Quality of Life in Raleigh

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Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Sports and Recreation Dining Shopping Climate Medical Services Housing

Outside of work there is plenty to see, do, and enjoy in Raleigh. 

Arts, Culture, and Entertainment

Raleigh has earned the reputation for being a cultural hub for the visual arts and world-class museums, offering more than 40 free attractions.


  • The North Carolina Museum of Art features long-running installations such as the recent Porsche automobile design exhibit, as well as its permanent collections, including an extensive array of Rodin sculptures.
  • The Contemporary Art Museum, located in the Warehouse District, features exciting new works by local, national and international talents, frequently providing a backdrop for special events and celebrations. Artspace, a non-profit visual art center, provides a public studio environment for more than 30 professional artists while also presenting nationally acclaimed exhibitions.
  • The Visual Art Exchange, another non-profit creativity incubator and gallery, showcases the work of more than 1,300 artists in 60 annual exhibitions and also produces SPARKcon, an annual art and design festival in downtown Raleigh. At the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the newly completed Nature Research Center is drawing rave reviews as an educational and entertaining experience for families and visitors alike.  And Marbles Kids Museum, a hands-on interactive experience for children, uses purposeful play to inspire imagination, discovery and learning.

Performing Arts

For those that wish to indulge their love of live performing arts, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh features performances by the North Carolina SymphonyNorth Carolina OperaCarolina Ballet, and North Carolina Theatre. It is also home to Broadway Series South which brings some of Broadway's biggest touring shows, performers, concerts and comedians to Raleigh. The Center boasts several elegant venues including Memorial Auditorium, Fletcher Opera Theater, Meymandi Concert Hall, and the Kennedy Theater.



A robust live music calendar has been created by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (GRCVB), in collaboration with representatives from area music venues, music festivals/presenters and other businesses in the local live music scene (the GRCVB Live Music Advisory Committee) in an effort to provide the most comprehensive live music calendar for Wake County.

Legendary performers have honed their craft on the stages of Raleigh’s more than 85 live music venues — and still do. Raleigh offers an endless variety of music experiences, from the tour headliners at PNC Arena and Walnut Creek Amphitheater, to fine arts performances and spirited Broadway productions at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, and the dozens of small clubs throughout the city introducing audiences to the next REM or Sheryl Crow. Red Hat Amphitheater, an outdoor venue in the heart of Raleigh, makes concert going a part of the downtown experience.

Hopscotch Music Festival, a week-long performance series featuring local, regional and national acts, has become one of the country’s rising new music showcases. Whether it’s a festival weekend or a Sunday afternoon in the park, live music can be found throughout Midtown, Five Points, Glenwood South, the Warehouse District, City Market and Downtown, giving Raleigh an ever-changing soundtrack.

Sports and Recreation

Raleigh has collegiate and professional sports teams that give you something to root for year round. 


With three of the nation’s top NCAA Division 1 universities in close proximity, college athletics and fierce rivalries dominate the sports landscape in Raleigh. Football tailgating gives way to intense battles on the basketball hardwood, where N.C. State and rival neighbors Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill have each won multiple national titles.

Raleigh is also home of the Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes, which boasts one of the league’s loudest and most raucous crowds at PNC Arena.

On the soccer pitch, the North Carolina Football Club aspires to be at the top level of both men’s and women’s professional soccer. Soccer is everywhere in Raleigh, where 20,000 players compete on more than 700 teams in the Capital Area Soccer League, making CASL one of the largest clubs in the nation. Just down the road, two minor league baseball teams, the Carolina Mudcats and Durham Bulls, provide All-American family entertainment all summer long.  

Raleighites can also be found playing golf, tennis, and even hockey, as well as cycling, swimming, paddling, horseback riding or spending time with sports legends and newsmakers at events sponsored by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance. For anyone who loves the competition and camaraderie of sports, Raleigh scores big.

Parks & Greenways

Once described as "a park with a city inside," Raleigh is home to an incredible 9,500 acres of public parks and greenways. The Raleigh Parks System is comprised of 220 parks throughout the city, featuring 44 recreation centers, ball fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, pools, lakes, nature preserves, and a city museum. More than 13,000 sports, arts and recreation programs are enjoyed by people of all ages annually.

