Locals Guide To Downtown Raleigh (See, Eat, Drink, Shop)

Downtown Raleigh is our favorite area of the seven areas that make up the municipality of Raleigh. It’s where we most like to eat, drink, shop, play and explore. 

Best things to do in downtown Raleigh
View from Boylan Bridge

Since first moving to Raleigh in 2004, the downtown area has seen an explosion of growth and investment that has transformed downtown into the vibrant center of the Triangle region. 

This now thriving Southern capital city is getting shaped by smart and savvy locals who are in the pursuit of a vibrant life, and it’s bursting with entrepreneurial spirit and energy.

When you visit Raleigh NC, downtown is where you’ll find the most historic and best neighborhoods in Raleigh, world-class museums, the best places to eat in Raleigh, innovative breweries, underground bars and cocktail spots, food halls, coffee shops, performing arts venues, and local retail stores. 

Among the inhabitants are artists, musicians, innovative tech companies, and award-winning chefs working to create the new downtown Raleigh experience.

Yes, all are welcome in Raleigh.

"All Are Welcome" mural in Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina

Although historic, downtown Raleigh has youthful energy and it’s becoming a more vibrant place to visit, and live.

Raleigh’s food scene in particular is thriving.

There’s an exciting mix of traditional southern food and global flavors (many restaurants have received national recognition!) And with two downtown food halls the community is coming closer together. 

All this among green spaces and squares, and oak-lined streets that help to keep the city relaxed and feeling like a small town. 

Hillsborough Street, downtown Raleigh
Hillsborough Street

This guide on downtown Raleigh is broken up into the six districts that make up downtown. 

Down below we share suggestions on the best things to do in downtown Raleigh area including where to eat, drink, explore, and shop in each district.

It’s all accessible, too – getting around Raleigh is easy by walking, cycling, using the free R-LINE circulator bus, or hopping on the back of a pedal-powered rickshaw!

The best part? You barely even have to move your car!

Stay for a day or stay overnight in one of the downtown hotels, or maybe even live here like us!

Fayetteville Street District

Fayetteville Street, downtown Raleigh

Call it the central thoroughfare of downtown Raleigh, or the city’s central business corridor, Fayetteville Street has been rejuvenated since transforming from a pedestrian mall to a two lane street in 2006.

Fayetteville and surrounding streets like Hargett, Davie, Martin and S Wilmington have exploded with an abundance of restaurants, bars, galleries and boutique shops mixed in with new and old high-rises and restored historic buildings.

There are over 50 restaurants and bars, plus 16 retailers, the four tallest buildings in Raleigh, and the Convention Center.

Fayetteville Street, downtown Raleigh, North Carolina

During the weekdays it’s not just the environment of business and commerce anymore, but also a place to eat, drink, socialize and shop.

The arts are alive and well here too with the Performing Arts Center being home to the Carolina Ballet and the NC Symphony. Plus you can take in live music performances at the Red Hat Amphitheater.

And, Fayetteville Street is regularly closed off for some of the biggest Raleigh events and festivals such as; Brewgaloo Beer Festival, First Fridays, Food Truck Rodeo, the World of Bluegrass Festival, and Raleigh’s acclaimed Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day Parades.

See & Do

Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts 

Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts

Raleigh’s premier arts venue, here you can see theatrical productions at the Kennedy Theater, listen to the North Carolina Symphony in the Meymandi Concert Hall, and watch the Carolina Ballet.

City Of Raleigh Museum (COR)

The COR Museum is housed in a historic former hardware store dating back to1874, it features exhibits that focus on the history of the city, its people, places, and resources.

Eat 

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey
Image: ac-restaurants.com/beasleys

One of the most popular downtown Raleigh restaurants by the famed Ashley Christensen. The signature dishes at Beasley’s are fried quarter chicken, chicken biscuits and fried chicken and waffles, along with great tasting southern sides.

Garland

Garland is an Asian fusion restaurant heavily-influenced by Indian flavors with locally sourced ingredients leading to creative dishes in a casual yet funky space.

Plenty of options for vegetarians and meat-eaters, plus seasonal cocktails and an adventurous wine menu.

