Starting a new year means that there are some exciting events coming up in the Raleigh-Durham area, a reminder that a key reason people move to the Triangle is because of the high quality of life here. Here are top things to do in Raleigh in the winter.
There are tons of things to do in Raleigh in the winter time. The Triangle continues to attract newcomers because the Research Triangle is a great center for technological innovation creating high skill, good paying jobs. But it takes more than a solid job base to keep people in the region. It also requires a good stock of available housing, and plenty of cultural, social, and recreational amenities that appeal to area residents and visitors alike.
And on that score, the Raleigh-Durham area is no slouch.
Downtown Raleigh is a booming metropolis for good reason. It offers a big city feel combined with plenty of Southern charm, the best in modern conveniences with beautiful historic preservation. And best of all, Raleigh has some fine long-time institutions that are well worth discovering if you’re new to the city or planning your first visit.
But keep in mind that Raleigh is also the host city for some amazing special events – and not just during peak travel times like summer or the holidays. In fact, there are some enticing events coming up in January and February to remind everyone that Raleigh is always a place on the move.
What Are Must-See Attractions in Downtown Raleigh?
Even longtime Raleigh residents may not have had time to check out everything that’s available in their city, but if you’re new to the Raleigh area, it’s worth jotting down some of the things available at your doorstep. People discovering Raleigh for the first time tend to get energized by how exciting the city is and how much there is to see and do here. The cultural heartbeat of the city is linked to science, history, and the ability to wine and dine at some highly renowned eateries.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
One of the first places to visit is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, one of the most popular attraction in the state. This is a free museum with more than 25 permanent exhibits that teach visitors about the natural world. It’s a great place to explore the state’s mountains and coastal plains, the North Carolina habitats and wildlife, and the sea and underground. Visiting this museum, you’ll quickly figure out why so many scientists love living here.
North Carolina Museum of Art
Similarly, the North Carolina Museum of Art has two buildings with galleries, education studios and special exhibits, as well as permanent collections on Egyptian artifacts, European Old Master paintings, and African and Judaic works of art.
There’s also an outdoor park featuring works of art, trails and a live music theater.
Raleigh Little Theatre
If you enjoy live performances, you can check out the Raleigh Little Theatre, one of the nation’s oldest continuously-operating community theatres, which dates to 1936. In addition to staging more than 150 performances every year, the Raleigh Little Theatre also hosts education and community programs year-round.
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Then there’s the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, with four performance venues that host Broadway shows, musicians, theatrical performances, the North Carolina Opera and North Carolina Symphony, and Carolina Ballet.
In recent years, this theater (first built in 1932) has undergone extensive renovations.
North Carolina, Pullen Park
If being outdoors is what you prefer, the historic first public park in North Carolina, Pullen Park, attracts thousands each year as it offers not just natural beauty, but attractions like the Gustave A. Dentzel Carousel (built in 1911), amusement rides, kiddie water boats, a miniature train and pedal boats.
And keep in mind that downtown Raleigh has been widely recognized and highly praised for its food scene and first-rate eateries. The high quality of the local restaurants has helped Raleigh earn the designation of being called one of the “Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South” by Southern Living magazine.
And Raleigh is known for hosting more than 25 local breweries within the region. There are so many, in fact, that you can take a brewery tour with the Raleigh Beer Trail.
It helps that a lot of these breweries offer free tours to anyone looking to learn more about how beer is made, and the difference between unique brands. This is how beer connoisseurs are made.
What’s Happening in January and February
With a mild winter climate, temperatures in the Raleigh area typically stay in the 50s in January and February, and don’t often reach the frigid lows that northern states endure. So Raleigh becomes a fun place to be in the winter months.
And local organizations, merchants and restaurants are more than happy to give people reason to come here in January and February.
Triangle Restaurant Week
That’s one of the reasons why an event like Triangle Restaurant Week is held from Jan. 21-27 – and is very popular.
A week-long celebration of culinary excellence, this has become a popular showcase for some of the region’s best restaurants.
During this event, participating restaurants offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing. No reservations, tickets or passes are required, just a passion for tasting and enjoying the area’s finest cuisine.
African American Cultural Celebration
Another popular event is the African American Cultural Celebration starting on Jan. 26th (10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.), as a kickoff to Black History Month at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. This event brings together more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, and artists in downtown Raleigh. It’s a day of pride, a celebration of culture, and a fascinating look into the region’s history.
Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society since 2015, the 18th annual African American Cultural Celebration will feature musical performances by the Wake Technical Community College Inspirational Choir and exhibits courtesy of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission.
The North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers will offer storytelling vignettes. Celebrity authors will be on hand, and it’s a chance to meet prominent local figures like Rudy Cobb, former proprietor of Jack Cobb & Son Barbecue. He inherited the family-owned barbecue restaurant from his father, and it became so popular it was featured in Bob Garner’s Book of BBQ, and it’s been listed as a destination on the North Carolina Barbecue Society Historic Barbecue Trail.
Educator and culinary arts teacher Rhonda Muhammad will teach the traditions around her sweet treats, made from non-traditional sources like black beans and butternut squash.
Krispy Kreme Challenge
And in February, another special event is the Krispy Kreme Challenge on Feb. 2nd, which requires competitors to run five miles, eat a dozen doughnuts at the halfway point and hit the finish line in under one hour.
It was started in 2004 by a handful of North Carolina State University students as a dare but has since growth in size and stature and now draws nearly 8,000 runners decked out in costumes. They also turned it into a worthwhile cause, with organizers selecting The UNC Children’s Hospital as the beneficiary of the money they raise.
Billed as “the test of physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude,” this has become the number one tradition to complete before graduating from North Carolina State University.
In 2018, the event hosted 5,516 people and donated $170,000 to the UNC Children’s Hospital. The total amount raised since 2004 has been $1.5 million.
One of the reasons why the Greater Raleigh-Durham area continues growing is because so many people are discovering what longtime residents already know: there are always things to do in Raleigh in the winter. Not just that, the Triangle is the ideal place all year round for those looking for a good job, a beautiful home within a reasonable price range, and plenty of terrific cultural attractions, parks, museums, and special events.
Without a doubt, this is a region on the move, and if you’re relocating to this area, have lived here a while and are ready to buy your first home, or are thinking about retiring here, contact us at Waterford Green Communities. Our team of experienced home builders and community development professionals take a lot of pride in building homes in this region that are immaculately designed, appealing to families of all sizes; there won’t be a problem matching your budget.
Our team designs homes with the highest quality materials, and we believe that every family deserves a beautiful place to call home.