17 Hours in Downtown Raleigh

(By Leigh Tauss)

Despite some of our city council members’ best efforts, downtown Raleigh is no longer the sleepy Southern town of yore, back when Fayetteville Street was a pedestrian mall and most everything shut down after dark. 

And that means, to burn through a proper day, I’m going to need coffee. 

I’ll begin at The Morning Times and grab a seat at a table outside on Hargett Street—for my money, one of the best people-watching locales in DTR. In the Times’s upstairs room, you’ll find students clacking at keyboards and professionals having meetings most mornings, but out here, there’s serenity in watching urban life go by. 

I think I’ll have a second cup. 

Now, I’m seeking low-key stimulation, which means a trip to the North Carolina Museum of History is in order. The museum is pretty terrific; it includes relics from the pirate Blackbeard’s ship, which I learned crashed off the coast three centuries ago. The Museum of Natural Sciences is just across the street, so I can make an educational morning of it and check in on some dinosaur bones.  

By now, it’s about noon, and I’m craving a beer and some dumplings. There’s really only one option: Brewery Bhavana. If there’s a wait, and there is, I can grab a book from the library and hang out at the bar until my table is ready. The jiaozi dumplings fill me with bliss, which I follow up with some lo mein washed down with Glean, a peppercorn saison.

I love cute and useless things, so I stop by Deco Raleigh to grab custom Raleigh postcards to send home to my folks. I could spend way too much money here. Deco has all of the Raleigh swag you never knew you wanted or that existed, and it also a nice collection of novelties.

Since I’m planning to paint the town tonight, I’m going to need something to wear: The Art of Style to the rescue. If black is your color, this is your store. Casual but chic, it will give you that New York-but-not-really look you’ve been not quite getting right forever.

OK, the big night out. Since I’ve been saving my coins and thinking ahead enough to make reservations a few weeks ago, Death & Taxes it is. Chef extraordinaire Ashley Christensen was recently given the top prize at the James Beard awards, and this is her fine-dining spot, so you can say excellence is a foregone conclusion. 

I start with the summer squash and burrata and a serving of okra fried in buttermilk. For the main course, I’ll nom on the grilled poulet rouge. 

Having thoroughly stuffed my face with fancy food, I head to Watts & Ward for some fancy cocktails—specifically, the U.S.S. Maine, with bourbon, smoke-tea-infused Dolin rouge, cherry brandy, and absinthe. 

Now I’m full and smiley and ready to melt into the leather couches. But it’s not even midnight yet, and I’m only thirty, not dead, so before I call my Uber, I walk over to Isaac Hunter’s Tavern to dance off some calories. (The original Isaac Hunter’s tavern was a favorite of the delegates to the 1788 Hillsborough Constitutional Convention. Later, lawmakers deemed that North Carolina’s seat of government had to be near it. Hence, Raleigh.) 

Cheap beers and good times. What better way to end a night downtown?

Landmark: The State Capitol

Where to Get a Cup of Coffee: 42 & Lawrence

Where to Visit with Friends: Moore Square

Where to Walk Your Dog: Dix Park

Where to Spend the Night: Guest House


Poole’side Pies

428 South McDowell Street, 919-803-8660, ac-restaurants.com/pooleside

Ashley Christensen’s long-awaited pizza joint, which is both adjacent to Poole’s Diner and themed like a swim club—hence the name—is exactly as good as you’d expect, maybe better. It opened on Friday the 13th (of September), but read nothing into that. The Neapolitan-inspired dough is cooked in a Marra Forni wood-fired oven, perfectly charred and chewy. The mushroom white pizza with caramelized onions and chimichurri explodes in a zesty, lemony mouthgasm. The menu will feature a rotating cast of pizzas, with small plates like macaroni and three-cheese frittatine and chicken wings saltimbocca. And Cappie Peete, the beverage director, has designed a pizza-pairing program that includes Italian wines, refreshing cocktail spritzes, and other frozen delights. Expect a wait. Expect it to be worth it. 

Note: We’ve highlighted our pick for the best of each category below. 


A Place at the Table

300 West Hargett Street, 919-307-8914, tableraleigh.org

Community is at the core of this pay-what-you-can breakfast and lunch cafe in the Warehouse District. Pay for your own meal or donate to feed someone less fortunate.

Barcelona Wine Bar

430 West Martin Street, 919-808-5400, barcelonawinebar.com

Here you’ll find elegant tapas, prepared simply but with quality ingredients and striking flavors, accompanied by one of the largest Spanish wine programs in the U.S.

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

237 South Wilmington Street, 919-322-0127, ac-restaurants.com/beasleys

Chef Ashley Christensen drizzles fried chicken with honey in this modern lunch and dinner spot. Lines stretch down the block for Sunday brunch, so get there early for classics like chicken and waffles, mac and cheese custard, and red beans rancheros. Top it off with Frank’s hot sauce and a cocktail (or dessert) served in a mason jar. 

Bella’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tapas

411 West Morgan Street, bellaswoodfired.com

Located in Morgan Street Food Hall, Bella’s serves Neapolitan-style, lightly charred pies and a handful of tapas. 

Benchwarmers Bagels and Coffee

500 East Davie Street, #107, benchwarmersbagels.com

A member of the Transfer Co. Food Hall gang, Benchwarmers—a collaboration between Josh Bellamy and Sam Kirkpatrick of Boulted Bread and Andrew Cash of Jubala Coffee—prides itself on giving equal attention to both coffee and bagel. 

Benny Capitale’s Pizza

121 Fayetteville Street, #121, 919-239-4173, bennysva.com

Just imagine the biggest damn slice of pizza you’re ever going to see, and then add a third. 

Bida Manda

222 South Blount Street, 919-829-9999, bidamanda.com

Siblings Vanvisa and Vansana Nolintha opened one of the few Laotian restaurants in the U.S. as an ode to their parents’ cooking. Community helped build the space and continues to be a core part of Bida’s mission. Classic homespun recipes like papaya salad, crispy pork belly soup, and pho Lao are filled as much with heart as flavor. 

Big Ed’s City Market

220 Wolfe Street, 919-836-9909, bigedsnc.com

DTR has changed a lot in the last few years, but Big Ed’s has stayed the same. Since 1989, Big Ed’s has served Southern breakfast and lunch options like pimiento cheese sandwiches, fried catfish, salty country ham with red-eye gravy, fatback biscuit, and grits—all Southern, all the time, and all on red and white checkered plastic tablecloths. 

Boulted Bread

614 West South Street, 919-999-3984, boultedbread.com

The smiles that greet you at Boulted’s counter are as healthy as the milled-in-house organic grain used to create these indelible wood-fired baked goods and loaves of bread. Around the holidays, ask to special order dark chocolate and apple pies. 