Capital Club 16

Traditional American fare in a Depression-era landmark building, Capital Club 16 is a popular brunch spot in downtown Raleigh. Small in size but big on character and charm, and great for people watching.

Clyde Cooper’s BBQ

Barbecue is a tradition in North Carolina, and Clyde Cooper’s which opened in 1938 is one of the longest-running barbecue restaurants in the state and beloved by locals. 

Death & Taxes

Located in an elegant building that was once a mortuary and a tax office (hence the name Death & Taxes).

On offer is a fine dining experience featuring an open kitchen with an emphasis on wood-fired fare with Southern ingredients from award-winning chef Ashley Christensen.

Happy + Hale

Started by NC State grads, Happy + Hale offers fresh juices, salads, smoothies and bowls that are tasty and unique (build your own or choose from menu options). Delicious, healthy fast food.

Sitti 

Sitti Restaurant, downtown Raleigh

Popular Middle Eastern restaurant, Sitti serves up modern versions of authentic Lebanese dishes in an airy room with a communal table and art deco bar. 

Lucettegrace

Cute cafe near the Convention center. Lucettegrace is a contemporary patisserie that specializes in sweet and savory breakfast pastries, and French inspired desserts and light lunch.

Poole’s Diner

pools diner 1
Image: ac-restaurants.com/pooles

Poole’s is a modern diner with retro-chic charm serving seasonal comfort food, cocktails and house desserts.

The Macaroni au gratin (pictured above) is one of the most famous dishes in Raleigh, and yep, this is another Ashley Christensen restaurant. 

Poole’side Pies

Next door to Poole’s Diner is Poole’side Pies, Ashley Christensen’s take on Neapolitan-style pizza plus fried bites, Italian-inspired desserts, and a spritz-focused cocktail menu in a bright and fun venue. 

Bittersweet

If you enjoy the concept of a dessert bar, Bittersweet serves up delicious desserts, coffee and cocktails.

A place where you can get bourbon with your pie, champagne with your cake, and Irish whiskey in your coffee.

Bars, Breweries, Pubs

The Raleigh Times

The Raleigh Times

A timeless watering hole and probably the most famous bar in Raleigh – even Obama had a campaign beer here. 

Named after the former newspaper that occupied this 100 year old building, The Raleigh Times has an extensive Belgian beer selection, multiple levels and an open rooftop bar for a drink with a view – one of our favorite things to do in Raleigh.

The Haymaker

Haymaker Bar, downtown Raleigh
Date night at the Haymaker

One of our favorite cocktail bars in downtown Raleigh. The Haymaker makes creative cocktails (like the PB & JAY) in a cozy ambiance with offbeat, vintage-style decor. 

The bartenders are fast and knowledgeable with great suggestions and drinks well priced.

The Green Light

The true definition of a hidden bar. The Green Light is literally tucked away behind a secret bookshelf inside in a secret room in what was once an architect’s office. 

This small, dimly lit room with a 1920s speakeasy feel is such a cool bar to have a quiet drink. 

London Bridge Pub

London Bridge Pub

British themed pub and eatery owned and operated by two guys who love their English football AND beer!

The London Bridge has an enjoyable atmosphere and is THE place in downtown Raleigh to watch English Premier league games and other league matches.

Enjoy a drink at the bar or in the big landscaped outdoor courtyard, either way, it’s a fun pub to watch all sports and meet new people.

Fox Liquor Bar

Tucked away beneath Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Fox Liquor Bar is a subterranean drinking den that makes fantastic cocktails using high quality ingredients. 

We recently fell in love with mezcal and they made an excellent mezcal drink. 

Coffee Shops

The Morning Times

Morning Times, downtown Raleigh

The Morning Times is a popular coffee shop with locals, including us. Sit upstairs in a cozy laid-back atmosphere that also functions as an art gallery, or on the sidewalk with your furry friends on a sunny day.

Sir Walter Coffee

You might feel like you’re in Brooklyn, NY at Sir Walter Coffee with it’s hip and modern interior. A cool barista bar with a focus on unique coffee creations, tea lattes, tea cocktails, kombucha, and smoothies and beer. 

