Eight “Must See” Places in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina

A few weeks ago, we visited our friends in Raleigh, North Carolina for a long weekend. Oh gosh, we were in for a real treat! I didn’t know that North Carolina was so lush and serene. I now understand why our best friends packed their bags and left Texas to relocate there. If you’re venturing to the Raleigh/Durham area, here are eight “must-see” places to include in your Itinerary.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Pullen Park– Pullen Park is a 66.4-acre public park immediately west of downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s not your average city park, but an amusement park too. We were thrilled to ride the carousel, train, and paddle boats. It’s a great place to walk, bike, or and grab a bite to eat- thanks to its concession stands. Best of all, our visit was affordable, with an amusement park ride costing only $3. Don’t Skip the park. It’s not just for children!

Morgan Street Food Hall– Morgan Street Food Hall is a new lifestyle dining concept; not to be confused with a food court. It features local eateries and restaurants as well as local food retailers. Morgan Street Food Hall introduces the concept of cross meal ordering, where different meals are enjoyed in a shared seating area. We stopped by this location the way to/from the airport. It has something for all tastebuds.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences– is the largest museum of its kind in the southeast. It features dinosaurs, whale skeletons, live animals, walk-through dioramas, special exhibits, hands-on science education. Be sure to give yourself at least two hours to really enjoy this museum. It’s great for a rainy day. But I have another museum ( even better than this one) that you shouldn’t miss!!

Durham, North Carolina

If you’re traveling with little ones, under the age of 12, you cannot skip The Museum of Life and Science, located 30 minutes from Raleigh in the city of Durham. You’ll find yourself outside enjoying the 84-acres of fun while playing in the forest. There is so much to do. things to discover and do-a a two-story interactive science center, a largest butterfly house, over 60 species of live animals, children treehouses, complete with hammocks, and more! I was blown away by the beauty of this park! If you forget your lunch, don’t worry- there are two cafes to enjoy a meal.

Guglhupf Cafe & Bakery– You MUST eat here! Guglhupf serves contemporary cuisine with a nod to its southern German roots, emphasizing local and seasonal ingredients. If you love brunch, this is the place for you! In addition to great food, the atmosphere is wonderful. Inside, it’s filled with lanterns, giving it an “old world” mixed with “hipster” vibe. Outside, there is ample space to eat on the covered patio. There are two locations- We visited the one on Chapel Hill for the best outdoor experience.

If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, visit Bright Leaf Square. This area is simply adorable. The square has string lights hanging across the whole pathway and lovely at night. There are several restaurants to choose from. There is a large parking lot right across from the entrance. And if you dine here then the places will validate your parking.

You can go to any pub, bar, or club to have a drink. However, few of those places offer an art gallery and bank vault- Bonnie and Clyde style. We visited the “Counting House” for drinks and then ventured down to the basement to explore the historic 1920’s bank vault. When contractors renovated the building, they discovered the old vault. It was so cool, they decided to leave it untouched. It’s now open for cocktails, drinks, photos, and exploration. (This would make a great date night destination.) What a unique experience!

Now that you’ve shopped and eaten- don’t take a nap. Go for a walk in the park. We really enjoyed exploring the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. It consists of approximately 55 acres of landscaped and wooded areas at Duke University. There are 5 miles of allées, walks, and pathways throughout the gardens. Best of all, it’s FREE!!!

When we reached the bridge overlooking the pond lined with Japenese Maple trees, I pulled out my phone and called my parents. I had seen enough of the area to know that my parents would love it. They’re looking for a new place to put down roots when they retire. I think Durham is the perfect spot for them because of its climate, natural beauty, accessible health care, cost of living, and sophistication. Until then, my family and I will just have to enjoy North Carolina during quick getaways. Happy travels to all of us!


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