Things to Do in Raleigh: JC Raulston Arboretum

The JC Raulston Arboretum, owned by North Carolina State University, is a highlight of the Raleigh, North Carolina community. Officially started in 1976 by NC State professor J.C. Raulston and his graduate assistant on an eight-acre plot, the JCRA grew into an internationally recognized arboretum. Its exceptional plant collections have been attracting Raleigh residents and out-of-town tourists alike for many years.

The JCRA has dedicated landscaped garden areas and collections, but continues to improve and update every year. Just one visit to this arboretum is never enough!

JC Raulston Arboretum Raleigh NC


A walk through the JCRA in Raleigh is a walk through a horticultural museum. As a project dedicated to landscape progress and diversity, the many gardens at JCRA make for a unique sensory experience. With spaces like the Rooftop Terrace, Butterfly Garden, the testing-ground Color Trials, the Finley-Nottingham Rose Garden, the Scree Garden, and the Winter Garden, the arboretum is sure to impress even the mildest of plant enthusiasts.

In addition to their stunning gardens, the JCRA also features large collections of particular plants. You can view conifers, boxwoods, Japanese maples, magnolias, and redbuds en masse throughout the arboretum, at various times of the year. If you want to see certain flowers at the JCRA, you can search their website to see if it’s part of their collections or gardens. They also feature “showtimes” on their site, telling you which plants are blooming in each month of the year.

There’s no better place in Raleigh to see beautiful, original landscapes than at the nationally acclaimed JC Raulston Arboretum.

Events and Education

Raleigh’s JCRA wouldn’t be one of the best attractions in the city if didn’t host great events and educational programs. Held on the grounds, at the Visitor Center, or at the Education Center, the JCRA’s public events include lectures, photography walks, guided tours, gardening workshops, and more.

As part of North Carolina State University, the arboretum has an educational mission – it’s considered one of the Southeast’s top teaching gardens. Raleigh’s residents can benefit from this mission by attending the many courses or seminars about horticulture.

The arboretum also rents its indoor venues and gardens to special events like weddings and receptions.

Raulston Blooms!

The arboretum’s annual garden festival in April, Raulston Blooms! is one of Raleigh’s biggest springtime events. The one-day festival includes activities for all ages. There’s a plant sale for green-thumbs, the annual Birdhouses and Beyond Competition, gardening talks and lectures, educational displays, artists and craftspeople, and plenty of food trucks for when you get hungry. Tickets to the festival are usually inexpensive, with discounts for families. And all the proceeds support the maintenance and operations of the JCRA.

The JC Raulston Arboretum has so much to offer Raleigh residents. With free admission every day, all year long, a stroll through the gardens is both easy to access and enjoyable.