What's New in Raleigh, N.C.

The Raleigh area is booming with new visitor experiences, making for great story ideas. Get the rundown on new hotels, culinary and nightlife, noteworthy attractions and more.

Accommodation newsCulinary and nightlifeNoteworthy attractions |
Transportation | Women in Tourism

 

Accommodation news

New hotels

Heights House Hotel
This historic pre-Civil War-era mansion in downtown Raleigh has been completely renovated and revitalized into a boutique hotel. Named for its location within Raleigh's historic Boylan Heights neighborhood, the 10,000-square-foot, 1858 Italianate-style mansion features nine ensuite guest rooms that have been lovingly restored, 15-foot ceilings and original hardwood floors throughout the space, a total of 10 cozy fireplaces and grand common spaces crafted with immaculate detail and decorated with modern and vintage touches. The indoor/outdoor space is also available for private events for up to 120 guests. This National Historic Landmark is one of the few remaining pre-civil war houses in the area and opened in May 2021. The Parlor at Heights House, a quiet and cozy Italian-inspired bar that gives visitors the run of the common areas of the hotel, opened in Spring 2022.  

Heights House Hotel

AC Hotel Raleigh Downtown
A thoughtfully designed hotel that blends its European soul with a Southern perspective for those who prefer a sophisticated, yet less complicated, travel experience. AC Hotel Raleigh Downtown adds its harmonious point-of-view to the City of Oaks with sophisticated European-inspired design to reflect the uniqueness and character of its urban location. The 146 elegantly designed, fully equipped guest rooms are perfect for the business and leisure traveler. The property also includes a 7th floor rooftop bar/outdoor terrace, The Willard, serving specialty cocktails, local craft beer and an elevated dining experience with stunning views of the downtown Raleigh skyline. Opened in late-September 2021.

AC Hotel Raleigh Downtown

Coming soon

The Gables is an old motor lodge in downtown Raleigh that’s being renovated into a boutique motel by Raleigh native and Grammy-nominated folk singer Tift Merrit and Daniel Robinson (who developed the Durham Hotel). Construction is slated to begin in early 2023, and will have a mid-century modern vibe with 17 guest rooms and a neighborhood bar and lounge. 

Back to top
 

Culinary and nightlife

Giorgios Hospitality Group
Giorgios Bakatsias, one of North Carolina’s most prolific restaurateurs and James Beard Foundation nominee for Outstanding Restauranteur, is brining three new concepts to the Raleigh area in 2023:​

  • Now open: Las Ramblas: A Spanish tapas bar named for the famed “Las Ramblas” boulevard in Barcelona, Spain where the restaurants, cafes and markets contribute to one of Europe’s most vibrant and delicious destinations.
  • Now open: Giorgio Pizza Bar: Pizzeria and bar serving signature crispy, thin crust sourdough pizzas, as well as a variety of other pizza styles, plus seasonal vegetable side dishes and hand made pasta specials, alongside Italian wines and craft cocktails.
  • Coming soon: East End Bistrot

    Giorgio's Pizza Bar, Credit Forrest Mason

Craft Brews

  • East Bower Cider Company: Raleigh's first cidery, located in East End Market on Whitaker Mill Rd. Serving in-house produced cider and guest taps as well as a curated list of rotating cider, beer and wine.
  • Ancillary Fermentation: The Branch at Ancillary is a former bank at the corner of Wake Forest Rd. and Hardimont hosting a "permanently impermanent" beer, food and art experience. Enjoy Ancillary beers on tap, pop-up food experiences and rotating art shows.
  • Sneaky Penguin Brewing: A small craft brewery in North Raleigh brewing a variety of styles on their 7bbl system that is visible from the taproom.
  • Altered State Brewery: Another North Raleigh brewery and taproom releasing new unique and small-batch beers every Thursday with an emphasis on funky IPAs and sours.
  • Just Opened: Edit Beer Co. and Blackbird Brewery

Nightlife

  • Cuya Cocktail Bar: A cocktail bar and music garden perched in the middle of Glenwood South and the sister bar to Cortez, known for partner and acclaimed chef Oscar Diaz.
  • The Pink Boot: The world's tiniest honky-tonk bar.
  • Fox's Liquor Bar: James Beard Foundation 2019 “Outstanding Chef” award winner Ashley Christensen will reopen the iconic Fox’s Liquor Bar. 
  • Kings and Neptunes: Long-time Raleigh favorite bars and music venues have finally re-opened post-pandemic under new management.

