Raleigh City Guide: Neighborhoods & Things to Do
Founded in 1792, Raleigh was originally called the City of Oaks by its founders. The city is well-known for its incredible educational opportunities (North Carolina State University, Living Arts College and Shaw University to name a few). It’s also known for being a cultural and historic hub with over 40 museums and historic attractions that are open to and free for the public. Though the city is teetering on the edge of a population of 500,000, most residents feel that it’s still managed to maintain a small-town feel with plenty of community spirit and warm neighbors. In Raleigh, the people are friendly, the weather is amazing and it has a thriving economy. If you’re ready to make the move to Raleigh, make sure to check our Raleigh city guide first. It will make apartment finding so much easier!
Raleigh city highlights
As a resident of a new city, you’ll have so much to explore. You won’t be at a loss for things to do in Raleigh. Here are just a few fun events and awesome attractions that make this such a great city to call home.
- Marbles Kids Museum: If you have kids, you need to bring them at least once to the Marbles Kids Museum. It’s a fun place that fosters kids’ creativity. The interactive museum provides simulation experiences so younger kids get to see what it feels like to drive or go to school. Treetunes introduces children to music, while Sun Sprouts teaches children about the joy and necessity of gardening.
- Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours: Are you a foodie? Then, you definitely need to try one of these tours, which will take you to some of the finest culinary establishments in the state. These are walking tours, so you’ll get to experience Raleigh up close and personal and learn about the history of the city – plus, you’ll be able to walk off some of those calories and make room for more tasty samples!
- Joel Lane Museum House: This was originally a plantation home that was built in the late 18th century. Before the plantation was built, the city was much more rustic. Afterward, it ushered in an era of prosperity for the city. The home is in incredible condition and is cared for by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. Tours are available and provide a lot of historical information about Raleigh.
- J.C. Raulston Arboretum: If you’re a plant aficionado, you’ll probably visit the J.C. Raulston Arboretum quite often. There are thousands of beautiful, interesting plants in the facility, including golden chain trees and a muku tree. Other plants include the Twisted Tongue agave and the twin-flowering abelia. Tours are available and recommended so you can have an even deeper understanding of the beautiful plants around you.
- Videri Chocolate Factory: Are you a chocoholic? Then, this should be the first visit on your list – and should be visited regularly once you’ve settled down in your new Raleigh apartment. On the tour, you’ll learn just about everything there is to know about chocolate and the history of this company. Once the tour is over, head over to the gift shop and treat yourself to some delectable chocolates.
Raleigh city guide to the best neighborhoods for renters
Making a move to a new city is a big deal. You want to take time to ensure you find the best place to live. Part of that involves finding a great neighborhood. Below are some of the most popular neighborhoods in Raleigh.
North Raleigh is an urban area with hundreds of restaurants, numerous entertainment complexes and retail stores. However, the residential community is growing exponentially. Besides the amenities for the adults (cafés, bars, etc.), you’ll find plenty for the kids to do, too. Just to name a few: Galaxy Fun Park, DefyGravity, Adventure Landing and Launching Pad Trampoline Park. For adults looking for some after-work fun, try Raleigh Room Escapes, a thrilling escape room adventure. Not only is it a fun experience, but it’s also great for building bonds and learning to work as a team.
Raleigh’s Downtown neighborhood has undergone a revitalization in recent years. Now, you’ll find indie art spaces in converted warehouses, as well as family-friendly exhibits at the Museum of Natural Sciences. You’ll find venues that stage opera and classical music concerts, as well as ballet performances. International cuisine can be found in one of the many global eateries. Cool cocktail bars dot the neighborhood. And if you love to shop, you’ll find some great gourmet stores at City Market, which is housed in a building that dates back to 1914. Downtown is a great option if you’re looking for a neighborhood with a densely urban feel, lots of amenities and activities and the buzz of living in close proximity to lots of people.
Like the Downtown area, North Hills is a mixed-use development. You’ll find lots of clothing boutiques, entertainment venues, sophisticated as well as casual restaurants, commercial offices, a retirement community and residential homes in the area. The Commons area of North Hills features live concerts, a farmers’ market and numerous festivals. Just outside the neighborhood, you’ll have easy access to North Carolina State University, University Park and North Carolina Museum of Art. This suburb is only about 10 minutes from Downtown Raleigh, which makes for an easy work commute.
Are you looking for a posh home at an affordable price? Look no further than the Brier Creek Country Club community. Here you’ll find beautiful homes that are larger than you can find in Downtown Raleigh. The neighborhood was established in 2001 and construction was completed in 2011, so many of the homes are still relatively new. Homes in the area have well-kept yards with beautiful landscaping. The streets are safe, and neighbors feel secure. The nearby golf course and country club give you an opportunity to relax, meet up with friends, get some exercise and get to know your neighbors.
Northwest Raleigh is a wonderful place to raise a family, as schools in the area are excellent and well above average. Residents here also enjoy great urban amenities with a more residential vibe. The neighborhood is known for being one of the safest areas in the city.
West Raleigh is a vibrant, lively neighborhood that’s home to the North Carolina Museum of Art. And the setting of that museum is beyond gorgeous: It’s set in a sprawling park that’s dotted with beautiful sculptures. This is a great neighborhood for families as the schools are above average and kids love going to Pullen Park, which has kid-friendly rides including a carousel that was built in 1911. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll probably spend a lot of time at Lake Johnson Park where there are biking trails, as well as beautiful woodland areas to hike. If you like spending time on the water, you’ll be happy to know that the park rents kayaks to visitors. And of course, we can’t leave out the food! West Raleigh has multiple sports bars and global eateries, including Middle Eastern and Mexican restaurants.
Just shy of 1500 residents, the Tryon Place neighborhood has a sparse suburban feel. Most of the residents own their homes and are of retirement age. However, there are still plenty of rentals, most of which are single-family homes. And the area is great for kids, too, as most of the schools are well above average. Residents say the neighborhood has a small-town vibe but there are plenty of intriguing places to experience, including an old movie theater that occasionally plays old Hollywood films. You’ll also find several clothing stores, art galleries and restaurants. If you’re a fan of performing arts, head over to Tryon Little Theater where you can see some popular productions, like Mama Mia!
Cameron Village is a compact neighborhood that unusually walkable and bike-friendly. You’ll find a good mix of single-family homes for rent, as well as apartment and condo complexes. Many of the homes have an old-style feel to them with plenty of brick, while the condo/apartment buildings often have a more contemporary feel. In the neighborhood, you’ll find the chic Cameron Village shopping center where you’ll be able to purchase national brands as well as local goods. Small businesses sell home goods, gifts and fashion. Nearby Fletcher Park has winding paths and a water garden – perfect for some quiet, meditative moments. Restaurants in the area range from casual Southern establishments to sophisticated Latin-American-inspired restaurants.
Southwest Raleigh is safe and family-friendly. The neighborhood boasts well-lit streets, plenty of parking and homes that are well cared for. Close to public transportation, the area has multiple restaurants and shopping opportunities. You’ll also find several green spaces – perfect for a casual stroll with the dog after work or a weekend barbeque with your friends and family.
This neighborhood has fewer than 1800 residents and provides residents with a suburban-rural feel. Most people in the area own their homes, though there are still some really nice rental properties available, including single-family homes and contemporary apartment complexes. The cost of rent is less than the national average, which makes this a great opportunity for young families or people who are just starting out. Public schools in Crabtree are above average.