Brewery Bhavana

218 South Blount Street, 919-829-9998, brewerybhavana.com

This combination of flower shop, bookstore, brewery, and dim sum restaurant is the most metropolitan spot in the city and was voted one of the top ten restaurants in the world (!) by Forbes. 

Caffé Luna

136 East Hargett Street, 919-832-6090, cafeluna.com

Caffé Luna features one of the most gorgeously appointed interiors of any restaurant downtown. It also features a first-rate Italian culinary experience. 

Capital Club 16

16 West Martin Street, 919-747-9345, capitalclub16.com

CC16 feels like an extension of chef Jake Wolf’s family home. The atmosphere, German-inspired food, and uniquely curated events are what make the restaurant an integral part of downtown’s culture. Enjoy bratwurst with curry ketchup, daily catch sandwiches and soup, or one of the many vegetarian options while drinking a stein full of Hofbrau Lager, all while singing along to soccer match chants on the telly. 

Carroll’s Kitchen

19 East Martin Street, 919-670-3622, carrollskitchen.org

Calling itself a nonprofit social-enterprise restaurant, Carroll’s empowers women through restaurant jobs with a mission of ending women’s homelessness. If that’s not enough reason to give them all your money, the sandwiches, wraps, and salads are quick lunch options.


106 South Wilmington Street, 919-835-3593, centroraleigh.com

Owner Angela Salamanca puts her love of Mexican culture and cuisine into this creatively colorful restaurant. From hosting Day of the Dead road races in the city to the locally sourced ingredients for tacos, enchiladas, sopa de pollo, and classic Mexican desserts, Centro is a large part of Raleigh’s culinary heart. 

Che Empanadas

500 East Davie Street, cheempanadas.com

A Raleigh food truck fave that took up residence in Transfer Co., Che makes empanadas from a family recipe—ham and cheese, sweet beef, veggie, whatever you’re feeling. 


237 South Wilmington Street, 919-322-0126, ac-restaurants.com/chucks

Burgers have names like Bear in Heaven, Dirty South, and La Tortuga, giving unmistakable visuals for their flavor profiles. Fries come with your choice of ten sauces, and the milkshakes are packed full of coffee, chocolate cake, or booze.

City Market Sushi

315 Blake Street, 919-322-1987, citymarketsushi.net

City Market Sushi has a long list of specialty rolls (spicy tuna dynamite!) and appetizers (garlic edamame!), but the main stars are the adorable wooden, portioned lunch boxes with a combination of sliders, salad (that dressing!), panko shrimp, various nigiri, and sushi rolls. 

Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque

327 South Wilmington Street, 919-832-7614, clydecoopersbbq.com

Clyde’s is one of the state’s oldest BBQ establishments, selling vinegar-drenched, grass-fed ’cue, ribs, and fried chicken since 1938. You’ll get Brunswick stew, hush puppies, fried okra, and Cheerwine baked beans on the side.

Cocoa Forte

411 West Morgan Street, 919-679-1816, cocoafortedesserts.com

What started as a local couple’s hobby six years ago has blossomed into a versatile business, including a food truck and retail space at Morgan Street Food Hall. Satisfy your sweet tooth with some delicious (and colorful) dipped cheesecake skewers. 

Cousins Maine Lobster

411 West Morgan Street, 919-867-6203, cousinsmainelobster.com/restaurant/raleigh-nc

A national food truck chain that has set up shop inside of Morgan Street Food Hall, selling lobster rolls, lobster tacos, lobster tail, and, yes, lobster tater tots topped with cilantro lime sauce. 

Cow Bar

411 West Morgan Street, 919-834-2720, cowbarburger.com

Burgers, franks, and fries with a side of class, Cow Bar offers unique items like a truffle burger with smoked gouda and a Kim Jong-Yum hot dog with kimchi and wasabi mayo. 

Crawford and Son

618 North Person Street, 919-307-4647, crawfordandsonrestaurant.com

Scott Crawford has built a culinary career around innovative dishes that change the conversation about how Southern food can be cooked and prepared. His first solo restaurant is one of Raleigh’s finest, offering beef short rib, braised octopus, and pork cheek with grits in a modern yet cozy interior.

Dank Burrito

500 East Davie Street, 919-917-7521, dankburrito.com

Transfer Co. is home to the latest brick-and-mortar for this N.C.-based burrito joint, which also has a food truck and three locations across the eastern part of the state. Try the ginger-soy pork, carne asada tacos, or lose the wrap and go for a burrito bowl.

Death & Taxes

105 West Hargett Street, 984-242-0218, ac-restaurants.com/death-taxes

In 2019, Ashley Christensen took home the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. Her fine-dining restaurant features an open kitchen, expanding the energy of the meticulous food preparation from the wood-fired oven to the tables. Starters include charcuterie, octopus, and N.C. softshell crab fritto misto, while mains include layered Southern-inspired meals such as pork chop with house-cured bacon, green beans, roasted peppers, and chicharrones.

The District

317 West Morgan Street, 919-977-5440, thedistrictraleigh.com

The District invites patrons to “come as you are” to its casual dining atmosphere, offering a selection of small plates in addition to flatbreads, burgers, subs, and wraps.  

Falafel & Co.

1000 Brookside Drive, #119, 919-977-1004

Deep in Mordecai is a corner store that’s been converted to a Mediterranean restaurant, market, and bottle shop. The huge patio, with picnic tables outside and the long bar inside, is typically crowded with friendly neighbors enjoying local beers on tap. Hummus, muhammara, zatar fries, and, of course, the falafel are standouts.

Fiction Kitchen

428 South Dawson Street, 919-831-4177, thefictionkitchen.com

Chef Caroline Morrison has created a special vegetarian restaurant based on many of the classic Southern recipes she grew up eating, but she adds a bit of Mexican, Indian, and Asian flare. The “slow and low” cooked soy-based eastern BBQ rivals any pork ’cue in the state, while many of the vegetarian entrees and desserts rotate seasonally depending on local ingredients. 


14 West Martin Street, 919-833-6886, garlandraleigh.com

Chef Cheetie Kumar also shreds as a guitarist in the local rock band Birds of Avalon, giving you a sense of the energy that goes into her recipes. She learned to cook while watching her mother and grandmother while living in India as a child. This family-rich tradition comes through in delectable appetizers such as the bhel puri or cauliflower 65, as well as in the beef and noodle salad, pork tacos, bo ssam pork belly with sticky rice, and corn cake and greens. The interior floor is a recycled and remixed basketball court, and the bathrooms have penny-tiled floors. Garland satisfies all the senses at once.


