Raleigh's Downtown Walking Tour, Raleigh

Raleigh's Downtown Walking Tour (Self Guided), Raleigh

Raleigh puts great value in quality leisure, recreation, community-building and cultural opportunities. For any tourist, the City of Oaks offers a wide choice of things to enjoy and explore. This tour will guide you to Raleigh's most interesting places, right in the heart of the city!
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Raleigh's Downtown Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Raleigh's Downtown Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Raleigh (See other walking tours in Raleigh)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: karenv
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Mordecai House
  • Historic Oakwood Cemetery and Mausoleum
  • Heck-Andrews House
  • North Carolina Executive Mansion
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • Haywood Hallhouse and Gardens
  • North Carolina State Capitol
  • Raleigh Water Tower
  • Dodd-Hinsdale House
  • Morgan Street Food Hall
Mordecai House

1) Mordecai House (must see)

The Mordecai House, built in 1785, is a registered historical landmark and museum in Raleigh that is the centerpiece of Mordecai Historic Park, right outside the Historic Oakwood neighborhood. It is the oldest residence in Raleigh on its original foundation.The oldest portion of the house was built by Joel Lane for his son, Henry.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, portions of land owned by the Mordecai family helped Raleigh's expansion as a city. In 1867, George Washington Mordecai donated land east of the city to establish a Confederate cemetery and another plot became Wake County's first Hebrew Cemetery. The adjacent Oakwood Cemetery, chartered in 1869, eventually lent its name to the large suburb that developed in the adjoining wooded land, earlier known as Mordecai Grove. In 1974, Oakwood became the first neighborhood in Raleigh to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Property owned by the Mordecai family continued until 1967, when the house and its surrounding block were put on the market. Local preservationists protested and the city purchased the property, turning it over to the Raleigh Historic Sites Commission to supervise and develop as a historic park. Mordecai Square Historic Park is now managed by the City of Raleigh's Parks and Recreation Department. The Mordecai House is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Historic Oakwood Cemetery and Mausoleum

2) Historic Oakwood Cemetery and Mausoleum

Historic Oakwood Cemetery and Mausoleum, founded in 1869, represents the eastern boundary of the Oakwood National Historic District which is represented by the largest collection of houses of the Victorian era in the entire USA. The cemetery, covering an area of 102 acres, is divided into two distinctive parts: the Confederate Cemetery and the Hebrew Cemetery, both donated for those purposes in 1867 by Henry Mordecai. The Confederate cemetery also features an impressive House of Memory to commemorate the bravery of the Confederate soldiers. Its grounds are open to visitors all year round.
Heck-Andrews House

3) Heck-Andrews House

The Heck-Andrews House, located on North Blount Street, was finished in 1870 and was one of the first houses in Raleigh to be constructed after the American Civil War. It was created by G.S.H. Appleget for Mrs.Mattie Heck, the wife of Colonel Jonathan McGee Heck. The architectural design is of French influence and is called Second Empire that became popular after 1865. The house has a dramatic central tower capped with a convex mansard roof with a balustrade. The central part of the house is enclosed with a concave mansard roof with patterned slate.

The house was owned by the Heck family until 1916 and was sold to A.B. Andrews. In 1948, Andrews heir sold the house to Julia Russell. The North Carolina government bought the house in 1987 planning to refurbish the structure. The exterior refurbishment was completed, however the State sold the house to the North Carolina Association of Realtors in January 2016 who plan on using it as an office building.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
North Carolina Executive Mansion

4) North Carolina Executive Mansion (must see)

The North Carolina Executive Mansion is the official residence of the Governor of North Carolina and his or her family. Building began in the year 1883 and it was designed by noted architects Samuel Sloan and A.G. Bauer. It is an example of Queen Anne style architecture. The bricks for the house were made from Wake County clay and molded by prison labor. Many of these bricks, particularly in the sidewalks surrounding the house, still bear the inscribed names of the men who made them.

Since its initial construction in 1882, few major changes have been made to the building's exterior. Porches on the north and east sides have been enclosed to expand kitchen and security facilities. During her tenure as first lady, Jeanelle C. Moore (wife of Dan K. Moore) began a campaign for public awareness of the mansion's historic and cultural significance. In 1970, the mansion was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

5) North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (must see)

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) is located in Raleigh, North Carolina as the oldest established museum in North Carolina and the largest museum of its kind in the Southeastern United States. With about 1.2 million visitors annually, as of 2013 it was the state's most popular museum or historic destination among visitors.

The North Carolina State Museum was created in 1879, by combining two existing state-owned collections of geologic and agricultural specimens. The museum was originally housed in the Briggs building on Fayetteville Street. The museum's collections, outreach and education programs, and status grew over the next 60 years. The collection now contains more than 1.7 million specimens of amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, mammals, invertebrates, invertebrate and vertebrate fossils, plants, geology, and meteorites. No matter what your age, there is something in this museum to enjoy.

The admission is free. Opening hours: Monday–Saturday: 9am–5pm; Sunday: noon–5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Haywood Hallhouse and Gardens

6) Haywood Hallhouse and Gardens

Haywood Hallhouse and Gardens is a perfect example of what men are capable of doing for the women they love. The Hallhouse was built by treasurer John Haywood to convince his wife Elizabeth to remain in the capital city, of which she was not initially too fond. Eliza, as people called her, was a creative and enthusiastic gardener and transformed it into a blend of color and fragrance. She also had a gazebo built on the property where she admired the garden and played with her children. The gardens of Haywood Hall are open for curious eyes all year round.
North Carolina State Capitol

7) North Carolina State Capitol (must see)

The North Carolina State Capitol is the former seat of the legislature of the U.S. state of North Carolina which housed all of the state's government until 1888. The Supreme Court and State Library moved into a separate building in 1888, and the General Assembly moved into the State Legislative Building in 1963. Today, the governor and their immediate staff occupy offices on the first floor of the Capitol.

