Downtown Raleigh is one of the best places to strike a pose. It has urban beauty, lush green parks, street art and city lights. As a full time professional photographer I’m constantly on the lookout for beautiful locations. I’m here to make it even easier on your Instagram stories and photo albums with the 10 Best Downtown Raleigh Photography Spots.
1. HQ Raleigh Wall
What’s a trip to Raleigh without a photo with a colorful wall that actually says, “Raleigh”? HQ Raleigh is in the warehouse district of the downtown area. Strike a pose with friends and let the world know where you are!
The Carolina Museum of Art is next to HQ Raleigh in the Warehouse District. It’s angular metal roof and bold yellow letters make it a point of interest. They seasonally have food trucks and seating on the front gravel patio but with or without it it’s certainly picturesque.
3. Fayetteville Street
This main avenue in the downtown area is one of the prettiest streets I’ve ever walked. It’s so incredibly well kept and looked after. It has beautiful landscaping and flags that usually correspond to the month’s holidays or festivals. It’s not too heavily trafficked but be careful and look both ways if you stop in the center of the street to grab a photo. There’s a lot of great bars and restaurants on this street if you’re in the mood for some delicious food and cocktails. If you’re standing on the street and look north you’ll see the Capital Building and if you look south you’ll see Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. They’re both beautiful structures. But don’t overlook how photo-worthy the street itself is.
4. The Capital Building
Raleigh is the capital city of the state of North Carolina. Thus, there’s a grandiose building that announces its authority over the state. It has beautiful columns and green grass surrounding it. There’s a few notable statues as well. Walk around all four sides of it because there’s something different to see from every angle. I snapped the image below during golden hour, right before sunset.
5. City Market
This market was first built around 1914 to serve the city’s residents with a place to buy local foods, including fruits, vegetables and baked goods. It’s long standing history as an icon of the city is still present in it’s architecture and cobblestone streets. My favorite part of City Market is the market lights that are hung high above the street. It’s a pretty scene during the day but it’s even more stunning at night when they illuminate. I photographed this wedding at a venue at City Market and I loved the result.
6. Globe at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
You can literally put the whole world in your hands here! It’d be difficult to miss the large globe perched outside this museum. It’s on the sidewalk and reaches nearly three stories high. Where else can you take photos with the entire Earth?
7. Boylan Bridge
The views of the city from Boylan Bridge are worth enjoying. As the city expands the skyline is changing and a photo you take here today may be vastly different from next year’s view.
8. Monsters Wall near Trophy
This is one of my favorite murals in the city! The “monsters” wall, painted by Kevin Lyons, has such personality. It’s located near Trophy Brewing and Pizza. I loved photographing some of a couple’s engagement session here.
9. JC Raulston Arboretum
This arboretum is a part of NC State college’s property and is absolutely free to visit (donations welcome). They’re very generous with their beautifully landscaped gardens and do not charge a photography fee to create images here if you’re a pro. Of course all hobbyist are always welcome. They have a variety of photo-worthy spots from their Japanese Garden, to Elm Circle and Rose Garden. The image below was taken during this engagement session on the arboretum’s perennial border walkway.
10. Geometric Mural Wall
Not too far from JC Raulston Arboretum is an unassuming mural wall. It’s at the end of a shopping strip and I am certain while many people admire it as they drive by to the highway they don’t stop to photograph it. But not me! It’s right near a Whole Foods and Bruegger’s Bagels off Wade Avenue. I love the geometric pattern the artist chose painted in hues of blue, red and black.
Note that while many of these are unlikely to change, some spots like mural walls are subject to refreshing! So if you show up and there’s another painting over it simply go with the flow and find beauty in the location you’re photographing and experiencing.
For more to do in North Carolina check out:
- Incredible Downtown Durham Staycation Schedule
- Essential First Visit Guide for Ocracoke Island
- Why Raleigh in North Carolina Should be on Your Travel Radar
Which would be your first stop on the way to capture all 10?