Year of BBQ
With a plate of barbecue in hand, all is right with the world! Pitmasters across the state are converging on Raleigh to make it the BBQ Capital of N.C. Longleaf Swine, the beloved BBQ food truck named for the state’s signature pine, opened its first brick-and-mortar in downtown Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood. The BBQ Lab in North Hills is now slinging 'cue from scientists Jerry Stephenson and Roxanne Marley, who have more than 40 Kansas City Barbecue Society Championship awards. Others opened in recent years include Sam Jones BBQ, in downtown Raleigh, champion pitmaster Christopher Prieto's Prime Barbecue in Knightdale and Shady’s, a barbecue bar, in Garner. Coming soon: Midwood Smokehouse

The Rainbow Luncheonette
An old-school lunch counter with a vibrant flair, this short-order, 23-seat restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and comes with a distinct "don't take your food so seriously, but do eat seriously good food" vibe. 

J. Lights
Hailing from our neighboring city, Durham, J. Lights brings a full coffee bar, cocktails, breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends to Raleigh’s new Smoky Hollow development.

Superica
Founded by celebrity Chef/Owner Ford Fry, Superica brings Austin-style Tex Mex to each of their unique locations. A combination of 1950s Tex-Mex and the wood grill that has taken the food to another level by way of fajitas and more. An “evolved Tex-Mex menu,” includes the classics: tacos, nachos, tamales and enchiladas plus more intricate dishes such as wood-grilled fajitas and shrimp tacos always served with just-made flour tortillas, all while paying homage to the traditions and recipes that have been a part of the Texas culture for decades.
Superica

M Sushi 
Chef Michael Lee is dedicated to high-quality seafood sourced directly from Japan, Korea and the U.S. The restaurant is a true multicultural experience, bringing traditional Japanese cuisine together with Peruvian and Spanish influences. Michael Lee's restaurants are known for more than great food, guests are welcomed warmly into the space and can enjoy a memorable yet comfortable dining experience. 

Little Blue Bakehouse 
Raleigh’s first dessert and sweet treat food hall, Little Blue Bakehouse, opened in Summer 2022. Its mission: Be a production and retail space for local bakers, pastry chefs and dessert makers who do not yet have their own brick and mortar shop. Currently, the Bakehouse is inhabited by an all-female owned lineup including Little Blue Macaroon (macaroons), Bold Batch Creamery (ice cream), Bites of Sam (cookies), Sunny Bakes (cakes) and Boozie Bakes (wine and alcohol-infused cakes and cupcakes). 

The Parlor at Heights House
The Parlor at Heights House has a meticulously curated menu composed of Italian influenced craft cocktails, an all-Italian wine list and local beers – all in an effort to reflect and honor the Italianate style of this 1858 historic mansion. Charcuterie plates are also available. Upon arrival, Heights House Hotel welcomes guests to enter through the main entrance and order from the bar in the Parlor, and then explore this historic home’s common spaces – including the parlor, drawing room, dining room, library and lower lounge – as well the two front terraces and fire pit on the front lawn for seating.

Heights House Parlor

Cheeni Indian Food Emporium
Cheeni serves classic tiffin, the Indian word for "snacks", such as filter coffee imported from India, masala chai reminiscent of bustling street stalls and Indian Street Style toast, more commonly known as "chili cheese toast". ​Puffs, made for vegans and meat-eaters alike, are served daily. Daal chawal, or Indian lentils and rice, is often offered as a quick, on-the-go meal. In addition to tiffin, American grab-and-go is also available, with options such as açaí bowls, a toast bar, soup du jour, smoothies and sugar and spice cookies.

