Things to do in Downtown Raleigh…Right Now!


While many of us feel that there are not so many places to go and things to do given the events of the past year, the truth is, if all guidelines are followed, we are lucky to be in such a thriving, and entertainment-rich area as we are. In choosing to move your family to your new home in Fuquay Varina at the South Lakes neighborhood, you certainly have plenty of local options as showcased in our previous series of articles. But you also are just minutes from one of the fastest-growing and exciting cities in the country. Thus, we will look at in this post a list of Things to do in Downtown Raleigh just a quick drive up the road from South Lakes.

Yes, we realize that things are not exactly the same as they were saying last year at this time. There are certain mandates regarding social distancing and masks. But all in all, these are minor inconveniences when it comes right down to it. So long as the proper protocol is followed, there are many businesses that are open and actually could use your business as much as you could use the time getting out of your house to enjoy yourself. So, before sulking and thinking that there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, check out our suggestions below for Things to do in Downtown Raleigh.

Things to do in Downtown Raleigh: “Oh the Things You Can See!”

To start us out in our Things to do in Downtown Raleigh, let’s take a look at, well, what we can look at! For starters, there is beautiful art all over the downtown area. A stroll around at the work done by local artists on buildings or in squares and even along the street is truly inspiring to see the talent that exists here. Two particular newer outdoor pieces of art to check out are “Berkeley the Squirrel” and Sonarc. 

Berkeley is a sculpture/statue carved from a willow/oak tree that is displayed in Nash Square Park. Sonarc on the other hand is the spectacular, shining structure that sits outside of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Either of these wonderful works of art is worth the trip to take a look at.

Museums, Museums, and More Museums

We are blessed in the downtown area to have not just one, but several of the most visited and amazing museums in the entire Southeastern United States. As far as Things to do in Downtown Raleigh, the local museums give you several options and choices for all ages and most tastes as well. Whether you are into the history of Raleigh, or statewide, science, art, or even sports, there is a museum for you right in the nearby downtown Raleigh area. 

When it comes to Things to do in Downtown Raleigh and the array of museums, they even have the kids covered. Not that all of these would not make for a fun and educational trip, but Marble’s Kids Museum is specifically aimed at giving the youngsters a day full of activities. Below is a list of all the museums located in downtown Raleigh

Things to do in Downtown Raleigh: The Museums

  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • Marbles Kids Museum
  • City of Raleigh Museum (COR Museum)
  •  North Carolina Museum of History
  • CAM Raleigh (Local Art)

Connect with the Past and Soak in the History

Sure the museums listed above can certainly quench the thirst for knowledge and in some cases the history behind Raleigh and the state of NC. However, there are several Things to do in Downtown Raleigh that can give a more personal look at how things once were. One such place is Mordecai Historic Park. This was once part of one of NC’s largest plantations and tells the story of over 200 African-American slaves who labored and lived there. Also on these grounds is the birthplace of former U.S. President, Andrew Johnson. 

Another among our historic Things to do in Downtown Raleigh that focuses on the history of African Americans is the Pope House Museum. This museum gives its guests a look into the life of the prominent African-American family of Dr. Manssa Thomas Pope. Complete with original furnishings, documents, and artifacts dating as far back as 1851, this is truly a trip back in time.

Our third suggestion for historic Things to do in Downtown Raleigh brings us to the Historic Oakwood Cemetery. With a unique setting that features some of the town’s tallest oak trees and winding roads and paths, this is the final resting spot for over 28,000 Raleigh residents. The amazing Victorian-era landscaping and mortuary art are incredible and make a walkthrough here well worth your time.

Grab a Bike and Go!

The last of our Things to do in Downtown Raleigh in this first of a two-post series is explore the area by bicycle. To do this, you could obviously take your own bike for a spin through downtown. But you also can simply locate one of the many Citrix Cycle bike-share stations located throughout the area and for as little as $2 for 45 minutes, rent a cycle to cruise around on. 

To access one of the cycles, you simply need to first download the app to unlock one of the bikes. Once you’ve done this, you are off and on your way to shops, restaurants, or wherever you decide. Many of the bikes even have electric assistance, which can give you an added boost when you come across some of downtown’s more treacherous hills.

Want More? We Got You Covered!

As we note in our introduction to this post, and now we think you’ll agree, there are many Things to do in Downtown Raleigh that you may not have thought of prior to this post. Well, as if these great suggestions aren’t enough to keep you busy for a while, our next post will focus on some entertainment, food, and other activities you can enjoy in that quick drive to downtown from your new place in South Lakes.

For more on anything going on in Fuquay-Varina at the South Lakes neighborhood, visit

Photo Credit: Visit Raleigh