Festival season is upon us! From April 1, 2023 to April 2, 2023, music fans will descend upon Raleigh, North Carolina's Dorothea Dix Park to attend the 2023 Dreamville Festival. Founded by rapper J. Cole, the 2-day event will feature headliners Usher, Burna Boy, The City Girls, and Drake in addition to a stacked roster of musical talent.

Each year, the fest gets bigger and better as local food vendors, mixologists, artists and more showcase their talent and work to attendees on the event grounds. Beyond checking out your favorite artists, it's also the perfect time to explore a little of North Carolina's capital city as well as its Black-owned businesses.

If you're heading to Dreamville Festival, we've put together this insider's guide with the best places to stay, eat and play in Raleigh, NC.

Image: courtesy of Dreamville Festival.

Where to stay

While most area hotels are sold out for the event, you may be able to find rooms at more boutique-like accommodations or by checking out spots outside the Raleigh city limits. Either way, it never hurts to have options in your back pocket, especially if you decide to visit and explore the city at a later date.

Some of our favorite boutique hotels include: Heights House Hotel, which opened in 2021 in the downtown area; or The Longleaf, another semi-newbie, which opened in 2020. And if you're looking for a place to also get pampered during your stay, head just outside the city to Cary for The Umstead Hotel and Spa.

Best places to eat

As the up-and-coming thriving city that it is, Raleigh is home to several unique—and delicious—Black-owned restaurants, cafés and businesses. If you need a little fuel before your Dreamville Festival adventures, head to Crema. Known for its own tasty blend of coffees, lattes, and smoothies, its lunch menu is said to have the best chicken salad in all downtown.

Another great lunch option, or between sets spot, is Oak City Fish and Chips in the Morgan Street Food Hall. Starting as a food truck, the eatery has grown to three trucks and two brick-and-mortar locations, specializing in decadent seafood and its own secret spice blends.

Finally, for a great sit-down dinner or night cap, check out Oro. It's a fun, chic restaurant located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, with floor to ceiling windows and 20-foot ceilings across most of its space.

Where to Play

To learn more about Raleigh's rich Black history, you should consider carving out time to visit Black Main Street. Sitting between the intersections of Fayetteville St. and Moore Square, it served as a commercial district and the Black main street of downtown Raleigh in the 1910s and 1920s. There are also four powerful murals commissioned by local artists along the corridor as well. Also for the history buffs, explore the historic Oberlin Village district. It's the only surviving freedman’s village in North Carolina that grew out of a Free Black settlement during Reconstruction.

For a little retail therapy or to pick up last-minute items to bring your festival look together, consider: Black Friday Market, Nashona, Unorthodox Vintage and Artikle.74 Clothing Company.