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Downtown Raleigh Routes: 1-Mile Self-Guided Tour

Interested in exploring Downtown Raleigh but not sure where to start? Want to get your steps in while learning local history at the same time? Start here with our 1-mile walking or biking route covering art, history, and local shopping in the heart of downtown.

Start your 1-mile route at Moore Square and head to the NE corner of the park at E Hargett St and S Blount St. 

Over the years, Moore Square has served as a popular spot for music, art, and events. The park is one of the city's original public squares. It went under a $13 million renovation and reopened in 2019.

Start walking west along E Hargett St.

E Hargett Street has served as a retail corridor in Downtown Raleigh over the years. Many of today's retailers are located in historic buildings with storefronts that have hosted many different types of retailers over the past 120 years. The Hargett St. corridor has a long history as a center of commerce for Raleigh's African American Community, as it was known as Black Main Street from the 1910s to 1960s.

Notice Raleigh Popsicle Co. on your right in a historic building constructed circa 1914 and originally home to Raleigh Furniture Store, later Kimbrell's Furniture. Raleigh Popsicle Co. represents one of the many small businesses in Downtown Raleigh  - over 93% of businesses are locally-owned. 

Continue down Hargett Street until you get to the intersection at S Wilmington Street. 

To your right is Sitti restaurant, housed in the Heilig Levine building, built in 1870. Over the years, it has been the home to two hotels, a furniture store, grocery store and the Heilig and Levine Furniture business from 1936-mid 1990's.

 photo credit: Sitti Instagram

Diagonally, across the street, 20 E Hargett St was built in 1910 and was home for 73 years to a dress shop, Goodman's Ladies Shop (1933 -1989). In 1989, Daisy Harris, who began as a maid to the store's original owners and then became a clerk, bought the store and renamed it The Ladies' Dress Shop. Now it's home to Munjo Munjo.

The Morning Times located at 8-10 Hargett St was built in 1890s and was home to one of Raleigh's first toy stores. Later on, the Pizer Brothers opened a shoe store here. Look down at the entrance to see the original tiles from those stores. 

Pause at the corner of E Hargett St. and Fayetteville St.

To your right is the Masonic Temple Building. Completed in September of 1908, the building took over a year to construct and was North Carolina's first skyscraper constructed using reinforced concrete.

Continue along E Hargett St and cross Fayetteville St. Walk one block to the corner of Hargett and Salisbury.   

Soon, Copperline Plant Co. will re-open in the Odd Fellows Temple and Office Building built in 1924 alongside NASHONA, Quercus, and Curate. The large windows in this historic storefront are perfect for the natural light required to host a house plant store.

photo credit: NC Archives 

Across the street you'll find Death & Taxes.  

Constructed in 1907, this building first served as a coffin shop opening just in time to handle the influx of victims from the Spanish Flu epidemic that raged through the city for five years. The building evolved into an undertaking and mortuary company, a bank, and eventually, Death & Taxes restaurant by chefs Ashley Christensen and Lauren Ivey. The restaurant's name is a nod to the building's unique history. You'll find words coined by Benjamin Franklin – “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” – are painted on the front door.

Walk down a the block to 107 Hargett St. 

107 W Hargett Street was formerly home to Father & Son Antiques (now located down not far away at 302 N West St) and now houses Fast Med Urgent Care offices after a complete restoration of the building. Now called Hargett West, the adaptive reuse project includes a restored facade and two additional stories with a 4th floor balcony and 5th floor terrace. Parts of the original painted hardwood floors were saved to create artwork (by Thomas Sayre) now hanging on the wall and visible through the ground floor windows. Learn more about Hargett West on our virtual tour here lead by Clearscapes architecture and design firm.Photo credit: Clearscapes

Continue for another block until you reach the intersection of W Hargett and S McDowell St. Across the street you'll see Nash Square. 

