In August 2018 we moved cross-country from Washington to North Carolina. While we miss the PNW we do enjoy being so close to family and all the east coast has to offer including where America was built and history was made.
We went to D.C. over New Year’s Eve and Charleston (coming soon) for our anniversary but we obviously had to check out the big city just an hour and a half north of us. Raleigh is the capitol of North Carolina and is home to several well-known regions/cities including Chapel Hill, Durham and the Triangle. The Triangle is the area of three major universities (Duke University in Durham, The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh.) So the nightlife, food and amount of things to do is jam-packed. Not to mention it’s hours away from Asheville, the beaches on the coast and 20 minutes driving from RDU airport.
As of January 2019 we have been to Raleigh twice and, while I’m not a local-local I can offer some insight on the city or a quick trip.
If you plan on staying the night in Raleigh try this Airbnb and we felt very safe in the apartment. It was just the right amount of space and a few minutes walk from the main strip. There was street parking available as well as covered parking garage which we always prefer.
We stayed there over October 19-21, 2018 to celebrate my husband’s birthday and to spend a day at the Triangle Oktoberfest.
Our first night in was our usual eat and drink around the main strip. There are two to three areas with great bar districts and they’re a 30 minute walk or quick Uber from the Airbnb. We mainly checked out S Wilmington Street. First stop was food at Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria.
Upstairs is their sister restaurant, Centro. If you get a chance try the Cats Out Of The Bag IPA from Ancillary Fermentation; they only make 120 per month. At these types of places I enjoy trying out the cocktails so I tried the Cucumber Caipiroska. We shared their tacos, nachos and spicy chicken sandwich which were all really good but smaller portions than you would get at a chain Mexican restaurant.
You probably sat too long taste testing tequila so get to walkin’ down the street a few blocks to The Raleigh Times. Check out their website! This 100-year-old building displays newspaper clippings from it’s namesake newspaper. They have restored and expanded the establishment several times so there are plenty of booths, table, bar space and an upstairs seating area with a rooftop if the weather’s nice.
This bar is a super cool interior and seat yourself. I had the Peach Milkshake IPA and the Blackberry Ale which were both delicious and drinkable to keep the night going. We didn’t try their nachos but heard this is one of the few places offering a late night menu. The later you go, the fewer options you’ll find.
Down the street is the Landmark Tavern which reminded me of a Irish tavern but had the trendiness of a basic hipster bar in and outside. There’s a $1 cover and we had the 2 Hearted IPA from Bell’s Brewery.
The London Bridge across the street was closed for a private event and, what looked full of Greeks; otherwise it looked like a fun, younger crowd with loud music and live events!
A popular choice from everyone who visits Raleigh is Trophy Brewing Company. Head to the corner, turn left and walk down a bit before you see their neon sign next to other random streetside stores. We were in the mood for a late-night snack by now and shared their tots and wings. The wings weren’t too good and really spicy but the tots are definitely worth ordering!
Trophy Wife and Cloudburst were probably the top beers we had from our visit. Other people have also raved about their session IPAs, the Milky Way Stout which ‘tastes like candy’, and the best nano brewery in the Triangle.
On Saturday we were planning on going to Oktoberfest but first…BRUNCH. The biggest must-do while here is heading to Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. We were able to take our time getting ready and got there right before their 11 am brunch doors opened. We didn’t want to stand in line too long so we walked around and found the street closed down for a festival where artists were creating chalk art on the pavement.
If you can get there right as they open to wait in line DO IT or else you’ll be waiting for a while. Even on a rainy day Beasley’s was buzzing with guests. We snagged a couple seats at the bar and ordered drinks and brunch from the menus written on the wall. Hope you brought your glasses! I don’t think you could really go wrong ordering anything on the menu but we loved their beer, cocktail Ameila’s Crush, and several more classic cocktails. I cannot remember what we ate but I’m pretty sure mine was The Reunion after looking at several strangers plates. (Ok Creeeeppp). Drew had their recommended Huevos Rancheros.
We caught an Uber for the 30-minute drive to the Triangle’s Oktoberfest. We did NOT expect to spend all day here but we did! Pre-purchase your tickets which I believe were about $30 for all you could drink cup option but they have several to choose from. They open up an outdoor, riverside ampitheatre which is also used for concerts and your proceeds go to benefiting the rotary clubs, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and several other organizations.
They had two large tents, a row of food and drink vendors, competitions, weiner dog races, brat and food stands, live music and performers, games and much more. (Sorry this video is sideways!)
It was a great family-friendly crowd and we ended up shutting the place down with some new friends we met and Uber’d back to Raleigh with.
Reserve your Sunday for RECOVERY. We went to BREW Coffee Bar which was said to be an old train station converted to serve local beer and use coffee from Raleigh Coffee Company. When we got there it was the post-church, college study venue in a strip mall. Next door was Donatos Pizza which made my Ohioan husband go crazy with childhood memories and (to be honest) pizza on the hangover never sounded better!
On our second trip in December 2018 things were a bit more tame. It was a day trip with my dad and sister while in town for Christmas. Luckily it was a sunny (but windy and cold) day to wander around downtown. If you continue down S. Wilmington you’ll come up on the corner of the Capitol building. The North Carolina State Capitol is a 19th-century Greek Revival–style building with a statue of George Washington dressed as a Roman general in its rotunda.
You can walk around the grounds to view the statues and views of the city and you can enter with a brief security scan before exploring the building. There are three levels and when it was decorated for Christmas it was beautiful! They have most rooms open including detailed signs of where the NC Supreme Court, Legislature, General Assembly and the two committee rooms on the opposite wings. There’s also a small library and a geology room.
A block and a half away from Beasley’s is Sir Walter Coffee where they host a board of pay-it-forward drinks, seasonal flavors and friendly service and treats. While we just stopped in for a drink to warm up they also had a beer menu for their late-night guests.
Take your drink and wander down to the historic Raleigh City Market.
The cobblestone streets are home to some venues, pet stores, restaurants and artsy boutiques. The market opened in 1914 and through the years hosted farmers with a variety of goods. Over the years it was sold and purchased from several owners for numerous purposes but it’s still a small corner of charm in the Raleigh.
If you’ve never been to The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar you. need. to. go. It was the largest menu selection I have ever seen and they were featured on the show Tanked. Every mash-up we had was insanely delicious, top-grade burgers and sushi. The portions are pretty large and easy to share. We loveddddd it and I can’t wait to go back!
We will of course be back in Raleigh soon and I’ll update you on everything else there is to do as we explore the area. If you have any suggestions or places we need to visit on the east coast let us know and until next time…