7 Favorite Hidden Gems in Raleigh, NC

June 06th, 2024

Things to do | Life in Raleigh
7 Favorite Hidden Gems in Raleigh, NC

7 Favorite Hidden Gems in Raleigh, NC

Are you moving to or planning a trip to Raleigh, NC, and want to know about the best-hidden gems? Here is everything you need to know about Raleigh, NC's local favorite hidden gems.

Raleigh is known for many things, such as its growing technological and business opportunities that give it its big city feel with plenty of southern charm. There is an abundance of fun things to enjoy, from music venues to restaurants to top-rated schools. However, Raleigh is home to many lesser-known activities and amenities. 

Raleigh is the second biggest city in North Carolina, right behind Charlotte. It is home to many families, young professionals, and retirees. There are many ideal neighborhoods for homeowners of all ages. 

On top of the prime real estate, Raleigh has some of the best-kept secrets when it comes to entertainment, shopping, history, food, and much more. Each makes for an amazing experience for the whole family. Depending on what you are looking for, there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

No matter if you are moving to Raleigh or visiting, these off-the-beaten-path treasures offer a special perspective on the region. Here are the top seven favorite hidden gems that you must visit in Raleigh, NC.

Keep reading to learn about the seven favorite hidden gems in Raleigh, NC.

1. Idle Hour Coffee Roasters

Address: 1818 Oberlin Rd #103, Raleigh, NC 27608

Idle Hour Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee shop nestled in the Five Points neighborhood. Best known for its Vietnamese coffee, tea from Durham's Arteao, Tepuy donuts, Garner's Bold Bagels, and globally-inspired sandwiches. Each dish is locally sourced from some of Raleigh's best local companies.

This Oberlin neighborhood staple serves delightful dishes and an adorable atmosphere. Here, you'll be surrounded by stunning minimalistic decor and a calming atmosphere. It's no wonder Idle Hour is known as one of the best coffee shops in Raleigh

This is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and relax on the large green velvet sofa or meet with friends at the booth seating and round tables. You can also look through cute clothes and knick-knacks at the boutique shop. Keep in mind, if you are visiting for the donuts you should arrive early as they tend to go fast. 

Must Visit Local Coffee Shop

2. Mithai Indian Café

Address: 744=F East Chatham St, Cary, NC 27511

Mithai Indian Café was the first local artisanal Indian sweet manufacturer in the Carolinas'. This café's goal was to represent Indian sweets as they were before the mass production and adulteration era. 

Founded by Sudhamoy Dutta, this hidden gem is rooted in his family's traditions from generations in Comilla, Bangladesh. Their number one goal was to carry on these traditions by offering Raleigh a taste of their delicious and authentic sweets, snacks, and vegetarian dishes. 

Similar to many Raleigh restaurants, Mithai's sweets are made with locally sourced ingredients. Along with carrying on traditions, the owners pride themselves on their all-natural Indian sweets and Bengali snacks that are made with no preservatives or shelf life extension agents. In addition, there are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, sugar-free, and nut-free options so everyone can enjoy these sweet treats. 

3. SmokeStacks Café

Address: 701 E Lane St, Raleigh, NC 27601

SmokeStacks Café is a newly opened restaurant, boasting its delicious menu and accommodating family atmosphere. Stop by for brunch favorites like French toast, shrimp and grits, and biscuits, or for dinner with barbecue sandwiches, rubs, and salads.

In addition to the mouthwatering cuisine, the drinks are to die for. End the night with a smooth glass of wine, ice-cold beer, or slushie with your spirit of choice. Make sure to leave room for dessert, like homemade blueberry cheesecake, dulce de leche cheesecake, orange creamsicle pie, and more. 

Ensure you stop by one of NC's beautiful sunny days so you can eat on the beautiful patio. Or rent the space out for a private event, including weddings, parties, and celebrations. No matter when or why you visit SmokesStackes café, it'll be a meal you'll never forget. 

Bruch at this Hidden Gem in Raleigh

4. The Blind Barbour

Address: 3055 Medlin Dr, Raleigh, NC 27607

Unassuming from the outside, The Blind Barbour is known for its signature set of whiskey-themed cocktails. Patrons can pick from over 200 whiskey, scotch, and bourbon drinks. 

With its old-school charm and intimate atmosphere, this is the perfect place for a romantic night out or a fun evening with friends. Inspired by speakeasies, patrons must ask for "the blind pig" in order to gain entry. 

Make sure to check the website for upcoming events like live music and special tastings on select nights. On typical nights, you can stop in for one of their specialty cocktails, including the Tom Yum and The B.O.B (Bourbon Over Bourbon). No matter your drink of choice, you'll be delighted to enjoy it. 

Founders Joey Barbour and Michelle Palacios were inspired by the Prohibition-era practice of buying a ticket at some discreet location to "see the bling pig" or "see the bling tiger." Then, exchanging the ticker for a drink. Barbour and Palacios built the Blind Barbour to be a place that everyone can enjoy while also keeping its deep history intact. 

5. Neuse River Greenway Trail

Address: parking, lot 1721 Riverview Rd, Raleigh, NC 27610

Aside from secret cafés, restaurants, and bars, Raliegh is home to many hidden outdoor activities. First of which is the Neuse River Greenway Trail. Many consider this to be the gem of the 100-plus-mile Capital Area Greenway System.

Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast or just looking for a calm way to spend the day, you will surely enjoy every moment on this special trail. Visitors are allowed to jog, walk, run, or cycle through the beautiful, winding trails.

Running 27.5 miles from Falls Lake in North Raleigh to the Wake County line in southeast Raleigh, you'll see many stunning historical sites, scenic views, wildlife, and more. 

The winding boardwalk areas give you the best view of the Neuse River. The Neuse River Trail is a segment of the mountains-to-sea trail. Also known as the best long-distance trail that runs all the way from the Outer Banks to the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Open from dawn to dusk daily, you can also try your hand at canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. This must-visit is a little more known than other hidden gems we have mentioned, but just as memorable. 

Neuse River Greenway Trail

6. Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden

Address: 301 Pogue St, Raleigh, NC 27607

Located behind the Raleigh Little Theatre complex is the Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden. Home to over 1,200 roses of 60 different varieties and evergreen, deciduous trees, it is one of the most beautiful places in Raleigh. Additionally, there are stunning Japanese maples, magnolias, camellias, and several fountains placed throughout the garden. 

Many Raleigh residents travel to the rose garden for photoshoots, picnics, or to enjoy the scenery. As you plan your trip, the ideal time is from May till autumn, when the majority of flowers are in full bloom. However, there are many fun events, outdoor plays, and movies held throughout the year.

As one of only three accredited rose gardens in North Carolina, the grounds are open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year. Visitors can enter for free and don't need any reservations. This also applies to picnics, proposals, and prom pictures. Professional photographers are always welcome for free, but commercial film or photography will require a permit. You can apply for an annual film permit through the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Department

The area also includes picnic tables, an open play area, a gazebo, and an arbor for all visitors to enjoy. Keep in mind that parking is limited, so make sure to plan ahead. 

Raleigh Rose Garden

7. The Green Light

Address: 108 Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

The Green Light is the definition of hidden, as it is actually located behind a secret bookshelf inside The Architect Bar & Social Hour. The dimly lit room will transport you back to a 1920s speakeasy. 

After the secret entrance, you'll be met with a reclaimed wooden bar and vinyl records. This is the place in Raleigh to visit to show off to your visiting friends or simply for a relaxing night. Trillest named The Green Light one of the "21 Best Secret Bars in the World." 

Before becoming The Green Light, it was once an architect's office. Slide through the bookcase and secret doorway behind the heavy curtain, and you'll find a place like no other. Similar to many other speakeasies, it plays on the F. Scott Fitzgerald vibes. Named for the emerald beams, Gatsby was so obsessed with them that it was a place like no other.

On top of the one-of-a-kind atmosphere, you will enjoy creative craft cocktails with friends or loved ones. Visit their website to book private events for a special night you will never forget. 

Speakeasy Hidden Gem in Raleigh, NC

Methodology

We used information and data from several different sources, as well as our own data, to determine everything you need to know about the seven favorite hidden gems in Raleigh. Most of the data was sourced from the following sources:

FAQ: Favorite Hidden Gems in Raleigh, NC

Here are some commonly asked questions about the favorite hidden gems in Raleigh, NC.

What is Raleigh, NC, best known for?

Raleigh is best known for its deep history as the capital of North Carolina. Raleigh is also home to many renowned parks, restaurants, and museums; essentially, it has everything you could possibly need. 

What is the famous street in Raleigh, NC?

Fayetteville Street is the central historical and cultural heart of downtown Raleigh. The famous street dates back to the city's first plan of 1792 and served a crucial role in the city's growth and economic prosperity. Now, it is home to many of Raleigh's top hidden gems. 

What is the safest part of Raleigh?

The overall crime rate in Raleigh is low, but like any city, there may be an increased risk depending on where you are in the city. The safest neighborhoods in Raleigh include Oakwood, Village District (Cameron Village), Five Points, Mordecai, North Hills, and Boylan Heights. 

Does Raleigh have a walkable downtown?

Downtown Raleigh is extremely walkable; the most walkable areas in Raleigh include downtown, North Hills, and the Village District.

What is the area around Raleigh called?

The area around Raleigh is referred to as the Triangle. This includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. These are the three largest and most popular cities in North Carolina, all of which are amazing places to live. 

Favorite Hidden Gems in Raleigh, NC - The Bottom Line

Every city has its pros and cons, but you just can't beat the friendly atmosphere and fun things to do in Raleigh. When visiting a new place, it is great to see its most famous attractions, but on days when you want to be away from the crowds, you should always visit the local favorites. 

Locals know best when it comes to where to eat, play, and hang out. These hidden gems are a key part of what makes Raleigh such an amazing place to live. You undoubtedly must visit these hidden gems whether you are moving to Raleigh or making a quick weekend getaway. 

After visiting these favorite hidden gems just once, you'll quickly realize that Raleigh is an amazing place to live. The Triangle has many homes with amenities and local favorites surrounding your family. Whether you are searching for a single-family home, townhome, condominium, or apartment complex, you are bound to find the best home in Raleigh for you and your family. 

Before you buy your next home in the Triangle, feel free to contact one of our helpful real estate specialists, as they are eager to help you find the perfect home. We know that buying a home can be overwhelming, so make sure you are prepared beforehand. 

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!

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