Twenty Dollars or Less

“Whyyyyyy is everything fun soooooo expensive?”

That’s a plaintive cry that many students — including us — often express when they’re bored. In a city teeming with events, concerts, bars and other exciting things all aimed at “young professionals” it often can seem like everything fun costs too much money. But what if there was something for everyone to do that didn’t cost an arm and a leg? Something that only cost $20 or under for two people?

We set up 4 separate price points: $0, $5, $15, and $20. We wanted there to be a price point that fit in everyone’s budget; costs calculated do not include gas or bus fare because that might differ too much for different individuals to properly calculate.

We’ve written about a few of our favorite places below.


If you’re working with $0, you’re lucky to live in Raleigh. Raleigh is known as the “Smithsonian of the South” due to the abundance and quality of our museums. Most museums in the area are free to the public and run off donations while others offer student discounts or inexpensive tickets. A personal favorite is the North Carolina Museum of Art.

The North Carolina Museum of Art, or the NCMA, is a great place to go for a date. If it’s a sunny day, be sure to check out The Park. It’s 160 acres of woods, creeks and fields. Visitors can ride bikes, walk their dogs, have a picnic or just take a walk and enjoy being out in nature. Within The Park visitors can also see art installations brought to you by environmental scientists and artists alike. The West Building holds European, African, and American art, portraits and modern and contemporary pieces. The East Building is more North Carolina centered, with pieces donated or on loan from many companies based in North Carolina. The NCMA also offers free tours

Cost: $0

Ten Dollars

Now bumping the cost up to $10. Going out to eat is fun, but the bill can really add up at a lot of restaurants. MoJoe’s is a burger joint that offers fair prices for good food in downtown Raleigh on the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Peace Street. It is open Monday-Sunday from 11:00am-1:30am. However, the time I recommend to check it out is after 10pm because burgers are half price!

Burgers are a food that almost everyone can agree on. Plus, who doesn’t love a good discount? This is really awesome because two people can go out to eat and spend under or around $10. Burgers are regularly priced between $5.19-$9.99 so after 10pm it goes to half that price. Order up the Carnivore, Inferno, Old Raleigh Burger, or build your own!

You could spend more than ten dollars of course, it just depends on what you get. Stick with some waters to drink and you should come out under budget. You can check out the menu here to see all of the different options. Mojoe’s has a parking lot so you don’t have to pay to park, but it is a small lot. If you can’t find a space, then you can try across the street at the Peace Street Inspections Center. There is a great outdoor seating area so you can enjoy the awesome fall weather. Don’t worry about getting too chilly because as it gets colder they will break out the space heaters (or you could just go inside).

Cost: $2.60-$4.99

Fifteen Dollars

all pictures taken by Savannah

With $15 in your pocket, more options become available. If you can cook — or can have a pinterest and can follow a recipe this might be a great option for you. One of my favorite weekend activities is to go to the state farmer’s market with a friend, buy a bunch of produce, and make a huge lunch or dinner. Recently, I went and bought a pound of spinach, a pound of kale, three bell peppers, green beans, homemade cheese, eggs and broccoli for $12.33. What did I do with it? I made a quiche. Well, it was a mini-quiche because I didn’t have pie crust and didn’t feel like heading out to Harris Teeter. I wanted to start cooking ASAP!

There’s something incredibly relaxing about walking through the farmer’s market. You can smell the bread baking, hear farmers calling out for free samples, touch the produce and just have a good time in an indoor/outdoor setting. The best part is you can feel like you’re getting close to your roots. I recently posted on my Instagram my haul from the farmer’s market and used the hashtag #gottobenc which has thousands of other posts under it. You can buy your produce, make your dish and join the conversation on Instagram. You can even post a picture of your food in a fun, free, public park!

Cost: $12.33, but your cost may vary depending on what you buy

Twenty Dollars

So you’ve got a $20 budget between you and your friend. There is a lot you can do with this, even though it doesn’t seem like much. If you like to be outdoors, you can head over to Lake Johnson for a day of fun. Lake Johnson is off of Avent Ferry road and a short drive from NC State’s campus. The park is open from dawn-dusk so it is a perfect activity for a nice sunny day. Walking trails encircle the lake so you can get some exercise in, or you could hang up an eno and relax! Lake Johnson rents out Jon Boats, Pedal Boats, Canoes, Kayaks, and Sunfish Sailboats. You can check out their website for the specific pricing, but it is all under $20! This is such a fun way to spend time with friends or a cute date for couples. I have rented kayaks for a couple hours with my roommate and it made for a good little adventure. Another reason this is a great option, is because you could even include food in this budget if you want! Grab a cookout tray and picnic before you head out on the lake. What could be more perfect?

Cost: For 4 hours, $20

Alright, here you have it folks. Some sure fire ways to have a fun day in Raleigh while not breaking the bank. Check out the websites of the activities we mentioned so you can try them out for yourselves. Have fun getting the most out of the city and spending the least!