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Joseph Carnevale
Follow Candid Slice
4 min Read
Published May 24, 2015

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh

From historic to ghostly, or simply unique and quirky, these places are just another reason that Raleigh is such a great place to call home. Have you explored any of these fascinating spots in Raleigh?


Isaac Hunter’s Tavern

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Isaac Hunter's TavernToday reduced to just a historical marker in front of the North Raleigh Hilton on Old Wake Forest Road, you can still walk the grounds of Isaac Hunter’s tavern, which in its time stood at the epicenter of what would become modern day Raleigh.

Having earned a reputation for quality food and spirits, Hunter’s Tavern hosted the 1788 Constitutional Convention where it was mandated the new state capital be built no more than ten miles away.

Many still remember the tavern, as it stood intact until the late 1970’s, when it was unceremoniously razed to make way for the Hilton. Even today folks still turn up coins, buttons and other period artifacts when exploring the grounds around the hotel.


Company Mill Millstone

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Umstead millstoneIn the early 1800’s the Page family constructed a Mill, which became the economic and social center around the Crabtree Creek area.

The Page Mill, later dubbed the Company Mill, ground wheat and corn for about 120 years.

Perhaps the best-known site in Umstead Park, the remains of the Company Mill can be found near the southern end along the trail of the same name. One of the original millstones rests on the northeast side of Crabtree Creek, a reminder of what stood only a century ago.

RELATED: The Ruins Of Umstead: Searching For The Lost Homes Of Raleigh Families.


William Poole Treasure

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Poole Woods GoldDuring the period of the Civil War, William Poole was a wealthy mill owner with large tracts of wooded land just east of the city.

When Union troops marched into Raleigh, rumor spread among the occupying force that Poole had vast amounts of gold hidden in the woods around his estate. The Yankee troops confiscated all of value from Poole, including his prized horse, but the gold was never recovered.

Poole’s estate house burned to ground over a century ago, but the tract of land where it once stood can be found between Walnut Creek Amphitheatre and the Neuse river, bounded by Poole Road on the North, and Rock Quarry Road on the South. While rumors of buried treasure persist to this day, no gold has ever been “reported” as discovered.


The Duke’s House

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Duke's HouseBuilt in the 1920’s, the Duke’s house was once the site of extremely lavish parties where guests would get very drunk–after all, it was the roaring twenties! One night in 1927, rumor has it that a car carrying three young women and their tipsy driver ran off the Ashe Ave Bridge, crashing onto the train tracks below.

All died instantly, with the driver being decapitated. Legend has it that all three women could be seen from time to time on the Duke’s front porch, and the driver is said to still wander the tracks in search of his head. The house itself has been gone for decades, but you can still explore the area around the Pullen Park Loft Apartments or walk along the sides of the nearby train tracks if you’re up for a ghost hunt.


Dos Toquitos Restaurant

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Dos Toquitos RestaurantLocated on Glenwood Ave. in downtown, not only will you find some tasty Mexican food, but also a lot of paranormal activity. Speculation is this haunting may be a result of 2 deaths in the building, along with 4 murdered prostitutes by John Williams Jr. in 1995.

Patrons and workers alike have experienced whispers, knocks, and other spooky happenings, typically occurring in sequences of 3, which some surmise is a mocking of the Trinity.


Village Subway

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Village SubwayFound beneath Cameron Village, The Village Subway was a labyrinth of shops, bars, restaurants, and clubs–sealed away, decades ago. Once a vibrant and thriving music scene, the Subway made the city of Raleigh a popular stopping off point for some of the biggest acts of the the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The Subway is also credited with having a significant impact in kick starting many notable bands, along with playing a leading role in launching the punk era on to America’s mainstream music scene. Shout out to The Pier!

RELATED: The Raleigh Underground: An Abandoned Mall Right Beneath Our Feet.


NC State Steam Tunnels

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - NC State Steam TunnelsAccording to Internet lore, NC State’s steam tunnels were used as unauthorized housing for hobos who rode the railroads throughout the state during the Great Depression.

