The capital of North Carolina and the largest city of the Research Triangle, Raleigh is the primary political and economic driver of the metro area. Indeed, business and politics are the main draws to Raleigh, which lacks the more trendy feel or active arts scene of Durham or Chapel Hill to the west. However, a concerted effort to expand the residential base and move events downtown has led to significantly expanded retail and restaurant options in the downtown core. Also, visitors will find many of the state's cultural institutions here, namely a major performing arts center downtown and three state museums, and a college town atmosphere in the neighborhood around the campus of North Carolina State University, the state's largest university.


Visitor information

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau operates the Raleigh Visitor Information Center. The Visitor Information Center (VIC) is located at 500 Fayetteville Street between the Raleigh Marriott City Center and The Raleigh Convention Center. Phone: +1 919-834-5900 / +1-800-849-8499. The VIC is open Monday thru Saturday, 9AM to 5PM and offers brochures, event calendars, coupons, maps, and other visitor information. Stop by and pick up a brochure or visit the website to view a visitor guide online or order one to be mailed before your trip.

Get in

By plane

By car

By train

By bus

Get around

Within the I-440 Beltline are mostly fashionable older neighborhoods and the NC State University area. The North Raleigh neighborhoods are aligned along the "spokes of the wheel"—major thoroughfares emanating from the I-440 Loop and passing through the northern edge of the much larger I-540 loop.

Downtown Raleigh provides easy travel and access through its grid of one-way streets. If you're just passing through, the major thoroughfare is Capital Boulevard (US 401), which splits into Dawson Street heading south and McDowell Street heading north. From the west, it is Hillsborough Street, interrupted midway by the state Capitol building. To the east, it continues as New Bern Avenue (US 64).

The I-440 Beltline was once denoted with "Inner" and "Outer" labels, but they have been phased out in favor of "East" and "West." I-440 West was previously the Outer Beltline, and I-440 East was previously the Inner Beltline. I-440's concurrency with I-40 through the souther portion of Raleigh has also been removed; therefore, the Beltline no longer loops back on itself.

Raleigh is known for particularly aggressive parking enforcement and towing, so be sure to follow all parking signs and rules. Most parking meters have been converted to electronic pay stations that accept coins and MasterCard/Visa. Most metered areas are only enforced on Mon-Fri from 8AM-5PM. Some parking garages are free on evenings and weekends as well, but "special event" rates are common during major downtown events regardless of the time or day.

By bus

For information on routes, schedules and fares, check GoTriangle.org, for a helpful trip planner.

Note that Triangle Transit passes ($4.50 for a 1-day pass) can also be used on CAT and buses in Durham and Cary. But the reverse is not true; CAT passes ($2 for 1-day) are only usable on CAT.

By taxi

There are 36 licensed taxi operators in Raleigh of varying quality. Spanish speakers will appreciate Velo Taxi +1 919 271-5719, Taxi Poly +1 919 538-1750, or Amigo taxi +1 919 862-6162.


Museum of Natural Sciences



North Carolina State Capital



Due to the large influx of residents from around the USA and the world as well as the large student population, there is a fairly large variety of cuisine available at a wide range of prices. And, being a Southern city, there are still plenty of options for traditional Southern food and a few modern interpretations of those traditional foods. Of course, no visit to North Carolina would be complete without trying some NC-style barbecue pork. There are actually two major styles in the state: Lexington-style (named after Lexington, NC) which uses only the pork shoulder and is served with a tomato and vinegar sauce and Eastern-style which uses the "whole hog" and is served with a vinegar-based sauce. Both styles are available around Raleigh and some restaurants include both types of sauce on the table.

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget <$10
Mid-range $10–30
Splurge $30+




Food trucks

Thanks to relaxed regulations first in Durham and later in Raleigh, the Triangle area has a lively food truck scene with a wide variety of cuisines available in street food form from burgers and pizza to Chinese dumplings and Belgian waffles, and of course, barbecue. Many have since expanded to brick and mortar locations as well and a few popular restaurants have launched their own trucks. At lunchtime, trucks can usually be found near office parks with few restaurants nearby or on college campuses (there is almost always at least one truck serving weekday lunch on NC State's Centennial Campus). In the evening they often serve dinner at local breweries (see Drink below). Downtown Raleigh hosts occasional food truck "rodeos" featuring over 50 trucks from as far as Charlotte. See their website for upcoming dates and links to truck websites. A partial list of trucks that occasionally serve Raleigh is given below.


Southwest Raleigh, particularly the area along Hillsborough Street, resembles a college town, so there are plenty of places to find a drink. What is more, the city has a number of microbreweries. For cheaper places, try near the campus of North Carolina State University on Hillsborough Street. (A scene in "Bull Durham" was filmed in Mitch's Tavern.) The downtown area known as Glenwood South has a few more upscale bars and is located between Glenwood Ave and Harrington Street and between Peace Street and Hillsborough Street just northwest of downtown. The City Market area around Moore Square and the area around Fayetteville Street also offer a good mix. Those not from the American South should be sure to order "sweet tea". Sweet tea, along with Sundrop and Cheerwine, has long been considered a native beverage, and is served in most restaurants. The sweetness will vary in accordance with the locale, but is nevertheless much sweeter than any tea served elsewhere in the nation.


Downtown, there are three major hotels: the Clarion, Marriott City Center, and the Sheraton.

Stay safe

Raleigh crime is below average for an American city of its size, but one still must be cautious and intelligent. In particular, stick to the busy and well-lit parts of downtown after dark, and avoid the neighborhoods immediately south or east of downtown after dark. The NC State University campus and vicinity are safe and heavily trafficked during the day and evening, but use the university's public safety escort service in the early hours of the morning. Throughout Raleigh, you should think before using an automated teller machine (ATM) after dark, unless it's located in a mall or other heavily travelled, well-lit area.




Go next

Routes through Raleigh

Greensboro Cary  W  E  END
Washington, D.C. Rocky Mount  N  S  Cary Savannah
Durham Cary  W  E  Benson Wilmington
Richmond Henderson  N  S  Cary Columbia
Lexington Cary  W  E  Zebulon Nags Head
Greensboro Durham  W  E  Selma Morehead City
END  W  E  Zebulon Greenville

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