Cheeni

Bright Spot Donuts
A donut and coffee shop, from the same team behind Benchwarmers Bagels (named one of America's best new restaurants in 2019 by Bon Appétit), in Raleigh's Five Points neighborhood. With a strong reverence for North Carolina classics like Krispy Kreme, the coast’s Britt’s Donuts and the sourdough version from Asheville’s Hole Doughnuts, Bright Spot has brought to life The Carolina Doughnut.

Bright Spot Donuts

Fine Folk
Born out of the Gov’t Cheeseburger pop-up shop that opened during the pandemic, Gateway Plaza is now home to Christopher Lopez's first restaurant, Fine Folk, which offers a creative menu and laid-back wine bar.

A'Verde Cocina and Tequila Library
Katsuji Tanabe—a renowned chef and three-time alum of Bravo TV's hit competition series Top Chef—has opened restaurants stretching from Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Chicago and New York City. Tanabe relocated to Raleigh in late 2019, right before the pandemic shut down restaurants. A'Verde Cocina and Tequila Library pays homage to Tanabe's roots in Mexico City while featuring ingredients found local to the Raleigh area. A menu that offers a variety of the chef's favorite dishes, from cornbread and refried beans to pork shanks, octopus tacos and vegetable-forward offerings, A'Verde is now open in Cary.

Craften Food Knightdale
A reimagined food hall experience that brings neighborhood hospitality in a convenient, restaurant-like atmosphere. Part craft cocktails, part craft kitchens and 100% a space for all to enjoy. Initial vendors include Poblanos Tacos, Fiori Trattoria, The Corner Venezuelan and Finca Burger. This food hall for all opened in Knightdale in February 2022.

Craften Food Hall Knightdale rendering

BB's Crispy Chicken
Chef Ashley Christensen—operator of five downtown Raleigh eating and drinking spots and named America's best chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2019—has an exciting new fast-casual project raising the bar for the culinary scene in Raleigh. This time the focus is on that iconic Southern comfort food—fried chicken. Christensen has perfected a new recipe that strikes a balance between a delightfully crunchy exterior and a juicy, tender interior. She says that contrast plus the right seasoning and quality ingredients are what make good fried chicken great. The Raleigh location opened its doors in the new Midtown East Shopping Center just off Wake Forest Rd. in late-2021, and the Cary location opened in October 2022.

Young Hearts Distilling
Downtown Raleigh's first distillery and restaurant has come to life from the owners of Raleigh's beloved Trophy Brewing Company. Young Hearts offers a variety of liquors, tasty bites, rooftop patio, event space and more. The menu focuses on local producers and botanical-forward spirits to provide a sense of place and season in North Carolina. With a focus on ethically and locally sourced ingredients the menu provides guests with a mix of small plates, salads and larger entrees as well as several vegan and gluten free options. Currently offering their own gin, vodka amaro and other small-batch liquors.

(ish) Delicatessen
In the works for five years now, (ish) Delicatessen is Matt Fern's sandwich shop opened this summer in downtown Raleigh. Here's the word from Fern himself, a longtime veteran of the food and beverage scene in the City of Oaks: "If you crave the tastes of Jewish, Russian, American, Italian or just about anything between two slices of bread, then your new favorite sandwich joint is here. We know you are going to love it, and can’t wait to share our food with you."

(ish) Delicatessen Sandwich

Hank's Downtown Dive
A drink, a bite and a good time! This new downtown Cary hangout—from the same owner as the popular cocktail spot Sidebar just down the block—is a modern take on a classic dive (plus a dash of vintage vibes, to be sure), with a food menu that turns up a little unexpected (grilled octopus, a gluten-free chicken sandwich, N.C.-raised ribeye and more) and a bar offering that equally suits the after-work and weekend dinner crowds.

Element Gastropub
Chef Lelia Kidd's new plant-based gastropub concept sits right in the heart of downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville St. The fully vegan menu makes no compromises—you'll find buffalo chicken sandwiches, crispy wings, BBQ nachos, smash burgers and more (all with the appropriate substitutes) to go along with an extensive beer and cocktail menu.

Element Gastropub
 

Coming soon

La Terrazza
Samad Hachby of Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar will open a terrace dining concept at The Dillion in Raleigh's booming Warehouse District in 2023. The restaurant will focus on southern Italian and Mediterranean offerings, accompanied by a beautiful view of the city. 

Giorgios Hospitality Group
Giorgios Bakatsias, one of North Carolina’s most prolific restaurateurs and James Beard Foundation nominee for Outstanding Restauranteur has opened two new restaurants (above) in 2023 so far, with the third, East End Bistrot, slated to open later this quarter. This concept is a French steakhouse with a strong house butcher program will boast an extensive local raw bar and seafood program, exquisite vegetable dishes, a deep wine cellar and classic cocktails, as well as a private club. Located in the newly constructed East End Market.

Midwood Smokehouse
This wildly popular Charlotte-based barbecue joint known for its all-hickory-smoked 'cue that draws influence from Texas, the Carolinas and beyond, is arriving soon in Raleigh's Smoky Hollow district. 

Brodeto
Acclaimed James Beard-nominated chef Scott Crawford will open his latest venture in Raleigh Iron Works with a menu inspired by his trips to the Adriatic region. Brodeto is a Croatian-Italian eatery featuring the restaurant's namesake dish, a traditional fish stew with a rich tomato-wine broth.

Cheetie Kumar and Anisette Sweet Shop
Beloved Raleigh Chef Cheetie Kumar will open a new restaurant near the Five Points neighborhood in collaboration with Anisette Sweet Shop. Kumar’s new eatery will feature an indoor-outdoor area with bright, fresh Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.

Back to top

 

Noteworthy attractions

There's no shortage of ways to find peaceful escapes in order to explore the outdoors in the City of Oaks. Use any of the Raleigh area’s 180 miles of greenways—many of them connecting to attractions and letting you travel all over the destination—or numerous other miles of trails traversing through parks, and you’ll find runners getting in workouts, cyclists out for leisurely rides, parents pushing strollers and people of all ages soaking up the fresh air. Check out the destination's Top 10 Sports & Outdoors Experiences!

Fenton Mixed-Use Development 
Fenton is a mixed-use development located in Cary near WakeMed Soccer Park off Cary Towne Blvd. The $850-million project is expected to include one million square feet of office space, 444,000 square feet of retail space, more than 800 multi-family housing units, a high-end hotel and more. Tenants include Colletta Italian Food & Wine, Carriage House Coffee, CRU Food & Wine Bar, Dram & Draught (cocktail bar), Honeysuckle Gelato, M Sushi (Michael Lee), Superica (Tex-Mex from chef Ford Fry) and more. Other tenants already announced are Scott Crawford's Crawford Brothers Steakhouse, slated to open in 2024. The total development may take five to eight years to complete, although many retailers and restauranteurs began opening their doors in May 2022.  

North Carolina Museum of Art Reimagined People’s Collection 
The NCMA’s People’s Collection is the museum’s permanent collection of art, with over 200 new pieces added in 2022, the museum curators completely redesigned the layout of the museum. The People’s Collection gets its namesake from its status as a free, public museum. The reimagined People’s collection, in addition to the new, innovative flow and story of the museum and its contents, includes multiple accessibility upgrades. Upgrades include interactive digital versions of pieces so guests can touch, learn and zoom in on the art. The museum also now features bilingual descriptors of each section and theme, presented in English and Spanish. The museum also boasts the largest museum art park in the country. Museum Park's 160+ acres of meadows, woodlands, and creeks expanded a few years ago adding contemporary gardens, a promenade connecting the park and galleries, hundreds of new trees and an elliptical lawn overlooking the park's rolling meadow. The vast trail system is designed for walking, jogging, hiking and cycling. Explore more than 30 works of art surrounding the outside of the museum and along the trails and greenway paths. Don't miss the Rodin Garden and the trio of Gyre rings. 

North Carolina Museum of Art

Smoky Hollow
This mixed-use urban district is the "northern gateway" to downtown Raleigh featuring several new local shops and restaurants including: a new Milklab location; J. LightsNew Anthem Beer Project, a Wilmington based brewery; Madre, a tapas place from Happy + Hale founder Tyler Helikson; and The Crunkleton, a third location of the classic cocktail bar.