135 South Wilmington Street, 919-896-8513, gravyraleigh.com

The titular gravy refers to Italian red sauce. Here you’ll get Italian-American classics—gnocchi, ravioli con pollo, chicken parm—that draws heavily from local farms. 

Gringo A Go Go

100 North Person Street, 919-977-1438, gringoraleigh.com

Stepping into Gringo is like entering a disco taqueria set in an abandoned gas station near the Mexican border. Listen to outlaw country music while enjoying Tecates and tacos on a patio that’s as lush as a South American jungle. 

Happy + Hale

443 Fayetteville Street, 919-307-4148, happyandhale.com

It started on a trike and golf cart a few years ago, and it’s now one of downtown’s busiest lunch spots. Poke bowls, protein-rich salads, cold-pressed juices, and smoothies are all worth the wait that typically stretches out the door.

Humble Pie

317 South Harrington Street, 919-829-9222, humblepierestaurant.com

Whether it’s date-night cocktails and tapas or Sunday brunch and Bloody Mary’s, Humble Pie is a great choice in the Warehouse District. The large canopy-covered patio is perfect for big parties or enjoying drinks with friends at the tiki bar.

Irregardless Cafe

901 West Morgan Street, 919-833-8898, irregardless.com

Serving vegetarian dishes since the seventies, Irregardless was one of the first farm-to-table restaurants in Raleigh. Duck, lamb chops, and steak frites share a menu with veggie fare like spanakopita, eggplant parm, and woodland pie. 


620 North Person Street, 919-803-7221, restaurantjolie.com

Scott Crawford’s second Oakwood restaurant is this recently opened French bistro, a place that serves such gluttonous creations as foie gras parfait and beef cheek bourguignon. Stay for dessert. 

Jose & Sons

327 West Davie Street, #102, 919-755-0556, joseandsons.com

The industrial vibe of a refurbished train station serves as the setting for this adventurous Mexican comfort-food spot. Chicarron and waffles, shrimp ceviche, a plantain sandwich, and barbacoa braised in Crank Arm beer are only a few of the many examples of the restaurant’s unique dishes. #HolaYall. 

Locals Oyster Bar & Seafood Market

500 East Davie Street, 919-594-1459, localsoysterbar.com

Another addition to Transfer Co., Locals is all about fresh N.C. seafood, both from its raw bar and in its dining room: the tuna burger, the blue crab roll, ceviche, oysters and clams (steamed or raw), blackfin tuna tartare, smoked scallops, you get the idea. 


235 South Salisbury Street, 919-307-4950, lucettegrace.com

From the playful window decorations and interior décor to the friendly service that greets you at the pastry counter, lucettegrace immediately wins you over. Then you try the colorful array of macarons, indelible pastries, and curry chicken sandwich, and you’re in love for life. 

Manhattan Cafe

320 South Wilmington Street, 919-833-6105, manhattancafenc.com

The interior of this deli is splashed with a mural of Sir Walter Raleigh sporting a boombox surrounded by abstractions of Raleigh’s downtown skyline. If you need more convincing, there’s a build-your-own salad bar and a wide selection of sandwiches and wraps. 

Mecca Restaurant

13 East Martin Street, 919-832-5714, mecca-restaurant.com

Downtown’s oldest restaurant. Mecca has been a beloved Raleigh mainstay since the thirties, serving fried chicken and the locally famous Glorified Jumbo Hamburger. Here’s hoping Mecca—now in the hands of local restaurateur Greg Hatem—will celebrate its hundredth anniversary in style.

Mofu Shoppe

321 South Blount Street, 919-301-8465, mofushoppe.com

The women behind Mofu were also behind one of America’s most popular dumpling and pho food trucks. Trading in the traveling eatery for a beautifully renovated car dealership with roll-up garage doors, the brick-and-mortar serves pork dumplings, udon noodles, honey sriracha brussels sprouts, and tom yum braised chicken.

Morgan Street Food Hall

411 West Morgan Street, 919-307-4481, morganfoodhall.com

Raleigh’s first large urban food hall has changed pedestrian activity in the Warehouse District, drawing all manner of curious eaters with its collection of culinary entrepreneurs. Ice cream, lobster rolls, fish and chips, smoothies, Mediterranean dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and poke bowls share warehouse space with indoor-outdoor bars and a large patio with shipping-container restaurants. 

Oak City Fish & Chips

411 West Morgan Street, morganfoodhall.com/vendors/oak-city-fish-chips

Fried fresh seafood, sprinkled with unique, proprietary spice blends, makes this an essential addition to the Morgan Street Food Hall, connecting the UK to the South. 

Oak City Meatball Shoppe

180 East Davie Street, 919-714-9014, oakcitymeatball.com

Choose your balls (traditional, spicy pork, buffalo chicken, chicken, veggie), choose your sauce (tomato, meat sauce, parm cheese, blue cheese cream, mushroom, pesto), choose your side (spaghetti, ziti, sauteed spinach, fettucini, smashed potato, etc.). Sometimes, simplicity is the best. 

Oakwood Cafe

300 East Edenton Street, 919-828-5994, oakwoodcafenc.com

The candle-lit atmosphere suits the cafe’s authentic Argentinian and Cuban cuisine. The ropa vieja and pulled pork are delicious staples, while the homemade hot sauce, chimichurri, and empanadas are among the best in the city. 

Oakwood Pizza Box

610 North Person Street, 919-594-1605, oakwoodpizzabox.com

Owner Anthony Guerra knows pizza and has lived it all his life. Simplicity is key, both with the black-and-white interior and the entire pizza and drink menu, which fits on a five-by-seven-inch card.  


411 West Hargett Street, 919-792-3777, okuraleigh.com

A high-end sushi chain that just moved into the Warehouse District. Trust the chef’s specialties. 


301 West Martin Street, 984-232-8969, parksideraleigh.com

A restaurant across from Nash Square, at the entrance to the Warehouse District, Parkside does burgers, meat-and-threes, salads, nachos, and so on. 

Papa Shogun

111 Seaboard Avenue, #118, 919-977-1247, papashogun.com

For his first solo venture, chef Tom Cuomo explores the intersection of Italian and Japanese cuisines with a menu of whimsical small plates. Fresh-pulled mozzarella with kombu and garlic bread and udon vongole are excellent choices for dipping, but you’ll want to slurp every drop of the smoked tonkotsu broth in the standout carbonara ramen yourself. 

The Pharmacy Cafe

702 North Person Street, 919-977-3805, pharmacycaferaleigh.com

This breakfast and lunch cafe was once occupied by a century-old pharmacy deli counter, but it’s been transformed into a hip local neighborhood hangout. Owner Daniel Whitaker brings in local farm ingredients for sandwiches, soups, and inventive daily specials. 

