Things to Do This Memorial Day Weekend in Raleigh, N.C.
Thursday, May 16, 2019, 7pm by Kristen Baughman Taber
The Raleigh area is the perfect place for visitors and locals this Memorial Day weekend. From fun on the water to baseball games and fireworks, the destination is packing in the fun over the long weekend ahead.
Show your patriotism
On Sun. evening starting at 7pm, the Town of Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre will host Triangle Wind Ensemble's An American Celebration: Through Time and Space. This year marks the 50th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 space mission, and the Triangle Wind Ensemble celebrates this American achievement with a concert of music devoted to and inspired by space, the planets, stars and the final frontier. This special concert features a patriotic salute to veterans, plus music by Johann Strauss, Gustav Holst, Van Morrison and John Williams. Gates open at 5:30pm, and picnics are encouraged! Food and beverages will also be available for purchase on-site.
Join Veterans Freedom Park, also in Cary, on Mon. for a Memorial Day Remembrance to honor those who have served our country. The ceremony is 2:30-3:30pm and will feature speakers from the Town of Cary and local armed forces community support groups. The Town will offer toy soldiers that citizens can write a soldier's name on and place in the memorial as a way to honor all of those who have served in the armed forces.
Ready to enjoy some fun in the sun? Take advantage of the warmer weather by enjoying activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and canoeing—check out our detailed guide to getting on the water at 12 different lakes and rivers (plus a blackwater swamp, pictured below)!
Another way to take in the great outdoors is to hit the area's scenic trails. With more than 180 miles of hiking and greenway trails, exploration always awaits in the City of Oaks. Check out eight of our favorite trails to seek out a little sun and fun. Some of our favorites include the Art to Heart Trail, Lake Johnson Park and the Neuse River Greenway Trail (which you can get even more details on in our guide)!
Add some exhilaration to your Memorial Day weekend at Bond Park Adventure Day in Cary on May 25! By purchasing a $39 one-day pass, you'll have access to the Bond Park Challenge Course featuring a high-ropes course and a zip-line, as well as unlimited boat rentals for the day. All equipment is provided during your day of fun and adventure! Visiting family over the long weekend? This is a perfect group outing!
Memorial Day weekend baseball
Catch a Carolina Mudcats baseball game at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. The Mudcats play against the Down East Wood Ducks from Fri.-Mon. Catch fireworks at the Fri. game and again after the Sun. game. On Mon., the team is set to sport patriotic-themed jerseys for the first time in the 2019 season. Hungry? The hot dogs are delicious and, of course, perfect for a baseball game.
From May 24-30, Ting Stadium at Ting Park is hosting the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) Division I World Series. Eight regional winners will travel to Holly Springs to compete for the NCBA Division I Championship and participate in other events, such as a fan fest, home run derby and more.
Cool down over the weekend with a sweet treat from one of these local ice cream makers. What will it be, Andia's Homemade Ice Cream's Baklava Sundae, FRESH. Local Ice Cream's Carolina Crunch or Howling Cow's Wolf Tracks in a waffle cone? Oh, the decisions!
For a great way to kick off your Memorial Day weekend, head to the Midtown Beach Music Series in North Hills, Thurs. evening, 6-9pm to sing along with Bantum Rooster and shag dance the night away. Or bring a blanket and settle in for some foot-tapping, finger-snapping good times on Sun. with Tyson Brothers Band & Mister Felix during the Six Sundays in Spring music series in Wake Forest at the E. Carroll Joyner Park amphitheater, 5-7pm.
Over the weekend, check out a variety of concerts, including tunes from Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek (Thurs., 7:30pm), the bewitching music of NC Symphony Summerfest: Symphonie Fantastique at Koka Booth (Sat., 7:30pm) and Paul McCartney at PNC Arena (Mon., 8pm).
See a full list of concerts over at themostnc.com!
A Raleigh event staple celebrating popular Japanese visual culture, Animazement takes over the Raleigh Convention Center all weekend. The convention attracts thousands of attendees and features a huge range of events, such as videos, cultural demos, fan and guest panels, J-pop/rock concerts, martial arts demos, craft classes, artists, vendors and more.
Catch a movie
Pack a blanket and bring your special someone or the whole family to enjoy a movie under the stars. Kick your weekend off early on Thurs. with Hollywood classic The Wizard of Oz on the back lawn of the Garner Performing Arts Center. The movie starts around 8pm and admission is free plus, there will be food from Rare Earth Farms food truck and beer from Garner's Brice’s Brewing Company.
