by Alex Palmer | March 21, 2019

With a lively downtown, a burgeoning food scene and lots of outdoor offerings, North Carolina's state capitol is a great spot for groups. Named for Queen Elizabeth I's one-time favorite, Sir Walter Raleigh, the city is now known for its contemporary Southern vibe. 

We've put together the ultimate Raleigh itinerary -- a complete guide to the best things all squeezed into a three-day time span. When you visit Raleigh, N.C., the following are the essential spots to see:

A Guide to Spending 3 days in Raleigh 

DAY 1: Exploring the Great Outdoors

11:00 A.M.
 Shake the hand that feeds you at the State Farmers Market -- 75 acres of indoor and outdoor specialty shops, produce sellers and mouthwatering eateries. After grabbing a bite, you can head across the street to Dorothea Dix Park to stroll through hills, valleys and old-growth oaks before finding a spot to enjoy a picnic with a view of the cityscape in the distance. 

1:00 P.M.

If the above isn't enough of the outdoors for you, make your way to William B. Umstead State Park, whose 13 miles of trails are ideal for jogging or cycling; 22 miles of hiking trails take you further into the woods. If it's an especially nice day, rent a rowboat, paddleboard or canoe and get out onto the park's 55-acre Big Lake. You can even bring a fishing rod along to catch some bass or bluegill! 

5:00 P.M.
Don't miss out on a tour of the city's craft breweries. Take part in the Raleigh Beer Trail and sample the goods from some the city's more than 25 participating purveyors. Get your trail passport (available through Visit Raleigh) stamped as you go to earn prizes.

DAY 2: Savor the Taste of Culture

The North Carolina Museum of Art presents an impressive permanent collection and rotating exhibits.

11:00 A.M.
The North Carolina Museum of Art presents an impressive permanent collection and rotating exhibits, and features several private event spaces. But what really sets this venue apart is its 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, where visitors can stroll among monumental artworks in the largest such greensward in the United States. 

1:00 P.M.
At the North Carolina Museum of History, some 150,000 artifacts give visitors a deeper understanding of this state's past, going back 14,000 years. A number of unique spaces at the venue are ideal for private events of up to 300 guests.

8:00 P.M.
This city proudly touts its music scene, so be sure to make time for a concert at one of its 80-plus venues, whether a major headliner at PNC Arena, acts of all genres at the always energetic Lincoln Theatre or a local up-and-comer at one of Raleigh's clubs, pubs and dives.

DAY 3: The Restaurants and Rest Stops of Raleigh

The Transfer Co. Food Hall  recently opened in Raleigh's Olde East neighborhood. Photography: Transfer Co. Food Hall/visitRaleigh.com

10:00 A.M.
Start the day with breakfast and craft coffee at the massive Transfer Co. Food Hall, recently opened in Raleigh's Olde East neighborhood. Meant as a gathering place for restaurateurs, vendors and creative types, the 43,000-square-foot converted warehouse offers a wood-fired bagel shop, an empanada spot and many other dining options for all tastes. 

4:00 P.M.
A few blocks west of the Raleigh Convention Center, visitors will encounter the high-energy Warehouse District. These six blocks of red-brick buildings formerly served as industrial spaces but now hold galleries, boutiques, restaurants and nightlife spots.

7:00 P.M.
Shop at the Raleigh Denim Workshop, tour the Videri Chocolate Factory or Crank Arm Brewing, then grab a bite at one of the many eateries, including Carolina-style barbecue at The Pit, modern Mexican at Jose and Sons, or Southern classics at Whiskey Kitchen.