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Museums to explore and learn from in Raleigh

Whether you’re a history buff, art aficionado, or sports fan, these 17 museums in Raleigh have it all.

A historic red house behind a small wooden fence.

The Joel Lane house was home to the father of Raleigh and Wake County.

Photo by RALtoday

Table of Contents

Museums are the cultural hubs of Raleigh. Whether you’re looking to learn something new about the City of Oaks or plotting a way to spend your Saturday afternoon, here are 17 museums to visit in our city.

History

City of Raleigh Museum, 220 Fayetteville St. | Free
The City of Raleigh Museum preserves the capital city’s unique history. Exhibits include a general history of Raleigh and an overview of the local political scene, as well as ever-changing exhibits.

Historic Oak View County Park, 4028 Carya Dr. | Free
Interact with farm animals and learn about the historical significance of this 19th-century farmstead, which transitioned from its plantation foundation to sharecropper and tenant farming.

Historic Yates Mill County Park, 4620 Lake Wheeler Rd. | Free
After visiting the 200-year-old water-powered mill, hike around the 174 acres of this historic site and native wildlife refuge.

Joel Lane Museum House, 160 S. St. Mary’s St. | Free
Learn about the man considered to be the father of Raleigh and Wake County in his 18th-century home. Bonus: Learn more about Raleigh’s oldest residence.

Mordecai Historic House, 1 Mimosa St. | Free
Built in 1785, visit Raleigh’s oldest house still on its original foundation — it’s filled with more than 5,000 artifacts. Take a tour of the grounds on foot or travel throughout the City of Oaks on a historic trolley tour starting from the house.

A replica Wright Flyer in a museum lobby.

Fly through the Tar Heel state’s history at the NC Museum of History.

Photo by RALtoday

NC Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St. | Free
This museum has elements from every era of NC history. From the pirate Blackbeard visiting NC to the flight of the Wright Flyer and Michael Jordan’s rise to fame in the ‘90s, there is something for everyone to explore.

Pope House Museum, 511 S. Wilmington St. | Free
This home belonged to Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope, the only African American person to run for mayor of a Southern capital (Raleigh) during the Jim Crow era. This 20th-century home and its 3,000 artifacts have been preserved for visitors and is blocks away from the NC State Capitol.

Raleigh Fire Museum, 105 Keeter Center Dr. | Free
Open every second Saturday of the month, this museum preserves the firefighting history of the City of Oaks. Plus, visit antique fire engines housed across the city, owned by the museum and the City of Raleigh Fire Department.

Randleigh Dairy Heritage Museum, 301 Dairy Ln. | $15
See how ice cream is made. This unique experience gets guests up close and personal with NC State’s jersey cows responsible for Howling Cow ice cream and other NC dairy products.

Arts

Guests view contemporary art.

CAM is a unique contemporary art museum with plenty of businesses in walking distance.

Photo by CAM Raleigh

CAM Raleigh, 409 W. Martin St. | Free
This contemporary art museum in downtown’s warehouse district has an ever-changing gallery and a stylish gift shop.

Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 1903 Hillsborough St. | Free
This art museum on NC State’s campus boasts 35,000 pieces in its permanent collection. Also, don’t miss the largest collection of outsider art in NC.

A twisted wooden sculpture on the wall of a bustling cafe.

In addition to its exhibits, the North Carolina Museum of Art has a cafe.

Photo by RALtoday

North Carolina Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd. | Free
With a collection spanning 5,000 years of history, this extensive museum has it all. Plus, guests can attend special events like film screenings and concerts and visit ticketed traveling exhibitions. And did you know? This was the first major museum collection in the country to be established with state funding.

Science

A man performing a science experiment.

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences has lots to offer, including experiment demonstrations.

Photo by Karen Swain/NCMNS

Museum of Life and Science, 433 W. Murray Ave., Durham | $18-$23
Visit wild lemurs, wolves, farm animals, and one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast. Also, learn about health, physics, and math through interactive museum elements.

NC Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W. Jones St. | Free
This is the largest science museum in the Southeast and oldest established museum in NC. Check out larger-than-life dinosaur fossils and learn about everything the Earth has to offer.

Kids

A child laughs at a water tornado at a museum.

Marbles has a variety of activities and experiences for kids.

Photo by Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Kids Museum, 201 E. Hargett St. | $5-$12
Bring your little ones to explore water, music, the NC environment, and much more through hands-on exhibits. Plus, this museum offers the largest IMAX movie screen in the area.

Sports

Legends of Harley Drag Racing Museum, 1126 S. Saunders St. | Free
The only Harley Davidson drag racing museum in the world is placed atop one of the largest Harley dealerships. This museum was established by drag racing world champion Ray Price, a Johnston County native.

North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, 5 E. Edenton St. | Free
Score. This museum, located inside the NC Museum of History, is home to 200 items of sports memorabilia. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Wolfpack, Tar Heel, or Blue Devil fan, this hall of fame has got it all for NC sports fans.

What did we miss? If you know a museum that’s not on the list, let us know using this survey.

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