the verdict is in: top raleigh places

Remember when I asked all those questions about Raleigh? Below are my final choices, which I submitted to my internal work website. Hopefully it will be helpful if any of my coworkers visit Raleigh 🙂

1) What are three must see spots in Raleigh?

  • People said: Umstead Park, The NC Museum of Art, Pullen Park, the Rose Garden, the Raleigh skyline
  • My final verdict: 1) View the Raleigh skyline– including the huge Cree Shimmer Wall that features the signature Raleigh oak tree- from Boylan Bridge Brewpub, which has a large outdoor patio with picnic table. 2) Lake Johnson, which is stunning in the fall- and not too shabby on 65 degree December days either! And remember, this is North Carolina, so everyone will say hi to you as you pass by 🙂 After your walk, lounge in the rocking chairs on the deck with coffee and bagels. 3) Explore the NC Museum of Art, which features rotating exhibitions, outdoor installation art, Art in the Evening events, a greenway for bike riding, and movies on the lawn in the summer.

2) Best restaurant to get a taste of the city? 

  • People said: Poole’s Diner, Raleigh Times, The Pit, The Roast Grill
  • My final verdict: Poole’s Diner– the converted old-style diner represents how Raleigh retains its old world charm while moving into the future of fresh, local food. Word on the street is that the mac and cheese is to die for (I haven’t had the privilege of eating it yet). The owner, Ashley Christensen, is a local celebrity restauranteur- she opened three more Southern-style restaurants within the past few months!

3) Best place for a drink? 

  • People said: Raleigh Times, Foundation, Busy Bee, Landmark, Isaac Hunters
  • My final verdict: Hands down, Raleigh Times! The unique history of the building- it used to house The Raleigh Times newspaper- gives this place so much character. There is a diverse mix of people here at all times of the day and night: you see the local construction guy grabbing lunch at noon, then all the hipsters there drinking PBR in the evening 😉 It’s definitely a centrally located meeting spot for business lunches and happy hours, and the outdoor tables are a great place to people watch year-round. And remember- a trip to Raleigh Times wouldn’t be complete without the Eastern NC BBQ pork nachos. The only excuse not to order them is if you’re a vegetarian!

4) Best place for live entertainment (music, sports, comedy, theater, etc.)?

  • People said: RBC Center, NC Theatre, the Raleigh Ampitheatre, Pour House, Walnut Creek, Canes game, Lincoln Theatre
  • My final verdict: It’s a tie between Lincoln Theatre, which hosts everything from Mat Kearney to TEDx conferences, and the RBC Center, where the Carolina Hurricanes play. Score a great seat during a winning game and you’ll feel the thrill of the the red and black- even if you’re not much of a hockey fan! But of course the most fun part of any Southern sporting event is the pre-game tailgate.

5) Best neighborhood to shop? 

  • People said: Cameron Village, North Hills
  • My final verdict: Cameron Village’s historic charm makes it the perfect place for outdoor shopping. You’ll from everything from a spice store {pick up North Carolina-style dry rubs at Penzey’s Spices} to small boutiques {like Uniquities or Fabrik} to organic specialty food shopping {at  Fresh Market} to southern-style custard {get the Carolina Concrete at Goodberry’s Creamery}. Top the day off with a trip to the local library and a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, where they’re almost guaranteed to know your name if you go enough. If you’re looking for a slightly funkier experience, check out Father & Son, a kitschy four story antique store! It’s where I found a vintage fanny pack for the rap music video I was filming- feel free to ask me about that 😉