The Pit

328 West Davie Street, 919-890-4500, thepit-raleigh.com

Get within a quarter-mile of the Warehouse District, and the air fills with the smells of whole-hog Eastern N.C. pit-cooked BBQ. The Pit does elevated Southern cooking, from ’cue, fried chicken, and Western N.C. brisket to fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese balls, and fried mac ’n’ cheese. Top it off with a nip or sip from the wide array of bourbon and tap beer.

Pizza La Stella

219 Fayetteville Street, 984-200-2441, pizzalastella.com

La Stella dishes single-serving wood-fired pizzas, wings, and salads on Raleigh’s main drag. You can go with the classic pepperoni or sausage, but you’ll be much happier adventuring out with the Ratatouille with brussels sprouts, artichoke, and pistachio pesto. 

Pizza Times

210 South Wilmington Street, 919-832-4411, raleightimespizza.com

Pop in for a quick slice and salad in this small counter space carved out to accommodate a short line of hungry downtowners looking for a quick bite between meetings.

Poole’s Downtown Diner

426 South McDowell Street, 919-832-4477, ac-restaurants.com/pooles

This revamped classic diner is home to one of the South’s finest restaurants. Ashley Christensen’s first restaurant is home to her famous mac and cheese (technically, macaroni au gratin), but much of the modern comfort food menu, written on a blackboard, changes daily. 

Raleigh Raw Juice Bar and Cafe

7 West Hargett Street, 919-400-0944, raleighraw.com

Raw juice. Raw salad ingredients. Raw vibe. Raleigh Raw wears its culture on its sleeve. 

Raleigh Times

14 East Hargett Street, 919-833-0999, raleightimesbar.com

As downtown became an urban destination, the Raleigh Times was the center of the energy. Obama had a PBR there.

The Remedy Diner

927 West Morgan Street, 919-835-3553, theremedydiner.com

Vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores intermingle at this quirky local restaurant. The soy buffalo chicken will make you want to go veg forever. 

The Roast Grill

7 South West Street, 919-832-8292, roastgrill.com

This hot-dog-only joint, which boasts the “Greatest Tasting Hot-Weiner Chili Dogs on the Planet,” has been around since 1940, and owner “Hot Dog” George mans the small counter every day. No ketchup allowed. Hear that? NO KETCHUP ALLOWED.


200 East Martin Street, 919-977-3043, royaleraleigh.com

This French-American bistro makes for a classy night out on the town. Sit at the bar and order oysters by the half-shell along with irresistible fried brussels sprouts and a perfectly topped endive salad. Or enjoy the best burger in Raleigh and handmade cocktails in the city-corner-lit dining room. 

Rye Bar + Southern Kitchen

500 Fayetteville Street, 919-227-3370, ryeraleigh.com

A seasonal Southern restaurant, Rye Bar gets you started with a bread board that includes housemade pickles and honey butter. The fried green tomatoes are a must. 

Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern

330 Hillsborough Street, 919-829-3663, second-empire.com

Old Raleigh at its finest, Second Empire is fine Southern dining in the Dodd-Hinsdale house, built in 1879. Grab a beer at the tavern and then enjoy seafood paella, duck breast, or veal chop with a glass of wine. 


137 South Wilmington Street, 919-239-4070, sitti-raleigh.com

Empire Eats owner Greg Hatem and the Neomonde-owning Saleh family teamed up to bring this Lebanese restaurant to one of DTR’s busiest intersections. Start with the smoothest hummus in Raleigh, followed by red wine-braised lamb shank, kabobs, falafel, and lamb bacon dates.

Sosta Cafe

130 East Davie Street, 919-833-1006, sostacafe.com

Sosta feels like a European cafe in all aspects. The foosball table, local art, and chess board all complement the delicious sandwiches, salads, and espressos. Come for the mains but stay for the couscous and chickpea salad. 

Square Burger

200 South Blount Street (in Moore Square), squareburger-raleigh.com

Greg Hatem says Square Burger wasn’t inspired by Shake Shack, but they’re a lot alike: burgers, fries, shakes. Good food at reasonable prices in the city’s recently overhauled downtown park. Square Burger is also the only spot currently serving alcohol in Moore Square. 

St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar

223 South Wilmington Street, 919-332-0359, strochraleigh.com

Chef Sunny Gerhart has cooked in many of the best local kitchens, from Poole’s to Watts Grocery (RIP). St. Roch brings his love of New Orleans fare and oysters to downtown. From beignets and Belgian waffles at brunch to pimiento N.C. oysters and BBQ crawfish at dinner, there’s not much like it around. 


938 North Blount Street, 919-977-4321, stanburyraleigh.com

With Stanbury, a trio of college friends has assembled a world-class restaurant rooted in the local community. Much of the bread, cheese, and meat come from Raleigh or surrounding farms. The menu changes regularly with seasonal ingredients, but one thing never does: the dedication to creating unique, flavorful cuisine.

The Station at Person Street

701 North Person Street, 919-977-1567, stationraleigh.com

Located in an old gas station in the Person Street District, The Station has one of the busiest patios in the city. 

Sweetwater New York Ice Co. 

17 East Martin Street, sweetwaterices.com

A pop-up shop that sells Italian ice, Sweetwater can also deliver pints of lemon or cherry or whatever your heart desires; it also caters. 

Tonbo Ramen

211 South Wilmington Street, 919-977-3625, tonboramen.com

At this cozy ramen restaurant and izakaya, start with a pork belly bun and follow it with a Shoyu shredded pork ramen bowl with a soy-marinated egg and homemade dumplings. Be sure to get all the spicy extras to mix into the broth.

Transfer Co. Food Hall

500 East Davie Street, 984-232-8122, transferfoodhall.com

Raleigh’s newest food hall, Transfer has everything from bagels to beer to burritos to burgers (and those are just the b’s).  

Treat Ice Cream Scoop Shop

305 South Blount Street, 919-307-9390, treatraleigh.com

Partnering with Maple View Farm—as well as Videri Chocolate, Benelux Coffee, and Cheerwine—Treat features all kinds of deliciousness, from sorbets to ice cream, caramel sundaes to a sundae for your dog (it has bacon bits and a dog biscuit). 

Trophy Brewing and Pizza

827 West Morgan Street, 919-803-4849, trophybrewing.com

Trophy’s pizza and beer have become a mainstay of downtown culture. The Morgan Street building is adorned with colorful murals outside and lines of local residents’ trophies inside. The Daredevil Pizza with ghost pepper salami, sriracha, and jalapeños is one of the most inventive pies around.

Trophy Brewing Table + Tap

225 South Wilmington Street, 919-424-7817, trophybrewing.com/tap-table

Here you’ll find Southern-inspired food and Trophy beers on tap. Loaded tots are among the most beloved plates downtown, and the full menu includes burgers, short rib tacos, and shrimp and grits. The upstairs patio is a delightful space to watch the sun go down. 