Shop

Deco Raleigh 

At DECO they stock a large selection of locally gifts, housewares, books and cards from local makers and unique brands. 

The ZEN Succulent

This modern terrarium and plant craft business is full of unique greenery and handcrafted gifts from emerging makers.

House of Swank Clothing 

For the raddest NC-themed shirts and swag pop into the House of Swank design and print shop started by a passionate local NC guy! 

Apex Outfitters 

Locally owned adventure outdoor retailer. Apex Outfitters specialize in all outdoor adventures with top apparel and footwear brands in the industry.

Read With Me | A Children’s Book & Art Shop

This bookstore, workshop, and local art gallery in downtown Raleigh specializes in high-quality, diverse and contemporary children’s through young adult books.

Warehouse District

Warehouse District, Raleigh, NC
View from The Dillon Building

The Warehouse District is probably our favorite of the downtown Raleigh districts and talk about transformations!

The six-block Warehouse District has transformed from its former red-brick industrial buildings into a vibrant mix of restaurants, cafes, bars, a food hall, boutique shopping, art museums, studios and technology firms.

Plus it’s also a transit hub with the opening of Raleigh Union Station and a sought after residential location within The Dillon Building.

See & Do

Contemporary Art Museum (CAM)

CAM Raleigh displays new and emerging work by local and national living artists. Every exhibition is unique and thought-provoking. Free admission and popular among local residents. 

Videri Chocolate Factory

Videri Chocolate Factory

Chocolates lovers rejoice!

Tour the fully-operational Videri Chocolate Factory and retail space on a self-guided tour. Sample yummy chocolate and witness all the chocolate-making from start to finish.

There’s an outdoor patio to relax and enjoy one of their signature chocolate bars – allergy friendly chocolate! 

Litmus Gallery & Studios

Pop into Litmus Gallery & Studios, a working gallery and artist co-working space showcasing resident and guest artists from around the Triangle. A regular stop on Raleigh’s First Friday art walk.

Local Color Gallery

Run by local artists, Local Color is a women’s artist cooperative featuring work in a variety of mediums. Here you can meet and interact with the artists who all live in the area. 

Eat 

Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall, downtown Raleigh

22,000 square feet of space inside a repurposed warehouse, Morgan Street Food Hall is the first of its kind in Raleigh.

A popular hangout with 20 different food concepts housed in food stalls or free standing kiosks – our faves; CowBar Burger and Raleigh Rolls

Fiction Kitchen

Vegans, vegetarians and food-curious omnivores get yourselves to Fiction Kitchen, it’s one of the best restaurants in Raleigh downtown.

There’s creative and extremely flavorful food here which is locally sourced and prepared in a 100% vegetarian kitchen.

Don’t miss the vegan barbecue. Actually, try everything! No reservations and always packed, it’s that popular! 

The Pit

North Carolina is a BBQ state, and you might have to loosen your belt here.

The Pit proudly serves authentic whole-hog, pit-cooked Eastern-style barbecue with all the Southern sides from collards and fried okra to candied yams and coleslaw.

Jose and Sons

Jose & Sons

Mexican food with a Southern twist in a rustic space, featuring a lively bar and dining room fitted with a tequila and bourbon tower.

Jose and Sons also serve seasonal cocktails alongside an extensive beer and wine selection. 

Parkside Restaurant

Across from historic Nash Square and housed and under the longest running neon restaurant sign in N.C. is Parkside, a Retro-industrial restaurant and bar serving American comfort food and 25+ beers on tap. 

Boulted Bread

boulted bread croissants
Chocolate croissants at Boulted Bread are popular

Bread and pastry lovers rejoice. Boulted Bread is a chic bakery featuring pastries and loaves of bread made with local, organic grains.

A true locals favorite, they serve craft bread and pastries ranging from flaky croissants and sweet, fruit-filled tarts to savory breakfast quiches.

A Place at the Table

Love the concept here. A place at the table brings us all together to eat.

