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  • A Cruising Couple | January 18, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    What To Do In the Cultural Hub of Raleigh, NC

    What To Do In the Cultural Hub of Raleigh, NC

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    Raleigh, North Carolina might not strike you as a place to add to your travel bucket list, but believe or not, this unique city packs in quite a bit of charm. Sure, we’re a bit biased since we’re originally from the Raleigh area, but it turns out we’re not the only ones with great things to say.

    Raleigh, North Carolina

    Photo via Flickr/lisadonoghue

    Bloomberg Business rates Raleigh as America’s No. 1 city to live in, and the capital city comes in at No. 18 on Forbes' list of America’s coolest cities. Read for yourself why Raleigh has been creating a lot of chatter, and you might just decide to plan your next trip to the area:

    Traveler, Meet Raleigh:

    Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina. It’s fondly called “The City Of Oaks” for the impressive number of oak trees that create a beautiful backdrop to the city.

    Raleigh is located within the Research Triangle Park (RTP), one of the largest and most influential research parks in the country. RTP was founded in 1959 to provide jobs for new professionals graduating from the area’s three Tier 1 research universities (Duke University, North Carolina State University, and The University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill.)

    Each of these top-notch universities are located within 20 minutes of each other, making RTP the only place in the country to have such distinguished universities so close, the latter being the first public university in the United States.

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School Seal

    Photo via Flickr/yeungb

    Raleigh has become home to a large number of internationals, artists, scientists, students, professionals and families, making it as diverse as ever. Each new group of people brings unique restaurants, cultural events and festivals that fill the city with life and new opportunities. Raleigh boasts 867 restaurants, 110 bars, 51 museums, 12,512 acres of park, a 30,000 square foot State Farmer’s Market and a host of concerts, theatrical performances and sporting events.

    Now that Raleigh has got your attention, here’s your ultimate guide to the best restaurants and festivals to look for when you visit:

    The Ultimate Guide To Raleigh, North Carolina

    Festivals & Events

    First Friday

    The first Friday of each month, downtown Raleigh clears its streets to celebrate local artists and musicians. Shops and museums stay open late while local music-makers set the tone of the evening. This large social event is free and allows you the unique opportunity for a self-guided tour through the local art galleries, studios and venues. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. The complete list of upcoming venues can be found on the website.

    Raleigh, North Carolina

    Photo via Flickr/bz3rk 

    Hopscotch Music Festival

    Three days of concerts featuring nearly 140 bands constitute the Hopscotch Music Festival, which draws crowds by the thousands. Nearly 40 percent of the performers come from within North Carolina, shedding light on local bands and bringing about appreciation for local artists. In addition, many up-and-coming groups pour into the city to join the performances. The excitement that descends on the city is tangible, with celebrations beginning even one month ahead of time. Check out the next Hopscotch Festival and the bands it will feature.

    RELATED: Amtrak Offering Walk-Up Bike Service in North Carolina

    Art Spark

    You don’t have to be a professional to get in on this creative hybrid. The Art Spark festival inspires the artist within each of us and encourages everyone to express their unique self. Handcrafted jewelry, sidewalk chalk masterpieces and Broadway-style performances are just the beginning of what you’ll find here.


    Beer Garden

    Beer lovers, rejoice. The Raleigh Beer Garden has more beers on tap than other place on Earth. That’s right. This obscure brewery is in the process of claiming a Guinness World Record for the 366 different types of beer available within its three stories. As Raleigh’s theme rings true once again, the Beer Garden is all about celebrating that which is local — so much so that the tables are built out of the pecan trees which once stood on the property.

    Trolley Pub

    Trolley pub

    Photo via Flickr/Bz3rk

    You don’t have to walk the streets of downtown Raleigh for long before you’ll see a trolley drive by with a bunch of pedaling, hollering folks dancing to the blaring music of the Trolley Pub. The Trolley Pub is a not-so-average bar of sorts. It’s eco-friendly, powered by your pedaling feet, and serves up delicious drinks as you tour through the city.


    Morning Times

    The Morning Times is known for its trendy nature and is beloved by the community. Hip, friendly baristas serve up 100 percent local ingredients — from breakfast sandwiches all the way to coffee beans.

    Devolve Moto

    Devolve Moto may be the most interesting place you’ve ever stepped into. It’s an adventure lifestyle shop complete with motorcycles for sale and a crafty cafe selling espresso-based drinks and fancy pastries — oh, and draft beer. Bring all your friends, as there’s something for everyone here.

    The Best Restaurants


    Beesley’s Chicken + Honey: Welcome to the South, where we put fried chicken on our waffles. Try it for yourself ... you’ll understand.


    The Rockford

    Photo via Flickr/ralcon

    This all-American restaurant and bar is located within a historic building and features live music. Stick around Raleigh for a bit, and The Rockford will surely be a recommendation.

    RELATED: The Best Pizza In The Best Public Colleges

    The Roast Hot Dog Grill

    You probably wouldn’t have walked into this building from the looks of it — that is if you even noticed it. Yet, if you’re in the mood for authentic hot dogs, it doesn’t get much better than this place. The Roast Hot Dog Grill has been around since the ‘40s and unapologetically serves only hot dogs and glass-bottled cokes. Famous guests such as Elvis Presley and Clint Eastwood have all made their appearance at this good ol’ hot dog grill, and the memorabilia is still there to prove it.

    This list barely touches the surface of all Raleigh has to offer its visitors. Check out the city’s official tourism website for more unique finds, and set out on your own adventure to discover rarities for yourself!


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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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