Two Roosters Ice Cream

215 East Franklin Street, 919-803-9369, tworoosters.com

Owner Jared Plummer won the hearts of Raleigh residents by driving a bright blue trailer to events and serving addictive scoops that use local Slingshot coffee, lemon mascarpone cake, and Sola Cafe’s mini donuts. Try the Blackberry Hibiscus and Cheerwine float. It’s North Carolina in a cup.

Vic’s Italian Restaurant

331 Blake Street, 919-646-8167, vicsristoranteitaliano.club

Before Raleigh’s recent pizza renaissance, there was Vic’s, an Italian restaurant with classic pasta dishes, massive slices, and salads. It feels like New York. 

Virgil’s Original Taqueria

126 South Salisbury Street, 919-833-3866, virgilstacos.com

Virgil’s serves chunky guacamole and tacos ranging from carnitas and cheesy chorizo to Negra Modelo Pescado Frito (aka beer-dipped fish). Take your tacos upstairs and play classic video games while you eat.

Whiskey Kitchen

201 West Martin Street, 919-803-3181, whiskey.kitchen

Before Whiskey Kitchen came alone, there wasn’t much of a connection between Fayetteville Street and the Warehouse District. Now, Whiskey, with its sleek interior and luscious patio space, has created a hip corner of DTR that offers creative cuisine, cocktails, and, of course, a large supply of beautiful brown liquor. 

Wye Hill Kitchen + Brewing

201 South Boylan Street, 984-200-1189, wyehill.com

Taking over the former Boylan Bridge Brewpub, Wye Hill is a new craft brewery that focuses on quality bar food. It still has the same exquisite view of downtown.  

Yellow Dog Bread Company

219 East Franklin Street, 984-232-0291, facebook.com/yellowdogbread

Anchoring the corner of the Person Street Plaza, Yellow Dog is one of Raleigh’s best bakeries. The large loaf selection, scones, cinnamon rolls, and a variety of topped focaccia slices are baked daily and are typically gone by seven each night.


42nd and Lawrence

134 East Martin Street, 919-322-1668, 42lawrence.com

This modern, urban coffee-counter extension of Raleigh-based Larry’s Coffee is the perfect spot to grab a quick nitro coffee on tap or sit with a dollar cup of joe and watch city life fly by.

The Anchor Bar

207 Fayetteville Street, #100, 919-977-3714, anchorraleigh.com

A (loosely) nautical-themed craft-beer and craft-cocktail bar that won’t judge you for ordering a Bud Lite, Anchor is usually packed on weekend nights. 

Apéro Aperitif Bar & Restaurant

309 Blake Street, 919-803-7475, aperoraleigh.com

Apéro is a French happy-hour concept focused on vermouth and an array of eclectic small plates. 

Bad Cat Coffee, Crepes & Bagels

411 West Morgan Street, badcatcoffee.com

Exceptional local coffee, savory and sweet crepes, and high-quality bagels—Bad Cat has made an excellent addition to the Morgan Street Food Hall for the morning Warehouse District crowd. 


16 East Martin Street, 919-977-3829, bittersweetraleigh.com

Owner Kim Hammer created a vibrant dessert, cocktail, and coffee lounge that serves birthday cake lattes, Shark Week-themed cocktails, and delicious desserts. Bittersweet is ideal for a date or hanging out with friends after work. 


111 Seaboard Avenue, #116, 919-322-0470, brewcoffeebar.co

Tucked into Seaboard Station, this neighborhood coffee shop sports local art, coffee drinks with Raleigh Coffee Company beans, and a wall dedicated to displaying and storing the mugs of regulars. 

Boba Brew

411 West Morgan Street, 919-538-3041, bobabrewnc.com

Making bubble tea and smoothies, Boba uses only authentic Boba Tea products from Taiwan, the birthplace of bubble tea, and its smoothies have no GMOs or added sugar.  


120 East Martin Street, 919-803-4005, facebook.com/budacairaleighnc

Budacai features Asian-inspired dishes as well as an assortment of teas brewed with or without alcohol. Downstairs are floor-to-ceiling windows and colorful murals; upstairs are lighted cubes to sit on, a selfie station, and a foosball table. 

Burial Beer Co. 

500 East Davie Street, #170, 919-617-1314, burialbeer.com

One of Asheville’s most prized exports, Burial Beer opened its second taproom in the Transfer Co. building as its own space in early 2019. Only a few months later, the space was so popular, Burial doubled its size.

Circa 1888

412 West Davie Street, 919-307-4597, circa1888raleigh.com

Circa 1888, a billiard bar with beautifully finished red-felt tables, exposed brick walls, and large booths, is hidden on the backside of the Warehouse District, facing the railroad tracks, in a historic warehouse space that feels as casual as it does classy.

Coglin’s Raleigh

226 Fayetteville Street, 919-794-7304, coglins.com

The line stretches down the block to get onto the dance floor on the weekends, and nostalgic eighties and nineties music and décor provide a backdrop for a place that is happy to serve as your blast-from-the-past party bar. 

Cold Off the Press

416 West South Street, #100, 984-444-9006, coldoffthepress.com

A local, raw, cold-pressed juice bar whose products are organic and GMO-free. 

Crank Arm Brewing

319 West Davie Street, 919-324-3529, crankarmbrewing.com

Owner Adam Eckhardt started homebrewing as a hobby, and now his work has turned into one of Raleigh’s most popular breweries. Paired with Crank Arm’s rickshaw company, the brewery and taproom is a hangout for beer and cycling enthusiasts alike. The Rickshaw Rye is an award winner.  

Drink Drank Drunk

905 West Morgan Street, 919-803-0744, drinkdrankdrunk.rocks

Small, friendly, lots of regulars—there’s good beer in the cooler, on the handful of taps, and on the shelves, with a few seats inside and more on the patio out back. Also: nice name. 

Flex Nightclub

2 South West Street, 919-832-8855, flex-club.com

One of Raleigh’s oldest gay/straight/whatever bars and dance clubs, Flex hosts drag shows, karaoke, and go-go dancers on a nightly basis. 

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

328 West Morgan Street, 919-821-7401, beerknurd.com

A beer-loving, UFO-curious chain operating in six states, Flying Saucer has a legitimately ridiculous quantity of brews on tap.  


213 Fayetteville Street, 919-896-6016, foundationnc.com

Literally dug out of a basement full of dirt when its building was renovated, this subterranean bar is home to some of the best cocktails and night vibes in the city. It’s also home to lots of bourbon. 

