Outdoor Activities in Raleigh, NC
Whether you hit a golf ball like 72-time LPGA Tour winner Annika Sorenstam or Disney darling Daisy Duck, golf gives you the chance to get out in the fresh air and compete against a course or a couple of friends. The Lonnie Poole Golf Course on NC State University's Centennial Campus provides a challenging, pastoral setting with terrific views of the Raleigh skyline. Open to the public, this par 71, 18-hole, regulation-length course was designed by Arnold Palmer and the design team at Arnold Palmer Design Company. It’s become a favorite of the golf community and is used by both the NCSU men’s and women’s varsity teams. So whether you whack it like Annika or quack it like Daisy, the Lonnie Poole Golf Course can test your skills and help you bond with friends and nature.
So it’s a beautiful day — warm, sunny, much like many are in Raleigh, and you’re looking for a free, educational, mildly cardio excursion in the City of Oaks. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau has got you covered with a self-guided walking tour, available to view on their website, download as a PDF and follow on a mobile device. Starting at the State Capitol Building, 65 historic, cultural or otherwise notable sites are listed (dates of construction range from 1792 to present), and you can decide to see one or all of them. Also included are six other tours that require a short drive. Raleigh provides so much to see that this self-guided tour could take a wonderfully long time to complete.
Raleigh is part of a national/international equestrian community, so several riding academies are located here. For those simply looking for a little Wild West whimsy, try Dead Broke Farm, whose name is taken from a horse-training term meaning “very broken in or gentle.” It’s also a pun on how much it costs to board your own horse. Minutes north of I-540, the farm uses many rescued horses for western-style horseback trail riding, and for lessons suitable for all ages and skill levels. All trail rides (starting at $60 per rider per hour) are led by skilled, adult guides. Private rides can be arranged. So if that cowgirl hat and boots are gathering dust in your closet, dust them off and climb on a “dead broke” horse.
The 10-acre JC Raulston Arboretum lets you step into a world where plants rule — over 5,000 total taxa (unique taxonomic groups) of annuals, perennials, bulbs, vines, ground covers, shrubs, and trees from over 50 different countries are displayed in a beautiful setting. This nationally acclaimed garden contains the most diverse collection of cold-hardy, temperate-zone plants in the southeastern United States. NC State University students, faculty, volunteers and staff manage this eco-wonderland that’s part of NCSU’s Department of Horticultural Science. Lots of working research and teaching goes into evaluating, selecting and displaying plant material brought here from around the world. Plants that have adapted to this area, the Piedmont of North Carolina, are studied to find better plants for southern landscapes. Yet enjoyment and education are the goal. Private guided tours are available.
Like any city, Raleigh has much to see, and chances are you have little time. Consider gliding through it, on a Segway tour with Triangle Glides. A Segway is a two-wheeled, self-balancing transportation machine. They are zippy, relatively easy to use, fun, and when teamed with a tour guide who is linked to riders with a radio transmitter, it can add up to lots of info delivered in a short period of time. Triangle Glides (think combining guiding with gliding over landscapes) offers several popular sightseeing tours around Raleigh. Riders can choose several routes to see sites like Fayetteville Street, the state capitol, the legislative complex, the Governor’s Mansion, Oakwood Historic District, Oakwood Historic Cemetery, Hillsborough Street, and the Raleigh Amphitheater. Specialty tours are also covered, as are helmets for riders.