John Chavis Memorial Park and Community Center
Named for early 19th-century free Black preacher and teacher of all races John Chavis (ca. 1762-1838), the 37-acre City of Raleigh park was opened as a recreational spot for the city’s African American residents during segregation. It was dedicated in 1938, and the circa-1923 carousel still can be ridden. After undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation the park reopened in 2021 and now also includes an updated community center, fitness room, gym, playground and interactive water feature. 

Robertson Millpond Preserve
Transport yourself to a long-ago place and time when you visit Robertson Millpond Preserve in Wendell, an 85-acre refuge for nature lovers, canoeists and kayakers. The area is significant for its rich cultural and environmental history. When you look around, you’ll think you are in the Great Dismal Swamp! Paddle on the millpond in a non-motorized boat, explore the natural areas and fish in designated areas.

Robertson Millpond Preserve

 

Coming soon

North Carolina Freedom Park
A long-planned park aiming to honor the African American struggle for freedom and liberty for all broke ground in late 2020 just a few blocks from the North Carolina State Capitol. The park will include phrases and quotes from famous Black North Carolinians engraved throughout the space, and a large sculpture in the middle of the park will shine a light into the night sky—the Beacon of Freedom—to reflect the fire for freedom. Designed by the internationally known late architect Phil Freelon, the park expects to open to the public in early 2023.

North Carolina Freedom Park (rendering)

Raleigh Iron Works
This historic industrial site outside of downtown will house offices, residential units, retail shops and restaurants, slated to open late 2023. Confirmed vendors will include a third location for Ponysaurus brewing featuring pizza from local favorite Oakwood Pizza Box, Durham-based Eastcut Sandwich Bar’s second location, as well as Andia’s Ice CreamBond Brothers Brewing will open NOCO in the adjacent Salvage Yard development in 2024, joining the newest Triangle Rock Club as anchor tenants.

"Dueling Dinosaurs" Exhibit (at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences)
An exhibit 67 million years in the making, will feature what's thought to be the only 100% complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex in the world (plus a Triceratops skeleton, among the most complete ever found as well). An entire new lab—opening in 2023—is being built for this exhibit, and visitors will be able to get up close and personal with the fossils and meet some of the scientific team as they uncover long-buried secrets. The TODAY Show recently took a look at how those dinos were uncovered in a recent video piece you can see here

Downtown Cary Park
First proposed in 2001, the Town of Cary City Council approved the master plan for Downtown Cary Park in March 2019. The plans to create an iconic, seven-acre, public gathering space include a call for two food and beverage facilities, four interactive water features, a great lawn and an outdoor entertainment pavilion. Construction of the park broke ground in summer 2021 with full completion estimated to be in mid-2023.

Dorothea Dix Park
In July 2015, the City of Raleigh acquired 308 acres of the Dorothea Dix Campus from the State of North Carolina. The purpose of the City’s acquisition of the property is to plan and develop a new destination park—Dorothea Dix Park. A master plan for the park—the city's largest green space—was unanimously approved by Raleigh City Council in Feb. 2019. The master plan proposes the park be transformed through six distinct landscapes, with ideas on how each landscape could be used by visitors (open space, playgrounds, plazas, gardens, performance spaces, public art etc.). Implementation of Phase 1 of the plan, which began in late 2020, calls for physical improvements to the park, including restoration of the creek, cemetery enhancements, rehabilitated buildings, a new main entry to the park, a new multi-use path and interim parking. Phase 1 of the plan may take 10-20 years to implement.

This year, the Gipson Play Plaza—named for generous Raleighite donors Tom and Pat Gipson and focused on providing a space to play for visitors of all ages—will break ground as one of the main entrances to the park, acting as a central gateway connection to the rest of downtown Raleigh. The 18-acre area will receive new landscaping, fountains, gardens, a waterfall, an amphitheater, picnic grounds, civic plaza and a playground that includes climbing towers, a sand bowl, swings and much more. The project broke ground in 2022. Construction is expected to last two years. 

