On Saturday morning (and my 29th birthday!), we took a very quick trip to Raleigh, North Carolina! We spent several days in Raleigh a few years ago and we were excited to return to visit some of our favorites. We started off with our 4 hour drive turning into about 7 hours. Needless to say, leaving the DC area on 4th of July weekend wasn’t the best decision we’ve ever made. We left early in the morning though and got off the very packed freeway to enjoy some jaunts through small Virginian towns.
Once we arrived in Raleigh, we visited 2 of the free museums there since we missed them on our first visit.
North Carolina Museum of History – We started here because we aren’t very familiar with North Carolinian history. We were surprised at the scale of the museum! It’s first and third floors were full of exhibits. It was definitely worth walking through!
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences – This museum was absolutely huge! Taking up 2 city blocks, there’s several exhibits along with windowed labs where you can watch scientists do their research. From the outside, there’s a huge globe that is a large 3 story movie screen from the inside. This museum was easily my favorite of the two.
After the museums, we walked a few blocks downtown and browsed menus before stumbling upon a cute store I remembered from the last time we visited, but could never browse because it was closed.
Deco Raleigh – There’s nothing I love more than stumbling across a unique store! From Raleigh-made items and North Carolina goods to candles and kitchen supplies, it would be easy to find something for yourself or a gift here. I was particularly fond of some rather provocative mugs (“I’m a Grown Ass Lady and I do What I Want” by Emily McDowell) and I regret not picking one up!
After shopping a bit, we had to stop back by our hotel to cool off and change for dinner. With the temperature at 90 degrees and 90% humidity, we got quite sweaty on our walk around downtown. Plus, since it was birthday dinner, we put on a little nicer clothes than we normally would have. We had 7:00 reservations at The Pit – easily our favorite place in Raleigh!
The Pit – North Carolina BBQ is my absolute favorite. I love the vinegar over slow roasted pulled pork. They also offer a sweet potato corn bread that makes my mouth water. More importantly, we haven’t yet been able to find good BBQ in DC, so we grab it whenever we can find it. If you do nothing else in Raleigh, go to The Pit!
Boxcar Bar + Arcade – After dinner, we spent an hour in this awesome arcade bar! We only spent $5 on tokens, but it was even more fun than I remember arcades being as a kid. Plus, everything in Raleigh is so much cheaper than DC, so it seemed like a shockingly cheap place to drink.
Milk Bar – Our last stop before crashing in our hotel for the night was this open-air bar across from our hotel. It was cool to sit and people watch for a while, but since neither of us drink a whole lot, we weren’t too interested in more than just one drink. On the plus side, they did have Bold Rock on tap, which is our favorite Virginian cider.
Overall, this trip was just as fun as we remember Raleigh being! It’s a small city, but definitely worth a trip, especially if you appreciate a culture that places an emphasis on eating and drinking locally.
Where We Stayed: Hampton Inn & Suites Raleigh Downtown. We know that there are much cheaper hotels available, but we’re big fans of Hilton. Hotels are usually where we splurge.
What We Spent: About $250. Our hotel was the bulk of that, but the figure also includes gas money, dinner, the arcade, and drinks.
Would We Go Back: Absolutely!
Favorite Place: The Pit. We craved the excellent BBQ for several weeks before we went!