Mom and Teen Daughter Afternoon in Downtown Raleigh (Art & Shopping)

The after Christmas blues had set in and Kalyra, our teen, was feeling the cabin fever of several days cooped up inside with arctic weather conditions in Raleigh – us Aussies really felt that cold snap!

After pulling from my bag of things to do with a teen in Raleigh and coming up short for most of them – either closed for the holidays or booked out – she decided she just wanted to go to downtown and walk around.

Aerial view of city buildings, streets and trees
The Warehouse District

I was thrilled since I work from home; cabin fever is a common affliction of mine and I love wandering the streets of downtown Raleigh.

In our recent survey, many asked for more ideas with teens in Raleigh so, I’m going to share what we got up to. This was just a relaxing afternoon that was about connecting with each other. We made it up as we went along and had a lovely time.

I thought the Warehouse District and Fayetteville St District would be of most interest to us. It’s spread out over a few blocks filled with interesting buildings and parks to rest in, and has great local stores, places for coffee, bites to eat, and art galleries.

Coffee at Black & White

Outdoor patio with tables and chairs and colorful floor tiles
Grat outdoor patio area

Black & White Cafe in the Warehouse District has some of the best seasonal coffees in Raleigh and a beautiful outdoor seating area, perfect for the warm winter’s day we had.

On the menu was a peppermint mocha – iced for her, warm for me. As it’s in the same building as Videri chocolate Factory, so you may want to indulge in some sweets at the same time.

Coffee in a white paper cup on a table with pot plant
Great coffee here

It was nice to sit and chat about our plans for 2023, cool movies about to be released, and books we were currently reading. One thing I love about parenting teens now is the more adult type conversations you can have and seeing their perspective on the world.

311 Gallery

Shopfront with a red door surrounded by glass windows

First stop was to wander through the studios in 311 Gallery on Martin St. This art gallery has 12 artist’s studios as well as a gift shop in the front and an exhibition gallery out front, which changes every month with the First Friday opening reception. Its small shop front window belies just how big this gallery is.

It was fun to look at a broad scope of artwork together, especially the cat portraits now that we are the proud and loving owners of two sister kittens.

CAM Raleigh

Exterior of an art museum and sloping roof

Kalyra enjoys stopping in at the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh when we are in the Warehouse District. The gallery displays new and emerging work by local and national living artists. It’s only a small gallery with exhibitions across two levels and is free to enter. We love how inclusive and modern the art exhibitions are.

wall with painted quote on it
Exhibition inside CAM

They were in the process of changing the upstairs exhibition, so it was closed. But we wandered downstairs to see Ursula Gullow’s series of self-portraits, which is taken from her practice of painting a self-portrait every day for nine years. Some have three dimensional forms sewn into them.

self portraits
illuminated light sculpture

We loved the interactive-colored light sculpture FLAG II by Lincoln Hancock. The eight colored rainbow is representative of the 1978 pride flag, and is was created in response to HB@, the North Carolina’s legislature’s unjust bathroom bill

Cam Raleigh is a popular spot on First Friday where they have live music and a small pop-up market outside.

Warehouse District Murals

mural in downtown raleigh

In keeping with the art theme of this teen outing, we checked out the murals in the Warehouse District as we walked around. Both of us wondered why Cinderella was isolated across the street from the rest of the princesses.

You’ll find her underneath the huge mural of Ann and Allen Iverson (behind the trees) next door to the CAM building.

ann and alan iverson mural
Allen Iverson mural

Urban Outfitters

We do a lot of window shopping in this store as it’s somewhat expensive for a teen, and while not a local store it’s still possibly a favorite for teens. It’s great to wonder through here with your teen and get an insight into what their latest style is.

Father & Son Antiques

Girl looking through a clothes rack in a vintage store

I feel this generation of teens are really into vintage and antiques. The 10,000 square foot Father and Son Antiques in the Warehouse District has a cool collection of vintage clothing, vinyl and mid-century modern furniture and accessories.

