35 Outdoor Murals Worth Finding in Raleigh, N.C.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 10am by visitRaleigh
The expansive public art scene in Raleigh, N.C., is quickly proving that beautiful and awe-inspiring art can easily be found both inside and outside of the area's awesome museums and galleries. Slip on your walking shoes and hit the streets to find inspiring pieces that will have you clamoring for the perfect photo.
"Morgan Street Jazz Monsters: A Tribute to the Jazz Giants of North Carolina"
Brooklyn artist Kevin Lyons' mural at Trophy Brewing Company pays homage—in his patented whimsical style—to iconic musicians from the Tar Heel State—Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, J. Cole, 9th Wonder, Rapsody and more.
Find it: 827 W. Morgan St., Raleigh 27603
"Green City, USA"
Raleigh’s tallest mural comes courtesy of artist Scott Nurkin of The Mural Shop with help from the Raleigh Murals Project and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. A Towering piece at the corner of W. Hargett and S. McDowell Sts., "Green City, USA" depicts an abstract tree composed of geometric shapes that appears to be sprouting right out of the sidewalk. It gives a nod to Raleigh’s luscious canopy of parks, squares, wildlife and forests as well as the eco-friendly technology developed in the Research Triangle area. It also celebrate the organic and technological greenery that will power this area for generations to come.
Find it: 110 S. McDowell St., Raleigh 27601
Commute Smart Raleigh, Raleigh Union Station and Raleigh Arts teamed up to commission local artist J.P. Powell to paint a mural at the Raleigh Union Station bike racks. “Ride” was also created to increase awareness for National Bike Week and is meant to inspire the joy of cycling. The mural, with its city skyline, a solo bicycle, a pair of cyclists wearing helmets and its interconnected pathways, reflects the multi-modal connectivity of bike and rail. Cruise on over to the Warehouse District on your own two wheels to get a closer look!
Find it: 510 W. Martin St., Raleigh 27601
Celebrating John Lewis
This mural by artist Jalel Ronin celebrates the life of the late John Lewis, a towering figure of the civil rights era who served for more than three decades in Congress and is known for his unwavering fight for equality in the 1960s.
Lewis—who in 2011 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor—was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinator Committee, was an organizing leader of the March on Washington and led many other protests, sit-ins and marches. Lewis was arrested more than 40 times and repeatedly physically assaulted, including an infamous beating by police that fractured his skull on the Edmond Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965.
Lewis died at the age of 80 in 2020, and this mural on the exterior of Trophy Brewing + Pizza went up the following month. The mural depicts the Edmond Pettus Bridge with a new name, the John Lewis Bridge, a change that many have advocated for in recent years.
- Artist: @jalel_ronin
- 827 W. Morgan St., Raleigh 27603
“I Love Fuquay-Varina" mega mural
This larger-than-life symbol of the civic pride the hardworking folks of Fuquay-Varina possess is truly a sight to behold. Bright and colorful, the mural features the American flag waving proudly over the city’s landmarks and natural wonders. It also highlights the family-friendly atmosphere of the town.
Find it: 409 Broad St., Fuquay-Varina 27526 (one block from Aviator Brewing Tap House)
"All Are Welcome"
Originally painted in 2015 by Luke Buchanan, this mural has become the unofficial welcome sign to downtown Raleigh. This mural was painted on the side of chef Ashley Christensen’s restaurant, Poole’side Pies. Christensen is an established local chef and restauranteur who commissioned this mural to promote equality for the LGBTQ community. Luke Buchanan was invited back to Raleigh to give this mural a makeover and create a new “All are Welcome” mural during the summer of 2019.
Find it: 428 S. McDowell St., Raleigh 27601 (across from Red Hat Amphitheater)
Artist Sean Kernick—perhaps the most prolific mural painter in the Raleigh area—tackled this project in downtown Cary with the help of Cary Visual Art, Inc. Juxtaposing the old with the new and celebrating creative communities, this mural was completed in May 2019.