The 28 trails that make up the Capital Area Greenway cover more than 100 total miles from one edge of the city to the other, allowing people to easily ride, walk or run from downtown, across the grounds of the NC Museum of Art, through Umstead State Park, all the way to the boundary of RDU International Airport. The 33-mile Neuse River Greenway, opened in 2013, provides new access points for kayakers and canoeists, as well as for hikers and cyclists to enjoy a scenic stretch of the Neuse.  Downtown, centuries-old oaks stand guard in the park squares that were part of the city’s original design.  Parks, greenways and preserves, and the quality of life they avail to us, are a central part of Raleigh’s cultural identity.


Raleigh has emerged as a food lover’s mecca. Southern Living says we’re one of the Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South.

Local chefs are causing a stir everywhere from New Orleans to New York City, winning awards and starring on TV’s hottest cooking shows. Walter Royal, executive chef of Raleigh’s Angus Barn, earned recognition as Chef of the Year from the Restaurant Guild International. James Beard Award winner Ashley Christensen, chef and owner of a growing family of Raleigh restaurants, has been celebrated by Bon Appétit, Gourmet, The New York Times, Southern Living and Garden & Gun. Landmarks like Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue and the Mecca, operating since the 1940s, have been joined by newly-minted hot spots such as Poole’s DinerRaleigh TimesBida MandaCapital Club 16Oro, and Stanbury.  Long-standing institutions like 42nd St. Oyster BarSecond Empire and Players Retreat welcome familiar faces like family.

Whether it’s our savory North Carolina barbecue, succulent Atlantic seafood, locally farmed Southern delights or cuisine from around the world, more than 1,200 restaurants, cafes, brewpubs and bistros are giving residents and visitors alike a taste of the good life in Raleigh.


Raleigh has been a trend-setting destination for retail shopping ever since the 1949 opening of Cameron Village, North Carolina's first shopping center and the first to be built between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Today, Raleigh continues to exceed the expectations of the most discriminating consumer. From the fashion house phenomenon Raleigh Denim and its specialty boutique The Curatory, along with local merchants like UniquitiesLumina Clothing CompanyMoon & Lola and many others -- to the luxurious offerings of the state's only Saks Fifth Avenue, Raleigh’s retail scene is rave-worthy.  The area is served by three major shopping malls and numerous retail districts offering cutting edge collections for personal style, home décor, art and creative gift-giving.  For everyday or haute couture, Raleigh looks better than ever.


Raleigh has a mild, temperate climate that hits the sweet spot between north and south. Our four distinct seasons lean comfortably toward the south, with winter arriving late and leaving early by northern standards.  Spring brings an explosion of flowering dogwoods and azaleas, summer lingers well into October and autumn brings a nostalgic tide of color.  Favorable weather, combined with seasonal variety here in our Piedmont setting, makes Raleigh ideal for year-round outdoor activities. There’s also comfort in knowing that North Carolina’s majestic mountains and spectacular beaches are only a few short hours away.

Medical Services

Access to high quality health care ranks with education and safety as major contributors to an overall good quality of life. In Raleigh, residents have some world-class options.

WakeMed Health & Hospitals is an 884 bed not-for-profit system with more than 7,600 employees. Its flagship campus is located in east Raleigh and includes North Carolina’s first freestanding children’s emergency department. It is also Wake County’s only Level 1 trauma center as designated by the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. In addition to the main campus, WakeMed has more than a dozen facilities throughout Wake County.

Rex Healthcare, a member of UNC Health Care, has 660 beds and treats close to 34,000 inpatients every year. Rex employs more than 5,300 people including more than 1,100 physicians and 1,700 nurses. Rex is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top hospitals, and its areas of specialty include: oncology, heart and vascular, surgical services, orthopedics, rehabilitation, emergency and urgent care, women’s services and wound healing. Rex has multiple locations in Wake County with its main campus located in West Raleigh.

Duke Raleigh Hospital has seen significant growth and investment since it became part of Duke Medicine in 1998.  Located in North Raleigh, the campus has 186 beds and more than 500 physicians on staff.


Raleigh housing market provides many opportunities for newcomers due to the diverse housing stock. Raleigh has much to offer including historic downtown homes, new suburban neighborhoods, established older communities along with new high-rise apartment living. 

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