Raleigh is the state Capital of North Carolina and as a such it has a lot of free things to do and see ranging from parks to murals and museums.
After living in the City of Oaks for 3 years we have compiled a list of the best free things to do in Raleigh. With a mix of both indoor and outdoor activities there are options of free things to do in Raleigh on a rainy day and a sunny weekend.
Read More: Best things to do in Raleigh
Top free things to do in Raleigh:
1. William B. Umstead State Park
Umstead State Park is our favorite and most popular park in Raleigh. It is the perfect place to go hiking, biking, kayaking, rent a boat, enjoy a picnic, camping, and it is free to enter. You can access the park from its main entrance and the visitor center at the Crabtree Creek or from Reedy Creek.
Some of the wildlife you can spot at Umstead State Park are beavers, raccoons, deer, and birds, and of course some friendly leashed dogs.
2. NC Museum of Art
The NC Museum of Art houses a variety of art exhibits indoors and even outdoors. At the museum grounds you will find unique sculptures and awesome murals. Both sections are free to the public, and the greenway is dog friendly, so do not forget to bring fido with you. During the summer they host a sunflowers and wildflowers event for the public to enjoy and take photos. Without a doubt, NC Museum of art is one of the best free and fun things to do in Raleigh.
Read More: Best Murals in Raleigh, NC
3. Historic Downtown Raleigh
Downtown Raleigh is packed with some of the best free things to do in the city including mural chasing, top notch museums, a free tour of the State Capitol, City Market, the best Raleigh skyline photo view at The Dillon, and the giant globe at the Natural Science Museum. Murals you can’t miss are: Sparkles the Bobcat, The Marbles Mural, and All are Welcome Raleigh.
Some of our favorite restaurants to grab lunch or dinner in Downtown Raleigh are located in Morgan Street Food Hall. Other restaurants you must visit in Downtown Raleigh are Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen & Bar, Raleigh Beer Garden, and Pit Authentic Barbecue.
4. Raleigh Rose Garden
Raleigh Rose Garden is the best free place to visit in Raleigh. The downtown garden oasis is home to 60 rose beds from different kind of roses and perennials.
5. Dorothea Dix Park
Our favorite thing about Raleigh is how green the city is. There is no better example of this than the expansive Dorothea Dix Park, covering 300 acres just south of downtown. This popular urban oasis has many trails to enjoy the natural beauty, historic buildings, and the best skyline view of downtown Raleigh. It is one of the best fun and free place to visit in Raleigh.
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The flower fields have quickly become a top attraction in Raleigh, with the colorful daffodils in the springtime and sunflowers during the summer. The fields as well as the rest of the park are dog friendly.
How to get to Raleigh and how to get around
The best way to get to Raleigh depends on where you are coming from, but said this you can get to Raleigh via plane, car, bus or train. If you choose to fly to Raleigh, the closest airport is Raleigh- Durham International airport (RDU) and it is only 30 minutes away from downtown Raleigh. If you choose any other mode of transportation you can hop on a Greyhound or Megabus or Amtrak.
Raleigh does not have the best public transport, that is why we recommend renting a car although some of its main attractions are located in downtown, where you do not need a car. Another great option is to use Uber and Lyft if you want to visit something outside the downtown area.