Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and we'll send you a FREE Printable NC Waterfalls Checklist!

15 of the Best Things to Do in Cary (Great Food, Beer, and Outdoor Fun!)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on April 22, 2024.

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

Cary is a city disguised as a lovely small town. Thanks to Raleigh, it’s the second-largest municipality in Wake County. Keep an eye on it, though, because Cary continues to grow and welcome new residents. Visitors will find that there are plenty of fun things to do in Cary.

If you’re one of them (or if you’ve been living in Cary for a while), we think this guide will help you. We’re going to cover some of the best things to do in Cary NC, including restaurants and breweries, outdoor attractions, and accommodations.

Whether you are grabbing a pint or getting lost among the hemlocks, we think Cary is one of the best places to go in the Research Triangle for all ages!

Here’s how we’ve organized this guide:

  • Breweries in Cary
  • Restaurants in Cary
  • Things to Do in Cary (Beyond Meals)
  • Where to Stay in Cary
  • More Things to Do in Cary and Wake County

Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Cary area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Raleigh

Things to Do in Cary

Starting with the best breweries and places to eat, here are some of the best ways to spend time in Cary, North Carolina!

Sip at These Breweries in Cary

Cotton House Craft Brewers

glass of beer from Cotton House Brewing Company

Looking for a unique brewery? Look no further than Cotton House Craft Brewers, whose beer is located in a former high school boarding house in downtown Cary!

This historic house was built in 1900 but now serves as a brewhouse for delicious North Carolina beer and is one of the best things to do in Cary NC for adults.

Bond Brothers

Housed in a cool and open industrial space, Bond Brothers Beer Company is arguably the best thing to do in Cary! Hidden in downtown Cary, Bond Brothers doesn’t have a single beer on tap that isn’t tasty.

What began as a group of brewers who liked to compete together has now become a brewery known for its great stouts, IPAs, Sours, and overall expertise and experience. Bond Brothers are also dog- and kid-friendly, and they also boast a great food truck calendar.

Read More: Things to Do with Kids in Raleigh

Fortnight Brewing Company

Specializing in cast ales, Fortnight Brewing Company makes some of the best beer you’ll find via traditional brewing methods. Using the best ingredients, beer lowers rejoice over a cold frothy pint.

Taste the natural fermentation from these cask beers and enjoy!

Eat at These Restaurants in Cary

La Farm Bakery

La Farm Bakery is a Cary institution. Master Baker Lionel Vatinet is one of the most sought-after bread producers in America and has made Cary his home for the last 20-plus years.

While all of his creations are incredible, you cannot leave Cary without one of his white chocolate baguettes!

Read More: Restaurants in Raleigh

Big Dom’s

Have you been to Cary if you didn’t go to Big Dom’s?! Every Instagrammer’s dream comes true at this little bagel shop, where they boil their hand-rolled bagels in brown sugar water for a sweet taste.

If bagels are your thing, then we recommend trying their B’donut–a baked doughnut with brown butter.

Ashworth Drugs

Fill your afternoon with nostalgia and charm at The Soda Fountain, located in Ashworth Drugs! The Soda Fountain has been serving lunch and ice cream to residents of downtown Cary since 1957.

The days of lunch counters are a thing of the past, but in Cary, you can get a nice throwback and a mean milkshake! 

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)

Pizzeria Faulisi

It’s amore at Pizzeria Faulisi! This locally owned restaurant in Cary wood-fires Neapolitan pizza using both authentic Italian flour and milled flour from Raleigh restaurant favorite Boulted Bread.

Order a pie or two, but don’t skip the antipasti!

Things to Do in Cary Beyond Meals and Drinks

Mr. Mike’s Used Books

Are you like us and love browsing bookstores in North Carolina? Mr. Mike’s Used Books in Cary is one of the best. Offering high-quality used books, we can spend hours looking at the spines.

You can find unique old finds and even newer releases, and it is definitely worth checking out!

