Moving to the Raleigh-Durham area– what you need to know

Raleigh-Durham City Guide

So you’re moving to the Raleigh-Durham area? Well, get excited because there is no shortage of amazing things to see, do and eat! The region is home to several of the nation’s top universities including Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State, which is a big reason why it’s commonly referred to as the Research Triangle.

Regardless of what your interests are, you’re in for a fun-filled next chapter of your life!

Where to live in Raleigh-Durham, NC

First things first, where to live? The Raleigh-Durham area has a diverse set of neighborhoods that can accommodate just about any pace – and stage – of life.


Raleigh-Durham is quite the destination for millennials. In fact, Durham was recently named the best city for millennials – not to mention, one of the best cities for recent grads to find a job! It’s no surprise as this region has a strong job market, affordable housing and amenities to meet almost any interest.

The Raleigh-Durham housing market attracts both homeowners and renters alike, with popular neighborhoods and areas for millennials to include the following:

  • Glenwood South
  • North Hills/Midtown
  • Crabtree
  • The Tobacco District
  • Brightleaf
  • Five Points
  • Downtown Raleigh
  • Apex
  • East Raleigh

Young Families

The Raleigh-Durham area is a wonderful place for young families to flourish too, with a diverse mix of neighborhoods to accommodate any family style. U.S News & World Report listed it as the tenth-best place to live in 2019. The question is, which area is best for you and your family?

Popular neighborhoods and communities for young families include the following:

  • Midtown
  • Hasentree
  • Brier Creek
  • Wakefield Plantation
  • Heritage
  • Oakwood
  • North Hills
  • Falls River
  • Glenwood Ave. Area

Empty Nesters

It isn’t just millennials or young families who’ll enjoy Raleigh-Durham. According to SmartAsset, Raleigh was listed as one of the top-10 cities where people are retiring. North Carolina does not tax social security benefits, nor does the state have an inheritance or estate tax. The region also has a unique mix of big city offerings and idyllic small-town charm thanks to several local communities like Chapel Hill.

Empty nesters may want to consider homes in these neighborhoods and communities:

  • Trinity Park
  • Watts-Hillendale
  • Enchanted Oaks
  • Devintage
  • Harrington Point
  • The Cypress of Raleigh
  • Governors Club
  • Stonehenge
  • Brier Creek

What to do in Raleigh-Durham, NC

The question in Raleigh-Durham isn’t what to do. It’s what to do first.


North Carolina Museum of Art

Opened in 1956, the North Carolina Museum of Art boasts an art collection that spans more than 5,000 years, as well as an amphitheater for outdoor performances and a number of different exhibitions, programs and events throughout the year. Featuring over 40 galleries and 164-acres of museum, the North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the country’s largest fine art museums. For more information, visit

North Carolina Museum of History

The North Carolina Museum of History is a renowned affiliate of the Smithsonian and offers unique programs such as educational programs, concerts, crafting events and demonstrations. The North Carolina Museum of History is a popular tourist attraction offering events all year round. Admission to the museum is free. For more information, visit

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the state’s oldest museum and is the largest of its kind in the southeastern United States. The museum is made up of four facilities on three different campuses, which include a nature research center, a satellite facility, an outdoor classroom and a museum of forestry. The collection contains more than 1.7 million specimens of mammals, plants, meteorites and so much more. For more information, visit

Carolina Basketball Museum

A must-see for any Tar Heels fan. Located on UNC’s campus, the museum features a wide array of UNC Basketball memorabilia, photos, videos and other information representing the program’s famed history. The museum is the first university basketball-only museum in the county. There are several interactive presentations highlighting its most famous figures like Michael Jordan and Dean Smith, along with its 20 Final Four appearances and most exciting games. Admission to the museum is free. For more information, visit

Marbles Kids Museum

Located in the Moore Square Historic District, this unique children’s museum features all kinds of interactive and hands-on exhibits like StepNotes – a staircase that doubles as piano! – that help children actively learn and inspire creative thinking. For more information, visit

Historical Sites

Mordecai Historic Place

Registered as a national historical landmark and museum, Mordecai Historic Place is a 5,000-acre plantation; the oldest residence in Raleigh, Mordecai Mansion dates back to 1785. The site also is the birthplace of U.S. President Andrew Johnson. Its history and natural beauty also make it a highly sought-after wedding destination! For more information, visit

Historic Oakwood Cemetery

Founded in 1869, Historic Oakwood Cemetery is a 102-acre cemetery in the historic Oakwood neighborhood, with 30-acres remaining for future needs. This cemetery is the resting place of several prominent public figures such as NC State Basketball Coach Jim Valvano. It also includes several dedicated areas such as the Confederate Cemetery, with graves for nearly 1,500 soldiers, and Field of Honor, a modern veterans cemetery modeled after Arlington National Cemetery. For more information, visit

North Carolina State Capitol Building

Completed in 1840, the North Carolina State Capitol is one of the nation’s best examples of a civic building designed in the Greek Revival style of architecture. It is open to visitors free of charge with guided tours offered. For more information, visit

Bennett Place

Bennett Place, also known as Bennett Farm, was the largest surrender of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The site, which is set on 30.5 acres, dates back to 1789 and is a popular destination for history enthusiasts.

