I am not sure I would love Raleigh as much as I do, if I didn’t live where I do. And while there are times when I wish for one of those bigger houses in the burbs, I am easily reminded everyday that I traded inside space, for having an entire downtown as my “bonus room”.The commonly known and advertised favorites in Raleigh downtown are definitely spot on. There is no denying that Marbles Museums is where your kid will want to live forever if you allow it, or that transcending food experiences can be had at Brewery Bhavana, Crawford & Son, Death & Taxes, Beasley’s, Pool’s, or the 24-hour Krispy Kreme.
But for those of us who call downtown our permanent home, I like to believe that the favorites-list looks a bit different (well except may be the Krispy Kreme, ha!). For me, it boils down to a handful of neighborhood-y places that don’t necessarily pop-up on the “best of” list, but are a favorite of many friends and neighbors I know.
(219 E. Franklin St.).
Simply put, my home away from home. This is where I go when I need to clear my head, meet a friend, have a work meeting, or you know, just drink some good coffee and eat a kick-ass croissant. With next door neighbors that include a couple of really good boutiques, a bike shop, a farm(!), a wine shop, and Standard Foods & Grocery, it’s a fun little block to keep a family busy for a couple of hours, or more.
(707 Semart Dr.)
Simply put, it’s where one goes to buy soil, seeds, and plants, yes. But Logan’s is so much more! Even if you weren’t in the market for any garden supplies, strolling in this colorful and wonderful smelling place seems to always put me in a happy mood. There is a café nestled amidst the lushness that makes for a perfect lunch spot. Their huge collection of garden fountains and train tracks behind the shop have also made it a hit with my kids.
(938 & 936 N. Blount St.)
Anyone going to either of these places for the first time might assume they are lost because the location is so unexpected. Nothing else in the Triangle has topped our food experience at Stanbury so far. And with a gourmet chocolate shop as a neighbor, it’s a place we walk to often so that both the adults and the littles can get a treat!
(1023 Halifax St.)
While this little playground can’t compete with the likes of Pullen Park and Sassafras, it is still my favorite because I can always find parking, I won’t lose a kid amidst the hundreds of other kids, and the playground equipment is a lot of fun for kids of all ages. There is also an outdoor basketball court, indoor court, gym, soccer field, and clean restrooms with a step stool (it’s the little things!). It is also shady during the summer time thanks to a huge oak tree in the middle. This, paired with lunch at Logan’s or dinner at Stanbury, would be an ideal way to spend the day.
(111 E. Hargett #110)
The kind of store I wish I owned, Read With Me, is the local bookstore that has my heart! It’s around the corner from Marbles Museum and makes for a good bribe to get the kids out of there when the time comes. And for anyone buying any birthday presents, I can’t imagine a better and easier place to shop. And while we are on the topic of local bookstores, So & So Books is another locally owned book store in downtown that caries a well curated selection of adult and kids books.
(201 E Davie St.)
Located in the historic City Market, I love popping in to Artspace to see what new art exhibits are on display and to see artists working in their studios. It’s a really cool space to visit with kids especially since they can see the artist in action and ask questions. They offer a lot of interesting classes too including the one I’ve had my eye on called the Art Happy Hour.
(827 West Morgan St.)
Yes, the beer is good, BUT I am more in love with their outdoor seating, their salads, and pizza! It’s the kind of place that I am glad isn’t too close to home, you know what I mean!?
(122 Glenwood Ave.)
I have to be very very careful before I step in this store. There is not such thing as “just browsing” here for me because I always find a ton of things to buy. I’ve consigned some of my own stuff during my last massive closet clean out, and am thoroughly impressed with the high-end brands, variety and quality.
(300 Pace St.)
This is a great neighborhood bottle shop with easy atmosphere and friendly staff. The fact that it’s around the corner from Crawford & Son and the new Oakwood Pizza Box, means waiting for your dinner table just got easier and more enjoyable.
Alright, so not really one spot, but this cluster of blocks is one of the most interesting in downtown. It’s as hipster as hipster gets. The Contemporary Art Museum is here, and so are a bunch of cool shops, galleries, and restaurants. Walking around here is so much fun! The new Union Station project with public transit and mix-used spaces feels very trendy and a guaranty to hike up rent and real estate prices that will make many wonder if they have somehow been teleported to New York or something!
So let’s hear what’s on your list!
This is such an interesting time to be in Raleigh. Experiences that I expect to see in bigger cities like NY or Chicago, are all happening here too. Years ago, when I was a nerdy undergrad at UNC, no one talked of Raleigh as a destination, and now look at this place! I am so proud to live here.