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10 Things to Do This Summer in Raleigh, NC

Need something to do this summer? We’ve got you covered! We put together a list of 10 awesome activities in the Raleigh-area to try out this summer. With so much to do around town, there's sure to be something for everyone!

1.       William B. Umstead State Park - N.C.’s most visited state park maintains its status as a peaceful and affordable getaway thanks to its sheer size. With more than 5,000 acres of forest, trails, and lakes, this natural oasis is a must-do destination for outdoor enthusiasts—hikers, cyclists, horseback riders and canoeists included!

2.       North Carolina Museum of Art - One of the most visited attractions in the entire state (and ranked by Insider as one of the top 25 museums in the country!), the North Carolina Museum of Art and its permanent galleries are open to the public free of charge. Visitors would also be wise to stroll through the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, with its monumental public art installations and miles of multi-use trails weaving throughout.

3.       Lake Johnson Park - Located near North CarolinaState University, Lake Johnson Park is a popular spot for students and professionals to get some exercise—a paved, three-mile greenway loop, plus two miles of unpaved trails, draw lots of joggers and walkers (and dogs, too!). The lake itself spans more than 150 acres and offers a wide variety of boats for rent. Jon boats, canoes, kayaks, sunfish sailboats and stand-up paddleboards can be rented seven days per week.

4.       North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences - If you love museums and are fascinated with the natural world, you’ll want to experience one of the Southeast’s most valuable cultural resources. With four floors of exhibits—some including live animals—there’s plenty to learn and be amazed by. All exhibits can easily be explored via self-guided tours. 

5.       North Carolina Museum of History - A literal hop, skip and jump across a walkway from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North CarolinaMuseum of History—founded in 1902—allows visitors to access more than 14,000 years and 150,000 artifacts of N.C. history in a dynamic and immersive setting. Artifacts range from a full-size replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer to the lunch counter from a 1960 sit-in in Salisbury, N.C. (plus much, much more!)

6.       Splash pads and spraygrounds - Nothing cools your family off faster on a hot summer day than a public splash pad or sprayground. Luckily, there are several here you can happily wade into at little to no charge!

7.       JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University - Stroll through 10 acres of floral beauty at this nationally-acclaimed garden with one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants. With more than 5,000 plants collected from all over the world on display, you catch blooms any time of the year. Nearly 20 different gardens can be explored, each with a unique theme and space—a Japanese garden, a butterfly garden, a rooftop terrace filled with heat-tolerant plants and more. 

8.       First Friday - Art lovers rejoice! First Friday draws thousands downtown for a free, self-guided tour of cutting edge cultural hot spots—local art galleries, art studios, alternative art venues, and museums. Tour stops can feature music, a variety of creative works, wine samples, hor's d’ oeuvres and more.

9.       State Farmers Market - The State Farmers Market, one of the best and most modern markets in the U.S., boasts 75 acres of indoor and outdoor vendor space. Sample and shop some of the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats, and gift products from across the state year-round. Also check out the specialty gifts shops, plus the ever-popular State Farmers Market Restaurant (don't miss the biscuits!).

10.   Free live music series - With the most live music in the state happening right here in Raleigh, you can find a show to enjoy almost every day of the year. Best part? You can catch many of them for free, from the Midtown Beach Music Series in North Hills (summer), to Wake Forest’s Six Sundays in Spring (spring), to Beer & Banjos at Raleigh Times Bar (every Tues.) You can find a current schedule of live music events here.

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