Theaters and Music Venues

Carolina Theater

Since 1926, the Carolina Theater has been an entertainment destination for locals and visitors alike. With both an auditorium (Fletcher Hall) and two cinemas, the theater hosts live performances and movies. Famous past performers include Ronald Reagan, Katharine Hepburn and many others. For more information, visit

Cat’s Cradle

Cat’s Cradle is one of the area’s most storied and intimate music venues. A capacity of only 750 people hasn’t stopped legendary acts like Nirvana, John Mayer, Iggy Pop and Joan Baez from performing there over the past 40 years. Located just off UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, Cat’s Cradle is known for its eclectic lineup of bands and support of local musicians. To see the calendar of upcoming performances, visit

Meymandi Concert Hall

The Meymandi Concert Hall is a 1,700-seat performance hall that the North Carolina Symphony calls home. Its 65-foot ceiling and acoustics-focused design provide a clear and immersive sound experience for patrons. For more information, visit

Durham Performing Arts Center

The Durham Performing Arts Center is home to some of the area’s finest concerts and events all year long. The 2,700-seat venue is consistently ranked one of the top theaters in the nation. With over 200 performances a year, ranging from touring Broadway productions to comedy performances and popular concerts, the center attracts a diverse audience. For more information, visit

Walnut Creek Amphitheater

If you enjoy seeing some of the biggest names in music at a beautiful outdoor venue, then you’ll love Walnut Creek Amphitheater. It is one of the region’s premier music venues – regularly booking the hottest acts in music – set against the rolling hills of central North Carolina. With a capacity of 20,000, Walnut Creek Amphitheater offers both covered seating and general admission lawn seating for all of its concerts. For more information, visit

PNC Arena

Whether you’re into music or sports, PNC Arena has you covered. It is home to both the Carolina Hurricanes (the ’05-’06 Stanley Cup champions) and the NC State Wolfpack men’s basketball team. PNC Arena seats over 19,000 for basketball games and seats over 18,000 for ice hockey matches. It’s also where you can see some of the world’s most popular performers like Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, all of whom have played there in recent years. For more information, visit


North Hills

From restaurants to shopping and everything in between, there’s always something to do at North Hills. With an amphitheater and plenty of other outdoor gathering spaces, North Hills offers a wide variety of different activities like The Midtown Farmers’ Market (open Saturdays 8 a.m-12 p.m.) and Yoga in Midtown Park. The wide array of different stores, restaurants, events and attractions has made North Hills a go-to destination for all. For more information, visit

Crabtree Valley Mall

Since 1972, Crabtree Valley Mall has been a destination for shoppers not only in Raleigh, but in the Southeast as a whole. With over 1.3 million square feet, the mall offers nearly 200 shops and restaurants that provide shoppers with the ultimate mall experience. Hit Banana Republic, J. Crew and Apple, then enjoy a meal at P.F. Changs and finish the night off with a slice of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. For more information, visit

Cameron Village

Cameron Village has become more to the community than just a shopping destination. Stretching back to the 1950s, Cameron Village has adapted and changed with the times into a leading destination in the Raleigh area. Its unique assortment of shops and restaurants mixes old favorites and new storefronts into this dynamic shopping scene, which includes national brands like Jos. A. Bank and Talbots along with local stores like Cheshire Cat Antique Gallery. For more information, visit


Fine Dining

Named one of the “Top Tastiest Towns in the South” by Southern Living, the Raleigh-Durham dining scene is living up to its title. When talking about the area food scene, Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern is always in the conversation, both for its spot-on Southern cuisine and its historic setting. It is housed in the Dodd-Hinsdale House, which was built in 1879 and was the home of former Raleigh Mayor William H. Dodd. If you’re in the mood for steak, Durham has you covered with The Angus Barn Steakhouse. Offering nine different cuts of steak and famous BBQ ribs, this barn may look casual from the outside, but the inside provides a beautifully elegant backdrop for a date night, a business dinner or even a wedding reception.