Some also theorize that members of “secret societies” still meet in the steam tunnels today, which is why the tunnels are so closely monitored. While this may or may not be true, at least one heinous murder has been associated with NC State’s underground passages.

RELATED: The Darkness Beneath Campus: Exploring The NC State Steam Tunnels.


Butt Kicking Machine

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Ass kicking machineThe Butt Kicking machine at the Angus Barn Restaurant makes for a fantastic outing if you’re interested in both a great meal and a little self-administered discipline! This oddball contraption is located in the restaurant’s parking lot gazebo. If you’re looking for a genuine kick in the pants, then this is the spot for you!


RDU Observation Park

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -RDU Observation deckPopular with kids and adults alike, our airport’s observation park provides an uncluttered view of RDU’s 10,000-foot runway. Located near the air traffic control tower, enjoy hours of relaxation while taking in the view of planes landing and taking off–and listening to pilot-tower communications via audio speakers on the elevated observation platform.


The Field House at NC State

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -NC State Field HouseWhile it began life as the original Field House for the Wolfpack, the University Police were most recently housed in the building. During this period, officers and other workers consistently reported strange noises and seeing aspirations. Reports of footsteps and shadowy figures were commonplace.

Sadly, the building was torn down in 2013, but you can still investigate the grounds where the Field House once stood if the spirit moves you.


Spring Hill House

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Spring Hill houseThis Spring Hill house was once part of the Dorothea Dix Hospital complex, but is currently owned by NC State University.

For many years there has been reports that at night, people visiting the empty house could hear a baby crying and creaking steps on the stairwell.

The University Police have received activations on the motion detectors inside the house in the pattern of someone walking down the stairs of the house and out the back door. It just so happens that the original owner is buried in the backyard.


Moore Square

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Moore Square AcornOne of Raleigh’s two remaining original parks / green spaces established in 1792, Moore Square is a great place to visit and take a selfie in front of the giant copper acorn.

This 1,250-pound sculpture is dropped on New Year’s Eve during First Night celebrations. Just be aware that Moore Square has a darker side dating back to pre-Civil War Raleigh, and is known to give off “bad vibes,”especially after the sun goes down.


Heck-Andrews House

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Heck-Andrews houseAt 309 North Blount Street in Raleigh sits the first grand residence built in the area after the Civil War. Architect G. S. H. Appleget designed this home for Confederate Colonel Jonathan McGee Heck. It’s a landmark often visited on downtown tours through out the year, and given special attention for its eerie legends.

Stories persist of a yet to be discovered body buried under the front left corner of the house, and of a profound sense of sadness experienced by those touring the house.

RELATED: A Clairvoyant Exploration Of Raleigh’s Heck-Andrews House.


St. Agnes Hospital

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -St AgnesAmerica has a long history of racial segregation, and remnants of that history can still be seen in Raleigh. Located near Historic Oakwood Cemetery and St. Augustine University, stand the stone walls of St. Agnes Hospital, the only thing left of the roofless three-story structure.

The site bears a Raleigh Historic Property designation, and the Department of the Interior, as well as other local groups and St. Augustine University alumni are looking for ways to restore this once proud building as a medical school and museum.

RELATED: St. Agnes Hospital: Ruins Of Segregation In Raleigh.


Oberlin Cemetery

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Oberlin CemeteryIf you check out a google maps view of Cameron Village near Oberlin Road, you’ll find something mysterious. Amongst the high-rise apartment buildings, upscale boutiques, and fine dining of the bustling outdoor mall, a cryptic square of trees proves that somewhere in Cameron Village there is a somewhat sizable wooded area nestled right in the middle of everything.

In that clump of woods you will find Oberlin Cemetery, a graveyard for citizens of the Oberlin Village community, which has deep roots as a neighborhood where freed people lived after the Emancipation.

RELATED: Abandoned Cemetery For Emancipated Slaves Hidden In Cameron Village.


