When you google “raleigh walkable neighborhoods” you get some pretty interesting results. One blog post touted a neighborhood in Raleigh with “gushing rivers and mountain views.” Umm… not sure where the algorithm went wrong there. Walkscore listed Stonehenge as one of the top 3 walkable neighborhoods. I saw that and literally laughed out loud. Stonehenge might be conveniently located to several things, but top 3? No. After my quick search, I felt like a human needed to step in and explain the best options without regard to SEO keywords and GIS based algorithms.
Here are the best Raleigh walkable neighborhoods, judged by an NC native and resident of the Triangle for 25+ years, and someone who has lived in several of these neighborhoods.
Downtown is defined as 1 mile of the capital. Obviously this area has the best access to just about everything you need given the density. This includes condos, apartments, Oakwood, Boylan Heights, Mordecai, Glenwood/Brooklyn, Glenwood South, South Park, College Park, etc. You’ve got a lot of options, depending on your budget, from 100 year old houses to townhomes to new construction homes. The center of it all. View available listings.
A destination with 2 grocery stores, library, multitude of restaurant styles and price ranges, dry cleaners, hair salons, fitness/yoga, and more. Several apartment buildings now surround the retail area, but many single family homes are close by in Forest Park (formerly Cameron Park), The Village District, University Park, and further down past the Little Theater. The Village District kind of overlaps onto Hillsborough Street near the NCSU area, so any of those neighborhoods all the way down to Faircloth are pretty walkable.
Only 2 miles from the downtown core, Five Points is a destination known for its intersection. Lily’s Pizza is the most famous place here, but Hayes Barton Cafe is well known, in addition to Nofo at the Pig. A post office, drug store, banks, and many antique stores are available, plus the Rialto Independent theater and several additional restaurants. Much more of a residential feel than the downtown core, but still very active.
One of the largest destinations after Downtown, North Hills is a newer development where they ripped down the old mall and redeveloped it into an outdoor shopping area, kind of like a downtown. Complete with a Target, hotel, REI and many boutiques, North Hills has parking decks, programmed activities, and tons of restaurants. While there are limited locations to actually live within walking distance, with an ample amount of parking, many might be satisfied living a 5 minute drive away. Because once you park, you can have dinner, see movie, and do some shopping, without getting in your car between each activity.
This neighborhood has become the place where people graduate to when they have outgrown their bungalow and need more space. The huge yards in Longview and older homes let people keep the charm they want in a home, it adds some square footage, and they are only 2 miles from the core of Downtown. The Alamo Drafthouse and continuing evolvement of retail in this area will only make it more attractive.
Those looking for more of a greenway access for walkability may venture further out, but stay “inside the beltline.” Many properties in the Ridge Road area provide access to Whole Foods and other retail in the Ridgewood center, but are close to the greenway access that takes you over the 440 bridge to the NC Art Museum grounds.
The thing about many parts of Raleigh is that a popular area does not look very sexy to a newcomer. No curb appeal and the retail areas might even be a bit run down. This is the case with the area off Lake Boone Trail near the hospital. It has a lot of fast food and several giant parking lots, which aren’t the typical things people want in a walkable neighborhood. But the Village Deli, Chubbie’s Tacos, and Sushi Thai have been around forever. The mid century ranch homes in Meredith Woods, and the townhomes right off of Wycliff Rd, are some of the more affordable properties within walking distance to something. There’s the newer shopping area with Guasaca, a bottle shop, and other restaurants and retail as well.
Woodcrest / Belvedere Park - Just outside the 1 mile radius of Downtown Raleigh, these neighborhoods give you proximity to Downtown and have parks and the revitalized Gateway Plaza to walk to, as well as access to the greenway. I like this neighborhood for cyclists because you can get downtown through other neighborhoods without relying on a major road.