Find it: 122 W. Chatham St., Cary 27511
Shaw University 150th anniversary mural
Shaw University—the first historically black university in the South, the first college in the nation to offer a four-year medical school and the first black college in the nation to enroll women—celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2015. This mural by artist Scott Nurkin showcases three themes—technology, entrepreneurship and sustainability.
Find it: Approximately at 720 S. Blount St., Raleigh 27601 (behind Estey Hall)
"Abstracted Motion" Google Fiber AR mural
When viewed with the naked eye, “Abstracted Motion” depicts five figures in shades of purple and blue, hitting an array of poses. But, when viewed with an accompanying Android smartphone app, the 40-by-60-foot mural practically leaps off the wall. The art piece, painted by Raleigh artist Taylor White, is considered one of the world’s first augmented reality (AR) murals.
Find it: 410 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh 27601
Mount Rushmore of Hip Hop (feat. J. Cole)
Raleigh is one of four cities where you can gaze upon a mural that celebrates what followers of Spotify's wildly popular Rap Caviar playlist voted as the Mount Rushmore of 2010s hip hop. Head over to S. Dawson St. to see these colossal portraits of artists Drake, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar and the Tar Heel State’s own J. Cole. You can also make plans to catch J. Cole’s Dreamville Fest at Dorothea Dix Park—one of the most highly anticipated music festivals and signature events in Raleigh—when it returns for a third time in 2023.
Find it: 412 S. Dawson St., Raleigh 27601 (around the corner from Crank Arm Brewing)
"Life in Bloom" downtown Garner mural
One look at this art piece, and you’ll immediately see that life in Garner is in full bloom. Every aspect of this mural adorning the side of Full Bloom Coffee and Craft Cafe has vibrant energy from the native N.C. flora and fauna to the elements of Garner’s historic railroad heritage. Another visual gem by local artist Sean Kernick.
Find it: 141 W. Main St., Garner 27529
"Summer's Where You'll Find Me"
Detroit-based artist Louise Jones (also known as Ouizi) painted this large mural inspired by plants and flowers found within the North Carolina Museum of Art's outdoor park. Created in 2018, the mural was a part of an exhibit based on Georgia O'Keeffe and other contemporary artists.
Find it: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh 27607 (near entrance of museum's East Building)
Honoring Levelle Moton
North Carolina Central University coach LeVelle Moton is a certified living legend, a distinction now immortalized via a beautiful mural at the corner of Salisbury and Hargett Sts. in downtown Raleigh. Designed by Adam Williams and constructed by mural artist Sean Kernick, the piece features Moton surrounded by championship trophies, family and organizations like the Raleigh Boys and Girls Club that helped shape him. "Coach Mo," who grew up in Southeast Raleigh, leaves his mark on the region, on and off the court, giving back and inspiring through the Velle Cares Foundation as well as transforming his old Raleigh neighborhood by partnering with the city to develop more affordable housing.
Find it: 201 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh 27601 (across from DECO Raleigh)
"8-Bit to 5G"
More than just a mural, "8-Bit to 5G" is a celebration of creativity and innovation. This evocative mural—another work created by Taylor White—is a colorful expression of a collage of characters, graphics, hardware and other elements that represent a multitude of game genres and titles played, watched and made in the Raleigh area.
Find it: 429 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh 27601
"I Believe in Raleigh"
For the perfect Instagram pic and souvenir of your visit to Raleigh, head over to Sola Coffee Cafe. Enjoy a perfect cup of joe and strike a pose in front of the popular “I Believe in Raleigh” mural located on the back side of the shop.
Find it: 7705 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh 27615
Trophy Brewing pride mural
Another work of art at Trophy Brewing Company, this mural is all about pride!
