10 Best Things to Do in Downtown Raleigh, NC

1. Poole’s Downtown Diner

James Beard Award-winning chef Ashley Christensen has her own downtown Raleigh empire, which includes coffee shop Joule and upscale chicken joint Beasley’s. But her best-known restaurant is Poole’s Downtown Diner, which serves fresh takes on classic American comfort food using ingredients from North Carolina farms and producers.

2. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

There are plenty of superlatives you can attach to this institution: It originally opened in 1879, making it the state’s oldest museum; it’s also the top attraction in North Carolina, and the biggest science museum in the Southeast. There’s a heavy focus on the Tarheel State and its ecological history, with exhibits about the state’s geography and wildlife, but only the brave should stop in the “Living Conservatory” to visit the very-much-alive tarantula.

3. Raleigh Denim

North Carolina has long been known for its textile industry. But Raleigh Denim wants to make sure people know that the Tarheel State designs textiles as well as manufactures them. Its downtown workshop is home to “jeansmiths,” which still uses old-fashioned machines to create custom pairs of jeans. Once you’ve been measured, visit The Curatory, the workshop’s store that celebrates and stocks N.C.-made products.

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