Fox Liquor Bar

237 South Wilmington Street, 919-322-0128, ac-restaurants.com/fox

Under an unassuming pale green canopy is a door to stairs that will take you down to one of the city’s best bars. The entrance may be subtle, but the drinks and space are anything but. Craft cocktails (from Fox originals to bar classics) are made with uniquely carved ice to fit the specific cocktail’s glass. 

Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria

106 South Wilmington Street, 919-835-4729, gallopelon.com

Travel up the side stairs of Centro, and you’ll discover a wonderful modern rustic mezcaleria, full of uniquely crafted cocktails and an intimate atmosphere. Flights of mezcal and mezcal dinners pair well with the beautiful interior and a second-floor patio engulfed in a playful skeleton mural. 

The Green Light 

108 East Hargett Street, 919-833-4949, architectbar.com/the-green-light

After checking from the street to see if the (ahem) green light is on, walk up a long staircase, turn the corner, and enter behind the bookcase. Revealed is a tiny, luscious lounge with big-city charm and cocktails. 

The Haymaker

555 Fayetteville Street, #115, thehaymakerraleigh.com

Unassumingly located in the back corner of an office tower in City Plaza, The Haymaker is one of the most relaxing and swanky cocktail lounges downtown. Modern baroque décor is only topped by the massive punch bowls and hip music selection. 

Heirloom Brewshop

219 South West Street, 919-297-8299, heirloombrewshop.com

Between the one-of-a-kind coffee, tea, and sake drink menu, eye-catching ceiling, and artfully placed pink accents throughout the room, Heirloom is simply bewitching. Inspired by its founders’ Laotian and Taiwanese heritage, the Brewshop—which opened on the bottom floor of The Dillon in 2018—is relaxed and sophisticated, serving inspired concoctions like the five-spice brown sugar latte. 

Isaac Hunter’s Tavern

414 South Fayetteville Street, 919-996-9484, isaachunters.com

Named for the bar that, quite literally, put Raleigh on the map, Isaac Hunter’s has good drinks, good beer, good dancing, good prices, and good people running the place.  

Landmark Tavern

117 East Hargett Street, 919-821-9865, landmarktavernraleigh.com

The kind of bar that seems like it’s been here forever, Landmark is dark and cozy. You’ll feel like you’ve known the bartenders for years. They’ll pour you a stiff drink.

Legend’s Nightclub

330 West Hargett Street, 919-831-8888, legends-club.com

DTR doesn’t have enough dance clubs, but Legends has been a consistent dance party since the early nineties. It’s also served as a safe space and community hub for the LGBTQ community, hosting drag shows, talent contests, movie nights, and a variety of community-focused events. There’s a massive outdoor patio and a cash-only bar.

The London Bridge Pub

110 East Hargett Street, 919-838-6633, thelondonbridgepub.com

London Bridge is a sports bar, but only if your sport is soccer, in which case it’s the sports bar in DTR. It’s also a good place to grab a pint, hang out on the back patio with friends, and hit the dance floor when the weekend DJs do their thing. 

The Outpost

306 East Hargett Street, 615-804-0558, facebook.com/theoutpostraleigh

Just off Moore Square, The Outpost looks more like a tropically decorated house than a bar. It serves coffee, smoothies, and tiki cocktails. 

Paddy O’Beers

121 Fayetteville Street, 919-838-0040, paddyobeers.com

Paddy O’Beers is more of a neighborhood hang and bottle shop than a bar. The small shop is packed with craft six-packs of craft, but it has a handful of well-curated taps and a sunny outdoor spot for you to enjoy patio beers (get it?).

Pelagic Beer and Wine

300 Pace Street, 919-706-5955, pelagicbeerandwine.com

Families and dogs are welcome at this neighborhood bottle shop just off the Person Street drag. Pelagic serves local draft beers and six-packs from across the state in a casual and friendly atmosphere.

Person Street Bar

805 North Person Street, 919-977-5953, person-street.com

Everyone knows everyone’s name (and drink orders) here. A lush back garden patio and colorful geometric mural provide a relaxing setting outside, while pinball, foosball, a pool table, modern art, and loud, chill tunes create a vibrant vibe inside. 

Riddle Raleigh

314 South Blount Street, 919-891-9920, riddleraleigh.com

A new bar adjacent to Moore Square, Riddle has football on the TV, corn hole, trivia, board games, darts, hatchet tossing, tiki tossing, and, if you’re hungry, alligator and elk burgers. 

Short Walk Wines

123 East Martin Street, 919-916-1774, shortwalkwines.com

Here you’ll find a wine-tasting counter and a curated selection of bottles perfect for an after-work drink with friends or a romantic start to a date night.

Sir Walter Coffee

145 East Davie Street, 919-322-0019, sirwaltercoffee.com

This open-air coffee shop has become a favorite hangout and meeting spot for downtowners. Coffee, beer, bubble tea, and cocktails are all available. Check for your name on the pay-it-forward chalkboard to see if you’ve been gifted a drink.


227 South Wilmington Street, 919-833-6557, slimsraleigh.com

Everyone is welcome at downtown’s dive bar and sometimes rowdy music venue. 

State of Beer

401 Hillsborough Street, Suite A, 919-546-9116, stateof.beer

Sip on Trophy beers at community picnic tables on the street-side patio or take home a crowler full of your favorite brew. There’s also a vast selection of curated beers from across N.C. in coolers and on shelves.

Social 113 Cocktail Bar & Lounge

317 West Morgan Street, #113, 919-977-5440, social113.com

Adjacent to and a sister of The DIstrict, the chic Social 113 pours innovative craft and session cocktails alongside sour ales and sparkling wines. 

Tama Cafe

401 Fayetteville Street, #103, 919-561-6271, tamacafe.com

DTR’s first tea cafe serves up all types of teas and tea-infused drinks: Matcha, green mint, tea smoothies, and a wall full of teas and products to purchase for your home-steeping. 

Tasty Beverage Company

327 West Davie Street, 919-828-2789, tastybeverageco.com

Located in an old train station, Raleigh’s first bottle shop set the tone for future stacked with spots all across the city. Tasty has one of Raleigh’s largest selections of craft beers in bottles, cans, buckets, tap, and crowlers. It’s perfect for an after-work beer, and then to grab a six-pack on your way out the door.

Trophy Brewery + Taproom

656 Maywood Avenue, 919-803-1333, trophybrewing.com

Trophy started as a homebrewing project and then moved up to a nanobrewery serving pizza on Morgan Street. It’s now expanded to seven thousand barrels a day behind Les Stewart’s recipes and relentless love for beer. 

Watts + Ward

200 South Blount Street, 919-896-8016, wattsandward.com

This swanky underground bar has a vintage library vibe straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel. Enjoy live jazz and craft cocktails in one of the multiple rooms outfitted with wooden furniture and leather couches or under the stars in a large outdoor space full of picnic tables.

