Arts, Culture & Entertainment
A view of the reflecting pool at the North Carolina Museum of Art


Museums & Galleries

Raleigh has earned the reputation for being a cultural hub for the visual arts and world-class museums, offering more than 40 free attractions.

The North Carolina Museum of Art features long-running installations such as the recent Porsche automobile design exhibit, as well as its permanent collections, including an extensive array of Rodin sculptures.

The Contemporary Art Museum, located in the Warehouse District, features exciting new works by local, national and international talents, frequently providing a backdrop for special events and celebrations. Artspace, a non-profit visual art center, provides a public studio environment for more than 30 professional artists while also presenting nationally acclaimed exhibitions.

The Visual Art Exchange, another non-profit creativity incubator and gallery, showcases the work of more than 1,300 artists in 60 annual exhibitions and also produces SPARKcon, an annual art and design festival in downtown Raleigh. At the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the newly completed Nature Research Center is drawing rave reviews as an educational and entertaining experience for families and visitors alike.  And Marbles Kids Museum, a hands-on interactive experience for children, uses purposeful play to inspire imagination, discovery and learning.


The arts in Raleigh are a $143.5 million industry that supports almost 5,700 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $14.1 million in local and state government revenue.


Performing Arts

For those that wish to indulge their love of live performing arts, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh features performances by the North Carolina Symphony, North Carolina Opera, Carolina Ballet, and North Carolina Theatre. It is also home to Broadway Series South which brings some of Broadway's biggest touring shows, performers, concerts and comedians to Raleigh. The Center boasts several elegant venues including Memorial Auditorium, Fletcher Opera Theater, Meymandi Concert Hall, and the Kennedy Theater.



A robust live music calendar has been created by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB), in collaboration with representatives from area music venues, music festivals/presenters and other businesses in the local live music scene (the GRCVB Live Music Advisory Committee) in an effort to provide the most comprehensive live music calendar for Wake County.

Legendary performers have honed their craft on the stages of Raleigh’s more than 85 live music venues — and still do. Raleigh offers an endless variety of music experiences, from the tour headliners at PNC Arena and Walnut Creek Amphitheater, to fine arts performances and spirited Broadway productions at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, and the dozens of small clubs throughout the city introducing audiences to the next REM or Sheryl Crow. Red Hat Amphitheater, an outdoor venue in the heart of Raleigh, makes concert going a part of the downtown experience.

Hopscotch Music Festival, a week-long performance series featuring local, regional and national acts, has become one of the country’s rising new music showcases. Whether it’s a festival weekend or a Sunday afternoon in the park, live music can be found throughout Midtown, Five Points, Glenwood South, the Warehouse District, City Market and Downtown, giving Raleigh an ever-changing soundtrack.



Raleigh has emerged as a food lover’s mecca. Southern Living says we’re one of the Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South.

Local chefs are causing a stir everywhere from New Orleans to New York City, winning awards and starring on TV’s hottest cooking shows. Walter Royal, executive chef of Raleigh’s Angus Barn, earned recognition as Chef of the Year from the Restaurant Guild International. James Beard Award winner Ashley Christensen, chef and owner of a growing family of Raleigh restaurants, has been celebrated by Bon Appétit, Gourmet, The New York Times, Southern Living and Garden & Gun. Landmarks like Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue and the Mecca, operating since the 1940s, have been joined by newly-minted hot spots such as Poole’s Diner, Raleigh Times, Bida Manda, Capital Club 16, Oro, and Stanbury.  Long-standing institutions like 42nd St. Oyster BarSecond Empire and Players Retreat welcome familiar faces like family.

Whether it’s our savory North Carolina barbecue, succulent Atlantic seafood, locally farmed Southern delights or cuisine from around the world, more than 1,200 restaurants, cafes, brewpubs and bistros are giving residents and visitors alike a taste of the good life in Raleigh.


One of things that is toughest is not to just open restaurants but to cultivate a restaurant community, and that something that is happening very organically and wonderfully here in Raleigh."

- Ashley Christensen



Raleigh has been a trend-setting destination for retail shopping ever since the 1949 opening of Cameron Village, North Carolina's first shopping center and the first to be built between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Today, Raleigh continues to exceed the expectations of the most discriminating consumer. From the fashion house phenomenon Raleigh Denim and its specialty boutique The Curatory, along with local merchants like Uniquities, Lumina Clothing CompanyMoon & Lola and many others -- to the luxurious offerings of the state's only Saks Fifth Avenue, Raleigh’s retail scene is rave-worthy.  The area is served by three major shopping malls and numerous retail districts offering cutting edge collections for personal style, home décor, art and creative gift-giving.  For everyday or haute couture, Raleigh looks better than ever.


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