Weekend in Raleigh, NC

111 We were looking for a weekend away somewhere a bit different from the coastal tourist areas, but wasn’t too far away. After speaking to some American friends and doing some research we decided that Raleigh North Carolina would be our destination.Raleigh is about 3 ½ hours’ drive from Virginia Beach which 2 years ago before we came to America would have taken days in the planning, however now that we are experienced American drivers it is but a short hop down the road.
Raleigh is the State Capitol of North Carolina and its second largest city. It is known as the “City of Oaks” due to the many oaks that line its city streets. It has been the state Capitol since 1788 and it’s lay out was based on the square design seen in Philadelphia. But enough of the history and architecture, let’s talk about modern Raleigh.

Modern Raleigh is a small city in comparison to many sprawling American cities, when you arrive on the outskirts it takes no time to arrive in the city centre. The centre of the city is small and I liken it to a county town like Guildford or Exeter, large enough but easy to walk around.
After we checked into our hotel which was right in the middle of everything, we went for a wander to see what we could find. We were within a few minutes very aware of the reason for it nickname as we strode underneath the canopy of trees, we also noticed the number of green areas and parks as we strolled towards the commercial centre in the warm spring weather.


As you approach the commercial centre there was a mix of Victorian, 1920’s/30’s and modern buildings. The State Capitol building sits amongst the trees and has a large number of historical statues with the park that surrounds it.  The feel of the city is gentle as the traffic is scarce and the sidewalks are wide and quiet. Nearer to the centre there are some small boutique shops, antique and art shops catering for tourists, there was also an increasing number of bars and restaurants. The Raleigh Times is well worth a visit as it was where the local newspaper used to be produced. It has kept the feel of the old newspaper by keeping original fixtures and fittings, and tastefully decorating. Like most American bars they are also restaurants and there is a wide variety of bars to choose from, so you can take your time going from bar to bar and then deciding on your choice of food.

I won’t go into all the bars in the city centre there are far too many, and no we did not go to them all. However this isn’t the only bar area in the city, to the West of the city centre is the warehouse district and also Glenwood Avenue. Both of these areas offer a wide variety of dining and drinking options.

There are a large number of micro brew pubs in Raleigh, most of which offer food, but it is the beer that they offer, not only their own brews but from around the world, that draws people in. It took some deciding on my favourite beer, but I think I found it! There is a lot of choice when it comes to eating, with flavours from all four corners of the globe, but you have to try Carolina BBQ and it does not disappoint.

So that’s the eating and drinking done, I have to admit that I could have used more time to come to the decision on my favourite beer. Raleigh has a lot of other things on offer, there are several museums including the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Museum of History. There are also a lot of venues for live music and I would say check the events diary before you go to try and catch live performances that suit your taste in music. The arts are well represented and the Duke Energy Centre for the performing arts has a very full calendar of events to suit all tastes.

In short Raleigh has a great deal to offer in a small are, it is close enough for a weekend break, or as a stop on the way or back from a road trip. My advice would be to stop, wind down and chill out, as it certainly relaxed us, it has a gentle pace in a beautiful setting. Or you can go with a group and enjoy bar hoping and making the most of the nightlife. For me it has been one of the highlights of my time out here, and definitely be somewhere I would visit again, once of course I have seen everywhere else I would like to go.