From area weather and population to major cultural assets, here are some at-a-glance facts about Raleigh and Wake County.
CITY OF RALEIGH MAYOR: Nancy McFarlane
POPULATION: Raleigh (2013): 431,746; Wake County (2014): 998,691; Raleigh MSA (2014): 1,242,974
LAND AREA: Raleigh (2013): 145 square miles; Wake County (2013): 857 square miles
GEOGRAPHY: 434 feet above sea level, Raleigh lies in east-central North Carolina, where the hilly Piedmont region meets the flat coastal plain.
VISITORS: 14.4 million to the Raleigh area (2014)
SALES TAX: 4.75-percent state tax; two-percent county tax
RALEIGH FACTS: Raleigh was founded in 1792 as North Carolina's capital city. It was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, who attempted to establish the first English colony on the shores of the new world in the 1580s. It is the only state capital to have been planned and established by a state as the seat of state government, and it is the largest city in a combined statistical area known as Raleigh-Durham-Cary (the Research Triangle Region). The city's founding fathers called Raleigh the "City of Oaks" and dedicated themselves to maintaining the area's wooded tracts and grassy parks. Home of the North Carolina State Fair, N.C.'s largest annual event.
WAKE COUNTY FACTS: Includes Raleigh and 11 other Wake County municipalities. Sometimes referred to as Greater Raleigh or the Raleigh area. Home to RDU International Airport and a portion of internationally renowned The Research Triangle Park. Accessed by I-40 and four major U.S. highways; I-85 and I-95 pass nearby, with I-95 connected to Raleigh by I-495. Home to 10 principal colleges and universities.
CLIMATE: Springs and summers range from the upper-60s to the upper-80s (degrees Fahrenheit); fall averages in the 70s; winters hit the high-20s to mid-50s. Mean annual rainfall (inches): 45.23. Annual average temperature (°F): 71 (high), 50 (low). Annual average snowfall (inches): 4.7. Average relative humidity (%): 71.3.
DISTANCE FROM OTHER MAJOR CITIES (IN MILES)
Asheville, N.C. -- 241
Atlanta, Ga. -- 424
Charlotte, N.C. -- 143
Chicago, Ill. -- 784
Nashville, Tenn. -- 515
New York City, N.Y. -- 489
Orlando, Fla. -- 588
Washington, D.C. -- 251
Wilmington, N.C. -- 123
STATE FORESTS AND PARKS: The Raleigh area boasts more than 4,300 acres of parkland and almost 1,400 acres of water, offering recreational activities year-round. A nationally-acclaimed greenway system spans 152 miles, providing walking, jogging and hiking trails that connect many of the City of Raleigh's 150 major parks.
FAUNA/FLORA: The Raleigh area's hardwood and mixed conifer forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including wood ducks, white-tailed deer, Canada geese and wild turkeys.
SPORTS: Sports and outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to cheer about. Hockey fans can catch the excitement of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes. Relax outdoors at a Carolina Mudcats Single-A baseball game or at WakeMed Soccer Park watching the Carolina RailHawks, men's pro soccer. The area is also home to stock car racing and great college athletics.
ARTS AND CULTURE: Raleigh has an exceptionally diverse art scene. Visitors can see a touring Broadway show, view original plays in theatres and outside in the parks, listen to the North Carolina Opera or North Carolina Symphony or watch the Carolina Ballet. The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts has a suite of facilities for almost any size performance, including a state-of-the-art symphonic music hall.
MUSEUMS: Raleigh is home to three major state museums--of art, history and natural sciences (all are free). The North Carolina Museum of Art celebrated its 50th anniversary in April 1997 and opened a $75 million expansion of iconic gallery and public spaces in April 2010. The North Carolina Museum of History, which moved to its current facility in 1994, provides innovative exhibits that tell the state's history. Across the Bicentennial Plaza, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences moved into a beautiful new facility in April 2000 becoming the Southeast's largest natural history museum: it opened the state-of-the-art Nature Research Center, a new wing of the museum in April 2012. Marbles Kids Museum also gives kids a chance to be hands-on with role-playing and special exhibits. Marbles is also operating North Carolina's only large-screen 3D IMAX theatre next door.
MAJOR HISTORIC SITES IN RALEIGH
The North Carolina State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark.
The North Carolina Executive Mansion, home to more than 25 governors and their families since 1891.
Historic Oakwood, a neighborhood of 19th-century Victorian homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
SHOPPING: Even the most seasoned shoppers will find an impressive array of well-known retail stores, boutiques and locally-owned shops in and around Raleigh. Browse the Raleigh Flea Market or the more than 30 antique stores spreadthroughout the area. Major shopping areas and centers include Brier Creek Commons, Beaver Creek Commons, Cameron Village, Cary Towne Center, Crabtree Valley Mall, North Hills, Triangle Town Center and White Oak Crossing. The list of specialty stores and upscale shops in Raleigh is impressive--and just keeps expanding.
CUISINE: Raleigh's array of cuisine serves up something to satisfy almost any craving. Menus range from upscale fine dining to brewpubs to traditional Southern cooking. The area is also home to three wineries, two wine trails and eighteen (and counting) craft breweries.
NIGHTLIFE: Enjoy nightlife in downtown Raleigh in the Capital District, Fayetteville Street district, Glenwood South, Moore Square district and the Warehouse District. Listen to live music performed by popular local bands or international superstars at one of the area's major venues, concert venues or entertainment complexes, or simply dance the night away to DJs. The Raleigh area has the most live music venues concentrated here than anywhere else in the state and has more than 15 percent of the state's craft breweries, making it a capital of craft beer.
TRANSPORTATION: Raleigh is easily accessible by car, bus, rail or airlines.
PRINCIPAL COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Women's Colleges: Meredith College. Culinary School: The Chef's Academy. Religious Colleges: Shepherds Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Community College: Wake Technical Community College. Historically Black Universities: Saint Augustine's University, Shaw University. Major Research University: North Carolina State University. Law School: Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law (Campbell University). Other Private: William Peace University.