I feel like my husband and I both really like this area. It may be that he once lived in North Carolina, but for some reason it feels more “homey” than other large cities I’ve been to. I honestly think landscaping plays a huge role here. (Talk about things you never thought would matter to you someday lol). But when walking the streets downtown there is more jungle than concrete. Most sidewalks are lined with shade trees or bushes and even the highways all have beautiful and bright wildflowers. The people are pleasant and I don’t think I have ever seen a more dog friendly city in my life. Dogs are literally everywhere and its the best. I absolutely love seeing the fur babies out and about, even inside some places.
As always, I try to keep a balance of healthy and happy foods when we travel because I want to stick to high quality, ethically sourced foods but still want to experience everything that the city has to offer. And if you couldn’t guess, there’s usually a concert involved too. So here’s how this trip played out for us.
After an early morning and a long drive, we decided to make a stop on the outside of downtown at Lilly’s Pizza. We always have to try a local pizza place on our trip so we got that out of the way first thing. This place is like a dive bar meets hipster pizza joint. All the pizza’s are made from scratch using only local and organic ingredients including the flour used for dough (they have gf). And they were delicious! They also have local craft drinks and outdoor seating where we of course got to see some cute pups. I absolutely recommend making this a pit stop on your way to or from Raleigh.
We then walked across the street to Crafty’s. It’s a bottle shop/bar just to see what local brews they might have since we were there. This would be a cool place to hang out for a bit if you were in the area. They have games, live music, and an indoor lounge area. You might want to check it out if that’s your thing or just head there to browse and take home some local brews like we did.
We also stopped at Pelagic before checking in to our Air bnb because it was recommended. This is a small but adorable little bottle shop and tasting room. If you haven’t noticed, we love taking local drinks home as souvenirs.
That evening we got to meet up with a former coworker who moved to the area and have a few drinks at Growler USA. This place is meh, kinda chintzy. I would not plan on going back so I don’t recommend it. I won’t go much into detail here but you can always read more over on Yelp.
After catching up with our friend, we took a stroll around the historic City Market area and up a few streets to Paddy O’Beers , another recommendation. (I swear we did more than stop at bottle shops, bear with me lol, but they are very plentiful here.) This is another cool place for buying or tasting local brews. They were very busy, I saw yet another cute dog inside and they had some sidewalk seating where I of course stopped and enjoyed a Rose’ Hard Cider. All that walking is hard work, am I right?
For dinner that night we took a decent walk up to Cloud’s Brewing. I was honestly underwhelmed and a little disappointed that we walked that far to try it out. The drinks were nothing to brag about and neither was the food. (Read my full review on Yelp). The service was nice and the atmosphere was appealing with a great outdoor area but that’s not quite enough to get me to return.
The next morning we went to Happy + Hale for breakfast. Now this place is more my style. Pretty much everything I could want in a meal here. All local, organic fruits and vegetables with no added funk to any of their food, juices or smoothies. Highly recommend if looking for a healthy breakfast or brunch. I would be here often as a local.
After breakfast we hit the streets (again) and found some shops to go into. My favorite was a place called Father & Son Antiques. They had plenty of funky 70’s style furniture that I loved and wished I could have brought home. A loft full of records and some vintage clothing. We also checked out Sorry State Records and Raleigh Provisions.
Our breakfast was so filling that we didn’t want a huge lunch but decided to pop into The Raleigh Times to share an appetizer and a drink. I knew this was a very historical place so I kinda wanted to pop in just to say that we did. I also made a pit stop at Raleigh Raw to pick up a few juices to bring home. I am actually sipping on one as I type this.. so good! This place was booming and I could see why. It’s a Juice Bar and Cafe serving up fresh local fare. They have grab and go options which makes life easy and I love that they list their local purveyors right on the front of their menu.
We were also told to stop at Brewery Bhavana (we had the best air bnb hosts!) and I’m glad we did. This place is beyond unique and I’m sure I’ll never see another place like it. This is a collaboration of passions coming together to create a charming and elegant setting. It’s a brewery, book store, flower shop and Dim Sum restaurant all in one. Crazy right? The restaurant was closed when we visited but we got to experience everything else and it was lovely. I could see my self reading books, sniffing flowers and sipping drinks all day long in this place if I were local.
We went to Trophy Brewing Co. Tap + Table for dinner. They have a great rooftop dining area with a view but with all the walking we had done we decided to enjoy the air conditioning with dinner. The food was very enjoyable and the drinks weren’t bad either. They try to use fresh and local ingredients when possible so that’s a plus. I would like to visit again when I can enjoy the rooftop deck.
After dinner we had tickets to a show at Red Hat Amphitheater to see The Revivalists. This was our first time at this venue and we had a great time. This outdoor amphitheater is located right downtown across from their convention center which makes it ideal to walk to after dinner or to somewhere open later after the show. They do have some concessions available inside as well. I love outdoor concerts, and this place has a good list of pros. A few of my favorite things were the ease of entrance, air conditioned restrooms and the fact that even though this is a smaller venue, they had multiple restrooms on either side of the stage so there was never a line. And they were clean. I’ve spent many concerts missing my favorite songs because I was waiting in line at the ladies room. I’m sure you can feel me on that one.
Also, the city serves as a beautiful backdrop to the evening. Surprisingly you don’t hear any outside noises being right in the heart of the hustle and bustle either. The only thing I would change is that even though we were only 4 rows deep in the center section, we were still a good ways from the stage. There is a decent size pit area before the seated section starts. So if it is someone you really want to get up close and personal with, I would just pay for GA pit. And most importantly, The Revivalists totally rocked it. They sound even better live than on their records and David Shaw has an awesome energy. I would for sure see them again and also attend a show at this venue again.
If you have more time than we did I also suggest checking out these places:
(check business hours – several places were closed when we tried to visit)
Living Kitchen – Organic Plant Based Cafe and Juicery
Fiction Kitchen – Local Organic Vegetarian Restaurant
The Pharmacy Cafe – A modern healthy take on an old fashioned soda fountain set in a pharmacy built in 1910.
Irregardless Cafe – Farm to Table restaurant with live music
Gypsy Jule – Bohemian, free spirited, vintage vibes shop
Sound Off Records & Hi Fi – Record Shop
Tasty Beverage Co. – (yet another) Bottle shop and Tap Room (more hard cider than most locations)
I am looking forward to visiting this happening city again and checking out some places we didn’t have the time to explore. Do you have any Raleigh recommendations? Leave me a comment and let me know!
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