Find it: 827 W. Morgan St., Raleigh 27603
John Prine tribute
As part of the 2019 Grammy push, the record label for John Prine—the late American country and folk music legend—commissioned this mural to be painted by artist Scott Nurkin during the 2018 PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass festival in downtown Raleigh.
Chopsticks on Five Star
Many visitors to Raleigh’s Glenwood South entertainment district acquaint themselves quickly with the delicious Asian fusion cuisine of Five Star Restaurant—a City of Oaks staple for more than 20 years now. What makes the experience even more appealing is the welcoming 2-D hostess right outside the restaurant’s entrance. Painted by artist Clark Hipolito, this anime-inspired character—dressed in red flowy robes and adeptly holding a pair of chopsticks—offers passersby a demur smile as she plucks a five-pointed star out of the air. Pose for a mural selfie on your way in or out for the perfect complement to an Instagram-worthy meal.
Find it: 301 N. West St., Raleigh, 27063
"Pavo the Cosmic Peacock"
When you think of wine, your think peacocks, right? If not, then one look at "Pavo the Cosmic Peacock" on the exterior of local wine shop DRINK will certainly shift your perspective. Another creation by local artist Clark Hipolito, this colorful fowl regally gazes at you as its plumes of eye-covered feathers cascade down the side of the business, surround the building’s entrance and continue along the sidewalk path. Pavo is named after one of the twelve constellations established by Petrus Plancius. There’s also a wine called Petrus that’s widely considered one of the best red wines in the world.
Find it: 215 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh 27603
"Sprinkles the bobcat"
Get a snapshot of the coolest cat in town! Dressed to impress and flanked by roses, "Sprinkles the bobcat" luxuriates on a wall in Raleigh’s popular Glenwood South district. Lisa Gaither’s creation welcomes all and points the way to the popular bar C. Grace.
Find it: 407 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh 27601
"Welcome to Raleigh, Y'all"
A campaign started by nonprofit group Come Out & Show Them, this "Welcome to Raleigh, Y'all" mural (shown in 17 different languages!) on the edge of downtown Raleigh spans 50 feet across and promotes inclusion, equality, tolerance and more.
Find it: 514 New Bern Ave., Raleigh 27601
“Love Is Love”
“Love Is Love” visually reflects the city’s welcoming and open nature. Portraying a couple in a passionate embrace, the message behind the piece is simple: Love is love and it should be open to all. Art by Casey O'Connell.
Find it: 237 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh 27601
Oaks and Spokes mural
Teamwork makes the dream work. That's why Oaks and Spokes, a nonprofit organization fostering the cycling community in Raleigh, partnered with Crank Arm Brewing (a rad bike-themed brewery in downtown Raleigh's Warehouse District) to thank riders for doing what they do.
Find it: 319 W. Davie St., Raleigh 27601
"Color Pop Corner"
One of downtown’s most colorful spots belongs to the Marbles Kids Museum. "Color Pop Corner," painted by Raleigh artist Lisa Gaither, delights the senses of both young and old with its eye-popping and brightly-colored geometric shapes. With seating, a small grassy area and big colorful concrete spheres, the space is an ideal spot to burn off extra energy, usually generated by a fun trip to Marbles.
Find it: 101 S. Blount St., Raleigh 27601
Raleigh Bicycle mural
At The Cardinal located in Glenwood South, you’ll find some of the best hot dogs and brews in the city as well as one sweet piece of urban art. The Raleigh Bicycle mural is a sprawling rendering of a cyclist being chased by a lion through a warm-colored savannah, inspired by a vintage Raleigh Bicycle Company advertisement distributed to African colonies during the early 20th century. Being that it’s the only lion native to these parts, this mural is a true must-see!
Find it: 713 N. West St., Raleigh 27603
"What Lifts You"
As one of the first artists to blend street art with social media, Kelsey Montague's "What Lifts You" mural series has become a sensation on Instagram (even Taylor Swift posed with one of the murals in New York City). In 2016, Montague finished this #WhatLiftsYou swing mural near The Cowfish at North Hills.
