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Best Winter Things to Do in Raleigh (Updated 2023-24)

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on November 17, 2023.

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There are plenty of fun winter things to do in Raleigh when it’s cold, and loads of special events happen around the holidays.

Before you get ready to visit North Carolina’s Oak City during the colder months, you’ll need a comprehensive guide like this one. We’re going to share all the best activities, odds, and ends that help us enjoy winter in Raleigh.

You’ll find museums, arcades, and awesome places to eat and drink when hanging out in Raleigh, whether it’s during the week or on weekends. Let’s dig into our favorite ways to enjoy winter in one of our favorite North Carolina cities

  • Winter Things to Do in Raleigh
  • Things to Do during Winter in NC
    • Museums in Raleigh
    • Basketball / Hockey Games
    • Play Arcade Games
    • Visit Restaurants in Raleigh
    • Breweries in Raleigh
  • More Things To Do in Raleigh

This post is part of our series on Raleigh and more awesome places to visit in Central North Carolina.

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

Best Winter Things to Do in Raleigh

Visit the Raleigh Museums

One of the best things to do in Raleigh in winter is to explore its museums, which are among the best in North Carolina and the country. Here are a few of our favorites, with a mix of just about everything, and all featured in our guide covering free things to do in Raleigh.

NC Museum of Natural Sciences

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences has one of the coolest exteriors of any museum I’ve visited. A massive two-story globe marks the entrance to a whole world of discovery. On the inside, the museum is filled with beautifully curated exhibits and houses creatures many of us know and some that I had no clue live in North Carolina.

Check out the Daily Planet Cafe on the first floor of the new addition. Grab a local bite or locally roasted Larry’s Coffee there during your visit.

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is also featured in our guide to children’s museums and how to make it a Date Night in Raleigh!

NC Museum of Art

Things to do in Raleigh NC Museum of Art

I’m also a big fan of the North Carolina Museum of Art, which is near the State Fairgrounds. Explore their permanent collections that span the globe, but keep an eye out for exciting special exhibits that come through.

There’s also the very nice Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park that you can enjoy on nicer days. Raleigh can be quite temperate in the winter, so you’re bound to find a few days, even in January and February, that are warm enough to walk through the outside exhibits.

Contemporary Art Spaces in Raleigh

NC State’s Gregg Museum of Art & Design has an interesting story and a growing collection of viewable artifacts. Also, Be sure to check out CAM Raleigh if you’re searching for a great space for contemporary art.

Historical Attractions in Raleigh

Next door to the Museum of Natural Sciences is the North Carolina Museum of History, which celebrates the state’s distant past, present, and future. You can also find a dedication to the state’s rich athletic traditions via the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Raleigh

Museums in Raleigh NC Museum of History

There are so many amazing things to do with kids in Raleigh.

We’ve mentioned a few already, and families traveling to Raleigh can enjoy almost everything on our list, the Marbles Kids Museum is an especially great spot!

This interactive destination has kept children entertained and informed for over a decade and is still strong.

Read More: 15+ Important Tips to Enjoy the NC State Fair

Watch Basketball / Hockey Games

Winter in North Carolina means college basketball is in full gear, and the NC State Wolfpack are showing off their stuff at PNC Arena.

The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes play there, too, which means some of the best athletes in basketball and hockey come through Raleigh.

Whether you are looking for things to do in Raleigh in December, things to do in Raleigh in January, or things to do in Raleigh in February, there are always a few sporting events happening!

Play Arcade Games

Things to do in Raleigh Frankies Fun Park

If you’re more interested in playing games yourself or with your family and friends, check out Frankie’s Fun Park. They have a ton of stuff to do outside during summer, but when it’s cold, you can still check out the games inside.

My personal favorite is the life-sized Angry Birds and Massive Pac-Man, but there are more choices found in this massive amusement park.

Bonus Arcade: Still kid-friendly but also keeping adults in mind, Boxcar Bar + Arcade is geared toward the arcade fan, with over 100 classic and modern games, ski ball, and a massive bar stocked with craft, bottled beer, and spirits.

Try the Best Raleigh Restaurants

Raleigh’s food scene is pretty hard to top, even by North Carolina’s very competitive standards.

Raleigh Restaurants Big Eds City Market Restaurant

For breakfast, grab a bite at Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant’s delicious food, unlimited biscuits, and crazy-cool decor.

For brunch and beyond, The Raleigh Times Bar is an iconic spot in Raleigh and filled with history. Their massive drink menu and exquisite dishes will keep you full of joy.

We’re also big fans of Hummingbird, Bida Manda, and the foodie heaven of Morgan Street Food Hall.

Another one of the places to eat in Raleigh we frequent is Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. This is where James Beard-winning chef Ashley Christensen offers a wonderful menu that includes chicken and waffles, as well as some really cool rotating special options.

Her cookbook, Poole’s, is also featured in our list of essential cookbooks.

Then, if you want a good fried chicken sandwich, head out to Driftwood Southern Kitchen. We included it as part of our deeper look at Lafayette Village.

Taste Carolina Barbecue

You thought I was going to talk about food in Raleigh and NOT mention barbecue?

Around here, pulled pork deserves its own section. Head down to The Pit and let them convince you that pit-cooked barbecue absolutely can be perfected in a contemporary setting.

You can also roll back the clock and grab some grub at Clyde Cooper’s BBQ, which has battled many competitors since the 1930s. Both of these places were mentioned in our guide to North Carolina barbecue, by the way.

Get a feel for Raleigh’s food scene with Ashley Christensen’s Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner, co-written by Kaitlyn Goalen.

Enjoy Local Beer in Raleigh

#NCBeer

Raleigh Beer Garden

So, I don’t know how else to write this, but North Carolina has some good beer. And if you want to discover just how much beer is produced in the Tarheel State, then you should explore the Raleigh Beer Garden.

It holds the Guinness World Record for most unique beers on tap, and over 200 of them come from North Carolina.

We mentioned the Raleigh Beer Garden in our North Carolina Bucket List. What else do you think we put there?

More Raleigh Breweries

Much of Central North Carolina’s beer is made in the Raleigh area. More than 30 breweries call Wake County home, and if you want to get a good start, sip on the creatively named brews at Lynnwood Brewing Concern.

Grab a flight at Crank Arm Brewing, also known among the area’s cyclists, thanks to their weekly bike ride. Brewery Bhavana is interesting because the owners have created a brewery, taproom, dim sum restaurant, and flower shop and put it in one building.

More awesome breweries worth mentioning include: 

Bonus Place to Drink: Head over to Whiskey Kitchen for delicious mixed drinks and one of the largest spirits selection you’ll find in Raleigh. Don’t forget that they offer a delicious food menu, too!

Ready for Winter in Raleigh?

Are you ready to explore all these fun winter activities in Raleigh NC?

We love Raleigh so much during this time of year that we included the city among our favorite winter getaways!

And if you’re searching for great places to stay, check out these cool Airbnbs in Raleigh!

Where would you go first when exploring Raleigh during the winter? Have you checked out any of the places we covered? Did we leave something out? Let us know in the comments section below!

More Things to Do in Raleigh

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