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Going to College in Downtown Raleigh

Over 42,000 college students live within 3 miles of Downtown Raleigh with 3 distinct higher-learning institutions inside the downtown boundary alone: Shaw University, William Peace University, and Campbell Law School

Downtown Raleigh Alliance wants to welcome all of you Bears, Camels, and Pacers to the community. With this guide, we hope to help you make the most out of your college experience downtown as you settle in and get to know your home for the next few years. 

College can be an isolating experience for some, especially in the beginning, so we hope this resource will help you find ways to connect with the amazing people and businesses that make Downtown Raleigh such a great place to be. 

If you don’t have a car on campus, no problem! This guide features Downtown Raleigh businesses and must-visit spots within walking, biking, or scooting distance from your campus. One of the best things about being in proximity to downtown is the sheer amount of small businesses, entertainment venues, arts & culture destinations, and more right at your fingertips. 

Stay in the know about upcoming events, new businesses, giveaways, must-try bites, and more by subscribing to our weekly newsletter or following us on Instagram.

Loving the DTR life? Tag us in your pictures #DowntownRaleigh for a chance to get featured.

🐻 Shaw University | Moore Square District

Transfer Co. Food Hall 

lf your group of friends can’t decide where to eat, Transfer has 6+ restaurants with plenty of space to socialize along with their extensive list of fun monthly events.

Sir Walter Coffee 

Sir Walter Coffee is open later than your average coffee shop for those long study sessions and the cafe regularly hosts live music on First Fridays. 

Moore Square

Take advantage of the Moore Square’s free activities and events hosted weekly. Did we mention there’s free WIFI throughout the park?


Artspace is a hub for arts & culture with rotating art exhibitions, creative classes, community engagement opportunities, and special events.

Copperline Plant Co. 

Spruce up your dorm room with some lovely greenery from Copperline Plants.

🐴 William Peace University | Seaboard + Person Street District

Layered Croissanterie 

Specializing in both sweet and savory croissants, you’ll never get bored of their ever-changing menu of new items each month.

Escazu Chocolates

If coffee isn’t your thing, Escazu Chocolates offers a selection of artisan hot chocolate drinks to sip while you get some work done.

Hunky Dory 

Discover new (and old) music at this quirky record store with a full bar and seating to chat with friends about your favorite finds. 

So & So Books

Escape into a work of fiction or further your studies with a non-fiction book from this small, local bookstore. 

Edge of Urge + Unlikely Professionals

These sibling stores specialize in all things trendy such as fun accessories and novelty gifts.

🐪 Campbell Law School | Capital District

State of Beer Bottle + Sandwich Shop 

State of Beer is more than just a quality lunch spot, it’s a space for community connection hosting regular events, markets, and fundraisers.

321 Coffee

Downtown’s newest coffee shop has plentiful outdoor seating in the Block[83] courtyard to study for your next exam or take a much-deserved break.

Side Quest Game Lounge and Bar 

Gather your friends and build a campaign to conquer worlds from the comfort of this locally-owned game lounge. 

Original Selfie Museum 

You can step up your Instagram content and capture memories that will last a lifetime using Original Selfie Museum’s 12+ interactive photo backdrops.

Father & Son Antiques

If you’re a fan of mid-century styles, Father and Son has all the second-hand clothing, decor, and furniture a vintage-lover could ask for.

Additional resources 

A map of Downtown Raleigh’s public art

Where to buy clothing & accessories

Arts, culture, & entertainment venues

Coffee shops and study spots downtown

Volunteer opportunities in Downtown Raleigh

Popular annual festivals/events in Downtown Raleigh

  • Hopscotch Music Festival  – September 8 - 10, 2022
  • IBMA Bluegrass Live  – September 30 - October 1, 2022
  • First Friday Raleigh – The 1st Friday of every month
  • Moore Square Market – Sundays thru October 30, 2022
  • Illuminate Art Walk – Early December 2022 thru early January 2023
  • First Night Raleigh – December 31, 2022 
  • Artsplosure: Raleigh Arts Festival – Spring 2023 

Downtown Safety Ambassadors 

The Downtown Raleigh Ambassadors are on the job 7 days a week and are trained to ensure that all downtown visitors have a welcoming, safe experience.

All of our Ambassadors proactively engage the community by providing the following services:

  • Direction and way-finding assistance
  • Motorist assistance
  • Safety escorts to and from any location in downtown
  • Special event safety and information
  • Quality of life assistance and outreach
  • Aggressive panhandling and suspicious activity observation and reporting

To request assistance from an Ambassador, please call the hotline at 919-368-7962

Getting Around Downtown Raleigh

Alternative modes of transportation: E-scooters, bikes, and buses 

Parking in Downtown Raleigh