Posted May 24, 2022

A Guide to Raleigh’s Hidden Gems

Destinations

You’ve arrived in the city limits of Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital known for its down home hospitality, friendly craft breweries, cultural venues, robust nature trails and bustling university life. Below, we’re exploring some hidden gems.

Raleigh, North Carolina

The Great Outdoors
Commence your trip among the lush 245- acres of Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest, also prime for bird watching and picnic lunches. Meanwhile, Robertson Mill Park is perfect for adventure (canoes, kayaks and paddle boards) on serene waters. Later, the 27.5 mile stretch of Neuse River Greenway Trail, part of the vast Capital Area Greenway System, features wildlife, historical sights and soothing nature. Stop and smell the blooms at the Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden, home to 60 unique varieties. And, from late spring into fall, the venue also hosts outdoor plays and movies. Nearby, the JC Raulston Arboretum also features a large collection of plants and native wildlife.

Photo by Gregg Museum of Art & Design

Art and Design
Walk amongst the clouds in the Cloud Chamber, an art installation set in a small stone cottage that lets you virtually “walk” among treetops. Later, featuring over 35,000 objects (ceramics, photography, furniture), the stately red brick Gregg Museum of Art and Design, also houses pieces by self-taught local artists. Just behind the museum, stroll the lush confines of the Rose Jackson and Evelyn Thiem Pollinator Garden. Set in a series of redbrick buildings in the downtown Warehouse District, you’ll find a sprinkling of galleries and art studios such as CAM Raleigh and Designbox.

Coffee and a Bite of Chocolate
For coffee with made-to-order Belgian waffles, Benelux Coffee has you covered while Jubala Coffee offers a local menu of roasters alongside fresh fruit topped waffles. The cozy, bi-level Morning Times shop pairs its lattes with breakfast burritos while Sola Coffee Cafe serves cappuccinos and warm mini donuts. Since 2008, Escazu Artisan Chocolates has been whipping up its own bean-to-bar chocolate alongside a fun selection of ice cream, moon pies, and hot chocolate (because you can never have enough chocolate!)

Photo by Unsplash

Breweries (with grub) and Hidden Bars
There’s no shortage of beer in town. Dubbed the world’s largest beer garden, thanks to its over 350 brews on tap, the female-owned Raleigh Beer Garden also includes ample outdoor space, a rooftop garden and a menu of handcrafted pizzas. The airy taproom at Brewery Bhavana features forty taps alongside an elegant dim sum menu. Downtown, try the beer flight at Trophy Brewing, often featuring samples of seasonal suds, and paired with creative pizzas. Thinking outside the box, Barrel Culture serves beer slushies and brightly colored brews, cider and a few wines. And now for cocktails. Tucked behind a secret bookcase inside the Architect Bar, you’ll find The Green Light, a warmly-lit bar with reclaimed wood, Edison-style lighting–and dedicated to cocktails and vinyl records. Up a flight of stairs from Centro, you’ll find a few bar seats at Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria, home to mezcal inspired drinks and mural-painted walls. For a modern speakeasy twist, the velvet and dark wood paneled Merchant is aces for cocktails and bar bites.

Photo by Raleigh Beer Garden

Kimpton’s forthcoming hotel in Raleigh will open in 2025. See you then!

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