The only reason I put Raleigh, North Carolina on our summer travel itinerary was because I have a friend who lives in the small state capital city. I had no plans except to catch up with her and her family and maybe catch up on work. Instead, I spent four days falling in love with the city’s eclectic charm and free museums.
Raleigh is an interesting hybrid of small town and biggish city. As the capital of North Carolina, it’s home to important legislative buildings and power brokers. Walking around downtown among the massive stone buildings gives you the feeling of being in a major metropolitan area, except there’s barely any traffic to speak of and it’s fairly easy to find convenient street parking. Although the population of Raleigh hovers around 400,000 people, the variety of restaurants and concept shops are reminiscent of a marketplace that serves a much larger customer base.
What is there to do in Raleigh?
One of the most impressive features of the town is its offering of free attractions, including numerous museums. The North Carolina Museum of History, for example, provides an in depth look at many of the state’s famous residents, as well as the role the state has played in the nation’s history. The North Carolina Museum of Art not only houses an impressive collection, but is surrounded by a beautiful sculpture garden that can be enjoyed at your own pace.
Before and after your museum tours, take advantage of some of the fabulous food available in Raleigh. The city is home to a thriving foodie community that makes an effort to support local food producers. My personal recommendations include:
- Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery for the best cakes I’ve ever had the good fortunate to eat
- Neomonde for creatively delicious Lebanese deli food
- Locopops for all-natural and truly unique popsicles (lemon olive oil, anyone?)
- Cantina 18 for the best kids menu
Raleigh is not just a place to visit, but a city you can easily imagine yourself living in.
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Photos by Britt Reints