Situated on the Piedmont fall line and surrounded by the gentle, rolling hills of northeast central North Carolina, Raleigh is the capital and second-largest city in the Tar Heel State. As part of the area known as the Research Triangle, the city features a number of highly regarded technology and scholarly institutions.
One of the fastest growing cities in the country, Raleigh is home to numerous cultural and historic sites as well as approximately 80 miles of greenway. The city also conserves more than 8,100 acres of parkland. With four distinct seasons, the City of Oaks is a year-round destination for visitors who want to experience a variety of recreational activities. Over the years, Raleigh has been listed on several nationally published top 10 lists for its quality of life.
History of Raleigh
Named in honor of Sir Walter Raleigh, the city is steeped in Colonial, antebellum and postwar history. Founded in 1792, it was one of the first planned communities in the United States and the fourth location for the state capital. The first state fair was held here in 1853. Spared the ravages of the Civil War, Raleigh became a center of higher education and textile manufacturing during and after the Reconstruction Era.
After World War II, the city emerged as a focal point for research and development in the biomedical and high-tech industries as the region moved away from having an economy focused on agriculture.
A more in-depth exploration of Raleigh history can be found in the exhibits of the City of Raleigh Museum located downtown.
The city is a haven for foodies spanning the gamut of all budgets and palates. Along with national chains, Raleigh offers residents and visitors a mixture of family-owned and one-of-a-kind local eateries serving authentic ethnic cuisine. Ranging from casual, budget-friendly places to upscale dining establishments, Raleigh restaurants serve French, Japanese and Mexican dishes as well as Southern favorites with a modern twist.
In addition to food trucks, bistros and chocolatiers, Raleigh’s food scene includes a number of award-wining restaurants, such as Bida Manda, Saint Jacques and Herons at the Umstead Hotel and Spa. Beasley’s Chicken and Honey features the talents of James Beard Award-winner Ashley Christensen. “Travel and Leisure” magazine designated the city as one of the country’s favorite places for barbecue. Forbes Travel Guide and Zagat ranked Raleigh as a global destination thanks to the culinary vision of the city’s excellent dining spots.
With coffee houses, wineries, distilleries and breweries, the craft beverage industry is booming in Raleigh. Visitors can experience eclectic craft beer at more than 25 artisan breweries. Along with the first female-owned brewery in North Carolina, Raleigh is home to a brewery launched in an airplane hangar and another that traces its lineage to a rickshaw company. In addition to tours, many local Raleigh breweries offer tastings and a range of food items that complement their signature beverages like porters and doppelbocks.
Take the Raleigh Beer Trail to experience the various flavors and styles. The trail takes you to popular watering holes like Raleigh Brewing, the Aviator Brewing Company and the Crank Arm Brewery. Forbes magazine ranks Brewery Bhavana as one the coolest places to eat in the country. With unique features and a character all their own, these venues attract locals and visitors.
Things to Do in Raleigh
This burgeoning Southern metropolis boasts a wide range of things to see and do. There are museums dedicated to history, fine arts and the natural sciences. The focal points of the city’s performing arts scene are the Coastal Credit Union Music Park, the Red Hat Amphitheater and the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
Along with the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League, the city hosts the home games for the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Other popular things to do in Raleigh include strolling through the J.C. Raulston Arboretum and Botanical Garden as well as historic homes like the Joel Lane House and the Mordecai Mansion. The rotunda of the 19th-century Greek Revival-style State Capitol houses a sculpture of George Washington clad as a Roman general.