It’s a pay-what-you-can and pay-it-forward cafe. With multiple options to pay and to pay-it-forward you can. It’s a sandwich shop and coffee bar and popular for brunch. 

Humble Pie

Since 1989, Humble Pie has been serving eclectic tapas and brunch, plus wine and spirits in a casual yet elegant atmosphere with spacious indoor dining and a patio and tiki bar.

Locals rave about the Blue Crab Claws and house made Sourdough Bread to dip in the garlic, lemon, chile sauce. 

Breweries & Bars

Crank Arm Brewing

These guys are passionate about beer and bikes. Crank Arm’s mission is to brew delicious innovative beer and support the cycling community.

Sample their beers with a flight, or pick from one of three flagship beers and relax with indoor and outdoor seating and an open garage door. 

Whiskey Kitchen

Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh
Image: Brian Strickland | visitraleigh.com

Another of our fave bars in Raleigh. Part whiskey bar, part Southern kitchen, Whiskey Kitchen is a beautiful open space and hip venue featuring over 300 whiskies, craft cocktails, and inventive Southern fare.

There’s an inviting atmosphere and a cool outdoor patio which booms in the warmer months. Not sure which whiskey to drink, try a flight.

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

If you’re into games, at Boxcar you’ll find all the best classic and modern arcade games, plus 24 constantly-rotating American craft draft selections, a full liquor bar and seasonal cocktails.

A fun place to hang out with friends, and meet some new ones!

Trophy Brewing & Pizza

Trophy Brewing
Image: Brian Strickland | VisitRaleigh.com

Beer + pizza, what’s not to like? Trophy Brewing & Pizza is one of the popular micro breweries in Raleigh featuring a wide selection of house made beers (they like to experiment with their beers) plus creative pizzas made by hand every day.

Lively atmosphere and a ‘neighborhood hangout’ type joint with indoor and outdoor seating.

Vita Vite

Premier wine bar that doubles as an art gallery. Vita Vite offers a great selection of wine and a classy and relaxed atmosphere.

The cozy lounge-style wine bar is furnished with plush, fireside couches and there’s a nice outdoor porch. Decent beer selection for a wine bar. 

Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing

Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing

Brews with incredible views!

Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing offers craft brewed beers and delicious and innovative meals with a healthy twist, and our favorite view of downtown Raleigh from the outdoor patio – one of our favorite things to do in Raleigh NC is sit here and enjoy a drink!

Junction West

A great addition to the Warehouse District. Junction West is a bar and event space with a nice upscale feel and clean look inside, and cool uncovered patio space outside – turf grass, cornhole and sunset sky views.

Beers from local breweries and beyond, plus cocktails, wine and spirits. Nice place to chill with friends, or as a couple.  

Imurj

Downstairs from Whiskey Kitchen, Imurj is a bar/cafe/gallery/production studio.

This place is all about allowing aspiring artists’ and musicians to perform, such as their open mic night performances of singer songwriters. Menu includes wine, beer, kombucha, coffee, food, plus art gift shop. 

Coffee Shops

Heirloom Brewshop

Heirloom Brewshop

In our opinion, Heirloom makes the best almond latte in downtown and is one of the best coffee shops in downtown Raleigh.

This specialty coffee shop, premium tea house, and sake bar offers a variety of drinks from brewed coffee and pour overs, to cortados, loose leaf teas, sake, draft beers and cocktails.

Shop

The Flourish Market

The Flourish Market

LOVE this place and its mission. The Flourish Market is a unique women’s + gift boutique store where all of their products have a higher purpose.

You can shop 60+ cause-based brands and use your purchasing power for good – clothing, jewelry, bags, shoes, greeting cards and more!

Father & Son Antiques

10,000 square foot antique shop that sells modern furnishings, vintage clothing and accessories, records and books. Father & Son has one of the best best vintage clothing selections in Raleigh. 

Gypsy Jule

gypsy jule

Such a cool store. Locally owned, Gypsy Jule offers apparel for the free spirited soul, the adventurer, the one that walks to his/her own beat.

They offer a little of everything; apparel and accessories, home decor, self care essentials, and sacred space items.