Casual Dining

The area wasn’t named the tastiest just because of the fine dining options. Raleigh and Durham have some great dining options for a more casual lunch or dinner too. Let Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant start your day off right with local eggs and Southern comfort. From country ham and biscuits to a fresh catfish sandwich, Big Ed’s focuses on locally sourced ingredients for a farm to table approach. Everyone knows North Carolina is known for their barbeque, and The Pit offers some of the best authentic North Carolina barbeque in your own backyard. Poole’s Diner offers a chalkboard menu of ever changing simple yet creative dishes from local artisan producers in a retro-diner atmosphere.


With the world’s largest selection of draft beers available in one restaurant, the Raleigh Beer Garden attracts people from all over to its unique garden and taproom. With a floor dedicated to local drafts and another floor dedicated to international drafts, Raleigh Beer Garden has something for everyone. The restaurant has 366 beers on tap, with over a third coming from North Carolina breweries. Fullsteam Brewery takes North Carolina pride seriously. They brew distinctively Southern beer that focuses on helping the local economy. With so many different seasonal and limited-edition brews, everyone is always wondering what’s next from Fullsteam. Located right in the heart of downtown Durham, West End Wine Bar offers a divine wine list and a full menu to satisfy your palate. Whether it’s a quick drink after work or dinner with friends, West End Wine Bar provides the setting for a great time.

Outdoor Recreation

Duke Gardens

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens is 55 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens on the Duke University campus. As a public garden, the Duke Gardens attracts over 300,000 visitors each year. With four unique sections of the garden, it is the perfect way to spend a nice day outside. For more information, visit

Pullen Park

Pullen Park is a 66-acre public park located adjacent to the main campus of North Carolina State University on iconic Hillsborough Street.  Pullen Park is well known for its large lake where you can enjoy the scenery by paddle boat, but you can also enjoy its tennis courts, aquatic center and picnic tables. Rides such as The Pullen Park Carousel, a miniature train and kiddie boats set Pullen Park apart and make it fun for all ages. Pullen Park is the oldest public park in North Carolina, founded in 1887. For more information, visit

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, also known as Jordan Lake, is 14,000-acre reservoir located less than 30 miles from Raleigh. There are seven swim beaches in the recreation area and a number of boating ramps, with some swim areas and ramps reserved for campers. Nearly 14 miles of hiking trails wind across the hilly lakeshore, with most of them offering easy, brief hikes perfect for family outings. For more information, visit

Neuse River Greenway Trail

As part of the city’s Capital Area Greenway System, the Neuse River Greenway Trail offers 27.5-miles of paved trail for a scenic view of the state. The Neuse River Trail also is part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that goes from the Smoky Mountains all the way to the Outer Banks! For more information, visit

Seasonal Events

The North Carolina State Fair

Held in Raleigh in October each year, the North Carolina State Fair is a popular annual event for all North Carolinians to celebrate their home and state pride. The fair continues to hold many time-honored exhibits including Antique Farm Machinery, an exhibit of more than a dozen tractors and farm equipment from the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, Field of Dreams, a miniature farm with four specialty gardens, Village of Yesteryear, a celebration of heritage arts and crafts, along with many more attractions. For more information, visit

World Beer Festival

The World Beer Festival is an annual fall celebration of all things beer. The festival focuses on the positive attributes and culture of drinking and brewing beer. As the market for craft beers continues to grow, more and more tourists from across the nation come to celebrate beer at the World Beer Festival!


Held each year in downtown Raleigh’s Moore Square Historic District, Artsplosure has been an annual tradition for art lovers for 40 years. The festival attracts 80,000 visitors and includes an art market with over 170 exhibitors, Kidsplosure, a collection of several interactive educational activities for children, and live music from the region’s jazz, blues and alternative musicians. For more information, visit

The Durham Bulls

Made famous by the acclaimed Kevin Costner film, the Durham Bulls are the city’s Triple-A minor league baseball team who currently play in the International League. The Durham Bulls play at Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP), a 10,000-seat park that also hosts the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Central baseball teams. For more information, visit

First Night Raleigh

With over 100 performances at 35 venues throughout downtown, there’s something for everyone at Raleigh’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration. First Night Raleigh takes up over 20 blocks with something for everyone. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most fun ways for North Carolinians to ring in the new year! For more information, visit

Krispy Kreme Challenge

You don’t normally think of doughnuts and running together, but the Krispy Kreme Challenge does just that! The annual charity event is a 2.5-mile course that includes running to a Krispy Kreme location, eating a dozen doughnuts in under one hour, and then running back to the finish line. The Krispy Kreme Challenge started as a challenge between friends and is now a nationally publicized race and a number one tradition for college students before graduating from North Carolina State University. For more information, visit

Are you excited yet? You should be! Whenever you’re ready to start planning your move to the Raleigh-Durham area, we’re here to help! Visit to schedule a free in-home or virtual move estimate.