Surrounded by some of Raleigh’s oldest oak and magnolia trees, Nash Square is one of two original squares in Downtown Raleigh continuing to fulfill its purpose as park space. The park features in its center a bronze sculpture depicting four firefighters atop a hexagonal cement slab. The sculpture is surrounded by a low, segmented brick wall inscribed with the names of firefighters lost in the line of duty. In addition, you'll find “Berkeley the Squirrel”, a newly installed sculpture constructed from a 90-foot oak tree that was removed from the park in 2019. Artist Corey Lancaster created Berkeley out of the 85 inch wide tree thought to be about 120 years old. Berkeley is name for The Berkeley Cafe formerly located across the street from the tree's original location in Nash Square (now located at 428 S Dawson St.).


Walk south on S McDowell St. and stop when you see Whiskey Kitchen. 

Whiskey Kitchen, a bar and restaurant, describes itself as “one part neighborhood bar and one part Southern kitchen”. For years, the building was used as an automotive shop and the owners held onto that history. The restaurant has an open kitchen to give it a workshop feel, and garage style doors that are pulled up during warmer weather months. 

This is the halfway point of the route and a great spot to have a drink or snack, and enjoy the weather on their large patio. 

 photo credit: Albert Barden Collection, NC State Archives 


Continue south on S McDowell St. Take a left on W Davie St. After you pass the open parking lot on your right, look at the side of the building beside it to see one of DTR's many murals. 

Artist Taylor White’s “Abstracted Motion” mural is one of the world's first augmented reality murals. Taylor painted this 40-by-60-foot piece featuring five figures in shades of purple and blue, striking an array of poses. When viewed with the accompanying Android mobile-phone app “Abstracted Motion," the mural transforms into a three-dimensional image. Note that this is an Android-only app. 

In total, there are 20+ pieces of art along the 1-mile route from murals to artistic utility boxes. Can you spot them all? 


Walk up to the corner of Fayetteville St and Davie St.

As you approach Fayetteville St, Sir Walter Apartments will be on your left. Did you know a bar from the roaring 20s, possibly a speakeasy, was once housed in its basement?. The main entrance and stairwell to the tavern had been completely closed up behind drywall, leaving the historic insides sealed away..In 2020, crews cut a hole in the dry wall, revealing the old wooden doorway to the tavern. The Hotel Sir Walter attracted political leaders and local elite, opening in 1924 and serving as a hotel for almost 40 years. Today the Sir Walter Apartments is housing for senior citizens. 

 photo credit: NC Archives

Before taking a left to go north on Fayetteville St, cross the street to see a recent mural by local artist, Gina Franco. 

Gina Franco’s mural design honors essential workers by depicting the many essential and frontline workers who have worked throughout the pandemic. The illustrated letters spell out “Thank You” and each letter represents an essential worker. The mural was completed in November 2020 as part of DRA's public art initiatives. 


Head North on Fayetteville St for one long block until reaching W Martin St. 

Considered Downtown Raleigh’s “Main Street." Fayetteville Street has been a site for community events, parades, and festivals since the 1800s. In 1977, Fayetteville Street was converted to a car-free pedestrian mall but was reopened to traffic again in 2006. Now the street is lined with a variety of businesses and buildings including City of Raleigh Museum, The Flavor Hills, Rolley, Anchor Bar, Element Gastropub, The Big Easy, Zenith, and many more. 

photo credit: NC Museum of History 

Take a right on W Martin St. You'll walk by Carroll's Kitchen and Pop-Up Shops at Martin Street on your left.

Carroll’s Kitchen is a nonprofit, social enterprise restaurant creating opportunities for women leaving homelessness by empowering them with job training at the restaurant, life skills, and even housing. Pop-Up Shops at Martin Street is DRA's pop-up retail space + incubator program for minority-and-women-owned businesses

 photo credit: Carroll's Kitchen 

Walk across S Wilmington St.

You'll see Beasley's Chicken + Honey, another restaurant by Chef Ashley Christensen, on the corner, in what was once a Winn-Dixie grocery store. 

When you reach Moore Square again, you've achieved the 1 mile mark!

Treat yourself to dessert or coffee from nearby spots like Bittersweet, 42 & Lawrence, or Amorino Gelato. If you’re looking for a meal, check out nearby restaurants here