There are a lot of things we miss doing in Raleigh, N.C., right now. 

While most of the country has been under stay-at-home orders for several weeks now due to COVID-19, we've been dreaming up plans to rediscover the Raleigh area once it's safe to do so.

We've narrowed our list of things we can't wait to do again to the 10 activities below—bookmark these items, share with a friend or make a mental note to join us in exploring the City of Oaks as soon as it's safe to get together again!

Dine at some of the region's best restaurants

So many people have enjoyed a newfound opportunity for cooking at home recently, and that's fantastic. But even when you have the recipe for America's most famous mac and cheese at your disposal, there's still something special (and relaxing) about being a guest in a favorite local restaurant.

Although many Raleigh-area restaurants have remained open for takeout and delivery service, some have had their doors closed for a month now. Of those, a few of the tastes we're craving most: 

What else do we miss? Sitting down for coffee at 42 & Lawrence, croissants at Yellow Dog Bakery, hot dogs at The Roast Grill, fried chicken at Clyde Cooper's BBQ, soft shell sandwiches at Locals Oyster Bar, enchiladas at Jose and Sons and many, many other dining experiences. 


Enjoying canoe rentals at William B. Umstead State Park

One of N.C.’s most-visited state parks, William B. Umstead State Park remains a peaceful getaway thanks to its sheer size—more than 5,000 acres of forest, trails and lakes sit on the edge of Raleigh, Cary and Morrisville. With 13 miles of multi-use trails that follow a series of rolling hills (perfect for horseback riding, jogging and cycling) and 22 miles of dedicated hiking trails, this is a must-hit destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Typically, from April-Oct., canoe rentals are available on Big Lake for just $7, making for a fun day-date activity before a picnic back on shore.

Umstead Park Canoe


Spend a perfect day at the North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the most cherished public spaces in all of Raleigh, the galleries at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) have been closed to the public for several weeks now (the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, however, has remained open and quite active with visitors). 

Opened in 2010 and celebrating 10 years of memories this year, the museum's light-filled, 127,000-square-foot West Building has been previously named among the world's 125 most important works of architecture by Architectural Record (it's easy to see why the West Building is among the Raleigh area's most-Instagrammed spaces). 

The art we miss isn't just inside, however. Each summer, the museum puts on a series of outdoor concerts and movies that are among our favorite events of the year, allowing for an afternoon of gallery exploring to seamlessly transition into an evening of open-air entertainment. Those days can't come back soon enough!


Cheer on the home teams

At this time last year, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes were playing for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. While fighting for another chance at a playoff run this year, the NHL season was interrupted by COVID-19 and there's no answer yet on when or if the season will pick back up. So yes, we miss Canes hockey, and you'll find us screaming in the seats at PNC Arena as soon as we can get in!

Of course, spring and summer typically mean the return of America's favorite pastime. The Carolina Mudcats—single-A affiliate of MLB's Milwaukee Brewers—are celebrating their 30th year on the diamond in Zebulon in 2020. The season was just about to start when COVID-19 brought things to a halt, and we're unsure of when the first pitch will be thrown out this year, but we do know that sunshine, popcorn, peanuts and the crack of the bat will be there for us when it's safe!

On the pitch at WakeMed Soccer Park, North Carolina FC had played just one game when the USL season was put on hold, and the North Carolina Courage, one of the world's best club soccer teams, are looking to defend their back-to-back National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) championships once play can get underway. Fingers crossed that we see these athletes in action soon!

Carolina Mudcats


Ride the pedal boats at Pullen Park

Did you know that Raleigh's Pullen Park is among the world's oldest amusement parks? Established in 1887 as the first public park in N.C., at Pullen Park you can rent a pedal boat, ride a carousel, take a swim, sign up for an art class, see a play, play your favorite sport and more.

Typically open from mid-March through Oct., the pedal boats that dot Lake Howell are one of the most family-friendly ways to get on the water in the Raleigh area (up to four people can fit in on boat).

After a short cruise (and maybe a picnic), kids love to ride the C.P. Huntington miniature train that circles the park, as well as the historic Gustave A. Dentzel Carousel. 

It might feel like a while before we can get back into the park, but we'll be there once it opens!


Take part in re-scheduled celebrations and new special occasions

During this time that restaurant dining rooms have been closed, we know that many celebrations—birthdays, graduations, holidays, anniversaries and more—have been missed. But that doesn't mean they need to be canceled, just postponed.

We encourage you to make up for lost time with friends and family by rescheduling those celebratory get-togethers. Need a good special occasion restaurant? We've got that for you!

Angus Barn


Hop on the Raleigh Beer Trail

Breweries have still been allowed to sell beer for pickup and delivery, and boy have we taken advantage of that!

But the Raleigh Beer Trail—which dishes out prizes based on visiting breweries in Raleigh and Wake County—is truly about sitting down in a taproom, tasting local beer and meeting local people. 

We've got prizes to send out to those who get their Passport stamped, and we can't wait to get them to you (so make sure you've got a beer plan ready once taprooms open back up!). 


Meet up with friends and make new ones at festivals and events

The immediate future of big events is unclear, but we do know this: Raleigh is well-known as a home to major festivals—music, arts, food, cultural events and beyond. A look at some events that are currently scheduled for later summer and fall (if any of these events can't happen this year, you can bet we'll save the dates for next time around):

Wide Open Bluegrass 2019


Shop and stop to say hello at local retail spots

Your favorite local retailers need your support more than ever. And while lots of shops have been open for online sales, it's always good to stop in and say hello to the workers and owners of independent stores, many of whom have provided important resources for us to stay sane or stay healthy during these stay-at-home times. 

We can't wait to pick up good reads from Quail Ridge Books and Page 158 Books, new summer items from The Art of Style and Edge of Urge, treats from Videri Chocolate Factory and Escazú so much more.


Sing loud and dance proud a live concert

It's no secret that Raleigh is a great place with great taste in music. In fact, Rolling Stone named the Raleigh area one of eight cities "where live music has exploded," thanks in large part to collaborative artists and clubs that rock. 

During the warm weather months (during a normal year), there can be so many shows in Raleigh that it's easy to take for granted—if you can't make it on Thurs. night, there's another big lineup on Sat., or three more shows you're interested in next week. 

But once the music gets rolling again, no more missing out—we're filling up our calendars with as many shows as possible to support the artists, the venues and our social lives!

Hopscotch Music Festival


Header photo by Brian Strickland; Hopscotch Music Festival photo by Garrett Poulos 

Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. Menconi's latest book,... View More

Every two weeks, we send out a newsletter that includes the best of the best upcoming events. If you sign up for our E-magazine,... View More

Are. You. Ready?! The state's largest annual event, the N.C. State Fair draws nearly one million visitors through the gates... View More

Dive deep into Raleigh, N.C., by adding a People-First Tourism Experience to your travel itinerary. As a carefully curated... View More