Retro Modern Furnishings

With a focus on vintage and upcycled products and new products that support local and up-and-coming craftsmen, at Retro Modern Furnishings you’ll find many selections of unique furniture and accessories.

Visual Art Exchange (VAE)

VAE is a non-profit 4,000 s/f gallery and workspace that supports and educates emerging, professional and student artists. Each year VAE exhibits the work of more than 1,300 artists in 70+ exhibitions.

Capital District

Things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina

Being the capital city of North Carolina, of course there’s a historic capital district.

This area is home to stately buildings and some of N.C.’s most iconic public landmarks such as the North Carolina State Capitol Building, the North Carolina Executive Mansion (Governor’s mansion), and the State Legislative Building (home of the North Carolina General Assembly).

It’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s biggest tourist attractions and museums.

See & Do

State Capitol Building  

State Capital Building

Built in 1840, the State Capitol building is a National Historic Landmark and one of the best-preserved examples of Greek Revival-style architecture.

Tour all three floors of the building, plus the monuments and statues on display outside in the grounds. Self-guided and guided tours available.

North Carolina Executive Mansion 

North Carolina Executive Mansion

The North Carolina Executive Mansion has been the official residence of the Governor’s of NC since 1891, and is a beautiful Victorian-style mansion.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (F.D.R) once described the mansion as having “the most beautiful governor’s residence interior in America.”

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The Museum of Natural Sciences is North Carolina’s most visited museum with over 4 floors of exhibits, live animals, and 3D movies. It’s one of the best things to do in downtown Raleigh.

North Carolina Museum of History

The Museum of History was founded in 1902 and welcomes more than 400,000+ visitors a year. On display are more than 14,000 years and 150,000 artifacts of history.

Eat & Drink

The Daily Planet Cafe

This cafe prides itself on fresh and local produce from N.C. farmers, coffee from Larry’s Beans in Raleigh and beer and wine from across NC. 

Daily Planet Cafe is locally owned serving breakfast and lunch.

Moore Square District

Moore Square, downtown Raleigh

Moore Square has been a place of gathering, entertainment, and recreation for locals and visitors to Raleigh since 1972.

This four-acre urban green space was originally conceived as one of five public green spaces for the City of Raleigh and the park/square and surrounds is a charming mix of old and new in the heart of downtown Raleigh. 

After playing a significant role throughout Raleigh’s 225+ year history, Moore Square was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Here you will find the old City Market, restaurants, cafes, bars, art galleries, a kids museum, the GoRaleigh transit station, high-density residential, and of course the park – recently underwent a $12 million renovation.

Moore Square, downtown Raleigh

Don’t visit Raleigh without taking a stroll around here, and grabbing a drink or bite to eat at award winning bars (such as Brewery Bhavana) and restaurants (like Bida Manda).

Regular events at Moore Square include the Raleigh Arts Festival, Movies in the Park, the Street Painting Festival and the Moore Square Farmer’s Market.

See & Do

City Market

city market raleigh nc

Browse the historic cobblestone-streets with galleries, restaurants, bars and specialty shops. 

The Pour House Music Hall

See a band at The Pour House, one of Raleigh’s favorite live music venues since 1997.

Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum

Got young kids? Marbles is one of the best things to do in Raleigh with kids. There’s two levels of kid-focused museum activities with dozens of hands-on exhibits and the state’s only 3D-capable IMAX theater

Relax in Moore Square Park

Two open lawn areas, magnificent trees, numerous benches, a shaded “treehouse” area for kids, 30-foot-wide sidewalks on the south edge of the park, and a small splash pad for children during the warmer months.

Art Space

Artspace is one of the largest open studio environments in the country and home to 30+ artists working in a variety of media.

Eat 

Cafe Luna

Tuscan-accented Italian fare served in an airy, art-filled space since 1996. It’s not just the authentic cuisine at Cafe Luna that will transport you to Italy, but also the original artwork hanging on the walls. 

MOFU Shoppe 

What started as a popular food truck selling dumplings and pho (and a participant on the Food Networks Season 6 of the reality TV show, The Great Food Truck Race) MOFU is now a brick and mortar restaurant bringing the flavors of Asia to downtown Raleigh.

Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant

Looking for the best breakfast in Raleigh? Big Ed’s is popular for their breakfasts (especially the hot cakes and country ham).

Get a taste of Southern comfort and hospitality in a 170-seat restaurant displaying historical memorabilia in City Market.

Vic’s Italian Cafe & Pizzeria

Owned by real Italians, Vic’s serves authentic Italian cuisine and New York style pizza and a wide variety of delicious pastas and entrees in healthy portions. Some great lunch specials under $9.

Treat Ice Cream Scoop Shop

Our kids love Treat and their unique and tasty creations using locally-made Maple View Farm ice cream and sorbet.

Transfer Co. Food Hall

Transfer Co. Food Hall

A five minute walk from Moore Square brings you to Transfer Co. Food Hall, one of the two food halls in downtown Raleigh.

Housed in the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shops, there’s 50,000+ square feet of renovated warehouse space that’s now home to 12 vendors and a place for the community to gather through food.

Breweries & Bars

Watts & Ward

Watts & Ward, downtown Raleigh, NC

Watts & Ward is easily one of our favorite bars in Raleigh downtown. It’s a craft cocktail bar founded upon the underground spirit of 1920s America.

A 6,000-square-feet space of seemingly endless cavern, with room after room of leather seating, rustic tables, dim lighting and bookshelves full of history. An inventive cocktail menu and low-key jazz events. 

Coffee Shops

42 & Lawrence

42 & Lawrence is an espresso bar and coffee lab serving up specialty espressos, cold-brew coffees, draft lattes, and tasty experiments.

Modern and industrial vibe and lots of natural light and glass windows for people watching.

Glenwood South District

Glenwwod Ave, Raleigh

South Glenwood Ave is one of downtown Raleigh’s signature streets, and the streets of Glenwood South are known as the entertainment district of Raleigh. 

Glenwood Ave is lined with a mixture of new and old Raleigh restaurants and bars (including the world record holding Raleigh Beer Garden), cool boutique stores, art galleries and studios.

This district also offers unique beauty salons and fitness studios such as Open Door Yoga and Paintbase – a chic nail salon known for its trendy nail design.

There’s a mixture of people who live and play here, from college students to young professionals and artists eating, drinking, creating, and living. 

Eat 

42nd St. Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill

The 42nd St. Oyster Bar has been a Southern Seafood tradition since 1931 and is one of the most popular and famous places to eat Raleigh downtown.

If you love oysters, seafood, atmosphere, and good service then dine here. 

Hibernian Restaurant & Pub

Hibernian Pub & Restaurant, Raleigh

Get your Irish pub fix at The Hibernian, a staple in the Glenwood South district.

Traditional Irish pub grub plus great wings and reuben sandwiches. Cozy nooks plus an upstairs deck with one of the best views in the city.

Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern

Incredible dining experience. Second Empire is one of the top restaurants in Raleigh and a recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award and an elegant American restaurant set in a historic, circa-1879 Second Empire house.

Spectacular service plus history, atmosphere, and gourmet cuisine.

Sushi Blues Cafe

Sushi bar offering traditional Japanese dishes, plus sake and specialty cocktails, in a blues-themed setting and fun atmosphere. 

Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen & Bar

Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen & Bar
Image: www.tavernaagora.com

Authentic Greek dining experience with an atmosphere and vibe on the lovely rooftop patio that will remind you of your trips to Greece.

Hand-crafted cocktails, a gourmet marketplace, Sunday brunch, and possibly the best Lamb Burger in Raleigh.

The Rockford

A popular neighborhood restaurant, The Rockford is an upstairs hideaway on Glenwood Ave in a historic brick building. Offering creative American fare, live music, weekly food specials and affordable drinks.

Carolina Ale House

If you’re looking for a casual restaurant and fun sports bar in Raleigh, it’s hard to go wrong at Carolina Ale House. Good pub fare, a long beer list, kids’ menu, big screens on every wall, and a rooftop patio.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse

Classic steakhouse, Sullivan’s offers the finest hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, signature cocktails, jazz music and friendly, familiar atmosphere. A little expensive, like most steakhouses. 