We almost bought Kalyra a cool leather jacket – at a good price – but the sizing was off. Father & Son is a little pricier than your typical thrift or vintage store. But you will find good quality goods in here.

Morgan Street Food Hall
Morgan Street Food Hall

If you’re feeling like a more up-tempo activity is needed, you could head into the Box Arcade and play some arcade games. If you haven’t had lunch, you can grab some from Morgan St Food Hall or a picnic pack from Weaver St Market to enjoy in picturesque Nash Square.

City park with trees and a pathway
Nash Square

From here we left the Warehouse District for a short walk towards the Fayetteville Street area in the city center via Nash Square.

Black Friday Market

mural on street out the front of black friday market
Love this mural

Kalyra was impressed by the concept behind Black Friday Market, which I explained to her as we walked into the store. This retail department store in the heart of downtown Raleigh allows black owned businesses, creators and artists to sell their products commission free under the one roof, or in their online store.

They have lots of creative and unique items and cool artwork on display on the walls, and I love being able to show my daughter places like this in Raleigh.

Mural on a wall of a basketball coach and his memories
Leville Moton mural

As you walk to your next spot around the corner on to S Salisbury St, be sure to look across the road from DECO at the gigantic mural of Leville Moton, the legendary head coach of the men’s basketball team at North Carolina Central University.


DECO is a fun store in downtown Raleigh – perfect for gift giving or dressing up your home.

This gift shop and gallery stocks hundreds of locally made gifts, housewares, books and cards from more than 75 local artisans and makers. I always walk out of here wishing I had access to unlimited amounts of money so I could buy one of everything!


It was our first time visiting this cute store on E Hargett Street. Curate is another great store showcasing local. There are over 60 local artists which rotate monthly.

I loved the unique collection of handmade goods which included candles, jewelry and homemade sauces. Kalyra picked up a Harry Styles sticker for her friends.

Munjo Munjo

Another shop in downtown Raleigh promoting independent art is the funky Munjo Munjo, located underneath the Raleigh Times Bar rooftop terrace.

Munjo Munjo is owned and operated by a Latinx artist. This design studio highlights women and BIPOC artists, through collaborative works, live art events, and other opportunities.

Inside are Munjo branded gear and products from local artists and creators. Munjo. We often pop in here to see what new designs they have. We love their stickers, mugs and graphic tees

Unorthodox Vintage

overlooking clothing racks in a store

I was thrilled to stumble upon this vintage and secondhand clothing store on Wilmington St, which has seen several different businesses occupy this space over the past few years.

I heard co-founder Julian Jacobs speak at Downtown Raleigh’s State of downtown Raleigh conference last year about his journey from a small store in the Raleigh Pop-Up store space (Sir Chance’s Vintage) to opening this brick-and-mortar store with business partner, Alexandria Monet (She Thrifty Apparel). Raleigh is full of inspiring stories like this.

Unorthodox Vintage pops with color and style and is a fun place to shop, especially with your teen.

Pop Up Shops on Martin St

It was dusk by the time we made it to the Raleigh Pop Up Markets on Martin st, which is where we ended our teen day in Raleigh. The Pop-Up Shops provide affordable retail space in a desirable location to Minority and Women-owned businesses.

It was obvious by my purchases that I needed a little help for 2023 – a gorgeous candle from the Bath Place signifying a brand-new day (smells divine) and an angel crystal.

So, there you have it. An easy idea for spending a few hours shopping and exploring downtown with your bored teen. We didn’t spend much money, we enjoyed quality time together, and I was able to show my daughter the many cool businesses and local stories helping to make Raleigh a vibrant and inclusive place.

More Ideas you may like

Comment: What are some of your ideas or experiences for entertaining teens in Raleigh – or across the Triangle?

Uniquely Raleigh Checklist
FREE Printable CHECKLIST for all the best things to do in Raleigh  + updates + insider tips. 
Featured Image

About The Author

Scroll to Top