William & Co

616 North Person Street, 919-335-3165, facebook.com/willcobar

Located between a trophy shop and a high-end restaurant, WillCo has become a favorite neighborhood hang on Person Street. Enjoy craft cocktails inside the dark lounge or a nightcap Tecate on the busy sidewalk patio.


The Art of Style

21 West Hargett Street, 919-755-3333, theartofstyleboutique.com

The Art of Style is more than a modern clothing boutique. It’s a community hub. Owner Kendra Leonard has dedicated much of her life to giving others a platform for success through fashion and social entrepreneurship. 

Deco Raleigh

207 South Salisbury Street, 919-828-5484, decoraleigh.com

Owner Pam Blondin has become a vibrant part of the city after opening this gift shop, which sells everything from locally made products to housewares, quirky birthday cards, and puzzles. The color expands outside the store with Deco’s neon signage, façade, and sidewalk murals, as well as Raleigh’s first parklet. 

Ealdwine Raleigh

412 South McDowell Street, 984-242-0025, ealdwineraleigh.com

An upscale men’s clothing store that opened in early 2019, Ealdwine derived its name from an Old English word that means “old friend.” In this case, old friends pay $600 for a pair of Alden Navy Suede hand-sewn boots, but good Lord, are they gorgeous boots. 

Escazu Artisan Chocolates

936 North Blount Street, 919-832-3433, escazuchocolates.com

Owners Hal Parson and Danielle Centeno have built an award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate factory selling chocolate bars, confections, drinking chocolate, and coffee drinks. The best-kept secret in Raleigh is the Escazu ice cream push-up. 

Endless Grind

424 West Peace Street, 919-828-5877, endlessgrind.com

Skater kids are regularly ollie-ing over construction debris outside, while inside, you can shop through a curated selection of branded shoes, skateboards, and skate clothing.  

Edge of Urge

215 East Franklin Street, #110, 919-827-4000, edgeofurge.com

In 2014, Jessie Williams brought her stylish women’s boutique up from Wilmington and opened a second shop in Person Street Plaza. Since then, EOU has helped launch small independent brands, local makers, DIY goods, uncommon gifts, clothing, and street parties. 

Father and Son Antiques

302 South West Street, 919-832-3030, instagram.com/fatherandsonraleigh

Located in a warehouse next to Raleigh Union Station, Father and Son has given the City of Oaks its premier location for vintage and modern furniture, records, clothing, and much, much more. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and their Instagram account is a hot commodity, with items flying off the shelf as soon as they press “post.” 

The Flourish Market

307 West Martin Street, 984-202-5035, theflourishmarket.com

Several years ago, Em Sexton left her job at an investment bank to create The Flourish Market, which partners with more than fifty brands all over the world to provide jobs and fair wages to aspiring artisans in vulnerable communities. This brick-and-mortar launched in 2016. 

Galatea Boutique

10 West Franklin Street, #130, 919-833-8565, galateaboutique.com

Located in a renovated warehouse in Seaboard Station, Galatea offers hand-selected clothing and accessories that, as its website describes, are “not too young and not too old, not too big and not too small, not too funky and not too conservative.”

Gypsy Jule

207 West Davie Street, 919-753-7444, gypsyjule.com

The “Misfits Welcome” front-door signage gives you an indication that there’s a bit of twang in Gypsy’s step. Catering to young urban women, the shop sells rustic bohemian clothing, jewelry, and lifestyle home goods. 

Holder Home

612 West South Street, holdergoodsandcrafts.com

Owner Bryan Costello is an interior designer and curator of fashionable home goods and unique antiques in this retail gallery and design shop. Each object has a story, and the story makes the object. 

House of Swank Clothing

119 East Hargett Street, 919-413-7339, houseofswankclothing.com

Local screenprinter and fritocaster guitarist (that’s a guitar made from a Frito metal lunch box) John Pugh turns out a large selection Southern-themed t-shirts with kitschy graphics and puns.

Logan’s One Stop Garden Shop

707 Semart Drive, 919-828-5337, logantrd.com

Vegetable seedlings (in the spring), mulch, maple trees, and succulents are plentiful, along with everything you need for your garden. Eat tuna salad, a burger, or a Reuben for lunch among the wildflowers at the cafe. 

Oak City Cycling Project

212 East Franklin Street, 919-436-0527, oakcitycycling.com

OCCP is a people-focused bike shop started by a few friends that has organically grown into an integral part of Raleigh’s cycling community. You’ll find its branded riding kits in groups all over the city. 


15 West Hargett Street, 919-900-8066, petaleshop.com

Petale is a flower shop providing European bouquets at affordable prices. 

Port of Raleigh

416 South McDowell Street, 984-221-8008, portofraleigh.co

At this hip shop for modern home goods and lifestyle products, the meticulously curated products range from pastel pepper grinders and locally crafted furniture to fun baby products and a large selection of gifts under $25.

Quercus Studio

201 South Salisbury Street, 919-960-1355, quercusraleigh.com

The centerpieces of this jewelry studio are eloquently handcrafted wedding bands and engagement rings by metalworker Lauren Rameriz. A curated selection of bespoke jewelry from other U.S. makers rounds out the shop’s selection. 

Raleigh Denim Workshop + Curatory

319 West Martin Street, 919-917-8969, raleighdenimworkshop.com

Having started with a pair of scissors in their apartment, Sarah and Victor Lytvinenko have been on a mission to make your ass look good in the perfect pair of jeans ever since. Every pair is sewn on classic machines and signed by the makers. 

Raleigh Provisions

107 East Davie Street, 984-233-5600, raleighprovisions.com

Kim Hammer, owner of Bittersweet, has expanded her love for Raleigh to local food, wine, and beer in this downtown market. Pop-up produce stands, gift baskets, and educational tastings all complement shelves full of N.C. goods.

Rebus Works

301 Kinsey Street, #2, 919-754-8452, rebusworks.us

Art gallery, frame shop, and cultural icon, Rebus Works has been around DTR for over a decade. Rebus hosts bands, a Saturday food market full of local vendors, and a kids summer art camp. 


401 Hillsborough Street, 919-664-8865, runologieraleigh.com

Raleigh’s only independent running shop sells men’s and women’s running essentials and its own line of N.C.-produced gear, 

So & So Books

704 North Person Street, 919-426-9502, facebook.com/soandsobooks

Two passionate book lovers have created a sharply curated neighborhood bookshop. Modern art coffee table books share shelf space with music biographies, novels, bestsellers, and kids’ books.  