Anise Pho

For Vietnamese cuisine, Anise Pho make delicious bowls of pho and top notch banh mi, plus noodle bowls and vegetarian options. Reasonably priced and authentic tasting dishes. 

Vidrio

On offer at Vidrio is upmarket Mediterranean cuisine and handcrafted cocktails served in stylish surrounds. Sharing plates are made with the freshest ingredients, plus the purest Greek olive oil, and 50 wines on tap. 

MoJoe’s Burger Joint

Craving a burger? Head to MoJoe’s, a classic neighborhood burger joint serving some of the best burgers in Raleigh (GF buns available).

Hand made patties, choose from a 6 ounce, 10 ounce, or “Hall of Fame” one pounder. 12 local beers and kids menu. 

Char-Grill

A Raleigh tradition, think local version of Shake Shack. Char Grill is a local fast-food chain serving charcoal-grilled burgers since 1959.

True old fashioned feel and just placing your order is a part of the experience. Our kids love their shakes and fries!

The Cupcake Shoppe 

Cozy, stylish bakery whipping up bespoke cakes & cupcakes using fresh, high end, local ingredients and proudly serving locally roasted Joe Van Gogh coffee and espresso.

Even the gluten free cupcakes are moist and delicious. Try the red velvet with cream cheese icing!

Mellow Mushroom

Yes, Mellow Mushroom is a chain and maybe not serving the best pizzas in Raleigh, but I’m including it because it’s a funky and fun place to eat at.

They have a great outdoors courtyard at this location, plus gluten free and vegan pizzas!

Breweries, Bars and Pubs

Raleigh Beer Garden

Raleigh Beer Garden
Image: Joe Bruno | visitraleigh.com

350+ beers on tap and world record-holder for largest selection of draft beer.

Raleigh Beer Garden is a massive 8,500-square-foot venue with 3 levels, tons of outdoor space, a back garden patio and a rooftop bar – the perfect warm-weather hangout.

Hibernian

Traditional Irish pub with dark wood interiors, old world charm, cozy booths and tables.

Hibernian has multiple bars, a second floor patio and bar area overlooking downtown. Good for all people; professionals, sports fans, families. 

Tin Roof

A place to support live music and where musicians have a place to play.

The Tin Roof has a first floor stage for live music, and a second level with a rooftop patioIs there anything better than enjoying a drink with some live music? Daily drink specials. 

Dram & Draught

Over 300 whiskeys from around the world at Dram & Draught, plus nice hand-crafted cocktails, wines, and draught beer from Raleigh and beyond.

Great selection of bourbons and whiskeys, plus knowledgeable staff to help you choose!

Clouds Brewing

Clouds Brewing is an industrial craft beer bar and one of the popular brunch spots in Raleigh featuring a German inspired menu.

40 guest taps from around the world plus a 10 tap self-pour beer wall — the first of its kind in the triangle. Started by two Chicago natives.

State of Beer

Cool bottle shop offering an extensive list of craft brews + some of the best gourmet sandwiches in town that pair perfectly with your beer.

At State of Beer there’s a laid back patio seating outside perfect for sunny days! Part of the Trophy brewing family.

Milk Bar

Located in the Historic Pine State Creamery Building, the Milk Bar is an open-air hip cocktail bar and lounge with live music.

Local beer on tap, and frozen cocktails are their specialties. Live music Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

C. Grace 

Known for having some of the best drinks in the area. C. Grace is a cocktail lounge with a Prohibition-era feel and classic jazz club where the lights are low, the jazz is hot, and the classic cocktails are well-crafted.

Live music five nights a week.

Shop

Revolver Consignment Boutique 

Revolver is an upscale consignment/vintage shop for men and women featuring clothing, jewelry, and art. 

Union Camp Collective

Not your average retail experience. Union Camp Collective has hand-picked vintage and antique furnishings from every era, style and price.

Part vintage and antique store, part creative co-op, part event space, part workshop and art gallery.

