Raleigh Travel Guide

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
** This Raleigh Travel Guide was updated: 3/20/19

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 (and surrounding metro area!) I know quite a few people around my age that have picked up and moved to Raleigh, and 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 ever had so much fun in a three-day period.
 

A RALEIGH TRAVEL GUIDE

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Where to Stay in Cary: The Mayton Inn

During our first visit to Raleigh, we stayed at The Mayton Inn in Cary, NC, which is right outside of the Raleigh city limits. 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 featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Where to Stay in Raleigh: AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills

On our second visit to Raleigh, we stayed at the AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills. The AC Hotel was a completely different vibe from the Mayton Inn (but I thought both experiences were incredible!) The AC Hotel was sleek, modern, and the perfect place for either a business traveler or an adventurer. One thing I love about AC Hotels is their breakfast buffet: they serve European-inspired dishes, including a great selection of cheese and charcuterie, fresh croissants and pastries and a few other breakfast classics including yogurt and cereal. 

The AC Hotel also has a rooftop restaurant and bar called Level7. They serve European-inspired small plates, delicious cocktails and plenty of local craft beers, and they also have a pretty good selection of wine as well. It got pretty lively at night, so if you’re looking for nightlife, this would be a fantastic option!

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide – Things to Do:

Sightseeing
  • 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 featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

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!
       
    • Death & Taxes: We loved our experience at Poole’s the first time we visited Raleigh. So much so that we knew we had to try another Ashley Christensen restaurant upon our return to Raleigh! Death & Taxes was listed as one of the Best New Restaurants by Food & Wine in 2016, and it is definitely worth the hype. Death & Taxes features a menu of wood-grilled dishes prepared with Southern ingredients, and it will certainly be one of the most memorable dining experiences of your life!
         
    • so•ca cocina latina: Located in Cameron Village, so•ca features a variety of Latin American cuisines on their menu. We loved how diverse the menu was, and their unique take on Latin and Caribbean dishes. They also have plenty of Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan options as well, and even the pickiest eater in your group will be impressed with this restaurant. Not to mention, so•ca has one of the best wine lists I saw during both visits!
        
    • 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.
       
    • bu•ku (Cary): We had the chance to try bu•ku at their Downtown Raleigh location, and they have plans to move to Cary in Spring 2019. bu•ku serves global street food and innovative Asian fusion dishes. Not only was the food incredible, but I also was blown away by the presentation of every dish: every plate on our table looked like a work of art! If their new location continues their Sunday brunch buffet, I would book a table. 
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise
Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Raleigh Travel Guide featured by top US travel blogger Alicia Tenise

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, and it would be the perfect spot for any beer lover in your life. There was tons of space at this brewery, so it didn’t feel too 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 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 for watching 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. 
Photos by Tom McGovern