Rediscover Raleigh with this neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide of things to do.
by Addie Ladner
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- Walk around Lake Crabtree County Park.
- Hike the trails at Umstead State Park and find the chainsaw art.
- Visit the latest exhibits at the North Carolina Museum of Art indoors or explore the trails outside, that go as far as Meredith College
- Take the kids to run wild and play at Prairie Ridge Ecostation
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.
- Grab a beer from Trophy Brewing on Maywood.
- Grab a Joe Shake at Cup of Joe.
- Order a pizza from Ruckus.
- Shop for some new-to-you produce to take home and try at the State Farmers Market
- Walk around or watch the SUP paddle boarders at Lake Raleigh.
- Take the unpaved trails at Lake Johnson
- Visit the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Farm Stand
- Attend a social distant gathering at the Well Fed Community Garden
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!
- Pick up coffee and pastries at Yellow Dog Bread Co, Anisette Sweet Shop (Saturdays & Sundays), Pine State Coffee or The Optimist.
- Call ahead for wine and cheese provisions to-go from Wine Authorities or go for beer and food truck fare at the newly-opened Standard Beer + Food or eat outside at The Station.
- Walk around Raleigh City Farm—and on Wednesday evenings, keep an eye out for their pop-up produce stand
- Top the day off with ice cream from Two Roosters.
- Stroll the campus at William Peace University.
- Picnic, play and learn local history at Mordecai Park, shoot hoops at Halifax Park or bring your bikes to the BMX track at Lions Park.
- Walk through the historic Oakwood Cemetery to find landmarks like the Ratcliff Angel and Jimmy V’s grave.
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.
- Grab a pizza from Frank’s
- Head to the Alamo Draft HouseTheater for a family film, field trip (plan ahead, and you can book an entire theater for yourself and your friends)
- Social distance with friends or family on the patio at Transfer Food Hall.
- Stop by the Black Farmers Hub for local produce and giftables
- Grab some friend shrimp and hushpuppies from Oak City Fish & Chips—or healthier fare at Juiced Juice Bar.
- Enjoy some frozen custard at Goodberry’s.
- Explore the trails and nature center at the Walnut Creek Wetland Park.
- Take the kids and a picnic to Historic Oakview County Park or the new playgrounds at the Southeast Raleigh YMCA.
- Hike or bike part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail at the Neuse River Greenway Trail, Buffaloe Road entrance.
- A little further out, explore the Triangle Land Conservancy’s recently-opened Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve.
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.
- Grab some French munchies to-go or gifts from Des Livres et Delices.
- Grab a Triple Decker BLT and dessert to-go from Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery
- Grab some tacos to-go from Lola’s Beach Bar.
- Grab a latte from Third Place.
- Order a giant pizza from Lilly’s
- Grab a local beer from Lynnwood, Crafty Beer Wine & Spirits, Neuse River Brewing, Nickelpoint
- Pop in Caroline Boykin’s new gallery.
- Stretch your legs at Fred Fletcher Park.
- Take the kids to play at Roanoke Playground
Downtown Raleigh’s so hopping these days we had to break it up! Choose a spot to park and wander…
Glenwood South District
- Grab coffee and a sweet at The Cupcake Shoppe
- Enjoy the city skyline and a brew at Wye Hill or dine outside at Mellow Mushroom
- Grab some global inspired food from Plates Neighborhood Kitchen.
- Get the signature hot dog at Snoopy’s
- Grab a Sir Walt’s six pack at Raleigh Wine Shop.
- Shop for antiques or something cozy and “new” at Union Camp Collective
- Or find deals at consignment store Revolver
- Enjoy dinner or drinks al fresco at Humble Pie, Barcelona Bar or Whiskey Kitchen
- Support a good cause by grabbing something light from pay-what-you-can A Place at the Table
- Enjoy a warm drink from Heirloom or Videri
- Pursue mid-century home finds and vintage clothes Father and Sons or pop into Raleigh Denim Workshop to see the team at work making artisanal denim
- Visit Flourish Market to shop and support women
- Stroll through the Contemporary Art Museum
- Pop in to admire the architecture of Raleigh’s Union Station–and check out the new Love Over Rules installation outside
- 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.
- 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.
Near Fayetteville Street
- Grab dinner at Garland.
- Grab coffee and pastries from Morning Times or lunch or dinner on the rooftop at Raleigh Times.
- Snag some macaroons or a light french lunch like a ham and butter sandwich from Lucette Grace.
- Visit Berkley the squirrel at Nash Square.
- Visit the bees, big tree and light arch on the grounds of the Duke Performing Arts Center
- Rediscover the Cree Shimmer Wall—and see what Sir Walter Raleigh’s wearing—at the Raleigh Convention Center
Moore Square District
- Sip an eggnog latte at 42 & Lawrence.
- Enjoy a hearty Italian meal outside at Vic’s then roam the cobblestone streets of City Market.
- Reserved a time to play at Marbles Kids Museum
- Pop into Bella Vita for curated home goods, The Devilish Egg for craft supplies and gifts, or Brovelli for olive oils and more
- Spread a blanket at Moore Square to get some sun (and shop the market on Wednesdays)
- Devour a plate of chicken enchiladas with a margarit outside at Gringo A Go Go
- Grab a cocktail on the patio Longleaf Hotel’s lounge
- Have a cozy Italian dinner on the huge outdoor patio at Mulino
- Visit the North Carolina Museum of History or the North Carolina Museum of Life and Sciences (please check website for COVID-19 safety updates)
- Pick up a book for yourself or someone else from Quail Ridge.
- Pick yourself out a new outfit at VODA.
- Explore Durant Nature Preserve.
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.
- 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.
- Take the kids to play at Shelly Lake Park.
- Explore Blue Jay Point County Park at the mouth of Falls Lake.
- Take the kids to the Anne Lewis Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve.
- Glean some garden inspiration at the spacious Homewood Nursery, for parents and the kids to the little gnome section.
*Off Capital Blvd
- Savor a hot ham sandwich or croissant to-go from Union Special Bread.
- Slurp a bowl of pho at Pho Far East Raleigh.
- Try some Raleigh-made english muffin creations from Michaels English Muffins.
- Order a picnic of bbq or fried chicken to-go from Wyatt’s/PICNIC.
- Share a round of beers at Mordecai Beverage Co.
- Pick up a craft kit to-go or take a crafty class at Craft Habit Raleigh.