Bond Park

a lake with paddleboats at Fred H Bond Metro Park

Fred H Bond Metro Park encompasses 310 acres and includes a beautiful lake. Check out the boats at Bond Park and spend a day fishing, boating, and enjoying one of our favorite hikes in the Triangle.

The trail runs for a total of 2 miles. There are also plenty of baseball fields, a playground, and a ropes challenge course!

a family on a paddleboat with floating jack-o-lanterns

Also, don’t miss the annual Cary Pumpkin Flotilla! Happening the last Friday in October, pumpkins are all aglow and paraded across Bond Park. It’s truly a unique and fun event that you should add to your list!

Read More: Kid-friendly Things to Do in Raleigh

Hemlock Bluffs

Walking around Hemlock Bluffs is clearly one of the best things to do in Cary, especially for outdoor lovers!

Home to 235 trees not typically native to Central North Carolina, the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve is our favorite among outdoor things to do in Cary! Typically, hemlocks can be found in the mountains of Western North Carolina, but these trees are surprisingly located right here in Cary!

The park includes 140 acres that include well-kept nature trails, the Stevens Nature Center, and an excellent outdoor play space for young children. 

Read More: 100+ Amazing Places to Visit in Central North Carolina

Koka Booth Amphitheatre

a colorful decorative dragon at the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

Named after a former mayor, Koka Booth Amphitheatre is an outdoor event space that sits next to a beautiful lake. Catch a performance by the North Carolina Symphony or enjoy the festive lights at the annual North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival!

Read More: Winter in North Carolina

Phillips Farm

If you are looking for kid-friendly things to do in Cary, then a day at Phillips Farm is in order! With a play area for kids, Phillips Farm provides seasonal fun. Go strawberry picking in the spring and summer, and enjoy the corn maze and pumpkin patch in the fall, all for an affordable price.

Phillips Farm has been in the community for over 100 years and is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Cary.

Lake Crabtree

a spacious feild and resovoir on the outskirts of Cary NC

This man-made, 520-acre reservoir in Cary makes for an excellent backdrop for hiking in the Triangle. Great for mountain biking, kayaking, and even paddle boating, Lake Crabtree has a 10-mile dirt trail loop perfect for soaking in some nature. 

William B Umstead State Park

a bridge along Company Mill Trail, one of the best things to do in Cary NC
Company Mill Trail.

You may not know that Umstead State Park‘s Reedy Creek access sits at the end of Harrison Blvd, right off I-40 (Exit 287). Some of our favorite things to do in Cary’s end of this state park include hiking Company Mill Trail, hopping on our bikes, and catching the Multi-Use Trail.

Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina

Places to Stay in Cary

a hotel lobby with a relaxing ambiance at the Umstead Hotel & Spa

Those looking for the ultimate relaxation experience will want to check in at The Umstead Hotel and Spa. With a Five-Star restaurant, lakefront accommodations, and a spa menu that will leave you refreshed, The Umstead is a luxury experience.

unassuming white house used as an airbnb in the heart of Cary NC

There are plenty of fun options for lodging when in Cary. From unique Airbnb to boutique hotels, there’s always a place for you to rest your head. 

The boutique Mayton Inn entrance

If you are looking for a boutique hotel option, The Mayton is an incredible and luxurious accommodation. With 44 well-appointed rooms and some of the best breakfasts in all of Wake County, you will be winding down for the day while still being in the heart of downtown Cary. 

Enjoy these Awesome Things to Do in Cary!

Steeped in charm, history, and plenty of outdoor activities, Cary is one of the most livable cities in the Triangle. Being neighbors to Raleigh and Durham helps provide the big city luxuries without losing some of the downtown’s “smaller” feel.

We hope you explore some of these fun things to do in Cary and use this article to guide you!

If you’re familiar with this area, we’d love to know your favorite things to do in Cary. In case you’ve never been, which of these fun activities will you be doing the first time you arrive?

More Things to Do in Cary and Wake County

Leave a Comment