Spinning Angel of Oakwood

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Spinning Angel of OakwoodIn the north-west corner of the beautiful and historic Oakwood Cemetery lays a rather notable angel statue. It has been known as the ‘Spinning Angel of Oakwood’, ‘The Ratcliffe Angel’ or ‘The Guardian of Oakwood’ and has become the center of some myths and urban legends here in Raleigh.

Witnesses claim that the angel will completely turn her head if viewed at night long enough, while others say to have felt her eyes on them, and could actually see her eyes following their movement.

RELATED: A Reasonable Look At The Spinning Angel Of Oakwood.


Raleigh Giant

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Raleigh GiantHe has many names. The Raleigh Giant. Big Man. Paint-Can Man. Muffler Man. His first appearance in Raleigh was at the Giant Decorator, a business on Downtown Boulevard, holding an oversized paint can. After that, for many years he resided at the Bradsher family strawberry farm on 401 North.

Like Paul Bunyan, the Raleigh Giant is the center of many tall tales. According to the Midtown Raleigh News, he wrestled with a tornado, lost his head, and survived. They just screwed his head back on again.

Today you can find him on Overlook Drive, at Bradsher Landscape Supply, off Gresham Lake Road.

RELATED: Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum: The Legend Of The Raleigh Giant.


Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Cloud Chamber for the Trees and SkyThis unique outdoor exhibit is located in the museum park of the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Have you ever wondered what being inside a camera might feel like? Here is your chance to experience it. The chamber itself is a round building constructed of stone and wood, with a natural turf roof.

Once the chamber door is closed tight, the interior is completely lightproof, with the exception of a small circular opening in the roof. This opening allows the structure to perform in the same manner as a pinhole camera. As you gaze downward, you view an inverted portrait of the sun, clouds, and trees as the image is projected onto the walls and floor of the chamber.

RELATED: Ancient Optics: Cloud Chamber For The Trees and Sky.


Mordecai Historic Park

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - Mordecai Historic ParkHave you heard of the ghost of Mordecai House? The oldest house in Raleigh, still on its original foundation, is nationally renowned for its paranormal activity. Visitors and workers report seeing a woman wearing a long black skirt, white blouse and a black tie haunting the hallways.

Rumors also say she can be seen, sometimes, standing on the balcony if you pass by late at night. The ghosts are said to be that of Margaret Mordecai and Mary Willis Mordecai Turk.

RELATED: Mordecai House: A Historic Haunting in the Heart of Raleigh.


Crybaby Lane

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh -Crybaby LaneWhat is today a parking area for Centennial Campus, at one time stood the Raleigh Orphanage and Catholic Dioceses. All that remains of the orphanage today is the legend of Crybaby Lane. Word has it that People who lived near the orphanage once it was abandoned started complaining of the smell of sulfur in the air, years after a series of fires had plagued the area.

There’s a tale of a gatekeeper who guards the entrance to Crybaby Lane, a shadowed figure in the nearby woods. Still other people complained of hearing children’s screams or wailing infants inside the hollow buildings. Crybaby lane starts at the southern end of old Bilyeu Street, now just a wooded trail, and ends at a parking lot on the campus. The best time to walk the trail is after dark.

RELATED: The Legend of Raleigh’s Crybaby Lane.


The Barrel Monster

20 Weird, Quirky, Or Awesome Places To Visit In Raleigh - barrel monsterWhile not officially part of our list, the Barrel Monster deserves special mention as one of the most memorable but short lived roadside attractions in recent history. Joseph Carnevale created the 10-foot tall monster out of stolen orange-and-white safety barrels in June of 2009.

Sadly the police weren’t amused. They arrested Carnevale and took apart his barrel monster shortly after its roadside debut. After an unprecedented groundswell of support from the residents of Raleigh, Carnevale was sentenced to 50 hours of community service.


Do you have any of your own favorite Raleigh places, oddities, or haunts? Please share them in the comments below!

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  • Joker is a code hack here at Candid Slice. A programmer by day and a reader and writer by night, he is loathe to discuss himself in the 3rd person, but can be persuaded to do so from time to time. Find him on any of the Candid Slice social media channels. All my articles.

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