Free Things to do in Raleigh

The best free things to do in Raleigh are just minutes from our North Carolina hotel. From art and history museums brimming with knowledge to gorgeous green spaces and local markets, the City of Oaks is full of fun things you can do without spending a dime. Whether you’re craving a weekend of contemplating creativity or some time in the great outdoors, Raleigh has something for you. 

gardens at the NC Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of Art

One of the first major museums to house their very own collection, the North Carolina Museum of Art features everything from Renaissance to contemporary art. Chronicling an immense history of the art scene, this Raleigh museum is free to enjoy. NCMA’s East and West Building Galleries are open Wednesday – Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. The outdoor Museum Park is open daily, including holidays, from dusk to dawn. Donations upon museum entry are appreciated! 

The Raleigh Market

The Raleigh Market is an indoor and outdoor flea market open on weekends rain or shine, also known as NC’s greatest treasure hunt. You can find everything from vintage to handcrafted goods for sale, with an unparalleled feel of community and creativity throughout the brightly-lit and decorated spaces. Open Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission into the market is free for all, with individual vendor prices varying by product.  

JC Raulston Arboretum

JC Raulston Arboretum is a beautiful exhibition on the NC State campus showcasing plants, gardens, and landscaping. Admission to the arboretum is free, but donations are welcome. Garden visitation is Monday – Thursday from 9 am to 4:30 pm, Friday from 9 am to 8 pm, and Saturday – Sunday from 8 am to 8 pm between Memorial Day and September. The gardens are open Monday – Friday 9 am to 4:30 pm, and Saturday – Sunday 10 am to 5 pm September until the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. 

CAM Raleigh

CAM Raleigh is an unconventional museum showcasing living artists’ work and boasting an experiential visit within. With no permanent collections, CAM Raleigh values the ever-changing landscape of the art world and brings new work to their gallery often, making for a new experience each time you visit. Open Thursday – Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Admission to this downtown Raleigh museum is completely free. 

City of Raleigh Museum

Showcasing the history of the state’s capital through exhibits and artifacts, the City of
Raleigh Museum
is one of the best free things to do in Raleigh. Dedicated to preserving the city’s history and educating the public about the rich history of the area, this museum offers programs and supplemental information to make your experience at this Raleigh museum top notch. Admission is free. 

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is North Carolina’s most visited museum, boasting over one million visitors annually. This Raleigh museum has four floors, featuring interactive exhibits, live animal displays, fossil showcases, and even the chance to see scientists working in real time in the Nature Research Center. Admission is free to this popular Raleigh museum, though memberships and donations are always welcome to support the museum. 

If you love museums, check out our list of the best museums in Raleigh.

North Carolina Museum of History

Step back in time to learn the exciting, varied history of North Carolina. From the first English settlement in the New World to the first African American woman in the United States to receive a BA, this state is a treasure trove of fascinating facts to learn. This Raleigh museum houses artifacts like paintings and photography, physical items, and even offers presentations and classes for deeper understanding of the topics found in the museum. Even with this wealth of information, the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh is completely free. 

The Gregg Museum of Art

Located on the NC State campus, The Gregg is a Raleigh museum unlike any other in the city. With over 35,000 pieces in their permanent collections and more being investigated by the museum’s curators, this Raleigh museum offers an impressive array of permanent exhibits supplemented by rotating and traveling exhibits to keep the space new and exciting for returning visitors. Admission to The Gregg is free and it’s within walking distance to our hotel.

People walking down trail in a park - one of the best free things to do in raleigh nc

Fred Fletcher Park

Just a few miles from StateView Hotel, Fred Fletcher Park is a beautiful outdoor space with plenty of garden area to explore. You’ll find a water garden with a wetland area full of native plant life and wildlife, perennial plants, and well-maintained walking trails at this popular Raleigh park. Stretch out on the lush green lawn for a picnic, take a stroll through the walking trails, play on one of the ball courts, or visit the playground if you’ve got little ones between ages 2 and 12. This park is totally free to enter and enjoy. 

Looking for more free ways to spend time outdoors in Raleigh? Check out our list of the best Raleigh parks and outdoor activities nearby