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Flights To Raleigh

About Raleigh

Named for Sir Walter Raleigh, who established a short-lived English settlement here in the 1580s, North Carolina's state capital was, like Washington, D.C., planned from the start as the capital city. From its founding in 1792, it was called the "City of Oaks," and its leaders ever since have been committed to preserving and maintaining its parks and trees. The result is an attractive and very livable city, where modern glass and steel construction is softened by parks and greenways.


 1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Conveniently located downtown, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the largest natural science museums in the southeastern United States. It has two buildings: one focused on the educational exhibits, and the other focused on the methods behind the science.

In addition to traveling exhibits, the Nature Exploration Center has permanent installations including the Arthropod Zoo; the Living Conservatory; and exhibits that explore North Carolina's coasts, mountains, and local natural history.

2. North Carolina Museum of Art

The galleries at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) first opened in 1956 as the first state-funded collection. They showcase art from the Renaissance, ancient Greek and Roman sculpture and artifacts, Egyptian burial artwork, pre-Columbian works, and early American art.

The NCMA is also proud to be one of two American museums to house permanent exhibits dedicated to Jewish art. The museum offers guided tours of its galleries and special exhibits, and also hosts workshops, lectures, films, and performing arts shows. The museum grounds are worth exploring for their sculptures, gardens, and a peaceful reflecting pool.

3. Pullen Park

First opened in 1887, this was the first public park in North Carolina. The park's 66 acres offer far more than the typical city park. Visitors can take rides on the Gustave A Dentzel Carousel and the C.P. Huntington miniature train. Pedal boats are available to rent for a cruise around Lake Howell, and for the younger mariners there is a kiddie boat ride.

Kids will also love the huge playground, which includes water play for those hot summer days, and there are often shows in the children's amphitheater. Fans of The Andy Griffith Show will want to pose for pictures with the "Andy and Opie" statue.

4. Marbles Kids Museum

The hands-on Marbles Kids Museum should be high on the list of places to visit for families with young children. It is filled with interactive exhibits, including an exploration of music at Tree Tunes; the world of horticulture at Sun Sprouts kid's garden; an energetic time at Kid Grid; and the BB&T Toddler's Hollow, where kids three and under can play and explore safely in a place just for them.

Laminated Picture Maps are available to borrow, so that the kids can plan their day, and parents will be happy to have the choice of eating at their on-site café or bringing their own lunch for a picnic. The Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles shows both Hollywood hits and educational films on its 50 by 70-foot screen, keeping everyone in the family entertained.

5. North Carolina Museum of History

The North Carolina Museum of History has permanent and traveling exhibits that encompass the state's past. You will find Native American tools, housewares of early European settlers, costumes from the Revolutionary War era, and weapons and military gear from the Civil War.

African American history is featured as well, from the first days of slavery through the arduous fight for freedom and equality. This is also home to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, where visitors can learn about native sports heroes and see plenty of memorabilia.

6. Walking through Historic Oakwood

Near downtown Raleigh, the historic Oakwood neighborhood is North Carolina's largest, intact 19th-century residential district, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of its hundreds of 19th-century homes have been fully restored to their former glory.

Be sure to stroll past the Tucker House, an impressive Neoclassical Revival-style home. In addition to the architecture, you'll see beautiful gardens surrounding many of the homes.

7. Performing Arts in Raleigh

Raleigh is home to a wide variety of performing arts venues and organizations. Theater-goers will love the Theatre in the park at Pullen Park, which hosts several productions each year and is best known for its annual December performance of A Christmas Carol.

The Burning Coal Theatre is located downtown, and the nearby Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts hosts stage plays and musicals produced by the North Carolina Theatre, as well as the work of the North Carolina Opera.

It is also the performance home for the Carolina Ballet and hosts the nationally celebrated North Carolina Symphony. In September, the city hosts the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass.

8. Historic Yates Mill

About five miles south of the center, Yates Mill is the area's last remaining water-powered gristmill, a reminder of an era when 70 of these ground corn and wheat into meal and flour for residents of Wake County. The mill still has its original equipment, and operated into the mid-1950s.

On a visit to the mill, open March through November, you can see costumed millers grind corn and learn how the water wheel powered the millstones. Programs, events, and exhibits help preserve the region's agricultural heritage, and the mill sits in a park that includes a 174-acre wildlife refuge and an environmental research center.

9. JC Raulston Arboretum

With one of the largest and most diverse collections of plants for landscape use in the Southeast, the JC Raulston Arboretum is both a tourist attraction and a source of inspiration for regional gardeners. Plants are collected and evaluated to find those best suited to Piedmont North Carolina conditions and southern landscapes, but for the casual visitor, the gardens are simply a beautiful place to visit at any time of year.

Rhododendron, iris, and wisteria bloom in April, and showy cannas, day lilies, hydrangea, and dahlias in June. Even in winter there are camellias in Asian Valley and in the Southall Memorial Garden, and in February, Chinese redbud, pink and white magnolias, squills, and snowdrops bloom.

10. Mordecai Historic Park

Mordecai Historic Park preserves the birthplace of Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the United States. Built in 1785, the Mordecai House is the oldest in the city still standing on its original foundation.

Guided tours are offered on the hour and include the estate and gardens as well as many additional 19th-century buildings such as St. Mark's Chapel; Badger Iredell Law Office; and the Allen Kitchen, which was re-created using descriptions left in Ellen Mordecai's correspondence.