Raleigh Travel Guide

Raleigh, North Carolina, is a city of nearly half a million and one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States. The seat of Wake County and the state capital, Raleigh occupies a sprawling 142 square miles. It is often referred to as “the City of Oaks” for its abundant downtown oak trees, but it has many other natural and historic tourist attractions as well.


At the outset of the American War for Independence, New Bern was capital of North Carolina, but that city was easily raided by the British because it was too close to the sea. Therefore, a new city was planned and established to be the new state capital, in the central part of the state. That city was named “Raleigh” after the famous British explorer and colonizer Sir Walter Raleigh. It was 1788 when the “Raleigh project” commenced, and after the war, it became the permanent capital in 1792.

Things to see and do in Raleigh

Tour the nearby Clemmons Educational State Forest. This 800-plus acre nature reserve will introduce you to North Carolinian plant and animal species through exhibits and firsthand experience. You can also hike the nature trails, and don’t be surprised to hear the audio tours on “Talking Trees” and “Talking Rocks” Trails.

North Carolina State Capitol Building - Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina State Capitol Building in Raleigh.

Visit Historic Yates Mill County Park, where you can see an old gristmill dating from 1756, a museum on the history of mills, and a surrounding wildlife refuge. The museum also covers the region’s natural history.

Tour the JC Raulston Arboretum, where you can see some 6,000 varieties of plants, including magnolia trees, oaks, holly, and “heavenly bamboo.” Exhibits include a rose garden, a Japanese garden, a winter garden, and much more.

Tour the Nature Exploration Center of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, as do over a million other tourists every year. Exhibits cover the whole state of North Carolina, region by region, from mountains to seashore. There are even exhibits on what is under the sea and under ground in North Carolina.

Veteran's Monument – Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina Veteran’s Monument located on grounds of the state capitol.

Stop by at the North Carolina Museum of History, where you can learn of the “Story of North Carolina,” from the earliest times up to modern times, and about the agricultural, military, and sports history of the state.

Also see the City of Raleigh Museum, where photos, artifacts, and exhibits focus on the development of Raleigh. You will learn many interesting things about the city’s past.

Climate conditions

Raleigh has a “humid subtropical” climate. Its summers are hot and humid, while its winters are short and relatively mild. The city does, however, get six inches of snow per year, along with sleet and freezing rain. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.