Sorry State Records

317 West Morgan Street, #105, 919-977-4704, sorrystaterecords.com

Loud punk music blares while you thumb through a large selection of curated hardcore metal, punk, garage, jazz, and hip-hop vinyl. Owner Daniel Lupton doubles as a band member and label owner, releasing records from N.C. punk bands. 

Videri Chocolate Factory

327 West Davie Street, 919-755-5053, viderichocolatefactory.com

Chocolatier Sam Ratto has created a chocolate factory that acts as both a tourist attraction and daily hangout for locals. Inside are lots of objects to gawk at: chocolate machinery, beautiful confections, retail shelves full of chocolate-themed gifts, and a coffee shop. Try the Hot Shot: sipping chocolate topped with locally made Vesta dry hot sauce.

ZEN Succulent

208 South Wilmington Street, 919-916-5115, thezensucculent.com

This Durham-based plant shop expanded to DTR, selling modern terrariums and succulents. Hands-on, artist-led workshops give you the opportunity to learn more about planting.


The Alamo Drafthouse

2116 New Bern Avenue, 984-444-6620, drafthouse.com/raleigh

The Alamo is more than a night at the movies. The dine-in cinema includes boozy milkshakes, pizza, desserts, burgers, and avocado toast. Blockbusters, indie films, themed film screenings, and free DVD/VHS (!) rentals make it a perfect spot for movie lovers.


201 East Davie Street, 919-821-2787, artspacenc.org

Two floors of an old car dealership were beautifully renovated to fit art galleries and walk-in artist studios selling everything from paintings and sculptures to quilted art. 

Boxcar Bar and Arcade

330 West Davie Street, 919-803-2796, theboxcarbar.com

Popular for kids, families, and adults out for the night or Sunday funday, Boxcar’s large warehouse is packed with arcade games, from classic Ms. Pac-Man, The Simpsons, and Mortal Kombat cabinets, to a row of pinball machines, Skee-Ball, and air hockey. A large selection of draft beers and free popcorn add to the fun.

Burning Coal Theatre Company

224 Polk Street, 919-834-4001, burningcoal.org

This small nonprofit theater in Oakwood mixes known and original plays. There are also writing and acting classes available.

CAM Raleigh

409 West Martin Street, 919-261-5920, camraleigh.org

Before CAM, the Warehouse District was simply that—a bunch of empty warehouses. Since CAM’s arrival and the injection of provocative contemporary art and cultural events, the area has not been the same. 

City of Raleigh Museum

220 Fayetteville Street, 919-996-2220, cityofraleighmuseum.org

Peruse historical artifacts while getting your fix of Raleigh-themed books and swag. The museum’s goal is to “preserve Raleigh’s past for the future,” providing education while programming local community events and art exhibitions. 

Dorothea Dix Park

2015 Umstead Drive, 919-996-3285, dorotheadixpark.org

It hasn’t taken long for Dix has become a keystone of Raleigh’s identity. A three-hundred-acre green space now hosting themed movie nights, sunflower fields, music festivals, and adult Easter egg hunts will eventually transform into “a park for everyone, built by everyone.” Only in its infancy, future generations will be gifted a unique place that will change how our city—and its connection to nature—is defined.

Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts

2 East South Street, 919-996-8700, dukeenergycenterraleigh.com

Downtown’s largest performing arts center hosts orchestra, comedy, and off-Broadway shows as well as Hopscotch concerts in a variety of venues ranging in size from the 2,000-seat Raleigh Memorial Auditorium to the 150-seat Kennedy Theater. 

Halifax Mall

300 North Salisbury Street, downtownraleigh.org/go/halifax-mall

Hidden in the center of downtown’s northernmost municipal complex is a relaxing gem of greenspace. Halifax has played home to a multitude of events over the years, including Easter egg hunts, political protests, and a speech by then-candidate Barack Obama to more than twenty-five thousand people. 


14 West Martin Street, 919-833-1091, 919-896-7063; kingsraleigh.com, neptunesparlour.com

Upstairs is one of North Carolina’s most prominent touring band venues, downstairs is one of DTR’s liveliest nightlife spots. 

Marbles Kids Museum

201 East Hargett Street, 919-834-4040, marbleskidsmuseum.org

Few cities in North Carolina (or the South) can say they have as special a playspace as Marbles. The two-story wonderland is full of rooms and stations to spark imaginations, expand STEM skills, explore art and construction, learn about plants, and dance around in an oversized aquarium. The IMAX theater, cafe, outdoor plaza, and color-saturated street-corner space have expanded Marbles’ playful footprint into an urban block party for kids.


300 South McDowell Street, Suite A, 919-825-1515, imurj.com

Behind Whiskey Kitchen, down a flight of stairs surrounded by colorful murals, lies a creative, collaborative space for emerging visual and performing artists. Imurj prides itself on its eclectic and inclusive nature, giving artists a platform for their talents.

North Carolina Museum of History

5 East Edenton Street, ncmeseumofhistory.org

Founded in 1902, the N.C. Museum of History tells the story of our state in a local, regional, national, and international context, drawing on artifacts and other historical materials. Did you know that the first American gold rush took place in Cabarrus County in 1799? You do now. 

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

11 West Jones Street, 919-707-9800, naturalsciences.org

The state’s oldest museum, the Museum of Natural Sciences focuses on the state and the South’s wildlife, agriculture, and geological history. Recently, it added an eighty-thousand-square-foot Nature Research Center to include more interactive science elements, including hands-on investigative labs, a three-story theater, and research-based labs. 

The Pour House Music Hall

224 South Blount Street, 919-821-1120, thepourhousemusichall.com

Since 1997, The Pour House has been DTR’s go-to for live music (and sometimes comedy) in an intimate space. The Local Band Local Beer series is a gem of the Triangle scene.  

Red Hat Amphitheatre

500 South McDowell Street, 919-996-8500, redhatamphitheater.com

The six-thousand-seat outdoor amphitheater in the heart of downtown has been the stage for funk legends Chic, country icon Dwight Yoakam, kid faves Kidz Bop, Icelandic avant-rockers Sigur Ros, and hundreds more over the past decade. The shimmer wall on the Raleigh Convention Center and the sounds of regular Amtrak and freight trains add to the sensorial experience.

Ruby Deluxe

415 South Salisbury Street, 919-900-8194, rubydeluxeraleigh.com

At downtown’s most animated nightlife hang, owners Tim Lemuel and Daniel Tomas have created an inclusive and lively venue that comes to life as the sun goes down. Goth nights, drag shows, and mainstay DJs LuxePosh and DNLTMS keep the sparkle dungeon alive and glittery. 

VAE Raleigh

309 West Martin Street, 919-828-7834, vaeraleigh.org

A four-thousand-square-foot nonprofit art gallery, VAE offers programs for emerging artists and provides a hub for the creative community. 

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