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Free Things To Do in Downtown Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh is a great place to stroll around the streets and discover new restaurants, shops and activities. If you're looking to explore, here are some free things to do while visiting Downtown. 

Festivals and Events


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Each First Friday of the month, local art galleries, museums and exhibitors stay open late to celebrate the vibrant art and creative community in Downtown Raleigh. Check out the map to plan your next First Friday adventure.

DRA hosts an event calendar that is open to the public and lists all sorts of festivals and events happening in Downtown Raleigh. Not all are free, but the majority of street festivals are open to the public and downtown businesses offer promotions and special events.

The Moore Square Market offers free samples, free live music, and free fun. Each Wednesday until October 16, the market will be open to the public from 4pm-7pm.



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One of the best features of North Carolina is free admission to most museums! Downtown has plenty to offer with the North Carolina Museum of HistoryNC Museum of Natural Resources and Nature Research Center, the City of Raleigh Museum, CAM Raleigh, or the Pope House Museum

Historic Sites


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Raleigh was established as the state capital on North Carolina in 1788, so you can imagine, there are plenty of historical sites to be seen. Some highlights are the State Capitol, completed in 1840, the Executive Mansion which was completed over 40 years later and Shaw University, the first historically black university in the Southern US was founded in 1865.

Parks and Outdoor Spaces


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From the original squares to world-class greenspace, Downtown offers plenty of options to get outside. While Moore Square is still under construction, you can visit Nash Square to see the historic Firefighters Memorial or hang out on a bench to catch up on some reading. Chavis Park offers a community center, walking tracks and an historic carousel. Right outside of downtown, Dorthea Dix Park has a lot of upcoming changes to turn it into a world-class adventure. Currently, the grassy hills are perfect for picnics, Frisbee games or instagramming sunflowers. Check out the plans for the future of the park to see what's coming. 

Mural Hunting 


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It seems, each week, there's a new mural in Downtown Raleigh. They are scattered throughout each district. The City of Raleigh commissioned a set of sidewalk murals that can be found on this map, or you can use the Raleigh Murals Project map to help you find some of the options. Be sure to use the hashtag #downtownraleigh on your social media posts.