DRA's Discover Downtown Tours
Explore. Connect. Discover.
Hear the stories, see the spaces and learn about Downtown Raleigh in an immersive, engaging way through the Downtown Raleigh Alliance’s Discover Downtown program! Discover Downtown Tours highlight a variety of downtown locations from sneak peeks of new developments to behind-the-scenes experiences.
Meet others interested in Downtown Raleigh’s history, development and unique culture during and after the tours. Tours are followed by a gathering at a nearby venue for refreshments and conversation. Tours are free and open to the public but fill up quickly. Sign up for the DRA weekly e-newsletter online here for Discover Downtown information.
Mark your calendars for these upcoming tours:
Thursday, November 15, 4 pm - 5 pm
Registration opens Tuesday, October 23
Downtown Retail Along Hargett Street
Wednesday, December 5, 3:45 pm - 5 pm
Registration opens Tuesday, November 13
Backstage at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts
Participants went backstage at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. They learned about the array of theaters at the Center including the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium which opened in 1932 and has hosted Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Prince as well as Broadway blockbusters. Particpants also toured A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater where Carolina Ballet’s Dracula will be set up, Meymandi Concert Hall, a 1700 seat “shoebox” venue with a 65’ ceiling and home to the North Carolina Symphony, and Kennedy Theatre’s 170 seat “black box” theater often used for rehearsal space and performances for small local productions from Theatre Raleigh and others.
Photo: Flyboy Photo & Media
Bee City USA and National Honey Month
Participants learned about Raleigh’s efforts to support honeybees and pollinators. Alice Hinman, natural beekeeper, and founder of Apiopolis Urban Bee Sanctuary, talked about her nonprofit's work to improve the health and habitat of honeybees and native pollinators in a holistic manner. The group visited locations of several of Downtown Raleigh’s beehives, and heard from the City’s Office of Sustainability about how Raleigh became designated as a Bee City USA. The tour started at Alfred Williams & Company and concluded at VAE.
Raleigh's New Union Station
With construction complete and trains rolling in, Raleigh Union Station is officially open for business. Participants took a tour of the beautiful new train station in the Warehouse District with the designers and planners that helped make it happen. Participants learned about the history, design, and economic impact of the newest City of Raleigh facility. The tour included opportunities to view sustainability features, learn from the Assistant Planning Director about the future phases of Raleigh’s first multimodal hub, walk the Grand Hall and lounge in the Civic Plaza, and talk with city staff about the new mixed-use building and the new development it has spurred in the district.
Behind the Scenes Tours at the North Carolina Museum of History
Around 40 fortunate folks enjoyed an exclusive guided tours through the Collections area of the North Carolina Museum of History. The Collections and Curation staff spoke about the museum’s artifacts and shared stories about their most popular exhibits.
Over 70 tour-goers go an exclusive tour of The Dillon, the first mixed-use development of its kind in downtown Raleigh's Warehouse District. The 18-story project includes 220,000 square feet of Class A office space, two seven-story apartment buildings with an adjoining parking deck, and dynamic street- and sky-level retail space. With a nod to its 100-year-old history, parts of the original Dillon Supply warehouse building have been preserved and reused in its new life. Tour attendees saw the outdoor sky terrace with dramatic downtown views, conference room, fitness center, 18th floor office space, Stewart's new office space designed by Gensler, an apartment home model, and a peek into the future Urban Outfitters with August Construction Solutions.
DRA members got a sneak peek at the new Poyner YMCA in downtown Raleigh before it opens to the public this summer. They toured the 26,000 square foot Wellness Center which will include state-of-the-art fitness equipment, group exercise studios, locker rooms, saunas, a dedicated cycle studio and a community gathering space. Lynch Mykins spoke to the challenges and opportunities in the unique space. The street-level mezzanine, a new structural feature, was framed into the existing structure and provides a new community meeting room within the YMCA. Two new sets of stairs were designed to connect the three levels and to improve flow of the space. The tour wrapped up at Trophy Tap + Table.
National Small Business Week: Raleigh Denim Workshop + Curatory
DRA members toured the Raleigh Denim Workshop + Curatory to celebrate National Small Business Week, and enjoyed a reception at Parkside afterwards. Founded on the simple idea of making the “ideal pair of jeans,” Raleigh Denim jeans can be found in high-end Fifth Avenue stores including Barney’s and Saks as well as in downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District at the Curatory – where the jeans are still made today!
Maximizing Innovation and Connection: The Strategy, Design and Curation of Transfer Co. Food Hall
DRA members toured Transfer Co., a new 42,000 SF food hall and market with almost 20 food vendors opening in downtown Raleigh later this year! With the goal to encourage innovation by bringing together different people, Jason Queen, founder of Monarch Property and Realty Co, has strategically designed the space as an innovative hub using food as the vehicle for knowledge transfer. Jason and Fred Belledin of Clearscapes gave a behind-the-scenes look at the build-out of the warehouse, previously a bus maintenance facility and Ford Saunders dealership auto garage. Along with bringing an 8,000 SF grocery store Saxapahaw General Store to downtown, Transfer Co. will create approximately 115 jobs in the community with 98% of them requiring no high school diploma.
Honoring History Through Development: The Past, Present and Future of North West Street
About 50 DRA members participated in DRA's first Discover Downtown Tour in November 2017. Attendees heard from Michael Iovino, President of August Construction Solutions, as he spoke about the past, present, and future of North West Street. DRA members toured the state-of-the-art offices of Spectraforce, Equity Resources, Carimus and August Construction Solutions in what were once run-down warehouse buildings and learned about the unique history, creative design and construction challenges of the spaces. After the tour, members connected at The Cardinal Bar with its Raleigh skyline views! Click here to see photos from the tour.