Greater Raleigh may not be known (yet) as a “celebrity hangout,” but we do have our share of famous faces with ties to North Carolina’s capital city. In honor of the 24-hour grand opening of the Nature Research Center, the new wing at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, here are 24 celebrities with Raleigh area connections.

  1. Scotty McCreery –The “I Love You This Big” Garner native recently won the Academy of Country Music’s New Artist of the Year, following being crowned 2011 American Idol, and has announced his intent to attend  N.C. State University.
  2. Clay AikenAmerican Idol runner-up Clay Aiken was born and raised in Raleigh and has become a successful singer, songwriter, Celebrity Apprentice reality star, Broadway actor and author in his days since the show.
  3. Emily ProctorCSI: Miami wouldn’t be a CBS hit without this super sleuth and Raleigh native.
  4. Michael C. Hall – The Golden Globe Award-winner stars in the Showtime hit show Dexter.
  5. David Sedaris – Grammy Award-winning writer and humorist uses experiences from growing up in Raleigh as fodder for his books and writings.
  6. Amy Sedaris – The younger sister of David Sedaris, Amy is an actor, comedian and author in her own right.
  7. Evan Rachel Wood – This young Hollywood film star made many appearances on the Raleigh stage as part of Theatre In The Park productions with her father, Ira David Wood.
  8. Josh Hamilton – This major League Baseball all-star outfielder for the Texas Rangers chronicled his struggle with alcohol and drugs in the autobiography, Beyond Belief.
  9. Kristi Yamaguchi – Gold Medal-winner for figure skating in the 1992 Olympics made Raleigh her home while her husband, former hockey player Bret Hedican, played for the NHL Carolina Hurricanes.
  10. Sharon Lawrence – This primetime television actress is most famous for her role on NYPD Blue.
  11. Hildi Santo- Thomas – Award-winning interior designer best known for her creative designs on Trading Spaces.
  12. Lauren Kennedy – This Broadway actress performs the theater series, Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, each summer at downtown Raleigh’s Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
  13. Liz Vassey – Raleigh-born actress known for her roles on All My Children and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
  14. Andy Griffith – While not officially from Raleigh, a famous statue of Andy and Opie from the Andy Griffith Show is permanently displayed at Pullen Park in West Raleigh.
  15. Rhoda Griffis – Stage and screen actress who recently had the part of Registration Woman in the blockbuster movie The Hunger Games.
  16. John Tesh – This musician and songwriter is an alumni of N.C. State University.
  17. Zach Galifinakis – Before he had a Hangover, he partied on Hillsborough Street as a student at N.C. State University.
  18. Colin Firth –Academy Award-winner actor who has now acted in two films shot in the Raleigh area, Arthur Newman, Golf Pro, and Main Street.
  19. Jan Karon – Before making the western part of North Carolina her home, this author spent a few years living and working in Raleigh.
  20. Philip Rivers – Football quarterback for the San Diego Chargers played college football for N.C. State University.
  21. Justin Vernon – Singer, songwriter for the Grammy Award-winning group, Bon Iver, spent time at the start of his musical career in Raleigh.
  22. Kooley High – The six members of this hip-hop group met while attending N.C. State University.
  23. Tift Merritt – This singer, songwriter spent much of her childhood in the Raleigh area and began her musical career in the band, The Carbines, which played in small Raleigh venues.
  24. Mary Schweitzer –A paleontologist with dual appointments at both the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and N.C. State University, she led the team which discovered blood cells in dinosaur fossils and soft tissue remains in a T-Rex.