Raleigh, N.C., is home to seven different areas, each with its own personality and stand-out things to do. Plus there are 11 charming towns in the Raleigh area to explore!
North Carolina’s capital city offers a great combination of good food, museums, public attractions and Black culture.
If you’re looking to travel this holiday season, drive a little over two hours to find Raleigh’s events and attractions perfect for a weekend getaway. From a walk around the park, to going out with friends or watching a college football game, Raleigh has all sorts of things to do – and the options only grow during the holidays.
We’ve rounded up some events, cool eateries, and fun shopping experiences that Raleigh has to offer during the most wonderful time of the year.
Here are some things to do that will definitely get you in a magical mood this holiday season:
Raleigh Christmas Parade
The Raleigh Christmas Parade has been an annual tradition since 1944. This must-see parade is the largest Christmas parade between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. This year, it’s scheduled from 9:30 am to noon on Saturday, November 20, beginning on Hillsborough Street and ending on Lenoir Street.
visitRaleigh.com has detailed information about the parade.
North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival-Cary
This festival offers a cultural experience and creative photo-ops perfect for your Instagram feed. Just 12 miles west of downtown Raleigh, the festival will take place from November 19 until January 9 at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary.
Presenting all new displays this year, it’s open every night from 6 to 10 pm. On Thursdays through Sundays visitors can enjoy the Twilight Ticket Experience which provides viewing of the lanterns during the “Golden Hour,” which begins at 4:30 pm.
WRAL Nights of Lights
WRAL will host its second annual Nights of Lights event this year at Dorothea Dix Park. Born during COVID-19, the event offers a socially distanced way to see a light show by allowing visitors to stay in their cars. The drive-through light show begins on November 20 and runs through December 24.
A few more events to look out for include Cary’s Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, the Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting, the North Hills Tree Lighting and First Night Raleigh. Look out for details being released any day now! Follow Visit Raleigh’s Facebook page for announcement and holiday event roundups.
Like any city its size, Raleigh has a cornucopia of fine restaurants. But one of the most exciting developments, especially in the downtown area, has been a growth in the number of food halls and mobile food trucks — places where visitors can sample a variety of ethnic and traditional foods.
Here are some foodie spots well worth the visit:
Morgan Street Food Hall
Located in downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District, Morgan Street Food Hall has rapidly emerged as a hot destination for locals and visitors. With about 20 menus under one roof, it features an eclectic mix of local eateries and food retailers. USA TODAY named it one of the top 10 best new food halls in the country. Aside from the food, we also found it to be a great place to people watch
Transfer Co. Food Hall
Housed in the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shops, Transfer Co. Food Hall is 50,000 square feet of renovated warehouse space devoted to local food producers, restaurants and vendors. You can dine in, take out or have it delivered and it’s an easy walk from downtown.
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles is a staple in the Raleigh area. Back in the pre-Covid days, getting a table at this popular restaurant could be a challenge, but a challenge well worth the wait. This Black-owned restaurant has perfected this exciting food combo with creative dishes such as The Carolina Cockerel, which includes three chicken wings and a waffle with peach and apricot “shmear.”
Oak City Fish & Chips
What started as a Raleigh-based food truck back in 2015 has blossomed into one of the area’s go-to spots for seafood. In addition to its truck, Oak City Fish & Chips now has two brick-and-mortar locations — one just southeast of downtown and another inside Morgan Street Food Hall. In a 2018 interview with Spectrum News 1, owner and Raleigh native Isaac B. Horton said the secret to his success lies in his secret blend of spices.
If you haven’t finished or started your holiday shopping, Raleigh offers a modern and vibrant shopping scene so you can take home a small piece of the city. Here are some of our favorite Black-owned shops.
Black Friday Market
Black Friday Market is a Black-owned retail department store that offers a range of products from local, Black-owned businesses and creators who don’t have their own physical retail spaces. The market has clothes, shoes, earrings, body and hair care, art, food and so much more, all from Black businesses.
Anne’s Apothecary is a Black-owned skincare business located in downtown Raleigh. Designed for the conscientious millennial, their products are all-natural and plant-based to reduce the use of toxic hygiene products.
Good Trip Ink
The owner of Good Trip Ink, Chris Evans, has an art gallery where he sells paintings to customers in addition to providing tattoos. Evans creates intricately designed art and can help your vision come to life through his custom paintings.