Seaboard + Person Street

Person Street, Raleigh

Person Street in the northern end of downtown Raleigh is another area that continues to improve, and one that has more of a neighborly feel. 

Along with the nearby Seaboard Station area, on Person St you will find locally owned businesses including bakeries, burger bars, craft beer and wine store, and some of the best restaurants in downtown Raleigh.

And this area is right next to the Historic Oakwood neighborhood (see below).

See & Do

Mordecai Historic Park

Once known as the largest plantation in Wake County, Mordecai Historic Park is home to many interesting pieces of North Carolina history.

Here you can see the Mordecai Historic House, the oldest residence in Raleigh still on its original foundation, and the birthplace of Andrew Johnson, the 17th President.

Explore Historic Oakwood

Historic Oakwood

Check out the lovely neighborhood of Historic Oakwood by foot or car.

We like to wander the streets and dream of owning one of the Victorian and 20th-century homes. Be sure to check out Historic Oakwood Cemetery which has served as a noble resting place for Raleigh residents for more than a century.

Eat 

Crawford & Son

A casual and cozy neighborhood restaurant, Crawford & Son is located in historic Oakwood and serves honest food that ranges from the familiar to the unexpected.

Known as one of the best restaurants in Raleigh for outstanding service, ambiance, food presentation, and craft cocktails.

The Station at Person Street

The Station

A corner bar and restaurant that originally served as an Amoco gas station, The Station pays tribute to Raleigh’s rich past as well as present.

Boasting one of the city’s best outdoor dining and drinking patios, they offer updated American food, beer and cocktails. 

The Pharmacy Cafe

Set in a refurbished, historic pharmacy building from 1910, The Pharmacy Cafe is a modern take on an American soda fountain with comfort food.

Serving breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch with a focus on creative sandwich combinations and salads. 

Two Roosters Ice Cream

Founded by an North Carolina State University alum, Two Roosters has been roaming the streets of Raleigh in a turquoise 1965 Ford truck since 2014 and was such a hit they opened brick-and-mortar locations in 2017.

Their handcrafted ice cream features seasonal and permanent flavors – often inspired by local events and restaurants.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Crave a burger? Their burgers here are fantastic and massive with gourmet toppings and hand-cut fries, plus cool decor and friendly staff.

And Bad Daddy’s commit to sourcing local and fresh ingredients whenever possible.

Yellow Dog Bread Company

Coffee shop and bakery specializing in handmade artisan breads and southern influenced pastries. Popular items at Yellow Dog include their almond croissants, sticky buns and maple bacon scones. 

Seaboard Cafe

Opened in 1991, Seaboard Cafe has been serving Raleigh locals made from scratch soups, sandwiches, salads, fresh baked muffins, and special daily grill and deli features that have become trademarks. 

Drink

Pelagic Beer & Wine

A craft retail beer store and tasting room, Pelagic Beer & Wine offer an extensive selection and was voted to have the “Best Retail Beer Selection in Wake County” in the local Indy Week’s 2018 Best of the Triangle competition.

Person Street Bar

A stylish, local, independent neighborhood bar, Person Street Bar has a jukebox and covered patio offering cocktails and craft beers on tap.

Coffee Shops

Pop in at Yellow Dog Bread Company for your coffee fix (espresso/latte/drip), chai latte, hot tea or hot chocolate. 

Shop

Edge of Urge

A boutique store for men and women, Edge of Urge specialize in handmade and independent designer clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories.

And check out the new concept, Unlikely Professionals – a Men’s General Store and bar!

The Centerpiece

Check out the friendly and inviting art gallery and workspace, The Centerpiece, which displays fine art from emerging and nationally-recognized artists. 

So & So Books

A small independent book store, So & So carries a carefully curated selection of the owners favorite titles in all the major genres that you probably won’t find easily elsewhere.

I hope this guide on the best things to do in downtown Raleigh helps you plan a trip to visit Raleigh?

Stay tuned, as we’ll be updating this guide over time. If you haven’t already subscribed to our weekly email so you don’t miss any updates, you can do that on our home page.

And if there’s anything you’d like to suggest we add to this post, leave a comment down below!

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