If you’ve been reading along for the last few months, you know that I went on a cross-state road trip throughout the state of North Carolina last fall. This is the third installment in my road trip coverage, all focusing on the beautiful city of Raleigh. I know quite a few people around my age that have picked up and moved to Raleigh, so I was excited to see what the hype was. The kind folks at Visit Raleigh put together an itinerary for me to explore the city, and I don’t think I’ve had so much fun in a three-day period.
A RALEIGH TRAVEL GUIDE
Raleigh Travel Guide – Where to Stay
We stayed in Cary, North Carolina right outside of the Raleigh city limits at The Mayton Inn. I never really wanted to leave this property, and I hope that I get the chance to visit again: it was one of the most stunning hotels I’ve ever stayed at. It has all of the amenities of a five-star hotel, yet has the charm and intimacy of a bed and breakfast. We were only a 15-minute drive from Downtown Raleigh, and we were also within walking distance of a few great shops, restaurants and parks in Downtown Cary.
Raleigh Travel Guide – Things to Do:
- North Carolina Museum of Art: I could have spent all day at the NCMA: it is a massive art museum with 127,000-square-feet of gallery space that has a wide range of art from around the world. They also have some pretty amazing special exhibits to offer: when I was in town, the Ebony Fashion Fair was showing, and it was great to learn how Ebony Magazine elevated the fashion industry for African-Americans and I loved viewing the gorgeous designs featured in their shows.
- Shopping in Downtown Raleigh: I was very impressed with the shopping options in Downtown Raleigh. I found my new favorite boutique, The Art of Style, which sells some hard-to-find pieces from some of my favorite Australian designers. I had the chance to peek inside the Moon & Lola store — it was closed when I was in the neighborhood, but I visited their store in Charleston and I highly recommend it! They offer adorable jewelry (some pieces are customizable) at a fantastic price point. Deco Raleigh is also a great place to stop by and grab a quirky souvenir to bring home from your visit.
- Videri Chocolate Factory: Located in the Warehouse District, this is a must-see for any chocolate lover. You can get a quick tour of their factory and see how they make their chocolates from start to finish. Then, head over to their retail space to pick up some chocolate for yourself, or enjoy a coffee. They also have a patio which is BYOB if you want to linger a bit longer!
Raleigh Travel Guide – Food
- Garland: Chef Cheetie Kumar draws inspiration from her Indian heritage, and prepares her dishes with ingredients she sourced from North Carolina farmers. The Indian x Southern fusion was absolutely delightful and quite unexpected, and I was pleasantly surprised at how some of the combos on the menu worked so well together.
- Brewery Bhavana: Hands down, this was probably the most beautiful restaurant space I’ve ever visited in my life. It’s a brewery, dim sum restaurant, flower shop and bookstore all in one space — and somehow each element is executed well. The beers were excellent, and my boyfriend and I still dream about the Scallion Pancakes that we had.
- Poole’s Diner: This was absolutely my favorite restaurant that we went to in Raleigh! They don’t take reservations, but trust me: it’s worth the wait. Poole’s offers Southern dishes with a modern twist and has an impressive cocktail menu. Get the mac and cheese, trust me, it will change your life!
- La Farm Bakery (Cary): We thought this was going to be a quick stop on our way out of town, but we ended up staying for a couple of hours since so many dishes on the menu were amazing. La Farm is an authentic French-style bakery that uses all local ingredients and carries some amazing local specialty products. We had the opportunity to try a few items on their breakfast menu, and they were all incredible: I’d highly recommend the Croque Madame and the tomato cheddar scramble.
Raleigh Travel Guide – Breweries & Nightlife
- Crank Arm Brewing: We stopped by Crank Arm while we were in the Warehouse District, and we loved the ambiance: it was very dog-friendly, has amazing art on the walls, and we loved their interpretations of classic beer styles.
- Bond Brothers Beer Co. (Cary): Bond Brothers had a fantastic mix of traditional and newer styles of beer on the menu, so it would be perfect for any beer lover in your life. There was tons of space at this brewery so it didn’t feel too terribly crowded, and it felt like a place you could hang out for hours on end.
- Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria: If you love Mezcal, this is the ideal spot for you! It’s an intimate space, and the bartenders are very adept at making a mezcal cocktail based on your personal tastes. They offer a special mezcal club that offers monthly tastings and education for anyone who’s as obsessed with mezcal like we are.
- Raleigh Beer Garden: We went here for lunch, but I personally think the Raleigh Beer Garden is a better option for nightlife rather than dining. They have a massive beer selection (over 300 on tap), and it was a stunning outdoor space with multiple levels and bars to choose from. I could definitely see myself stopping in on a Sunday after brunch and catching up with friends.
- Pharmacy Bottle & Beverage (Cary): This was our first stop after we checked into our hotel, and it was a great place to unwind. Pharmacy is a charming bottle shop and tap room that offered a curated selection of both beer and wine. My boyfriend loved being able to purchase bottles of beer to go as well, as they carry unique craft beers that are hard to find.
- Whiskey Kitchen: This wasn’t on our itinerary, but after we left dinner at Garland we stumbled across this gorgeous space that was jumpin’. This place was pretty packed, but it had open seating, indoor and outdoor seating, tons of TVs which were perfect to watch any game/sporting event, and an incredible selection of cocktails. We were also very impressed with the late night snacks on the menu: the boiled peanuts and mason jar shrimp were incredible!
- Boxcar Arcade: This was probably the most fun bar that I’ve ever been to, and if you’re an 80’s or 90’s kid, you’ll appreciate it! It’s packed with lots of classic arcade games, they offer free popcorn, and they had a decent draft selection.