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For a Moving Experience Visit the Cemetery
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Anna Marie

For a Moving and Educational Stop on Vacation, Visit the Cemetery

Oakwood Cemetery, located in Raleigh's Historic Oakwood District, is more than just a cemetery. It gives a window into the city's history and is the final resting place for some of Raleigh's most distinguished citizens. It also makes an excellent itinerary item. PullOverandLetMeOut will take you there to discover more about this historic site in the City of Oaks.
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Hi, I’m Anna Marie. I’m a wife, mother, Irish dancer, and pug mom living in North Carolina. I also love to travel. Come along for the ride! If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to say, ‘Pull over and let me out.’

Historic Oakwood Cemetery, established about 150 years ago, is a hilly final resting place for some of Raleigh’s most esteemed citizens. Oakwood is home to five United States Senators, four Civil War generals, two Secretaries of the United States Navy, several Raleigh mayors, and thousands of Raleigh’s famous and not-so-famous residents. The cemetery includes 102-acres of intriguing people and their tales, making it a moving and educational agenda item for visitors to the City of Oaks.

an obelisk in a cemetery
Oakwood Cemetery in the Historic Oakwood District of Raleigh

Oakwood Cemetery in the Historic Oakwood District

It’s not a ghoulish fascination attracting me to cemeteries – it’s a love of history.

From the time I was a child I enjoyed trailing behind my father when he’d visit his family cemetery in Georgia. Reading the tombstones and imagining the people and what their lives were like was captivating. The older the headstone the more interesting their story.

On my first trip to Ireland a friend laughed and asked, “why is it ye Americans come all the way over here and the first thing ye want us to take ye to see is the graveyard?”

I love history is the simple answer to his question.

However more than that – I’m a romantic. There are love stories, tragedies and more within the gates of cemeteries.

I’ve found myself with tears rolling down my cheeks contemplating a birth date in relationship to a death date upon realization this person died far too young. I’ve even welled up reading poignant epitaphs.

Exploring Oakwood serves up all of these emotions while also giving incredible insights and understanding to the people and events that played a role in Raleigh’s history.

tombstones in a graveyard under a big tree
The gravestones tell a tale of Raleigh's residents.

Tips for Visiting Oakwood Cemetery

Tombstones dating back to the Civil War.

Oakwood Cemetery does a wonderful job of respectfully inviting and welcoming visitors to explore this historic yet somber location. The cemetery is open daily for guests with a few simple guidelines in place.

Before your visit, you will want to do a little research in advance. A visit to their website will let you know of any special occasions or events taking place. Likewise, there is a tab on their website where you may search online for the specific location of a grave. Additionally, they now offer a downloadable app that you can use to enhance your visit.

I highly recommend taking advantage of this online tool. It’s simple to use and will make finding the grave when you visit much easier.

The gates at Oakwood Cemetery are open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm EST and 6:00 pm during Daylight Savings Time. The Cemetery office is open Monday through Friday, but you will want to consult their website to confirm the hours.

If you make a stop at the visitor center during business hours, you will find public restrooms and an office where you can pick up a walking tour map. There are also a couple parking spaces outside the visitor center.

a tree lined road in a cemetery
Oakwood Cemetery is especially scenic during autumn.
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Oakwood Cemetery, as the name implies, is found in Raleigh's Historic Oakwood District. This neighborhood on the edge of downtown boasts some of the city's most iconic homes, and a walk through this popular area is the ideal complement to a visit to Oakwood Cemetery. Oakwood's Victorian-era architectural styles include the Second Empire, which can be found on the north side of East Jones Street between North East Street and Elm Street; Queen Anne, which can be found along Polk Street, particularly east of North East Street; and Italianate, such as the fine example with bracketed eaves and elegant bay windows on the north side of Polk Street, just east of North East Street.

Events at Historic Oakwood Cemetery

a large gravestone with a bust of the deceased
Bartholomew Figures Moore has a prominent gravestone at Oakwood.

Oakwood Cemetery hosts a range of special events throughout the year. In addition to special holiday ceremonies and events, there are also monthly programs such as Plein Air Artists of Oakwood, Stroll Through History, and Read in Peace Book Club at Oakwood Cemetery. You can find the times and dates by consulting their online calendar.

And yes, Oakwood Cemetery has a social media presence as well. Their Instagram account tastefully posts images and news about the happenings so visitors can plan their time at Oakwood accordingly.

Tours

As the website says, “Oakwood Cemetery is full of life!”

They offer an array of tours tied to the history and the landscape of this historic site. Choose from tours that include the Civil War Tour, Monument Art & Symbolism, Raleigh History, Women’s History, and Love on the Rocks tours to name a few.

Moreover, there are numerous self-guided tours that you can learn about on the website. From notable people of Oakwood to Points of Interest, to the Oakwood Tree Tour, there really is something for everyone when it comes to tours.

a marble gravestone with an epitaph
There are many touching epitaphs to be found at Oakwood Cemetery

Oakwood Veteran Project

Oakwood Cemetery does a marvelous job of honoring veterans and has an ongoing effort to collect data and identify those who served.

In addition to their Field of Honor, which was established in 1997, they are working hard to assure all veterans buried at Oakwood receive flags on their graves on patriotic holidays as well as wreaths from Wreaths Across America.

Having visited for the Memorial Day ceremony and participated in Wreaths Across America, I can say, their efforts are outstanding and it is so uplifting to take part in these special events dedicated to the men and women who have so bravely served our country.

a woman placing a wreath on a grave
I got to be part of Wreaths Across America at Oakwood Cemetery

Parting Thoughts

Spending an hour in a cemetery is a wonderful history lesson and the reason while on vacation I frequently find myself roaming graveyards.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Historic Oakwood Cemetery is a treasure trove of the city’s history. Furthermore, this is a cemetery that is not only picturesque but also active. From educational tours to their monthly events, social media outreach, and dedication to veterans, Oakwood Cemetery is much more than a final resting place. It’s an important part of Raleigh’s community and heritage.

Oakwood is the final resting place for nearly 20,000 of the city’s famous and not-so-famous citizens. While visiting Raleigh,  I highly suggest taking time to explore the beautiful and historic Oakwood Cemetery.

Oakwood Cemetery
701 Oakwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27601

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Raleigh's Oakwood Cemetery; For a Moving and Educational Stop on Vacation

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8 thoughts on “For a Moving and Educational Stop on Vacation, Visit the Cemetery”

  1. I remember whenever I visit in cemetery. I always look at the inscription letter carved in tombstone. It might be weird to others but I’m intrigued how long or short their live life.

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