The building was built following the destruction by fire of the first North Carolina State House in 1831, and today houses the offices of the Governor of North Carolina. It is located on Union Square at One East Edenton Street in Raleigh. The cornerstone of the Greek Revival building was laid with Masonic honors by the Grand Master of North Carolina Masons Simmons Jones Baker on July 4, 1833. Construction was completed in 1840.

The Capitol remains largely unaltered from its 1840 state. Only three rooms have been significantly altered through remodeling: the two committee rooms in the east and west wings of the second floor, which were divided horizontally to provide space for restrooms, and the office in the east wing of the first floor, part of which had to be cut away to permit space for an elevator to be installed in 1951. The Capitol was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1973.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Raleigh Water Tower

8) Raleigh Water Tower

The Raleigh Water Tower is a historic building that was the first water tower built in Raleigh. Constructed in 1887, the City of Raleigh relied on the tower for 37 years until it was decommissioned in 1924. The Raleigh Water Tower was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and is a Raleigh Historic Landmark.

Before construction of the tower, most water in Raleigh came from private wells and cisterns. In the 1880s a municipal system was developed to address concerns of water quality. Water from Walnut Creek was drawn by a private company and was carried from a dam by pipes to a nearby pumping station. Water was forced by steam pumps through sand filters, and either into a reservoir on site or through pipes to the water tower downtown. A 100,000 gallon water tank sat on top of the octagonal tower.

By the beginning of the 20th century the water system was supplying the entire city, however, the increasing population of Raleigh created a need for more water supply. In 1913, the city bought the facility and built a larger dam upstream, removing the one built in 1887. By 1924 the water tower had been abandoned and its tank removed. Raleigh architect William Henley Deitrick purchased the facility in 1938 and converted the aging tower into an office building. Since then the building has been used as offices by various companies.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Dodd-Hinsdale House

9) Dodd-Hinsdale House

The Dodd-Hinsdale House was built in 1879 at 330 Hillsborough Street for Raleigh Mayor William H. Dodd. It is a brick house with, bracketed eaves, narrow segmented arch windows, porches, and carved millwork which are all characteristic of the Italianate style. The shallow gable roof is a likewise Italianate feature, but the tower with concave mansard roof and ornate dormers is distinctly Second Empire in style. Despite the mix of features, the house is classified as Italianate with an uncommon mansard roofed. The design is very similar to an 1875 wood house at 304 Oakwood Avenue which was constructed by the same builder. The structure is a surviving example of the luxurious and prestigious houses built in the late 19th century, many of which have since been replaced by modern commercial buildings.

In 1890 Dodd sold the house to John W. Hinsdale. The house was kept in the Hinsdale family until 1971. For a couple decades the fate of the house was uncertain despite its 1971 listing on the National Register of Historic Places as Raleigh Historic Property. At the end of the 1980s, the owners attempted to renovate the house but failed to complete it leaving the house vacant and partially gutted. In 1997, it was bought by a private company and turned into a restaurant named "Second Empire" giving recognition to its past and architectural design.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Morgan Street Food Hall

10) Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall is a multi-vendor, in-door food market located in a repurposed warehouse. The venue has been operational since the summer 2018, offering visitors a unique dining experience with a vast choice of ethnic foods provided by local chefs, restaurateurs and purveyors. The first of its kind in Raleigh, the 22,000-square foot eatery introduces a new lifestyle dining concept that implies cross meal ordering, with different meals to be enjoyed in a shared seating area.

In fact, there are as many as 20 culinary concepts under one roof, ensconced in fully-outfitted spaces: perimeter food stalls and freestanding kiosks selling assorted items like cooked-to-order meals, snacks, desserts and specialty foods like crepes, bubble tea, tacos and more. There are also packaged food and culinary-related items on sale.

They have been careful not to overlap cuisine much and have everything, from Indian food (e.g. Curry in a Hurry with spicy butter chicken), to Southern cuisine (Cousins Maine Lobster, with the freshest lobster rolls around), to Japanese, Lebanese and Mediterranean, plus a Thai rolled ice cream stand and more.

The interior is a beautiful marriage of vibrant and neutral tones, wood and brick, leather and metal. It has an industrial vibe with exposed HVAC and steel beams.

The outdoor patio with plentiful seating – tables, chairs, and hightop bar stools – is beautifully illuminated at night with a set of string lights. Added with a street-side bar that serves craft beers and cocktails, this spot is a super-popular hangout, particularly in warm weather (ideal for people watching too!), and is generally great for a group of people who have something different in mind for their meal.

Walking Tours in Raleigh, North Carolina

Create Your Own Walk in Raleigh

Create Your Own Walk in Raleigh

Creating your own self-guided walk in Raleigh is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Raleigh Introduction Walking Tour

Raleigh Introduction Walking Tour

Dubbed the "City of Oaks" for their abundance, Raleigh - the capital of North Carolina - is known mostly for its universities, technology and scholarly institutions surrounding the city, forming the so-called Research Triangle. The city's cultural resources, however, are just as plentiful and include a number of historical buildings, museums, art venues and architectural sights. To...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles