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Center for Carolina Living Dusk falls on Raleigh. It's time to dress down, go out and let the evening unfold.
Photo courtesy of Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
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Center for Carolina Living Why Irish eyes are smiling. It just might be the 50 brands of whisky, and/or professional Irish dance classes that keep the atmosphere upbeat at Tir Na Nog, an Irish Pub in Raleigh.
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walking raleigh/durham

written by Rebecca C. Mann
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Carolina Day Trips:
Insider Tips for Visiting Raleigh, North Carolina
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It’s a college town and the state capital, but beyond those admittedly appealing characteristics Raleigh has an appealing vibe for all ages and interests.

First, you’ll need a bed for the night. With our fondness for charming inns and B&Bs, we could look no further than Cameron Park Inn B&B. Located in a great, walkable neighborhood, visitors wax positively poetic over the inn’s décor, cuisine, inn-dog Beanie and innkeepers, Nikki and Jon.

Find it just off Hillsborough Street at the NC State University Bell Tower, the inn is within easy walking distance of the university, Cameron Village and the Raleigh Little Theater and Rose Garden. Downtown Raleigh (with its City Market and Glenwood South's restaurants), Mordecai Historic Park, Historic Oakwood and the RBC Sports arena  are very close.

Choose a room or a suite, and take time to wander through the English garden or relax on the front porch as you plan your next move.
 

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts,
Farmers Markets & More

What to do? Depends on your particular preferences, and in a city like Raleigh your tastes will be beautifully accommodated.

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In fact, let’s begin with taste – food tasting to be exact. Fans of the gooey-sweet pride of the south (Krispy Kreme doughnuts) might want to pay homage at their iconic landmark building on Person Street. The doughnut dynasty started in 1937 in nearby Winston-Salem, but two short years later, the ubiquitous treats arrived in Raleigh, where they’ve been favs ever since.

Healthier, more natural fare can be found at the NC State Farmers market, open every day. Depending upon the time of year, visitors will find all manner of fruits, veggies and other delights. There's also the Raleigh downtown Farmers market in City Plaza that opens on Wednesdays from April - October.

Want a bit more guidance? May we suggest the Taste of Carolina Gourmet food tours.

Known for effortlessly blending modern architecture with historic buildings and monuments, Raleigh showcases fine dining and eclectic eateries. Whether you're a resident or a visitor, you'll enjoy the opportunity to talk with chefs and owners who are serving innovative ethnic and Southern cuisine, house-made chocolate, authentic barbecue, beautiful and delicious cupcakes, local beer and organic wine.

There are walking tours, barbecue tours, chocolate tours, tapas crawls, forays outside town and specialty events. Discover more at Taste Carolina. Visitors will also enjoy Triangle Food Tours.


Get Your Bearings (Literally)

Perhaps you’d like an overview of Raleigh via a  Triangle Segway Tour.  For those so inclined, gliding through the tour, accompanied by a wireless audio pack, will provide insider glimpses into Raleigh’s rich history. They provide training and helmets. Rules apply, so check with the staff.


Lunchtime

It’s #1 on Trip Advisor reviews, so consider Margaux’s for lunch or dinner. They identify their food as high-energy metropolis and soulful southern hospitality. That should turn your thoughts to gastronomy. Lunch and dinner menus have substantial differences, and there are always special offerings, including “soups of the moment.”

Another fine option is Bu•Ku Global Street Food located at the corner of Davie and Wilmington streets. One look at the menu will demonstrate the global approach, from Thai dishes, to Mexican offerings and Russian bread pudding.

There are other intriguing possibilities as well, including Sitti, with Lebanese cuisine, and, Jibarra with its modern Mexico influence.

Want to blaze your own dining trail? There are more than 600 restaurants reviewed in Trip Advisor, plus My Restaurant Guru has more great resources on delightful dining.


Get Cultured – Museums & Sports

Frequently, what makes a city unique can be found inside its museums and galleries. Raleigh’s museums are fun-filled and diverse, so let’s begin with kids’ stuff.

