Museums In Raleigh NC

One of the top Museums in Raleigh NC

Raleigh boasts a rich cultural background and makes learning about it a breeze with tons of museums. From art and science to history and culture, the best museums in Raleigh offer immersive experiences and exhibits for visitors of all ages. Raleigh’s best museums offer captivating journeys into the art, history, and nature of the North Carolina state capital. Read on for StateView’s list of the best Raleigh museums! 

Museums in Raleigh NC

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences | 11 W. Jones Street

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is North Carolina’s most visited museum, racking up over 1 million visitors annually. It’s a popular destination for a reason! This Raleigh museum aims to educate visitors about the natural world and inspire its conservation through classes and interactive exhibits. 

The museum is divided into two collections: the Nature Exploration Center and the Nature Research Center. The Nature Exploration Center’s four-story building features wildlife and geology exhibits that boast exciting live animal displays and fossil showcases. Inside the Nature Research Center, visitors can watch museum scientists study the natural world in real-time. The museum also has two cafes, a gift shop, and a 3D theater.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. General admission to the museum is free, but there are additional charges for special exhibits and films at the WRAL 3D Theater.

A visit to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences is just one fun thing to do in downtown Raleigh.

North Carolina Museum of Art | 2110 Blue Ridge Road

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the best and first Raleigh museums. The museum’s collections cover over 5,000 years of art, history, and culture of North Carolina artists and others. Public funds were used to purchase art and build a gallery for the first time ever in the United States in 1947 – and that initial purchase of 139 art pieces has expanded into the mind blowing collection available at the North Carolina Museum of Art. 

Outside the walls of the museum, visitors can stroll the 164-acre Museum Park. Dedicated to fostering a welcoming sense of community, this garden features both permanent and rotating art installations that complement their natural surroundings. The garden also holds an outdoor amphitheater that hosts live music and other entertainment. 

Admission to the People’s Collection in the East and West buildings is free. Museum Park entrance is also free, with the exception of paid tickets required for special exhibitions and programs like concerts, film screenings, performances, and classes. Admission is also required during the annual spring fundraiser Art in Bloom each March. The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Museum Park is open daily from dawn to dusk, including holidays. 

gardens at the NC Museum of Art

North Carolina Museum of History | 5 E. Edenton Street

Step back in time to explore the history and heritage of the state at the North Carolina Museum of History. From the first English settlement in the New World to the first African American woman to receive a B.A. degree in the United States, North Carolina’s history is rich, diverse, and extensive – and collected for you to see at one of the best museums in Raleigh.

Exhibits rotate regularly and the museum sometimes hosts traveling exhibitions. Africa to Carolina allows visitors to explore the Middle Passage, laws concerning enslaved people, and the methods those enslaved folks used as resistance. Signs of the Times covers the history of protest in North Carolina – the people who protest, what they fight for and how, and the way protests have shaped our society. Check out the Exhibits tab for the most up-to-date list of exhibitions. 

The North Carolina Museum of History is open daily, Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Admission to the North Carolina Museum of History is completely free. 

Marbles Kids Museum | 201 E. Hargett Street

Kids and adults will have a blast exploring the educational and interactive exhibits at Marbles Kids Museum – the best kids museum in Raleigh. The museum spans two floors and features outside exhibits as well. On the first floor, check out Toddler’s Hollow, where kids under 3 are encouraged to explore a woodland recreation at their own pace. Older kids will love the Splash! exhibit, and everybody gets a kick out of Stepnotes, the staircase that plays like a piano with your steps. The first floor is also home to Raleigh’s only giant screen movie experience, the IMAX theater

The second floor houses Ecosphere, River Playway, Imagifab, and more exhibits to explore. Marbles even hosts Sensory Friendly Playtime days, leaving the lights up and sounds down for kids with sensory disorders. 

Advance tickets are required at Marbles Kids Museum, as tickets frequently sell out. Advance tickets are $2 less than day-of reservations – don’t wait! Tickets are free for Marbles Members and half price from 3 pm to 7 pm Tuesday through Friday. Marbles Kids Museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, with extended hours of 10 am to 7 pm on Thursdays.  

A child and her grandfather enjoying the Marbles Kids Museum - museums in Raleigh NC

Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) Raleigh | 409 W. Martin Street

The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) Raleigh is one of Raleigh’s best museums. Located in the Warehouse District of downtown Raleigh, CAM is a non-collecting museum featuring art, installations, and exhibitions by living artists exclusively. 

Contemporary art is considered culture at CAM. It’s more than just a painting on a wall. To CAM, art is food, fashion, music, videos, installations, technology, and so much more. The Contemporary Art Museum ensures that local students are involved in growing its eclectic culture. Area middle school students act as docents during exhibition openings, teaching visitors about the artists, their piece of art on display, and their creative process. 

Current artists on display at CAM Raleigh are Beverly McIver, Byron D. King, Aliyah Bonnette, Stella Rosalie Rosen, ISABEL LU, Ransome, and creators from the NC State School of Design. CAM Raleigh is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free. 

Legends of Harley Drag Race Museum

Visit the only Harley Davidson Drag Race Museum in the world during your next trip to downtown Raleigh. Located on the second floor of the Harley Davidson dealership in downtown Raleigh, this museum features racing bikes and gear, trophies, and other memorabilia from the racing days of rider Ray Price. The museum is open according to Tobacco Road Harley’s hours of operation, which are Monday — Friday 9 am to 6 pm, 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and noon to 4 pm on Sunday. 

Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum

The Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum in Raleigh offers a unique perspective into the world of dairy farming. This interactive museum in Raleigh is the home and production site of Howling Cow dairy products, which you can find at multiple locations on NC State’s campus and at Harris Teeter grocery stores statewide. Learn how milk gets from a cow to your table and see what it’s like day to day on a real dairy farm. To schedule a tour of the Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum, contact Alex Ives at

Free Museums in Raleigh

North Carolina Museum of Natural History | 11 W. Jones Street

Admission to the North Carolina Museum of Natural History is free. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, closed on Mondays and some holidays. 

Museum memberships and donor generosity allow the North Carolina Museum of Natural History to continue offering education and programming that foster the exploration of the natural world – you can become a member or donate here

North Carolina Museum of History | 5 E. Edenton Street 

Admission to the North Carolina Museum of History is free – the “cherry on top” for one reviewer who visited the museum. The museum is open daily, Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. The North Carolina Museum of History is closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. 

Members of the North Carolina Museum of History Association, personal and corporate donations, and volunteers help keep the museum admission free. Learn more here.  

exhibit at the NC Museum of History - museums in Raleigh NC

City of Raleigh Museum | 220 Fayetteville Street

The City of Raleigh Museum is dedicated to preserving Raleigh’s past for future generations. The museum collects artifacts to curate exhibits and provide educational programming about the city’s rich and diverse history. 

Admission to the City of Raleigh Museum is free. A suggested donation of $5 for adult visitors can be placed in the donation box in the gift shop. The City of Raleigh Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm, and First Fridays from 6 pm to 9 pm. 

The Gregg Museum of Art + Design | 1903 Hillsborough St.

Located on the NC State University campus, the Gregg Museum of Art + Design is unlike any other in the area. This museum houses more than 35,000 pieces in its permanent collection, and regularly rotates exhibits to keep visitors coming back to Raleigh for more. 

Admission to the Gregg is free. The Gregg Museum of Art + Design is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, with occasional extended hours of 10 am to 8 pm on Thursdays for public programming

Pope House Museum | 511 S. Wilmington Street

Explore a piece of Raleigh’s history at the Pope House Museum. Originally built in 1901, the house of Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope stands as a reminder of the life and legacy of the only African-American man to run for mayor in a Southern capital during the Jim Crow Era.

The Pope House Museum is the only of its kind in North Carolina, still home to original furniture and artifacts from the Pope family’s daily life – like Dr. Pope’s father’s freedman papers and Dr. Pope’s original doctor’s bag from the Spanish-American war. 

Admission to the Pope House Museum is free. Donations are accepted and encouraged. The Pope House Museum also takes donations of time! Find out how to volunteer at the Pope House, one of Raleigh’s best museums, here

North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in Raleigh is home to over 200 pieces of memorabilia from legendary sports names. Featuring pieces of sports history from greats like Michael Jordan, Arnold Palmer, Dale Earnhardt, and more, this unique museum and gallery in Raleigh is a fun stop to add to your itinerary if you have sports lovers in your group. The NC Sports Hall of Fame is open Tuesday — Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Admission to the NC Sports Hall of Fame is free. 

Raleigh Fire Museum

The Raleigh Fire Museum is located at the Keeter Training Center in Raleigh, and is open on the second Saturday each month. This museum is operated by a non-profit organization that has curated a collection chronicling over 150 years of firefighting history, perseverance, and innovation in the City of Oaks. On the second Saturday of every month, the Raleigh Fire Museum is open to the public from 10 am to 2 pm. Admission is free. 

Museums Near Raleigh NC

Little House Museum & Gallery

Outside of Raleigh in Rolesville, Little House Museum & Gallery features two galleries that explore the rich history of Rolesville. Through artifacts, documents, furnishings, art, and more, visitors get a sense of what life was like in early Rolesville as well as the advances that have been made since the town’s inception. The Little House Museum & Gallery is currently open on Sundays from noon to 4 pm, with tours by appointment. 

Fuquay-Varina Museums Complex

The Fuquay-Varina Museums Complex offers an interesting look into Fuquay-Varina history. A short drive from Raleigh, this museum complex is home to six distinct museums: the first Fuquay Post Office, the “Squire” Ballentine Schoolhouse, the Centennial Museum, the Johnson Playhouse, a tobacco barn, and a Norfolk Southern Caboose. The museum complex is open on Monday mornings from 10 am to 4 pm, and Wednesdays from 1 to 4 pm, with docents to guide your tour. Coming with a big group? The museum encourages groups to schedule a tour outside of regular hours so walk-in visitors won’t disrupt your tour. 

North Carolina Railway Museum & New Hope Valley Railway

Located about 30 minutes from Raleigh, the North Carolina Railway Museum is an open-air museum that features the Goldston Depot, several train cars, railroad equipment like cranes and car-movers, and more. While the museum is incredible, many visitors flock to this destination outside of Raleigh for train rides. Affectionately known as the “Triangle’s Train,” this train travels along 4 miles of historic railroad tracks through the beautiful landscape for an hour-long trip from Bonsal to New Hill and back. Check out the ride schedule before you plan your trip – the museum is only open on scheduled ride days. 

If our list of museums in Raleigh NC has sparked your excitement, pack your bags and book your stay at the StateView Hotel today. Our on-site restaurant, beautiful outdoor pool deck, and extensive in-room amenities are the perfect complements to any North Carolina getaway. We look forward to hearing all about your favorite museum visit during your next stay at our Raleigh hotel.