Enjoy a free, family-friendly movie outdoors at Lake Benson Park, also in Garner. Bring your own picnic dinner or purchase light concessions on-site. The Friday Family Flick will be Incredibles 2 (start time at 8:30pm), and if you’re interested in spending the night after the movie, you can pitch a tent! (Pre-registration required for camping.)
On Sat. at Joyner Park, the Incredibles 2 will be showing at 8:30pm. Get there early to enjoy pre-show activities, which begin at 7:15pm. The kids can become an Incredible! Just bring a T-shirt from home and then add on an iron-on Incredibles decal and make masks to become part of the Incredibles team.
Check out Raleigh’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a combination movie theater, video rental store and restaurant that boasts 11 theaters playing movies and films from 35mm and all the way to 4K laser projection. Read all about this movie lover's dream here! Catch a showing of Disney's Aladdin over the weekend and hang out at the Alamo’s Video Vortex restaurant and bar for beers and board games.
Classic Raleigh things to do
Take in Raleigh must-sees like the North Carolina State Capitol, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of History (don't miss the North Carolina and World War I exhibit—it closes after Memorial Day!), Pullen Park and more. We've rounded up a list of 30 can't-miss things to do, here!
Ranked by Insider as one of the top 25 museums in the country, the North Carolina Museum of Art is an absolute must-see for visitors to the area. And several special, trip-worthy exhibitions are on display during Memorial Day weekend: Sayler/Morris: Their World Is Not Our World, Within the Frame and John James Audubon's The Birds of America, featuring a set of the famous, hand-colored wildlife engravings on display.
Located on vibrant Hillsborough St. is the Gregg Museum of Art & Design, North Carolina State University's collecting and exhibiting museum with more than 35,000 objects ranging from 19th century Japanese woodblock prints to antique N.C. quilts. Plenty of thought-provoking and intriguing exhibits are on display right now, including: Left-Handed Liberty, Explorations, Borderlands and Southern Surreal, featuring remarkable examples of creativity from a truly-innovative and clever furniture designer.
Also, Memorial Day weekend is your last chance to check out the "North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes" exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of History. Widely known as the real painter behind the character J.J. Evans' artwork in the groundbreaking African-American sitcom Good Times, Ernie Barnes’ unique style of painting made him one of the premier figurative artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Relaxing by the pool or chilling and grilling are all completely acceptable activities for Memorial Day weekend. However, if you're looking for something a little more exhilarating, the Raleigh area has it. Take on the adrenaline-pumping activities on this list of the area's top sports and outdoors experiences. And yes, bragging is encouraged afterwards! Jump on a go-kart at Rush Hour Karting in Garner and hit speeds of nearly 40 mph, climb the highest indoor rock wall in a five-state radius at Triangle Rock Club and more.
Dining and drinks
Take advantage of the longer weekend to explore the area's critically-acclaimed culinary scene. Check out Raleigh’s newest food hall, Transfer Co. Food Hall, or these 10 delicious eats at Morgan Street Food Hall, chow down at one of the area's six newest restaurants, have a drink at a rooftop, hidden or underground bar or dine at one of Raleigh’s legendary restaurants like an old-school soda shop or hot dog joint that’s over 100 years old. (Or, brunch, anyone? See 20 of the best brunch spots, here.)
Also, 30 local breweries have bar stools waiting just for you! Take advantage of the long weekend and visit a few breweries to get your Raleigh Beer Trail Passport stamped (remember to have a designated driver by your side)! The more stamps you get, the more rewards you get. Learn why Raleigh is named one of the world’s top beer destinations here.
Get a sugar buzz this Memorial Day weekend! Downtown Raleigh's all-dessert food truck rodeo, NC Sugar Rush, is taking place on Sun. from 1-5pm. With more than 20 local dessert vendors, this event is packed with all things sweet like Italian ice, cheesecake, doughnuts, cupcakes and more.
Check out the City of Raleigh Museum’s (COR Museum's) newest exhibit about the history of Dorothea Dix Park, titled Plantation to Park: The Story of Dix Hill.
On Fri., laugh hard with Faizon Love at Goodnights Comedy Club.
Head to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for Legacy of Apollo: Science of the Moon, part of the Science Cafe series, to hear the latest science and see the latest images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, plus to discuss what the Moon can teach us about the evolution of our solar system.
The newest horror convention in N.C., the Carolina Fear Fest, will be in town at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds Sat.-Sun., with guest appearances, vendors, panels and more.
Experience the Downtown Walking Food Tour, a guided journey of sight and taste that spans the downtown districts to sample a cross-section of some of Raleigh’s unique local restaurant venues on Sat.