Marbles Kids Museum has created an environment where learning is more than fun. Children create works of art, learn about green building, experience life on the farm, or behind the wheel, and so much more, including the Wachovia IMAX Theatre. Special events are held throughout the month, and even the smallest visitors have play areas designed with their tiny hands in mind!

NC Museum of Natural Sciences, in downtown Raleigh brings the natural world to life. Not sure the kids will approve? Mention "ANIMAL GROSSOLOGY," the new special exhibit at the museum which takes a unique and scientific look at nature’s slime-making, vomit-munching and excrement-loving creatures. Filled with four floors of exhibits, live animals, hands-on activities and exciting programs, the Museum invites visitors to look at the natural world through the distinct lens of North Carolina's diverse geography, prehistoric past, geology, plants and animals.

Raleigh City Museum  is a private, non-profit facility dedicated to all things related to the city. In February, the museum is hosting a strong line-up of African-American exhibits as part of Black History Month. Visitors can learn about Raleigh during the turbulent era that spanned the thirty years after 1950. Other exhibits introduce Raleigh’s earliest days, and its evolution into a fascinating area to visit, and perhaps in which to live.

NC Museum of History  is a one-stop-shop for learning about what made North Carolina a wonderful state to visit and in which to live. Current exhibits explore life from earliest times. The NC Sports Hall of Fame brings athletic legends to up close and personal.

And speaking of sports …

Raleigh is a sports-loving community, starting with NC State and its Wolfpack. Basketball is legend around Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, but football offers fantastic afternoons of fun and games. The Raleigh Hurricanes offer edge-of-your-seat thrills and NHL match-ups that have helped create a strong base of newly minted hockey fans throughout the area. Professional baseball can be found at the Carolina Mudcats’ ballpark, and golf courses offer a great day on the links for every skill level. Contact the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau for up-to-the-minute details on sports, and browse the website for a complete listing of upcoming events, from opera, to Broadway Touring companies, and even a spelling bee or two.


The Evening Hours

The sun is waning, but the fun is heating up in Raleigh. This is a university town, so expect active watering holes, including the Busy Bee, Raleigh Times and Flying Saucer.

If you’re lucky (or smart), you’ll be in Raleigh on the first Friday of the month. The city showcases its exciting art, music and dining scene and offers free, self-guided tours of local art galleries, art studios, museums, retail, restaurants and alternative art venues. First Friday is a guaranteed good time.

City Plaza downtown, as well as the new Raleigh Amphitheatre, feature special events as well.

Got great cuisine on your mind? Any of the restaurants mentioned earlier will make a fine choice. Trip Advisor reviewers like 18 Seaboard and Bloomsbury Bistro (among many others) for food, service and atmosphere.

Satiated and probably exhausted, it’s time to retreat to your charming little B&B, the Cameron Park Inn. Nikki and Jon will welcome you home to quiet restful sleep. No room at the Cameron? Consider the Oakwood Inn in Downtown Raleigh.


Day Two

After a yummy breakfast, you’ll need to review plans for the day. About the only thing we haven’t tackled so far is shopping, and, undoubtedly, during your wanderings you found a couple of boutiques and galleries that demanded a closer look. Here are some insider suggestions:

Dechen Collections Tibetan Store offers treasures from Tibet, Nepal and environs. The Collectors Gallery focuses exclusively on North Carolina fine craft including pottery, glass, wood, sculpture and jewelry. The store celebrates and promotes North Carolina’s rich crafts heritage. You’ll have trouble deciding what to buy, so take your credit card – and your Christmas gift list.

Ornamentea specializes in beads and ornamentation, while Meme boutique is a unique woman’s clothing store.

There are more, of course, so browse around Downtown Raleigh for a more complete list of shopping destinations. Three more to consider: North Hills, Cameron Village, and Crabtree Valley Mall.

Want to spend a second night? We thought so. You’ve still got lots to see and do in Raleigh.

 

Related Reading

More about Raleigh, NC

Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau

Day Trips Directory

 

About the Author

Katherine O. Pettit has worked as a writer, magazine editor, printer and public relations consultant. The Columbia resident has published more than 250 articles in magazines and newspapers. Her writing explores a variety of subjects including travel, lifestyles, business and management.
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