15 Landmarks in Raleigh, NC, Not to Miss

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Raleigh, North Carolina, has a rich history and is home to an array of landmarks

Having been chosen as the North Carolina state capital in 1788, it's no surprise that Raleigh's over 230 years of history have made it one of the most historically rich cities in the US.

Named after Sir Walter Raleigh, a sponsor of the Roanoke Colony, the city today is home to not only historical sites but also places of cultural importance. If you're planning a visit or just want to know more about the City of Oaks, keep reading to discover 15 of the most significant landmarks in Raleigh, NC!

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15 Raleigh, NC, Landmarks

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A lake with a pedal boat on it surrounded by trees
Pullen Park is the oldest public park in Raleigh

Pullen Park

Opened in 1887, Pullen Park covers 66.4 acres and is the oldest public park in Raleigh. It was also the first public park in North Carolina.

The landmark features many attractions, including the Pullen Park Carousel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Part of the East Coast Greenway, a trail connecting Maine to Florida, also runs through the park.

Historic Oak View County Park

Historic Oak View County Park is an interesting historical place to see. The centerpiece of the 27-acre site is a Greek Revival farmhouse constructed in 1855.

During a visit, you can tour the house and see exhibits, including those covering the stories of people who were sadly enslaved on the farmstead in the 19th century. Due to the historical significance of the landmark, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

A wooden mill next to a small waterfall with green trees in the background
Historic Yates Mill County Park is home to a gristmill from 1756

Historic Yates Mill County Park

Another park to visit that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places is Historic Yates Mill County Park. This landmark spans 174 acres and features a gristmill that dates to 1756. Along with seeing the restored 18th-century mill, you can learn about the site's history at a museum, follow scenic nature trails, spot wildlife, and much more.

Mordecai Historic Park

A fascinating North Carolina fact is that three US presidents have come from the state, including Andrew Jonhson. The 17th president of the United States was born in Raleigh in 1808 at Mordecai House.

This residence was constructed in 1785 and is now one of the sites found within Mordecai Historic Park. Other points of interest on the grounds include the Ellen Mordecai Garden and St. Mark's Chapel.

One of the historical landmarks in Raleigh, NC, is the Joel Lane Museum House
The Joel Lane Museum House is one of many historical landmarks in Raleigh, NC

Joel Lane Museum House

As the oldest dwelling in Wake County, the Joel Lane Museum House has to be included on a list of top historical sites in Raleigh, NC. This Georgian-style home was constructed in 1769 and is named after its owner Joel Lane, also known as the "Father of Raleigh."

Today, the restored property houses exhibits on Raleigh's history from the 18th century. You can also learn more about Joel Lane and life through the Revolutionary War and the first years of the United States.

Moore Square

On a nice day, going to Moore Square is an excellent idea. However, this tranquil urban park is more than just an escape from the bustle of the city; it's also a historical landmark.

The square dates to 1792 and is one of the first parks to have been built in Raleigh. When visiting, you can hang out in the fresh air, attend events, and shop at the Moore Square Market, among many other activities.

A brick wall with a sign that says "Food Hall, Morgan Street"
Morgan Street Food Hall houses many vendors that sell an array of dishes

Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall has become a much-loved local landmark since its opening in 2018, and visiting is definitely one of the best things to do in Raleigh!

At the food hall, you can get sweet and savory dishes from a range of vendors, with many types of food on offer, including sushi, empanadas, and treats like macarons or rolled ice cream. If you enjoy this site, you'll also want to visit Historic City Market, which opened in 1914.

Pope House Museum

Another interesting North Carolina landmark in Raleigh is the Pope House Museum. This attraction is located in an early 20th-century home owned by Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope. Pope was an acclaimed doctor and the only African-American to run for mayor in the Southern states during the Jim Crow era.

At the museum, you can learn more about Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope's life and work and see an array of artifacts, some of which date to the mid-19th century.

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A brick house next to a path, trees, and flower beds with tulips
North Carolina Executive Mansion has been home to the state governor since 1891

North Carolina Executive Mansion

The North Carolina Executive Mansion is one of the most notable Raleigh, NC, points of interest. Completed in 1891, the Queen Anne-style property was constructed to be the official residence of the governor of North Carolina and remains as such today. Although home to the governor, part of the property and gardens are open for tours.

North Carolina State Capitol

Raleigh is the state's capital city and, as such, is home to the North Carolina State Capitol. This beautiful Greek Revival building was constructed in 1833 and remained in use until 1963.

Unlike most US cities, the State Capitol building is not the current seat of government. The North Carolina General Assembly instead meets at the North Carolina State Legislative Building, and the State Capitol now houses a museum, although it's currently under renovation.

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A globe structure attached to a building with glass windows next to a street
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has exhibits on many fascinating topics

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Founded over 140 years ago in 1879, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences remains a popular attraction for all ages; a trip to the cultural landmark has to be on your North Carolina bucket list!

Exhibits cover science topics like paleontology, ecology, and the human body. Notably, the museum is one of the oldest in North Carolina and one of the largest natural history museums in the Southeastern United States.

Marbles Kids Museum

Are you looking for things to do in Raleigh with kids? If so, the Marbles Kids Museum is a landmark you'll want to check out!

Located in Downtown Raleigh, this interactive children's museum opened in 1999 and has an array of fun exhibits. Kids can play in a pretend city, build block structures, learn about gardening, and much more. There's also an IMAX theater showing movies and documentaries.

A set of three arch sculptures on the grass under a blue sky with some cloud
You can see unique sculptures in the gardens at the North Carolina Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of Art and Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park

The Raleigh nickname, Smithsonian of the South, was created due to the array of museums in the city. One of the most popular is the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Founded in 1947, the museum is now one of the city's most famous landmarks dedicated to the arts. Spread over 40 galleries, the attraction houses a varied collection of works from across the globe.

Multiple eras are also covered, with pieces dating from Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome through the Renaissance and to the 20th century. The museum additionally has a 164-acre green space, the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, which showcases unique sculptures.

William B. Umstead State Park

Spread over an expansive 5,599 acres, William B. Umstead State Park is a haven for lovers of the outdoors. The landmark was established in 1937 and features miles of hiking and biking trails, camping sites, and a lake for paddle boarding or kayaking.

You can also see the Piedmont Beech Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark that protects a mixed mesophytic forest.

A brick building with green details next to a green sign that says "Chocolate"
You can tour the Videri Chocolate Factory before purchasing some sweet treats

Videri Chocolate Factory

Videri Chocolate Factory is one of the most unique attractions in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although a newer landmark in the city, opening at the end of 2011, it's notable as being a one-of-a-kind spot that quickly became loved by locals and tourists alike.

The "bean-to-bar" chocolate factory uses high-quality cocoa beans and organic ingredients to make high-end chocolate on-site, including bars, truffles, and drinking chocolate. Along with purchasing some treats, you can tour the factory to see how the products get made!

In Conclusion

This list of cultural, natural, and historical sites in Raleigh, North Carolina, should have given you an idea of all the unique places there are to see. When in the NC state capital, you can go to museums, hike in stunning parks, visit landmarks dating back hundreds of years, and so much more; Raleigh has something for everyone!

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell FORMER WRITER Currently based in Canada, Alli has also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and traveled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She loves finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever she goes.

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