By Chana Lynn, RaleighWhatsUp
Raleigh is an incredible city to live, work and play – and also to visit!
Raleigh is a creative and closely connected city. Like many other cities, Raleigh and the surrounding Triangle area are currently experiencing a lot of growth these last few years, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Raleigh is home to many world-class technology companies and universities, NHL and elite college athletics, several incredible museums, a fast rising destination food scene with award-winning chefs, fantastic coffee shops and plenty of amazing local breweries. I’d say we are pretty lucky to live here!
On my blog, RaleighWhatsUp, I enjoy sharing and highlighting lots of amazing local places in Raleigh and beyond to dine, drink, listen, shop and explore. I’ve put together a few of my favorite destinations in Raleigh but plan a visit and decide for yourself! Shop for flights to Raleigh.
Visiting Raleigh? Brewery Bhavana is a must!
It recently received the honor of being one of Bon Appetit Magazine’s 10 best new restaurants in America!
When we made our first visit here we knew something amazing was happening in Raleigh. Not just an outstanding brewery with an incredible array of beers to choose from, Bhavana is also a bookstore, flower shop, dim sum restaurant, and an amazing place to gather with friends. The space pleases all your senses from the aroma of freshly cut flowers, to a curated bookstore, a library to peruse, beer to taste + delicious dim sum dining.
The space is bright and airy, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and professional. Every detail is intentional and has meaning and purpose. This is a one of a kind place to visit again and again and Raleigh is lucky to call Brewery Bhavana our own.
I recommend trying a beer even if you aren’t a beer drinker (Yield – Luscious Little Session IPA 4.5% is my personal favorite). The food is delicious, comforting and thoughtful. The menu is ideal for sharing. Raleigh has a strong sense of community and you really feel it here. Truly a unique experience, definitely put Brewery Bhavana on your Raleigh list of things not to miss!
Additional dining spots: Raleigh is host to many amazing restaurants. Just a few of my favorites include St. Roch, Bida Manda, Trophy Brewing Pizza, Garland, Beasley’s Chicken, Virgil’s Tacos, Stanbury, Gonza Tacos y Tequila, Fiction Kitchen and Crawford & Son.
Looking for cocktails in Raleigh? One of our favorite spots is located in a former garage in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Whiskey Kitchen has well over 200 whiskeys stocking the bar shelves, along with plenty of other options! It’s definitely the spot for a proper drink. Next door to Nash Square Park and bordering the warehouse district, there are plenty of fabulous southern kitchen dining options as well as outside patio seating or classy casual drinking and dining inside.
Additional cocktail spots: Foundation, Gallo Pelon, Bittersweet, The Haymaker, William & Company, Fox’s Liquor Bar and Person Street Bar.
Lots of great local coffee flowing in Raleigh. One of my favorite coffee shops is Sola Coffee Cafe. Located in North Raleigh about 15 minutes from RDU airport, Sola Coffee serves up plenty of great food and drink options for breakfast, lunch and dinner AND they are some of the nicest people I know! Grab a few hot mini donuts with your coffee and snap a selfie in front of their ‘I Believe In Raleigh’ mural outside!
Additional coffee cafes: BREW, Jubala, Morning Times, Cup a Joe, Liquid State, Yellow Dog Bread Co., 42 and Lawrence, Sir Walter Coffee and the brand new Hummingbird.
North Carolina is famous for its top notch breweries throughout the state. Some of my favorite NC breweries in Raleigh include Trophy Brewing, Brewery Bhavana, Neuse River Brewing, Crankarm Brewing, Lynnwood Brewing Concern, Big Boss, and Bond Brothers. Stop by for a quick beer at Lonerider Brewing Company just minutes from RDU airport!
Raleigh has great local boutiques in downtown that are fun for whatever you are shopping for whether it’s homewares, furniture, clothing, jewelry, gifts or specialty items. Deco Raleigh, Father & Son Antiques, Port of Raleigh, Gypsy Jule, Union Camp Collective, The Local Squirrel, Edge of Urge and Moon & Lola are a few of my local favorites. Form + Function is a fun place to explore in Five Points. Nearly every weekend hosts local pop up shopping events and handmade markets around town.
The NC State Farmers Market is also a great place to visit for local holiday, food and specialty items on the outskirts of the city and is open all year long.
Museums + Art
NC Museum of Art is one of my favorite places to explore in Raleigh! The NCMA is a premier destination museum with stunning permanent and temporary exhibits. The museum is home to a Rodin exhibit featuring 30 sculptures in the gallery and garden. It is the most extensive Rodin collection between Philadelphia and the West Coast. The museum also hosts a wonderful outdoor park with works of art all along the walking/bike paths. Great way to spend an afternoon in Raleigh!
Another amazing museum to visit is Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) located in the warehouse district in downtown Raleigh. CAM seeks to curate the most contemporary works of art and design possible and they are very community-focused. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is the state’s most visited museum and you can’t miss it with the giant planet earth globe outside. It’s a fantastic place for the family with four floors of exciting exhibits. Be sure to visit the dinosaurs at the top!
Raleigh plays host to some world-class festivals, including Hopscotch Music Festival and Wide Open Bluegrass Festival. , There are NC beer festivals, cultural events as well as food truck rodeos, live music, and outdoor movies downtown. Raleigh is also home to the North Carolina State Fair every year in October.
Parks + Rec
Raleigh is extremely fortunate to have a state park directly within our city limits. Umstead State Park is perfect for so many outdoor activities such as biking, camping, hiking, picnicking and more. Newly acquired by the City of Raleigh, Dorothea Dix Park is a 308 acre park that is sure to become our “Central Park” and is currently open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Pullen Park on the NC State college campus, has tons of fun rides for the kiddies, including a train and a classic wood carousel built in 1900 and is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark. Raleigh also hosts an amazing greenway spanning over 112 miles and 3800 acres for running and biking throughout the city and beyond.
I hope you will find these recommendations helpful and come visit the City of Oaks soon!
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Chana Lynn has spent the past 16 years living in Raleigh with her husband and two teenage daughters. She started the blog RaleighWhatsUp to help people in Raleigh and surrounding areas, know where to shop, eat, drink, listen and explore locally. She has watched Raleigh evolve at an amazing speed to become a very hip, trendy, fun and quite delicious city to live in. She loves supporting small businesses in Raleigh because they are generally the nicest people you’ll meet!