Drink

  • Grab some warm scones and croissants from Boulted Bread.
  • Pick up lunch, coffee, or local foods like ice cream, chese, produce and more to take home from Rebus Works.

Explore

  • Walk around these charming residential neighborhood streets with wraparound porches and french doors from the early 1900’s
  • Take the kids to run around, throw a ball or frisbee at Dix Park.
Photography credit: Bob Karp

Near Fayetteville Street 

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Moore Square District 

Eat/Drink

  • Sip an eggnog latte at 42 & Lawrence.
  • Enjoy a hearty Italian meal outside at Vic’s then roam the cobblestone streets of City Market.

Explore

Photograph by Justin Case Konder

Capital District

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Midtown

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Zest Cafe & Art. Photography credit: Eamon Queeney

North Raleigh

Making up such a large area of town, there is no shortage of new places to eat or play in this area, from Lafetville Village to the parks to the hidden gems on Capital Blvd, which we gave its own category. North Raleigh is definitely a place worth exploring. 

Eat/Drink

  • Grab breakfast or lunch from Sola.
  • Enjoy art, local gifts and light southern-inspired lunch at Zest Cafe & Art.
  • Enjoy crepes at Simply Crepes, window shop and stroll through Lafetville Village.

Explore

Photography Credit: Eamon Queeney

*Off Capital Blvd

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