Find it: 4208 Six Forks Rd., Raleigh 27609
"Education Wall 1992"
Take a stroll around Government Mall off Wilmington and Lane Sts. in downtown Raleigh, and you’ll end up passing “Education Wall 1992.” By pairing quotes like, “You are a child. You are suitable to be awed,” with kid-like doodles and drawings, the mural inspires the student in us all.
Find it: 16 W. Jones St., Raleigh 27601 (behind the North Carolina State Legislative Building)
Honest Abe mural
Ever wondered what it would be like to see Abraham Lincoln cruising around behind the wheel of a Lincoln automobile? Well, wonder no longer, because the Lincoln Theatre hosts a beautiful mural that brings that exact scene to life on the live music venue's west-facing wall.
Find it: 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh 27601
Ann and Allen Iverson mural
As part of CAM Raleigh's Above The Rim exhibition (closed in Feb. 2019, the exhibit explored basketball through the lens of art from 16 international artists), Stephen "ESPO" Powers re-created a scene from 1990s NBA history—Allen Iverson, sitting on the bench during an actual game, having his hair braided by his mom Ann. A "shoutout to moms everywhere," as Powers described it on Instagram.
Find it: 409 W. Martin St., Raleigh 27603
BEST mural at Dillon Supply Warehouse
This project, by BEST (Beautifying Emerging Spaces Together), is a 150-foot depiction of how a community "moves forward together." Trains, planes and automobiles, along with people from all walks of life, are shown on the downtown Raleigh mural.
Find it: Approximately at 210 S. West. St. (across from Heirloom Brewshop)
City Market agricultural mural
For a visual homage to the abundant agriculture of N.C., check out this art piece on the edge of City Market. While marveling at the painted produce, don’t be surprised if some of it looks back at you. Finding faces cleverly disguised among the fruits and vegetables is an activity that never gets old.
Find it: Approximately at 225 E. Davie St., Raleigh 27601 (on back side of Vic's Italian Restaurant)
Free Expression Tunnel
The iconic Free Expression Tunnel is the longest, widest and most heavily-used pedestrian tunnel on the North Carolina State University campus. True to its name, it’s also where students and visitors alike can express thoughts and feelings about anything—some of which manifests itself in some truly unique artwork. Local tip: Look for the “Express Yourself” plaque dedicated by the University in 2006.
Find it: Approximately at 2620 Yarbrough Dr., Raleigh 27607
This mural, which depicts downtown Raleigh’s skyline as it would be viewed sitting in Dorothea Dix Park, was completed by artist Scott Nurkin at the end of 2016.
Find it: 4421 Six Forks Rd., Raleigh 27609 (left of Sur La Table)
"Cary, Then and Now"
Stretching 150 feet along the wall of a former grocery store, this downtown Cary mural shares the entire history of the town, starting with the railroad, important in the town’s early days, and ending with images of modern activities and fine dining—experiences you can enjoy today. The mural was created by Val Fax, and completed in June of 2003.
Find it: 220 W. Chatham St., Cary 27511 (on the side of La Farm Bakery)
"No Damsel" murals
At CAM Raleigh, artist Dorian Lynde's critically-acclaimed No Damsel exhibition was a hit. The exhibition featured a series of murals and paintings with reimagined, modern-day Disney princesses, and in addition to the pieces in the exhibition, Lynde painted murals in the Warehouse District that can still be seen today.
Find them: Corner of S. Harrington and W. Martin Sts., Raleigh 27603, and nearby
"The Good of the Hive"
Look out for this giant mural when you visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. "The Good of the Hive" is an artistic initiative founded by Matthew Willey on a personal commitment to hand-paint 50,000 honeybees—the number necessary for a healthy, thriving hive—in murals around the world. You can find 11 on the mural in Raleigh!
Find it: 121 W. Jones St, Raleigh 27601 (behind the museum's Nature Research Center)