Perfect for a weekend getaway or an extended stay, Raleigh isn’t the kind of place you want to leave right away. From high art to fancy chocolate, and high flying adventures to James Beard Award-winning chefs, there’s literally something for everyone in North Carolina's capital. Here are seven reasons to add it to your road trip bucket list.

Photo Credit: via North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Go Au Natural

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences tops many list of things of things you can’t miss in Raleigh. With exhibits on everything from ancient fossils to microorganisms, and oceanography to live labs with real experiments, the museum truly is the nexus of all things scientific. Oh, and the best part: it’s completely free!

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Be the Brunch

The most important meal of the week and fuel for further explorations, indulge in a soulful brunch at Big Ed’s City Market. You can get all your standard morning fare plus some of the best buttermilk biscuits this side of Appalachia. Go on and treat yo 'self.

Photo Credit: Dom Ramsey via

Raleigh and the Chocolate Factory

Using only quality beans from select sources in Central and South America — and fair trade whenever possible — the folks at Videri follow their chocolate from bean to bar. The result is high quality chocolate infused with Southern charm and style. You can tour the factory or skip straight to the shop -- we won't judge either way. But be sure to get yourself a bar of the pink peppercorn. You won’t regret it.

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A Diner and a Beard

Born out of a 1940s pie shop, Poole’s Diner has grown into so much more over the years. Chef Ashley Christensen reincarnated the old diner vibe while picking up a James Beard award in the process. Take in the old-meets-modern atmosphere and enjoy something off of the ever-changing menu made of fresh, local ingredients.

Photo Credit: Steve Mortiboy

High Brow, Low Fee

Raise those brows a little higher, and explore art from the Italian Renaissance, ancient Egypt and Greece at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Founded in 1947, North Carolina was actually the first state in the nation to use public funds to purchase of art for the people. As a result, the permanent exhibitions are absolutely free (visiting exhibits often have a fee).

Photo Credit: Sterling E. Stevens Design Photo via

Just Around the River Bend

The Neuse River Trail is a great way to get out of the city for the day and breathe some fresh air. 27.5 miles of paved trail, you'll wind through wetlands and pass historical landmarks. The area is great for bikers and runners, as well as anyone wanting to see some wildlife. There are also places where you can canoe, kayak, and fish.

"Carrboro NC Farmers' Market" by Tom via Flickr Creative Commons

Down to Market

With over 45,000 square feet of space, there’s no telling what you’ll find wandering around the North Carolina State Farmers Market. From farmers hawking the freshest produce in Raleigh to retailers selling handicrafts and local cheeses, it's the place to pickup souvenirs and snacks.