There’s no denying the unparalleled beauty of North Carolina’s great outdoors. With its majestic mountainscapes, shimmering waterways, dazzling fall colors, and comfortable year-round temperatures, this state is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Whether you prefer leisurely family activities or challenging adventures that require skill, outdoor enjoyment abounds. And it’s all accessible from the lively city of Raleigh.
Centrally located, Raleigh is a short drive away from just about any outdoor activity you can imagine. But the magic of the “City of the Oaks” is that there are so many fun ways to spend time outdoors within the metro area. Let’s take a look at 10 of the best things to do outdoors in Raleigh, NC.
1) Outdoor Trails
There are 180 miles of greenway trails that are perfect for walking, hiking, and biking in the metro area. In fact, this is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in Raleigh. Twenty-eight individual trails make up the Capital Area Greenway Trail System, ranging anywhere from 0.3 to 25 miles long. They are all distinct in their landscape and features, but all offer quality time outdoors either solo or with family and friends.
Yes, birding! This relaxing pastime offers a glimpse at the more than 400 species of birds native to North Carolina. From the red-tailed hawk to the downy woodpecker, it’s exhilarating to see these creatures soar unbothered through the air or flit about the woods. Popular birding destinations near Raleigh include Jordan Lake and Falls Lake.
3) Mountain Climbing
Fun fact: there are 2,670 mountain peaks in North Carolina. And you can climb a few dozen of them near Raleigh! If you live in the city, Umstead State Park offers trails with up to 600 feet of elevation. For serious climbers, peaks such as Mount Mitchell, Mount Craig, and Clingman’s Dome are just a few hours away.
4) Waterfall Rappelling
Rappelling is the sport of lowering oneself, in a harness, down a waterfall. If that appeals to you (or if a simple hike would suffice), there are several jaw-dropping waterfalls near Raleigh to satisfy your urge. Hanging Rock State Park, for example, is a short two-hour drive away and features a handful of mesmerizing falls. Be sure to check with park rangers before your adventure – some seasons are off-limits for rappelling and a permit is required.
5) Mountain Biking
If you like to check adventures off the thrill list, then give mountain biking in Raleigh a go. There are several recommended routes in the area ranging from intermediate to difficult. No matter which you choose, mountain biking is an excellent way to see the landscape and get a full-body workout.
6) Horseback Riding
Sure to please little ones and kids at heart alike, riding a horse through the great outdoors is an unmatched way to see and experience nature. There are several farms in the Raleigh area that offer rides through a diverse range of scenic trails on well-trained horses.
Through the Air
While you must be a qualified pilot to paraglide solo, you can experience the breathtaking freedom of flight by flying tandem! You know those amazing views you see from a plane when it’s taking off or landing? With tandem paragliding, that moment lasts for an entire 10-15 minutes, rather than just a few seconds. Several companies in the area offer tandem flying and, if you have the time, courses to become a certified pilot.
Another outdoor activity that will get your heart pumping, ziplining is one way to get a breath (or gulp) of fresh mountain air. Depending on the rider’s weight and slope of the line, some can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour!
Hot air ballooning, that is. Raleigh gets, on average, 213 days of sunshine per year, so it’s no surprise that this extraordinary outdoor activity is so popular. From the weightless feeling of being suspended in air to watching the pilot masterfully control the balloon, it’s an experience unlike any other.
On the Water
While Raleigh is not a city on the sea, you can indulge your inner captain on one of several tranquil lakes in the region. Rent a vessel by the hour or day and you can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, and even jet skiing on calm, glassy waters. The fishing is pretty spectacular, too. Of course, North Carolina’s renowned coastline – and all the seaworthy activities that come with it – are just 130 miles due east of Raleigh.
Without a doubt, the Raleigh area is home to some of the country’s best outdoor activities. It could be your home, too. Want to learn more about the high-performance, custom new homes we’re building in Raleigh, NC? We’d love to welcome you – and all your outdoor gear – to The Home of Your Life in Raleigh.