RUS Bus Project 
Raleigh’s Union Station, an incredible train station and transportation hub that opened in 2018, has begun construction on the Raleigh Union Station Bus Facility, which is a multimodal transit hub. The mixed-use development is incorporating existing warehouse district facades, to preserve the area’s history and character. Expected to complete in 2025, RUS Bus will provide the community with unparalleled access to major transportation routes and networks throughout the local and regional area. Beyond train and bus access, the facility will include pedestrian and bicycle enhancements including a new pedestrian bridge, as well as infrastructure to support a future Bus Rapid Transit station. The facility will house 500,000 square feet of mixed-use space, including retail, multi-family housing, including 10% affordable housing and hotel rooms.

Back to top

 

Transportation

RDU International Airport currently averages approximately 400 arrivals and departures daily and services more than 11 million passengers annually. RDU provides service to nearly 60 other airports via nonstop flights and consistently has the lowest average fare among North Carolina’s commercial airports.

In 2022, Delta resumed its nonstop route to Paris and American restarted its direct flight to London Heathrow. In 2019, both airlines increased the size of the aircraft on the route adding comfort and additional capacity. 

New in 2022: RDU has continued pursuing international expansion including its newest additions: Montreal, Canada on Air Canada; Reykjavik, Iceland on Icelandair; and Nassau, The Bahamas on Bahamasair.  

Amid the pandemic, RDU added some local flair to the airport with a full craft beer bar and robust menu from Raleigh's third-largest production brewery, Raleigh Brewing Taproom, and a beloved European bakery from Cary's own Master Baker Lionel VatinetLa Farm Bakery Café, (both in Terminal 2).

Coming soon, Grove Bay Crawford, a collaboration between Grove Hospitality and Raleigh's Crawford Hospitality, will open three concepts in Terminal 2 late next year. Casual dining bar Crawford Genuine will be located in Concourse C. It will be run by five-time James Beard award nominee Scott Crawford. A second concept, Carolina Craft, will be an open-air kiosk serving craft beer, cocktails and light bites. Wake Forest-based Black & White Coffee Roasters will also be joining the marketplace in Terminal 2. 

RDU 10-199.jpg cropped

Downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District now houses the new Union Station transportation hub, which opened in July 2018. This major project accommodates longer trains and provides larger platforms, among other improvements. As part of a 10-year strategic Wake County Transit Plan approved by voters in 2016, Union Station not only serves Amtrak passengers but also acts as a multi-modal transit center connecting riders to other forms of transit.

The plan includes the expansion of bus service from 17 to 83 miles, including 20 miles of Bus Rapid Transit-related infrastructure improvements and will complete with the activation of 37 miles of Commuter Rail Transit (CRT) running from Garner to downtown Raleigh, North Carolina State University, Cary, Morrisville and the Research Triangle Park continuing to Durham and will leverage the bus network to connect riders to RDU as well.

Raleigh Union Station

Back to top

 

Photo of Cheeni Indian Food Emporium courtesy of Cheeni Food Emporium; Bright Spot Donuts photo by Anna Routh Barzin; The Parlor at Heights House Hotel photo by Forrest Mason; Las Ramblas photo by Forrest Mason.

Right Now in Raleigh, N.C.

Dining & Drinks

It looks like 2023 is going to be a big year for food in Raleigh, N.C. These highly anticipated restaurants have their eyes set on bringing new flavors to the City of Oaks in the coming months, a good sign for the hospitality community in Raleigh (and a great reason to...

Things to Do

Raleigh, N.C., is a booming metropolis that offers a big city feel with Southern charm. It's a smart, modern-meets-historic destination that has a lot to offer and no matter what path you choose...

Dining & Drinks

With a constantly-evolving restaurant scene that’s redefining and re-imagining both Southern cooking and global flavors, there is so much waiting to be discovered on your next visit!...

Sports & Recreation

There's no shortage of ways to find peaceful escapes in order to explore the outdoors in the City of Oaks. Use any of the Raleigh area’s 180 miles of greenways—many of them...

Dining & Drinks

Weekends are meant to be brunched on! Time spent with family and friends over stacks of blueberry pancakes or the perfect eggs Benedict should be cherished—in the Raleigh area, it is. We get...

Things to Do

We're all thrilled to have turned the page to a new year, and we've got a great feeling about good news on the horizon in the Raleigh area. For 2023, there are special events on the calendar, new places to explore, big restaurant openings lined up and plenty more to look forward to. We're so happy