36 Hours in Raleigh, North Carolina
Day 2 – Breakfast, Sightseeing, Beer, and Dinner
Breakfast at La Farm Bakery
In the morning, take the drive to Cary and enjoy French, specialty, and seasonal artisan breads at this local favorite (since 2008), La Farm Bakery. Master French Baker Lionel Vatinet and author of A Passion for Bread, creates some of the most incredible breads and pastries we’ve had outside of France. They serve breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner, so if you’re interested in more than bread (and if you’re like us, sometimes it’s all about the bread), then grab a seat at this very popular café and order Crème Brulee French Toast (made with their bread of course) or one of their signature items such as Croque Madame or Eggs Florentine with Mornay Sauce. When you leave, be sure to grab a loaf of one of their specialty breads or French baguettes. If you need a dose of Southern comfort, then try their Pimento Cheese, made fresh in house and served to go.
The Arts and Science of Raleigh
Raleigh is alive with music, theater, history, the arts, and science museums. A perfect afternoon includes strolling through the North Carolina Museum of Art, CAM – the Contemporary Arts Museum, Museum of Natural Sciences, or the North Carolina Museum of History. There is also plenty to see at the Arts and Creative Theatre and the Performing Arts Center where you can catch a comedy or a dramatic play. If opera is your thing, then Raleigh is home to the North Carolina Opera.
If your interests are focused more on action or transportation rather than the arts, then how about the Harley Davidson Racing Museum or The Railway Museum followed by a beer break, and do we have the place for you.
Afternoon Beer Break
The Raleigh Beer Garden
If beer is your thing (and it might be after visiting this place), then swing by for a cold one (or a tasting flight) at The Raleigh Beer Garden. Located in the trendy Glenwood South District, this massive “beer garden” opened in 2015 and is noted to have the largest selection of beers on tap in the country, currently 365 of them. Inside, the place seems to go on forever. So does the room where they store all of the nitrogen tanks to keep the beers fresh and tasty. Their Taphunter app keeps beer drinkers updated with what’s currently on draft and where to locate it in the building. Their selection changes often, so they don’t have a printed menu. So many beers, so little time…
If you’re interested in beer brewing as much as beer drinking, then visit the Lonerider Brewing Company. Their slogan is “Ales for Outlaws” and the names of their brews are catchy (like Peacemaker Pale Ale, Hoppy Ki Yay, and The Beer with No Name). “Lonerider wears an air of mystery the way others wear cheap cologne.” The names and clever catch phrases are reason enough to visit the brewery.
Dinner at Piedmont Restaurant
Jump in the car and head over to Durham for an evening at one of the newer hot spots in town. Piedmont’s Executive Chef Greg Gettles’ dishes had a distinctive style in presentation and one that was familiar to us, but we just couldn’t quite figure it out until we learned that he worked with Chef Scott Crawford at Heron’s Restaurant at the Umstead. While his approach is different from Chef Crawford’s, it’s evident that his background and training are in fine dining.
The menu focuses on seasonal and local North Carolina ingredients. His flavors were layered and complex. Chef Gettles and General Manager and Wine Director Crawford Leavoy (who was formerly at Restaurant August in New Orleans), have created a unique dining experience that offers a very comfortable and approachable upscale evening.
Day 3 – One More for the Road
If you ate like we did while in town, then you will probably do what we did the final morning and skip breakfast before heading to our next stop. However, if you still have room for one last bite, then try these two highly recommended bakeries: Boulted Bread and Lucette Grace. And for a cup of Joe before you go, stop by Ashley Christensen’s Joule Coffee & Table, named one of the “Top 20 Coffee Shops in America” by The Daily Meal.
So, with a few more cocktails, meals, and beers under our belt, so to speak, we pointed the car east and headed to Wilmington, N.C. See you there!
* Photo credit – The top image of the Raleigh Ampitheater and those noted with an asterisk are courtesy of GRCVB/VisitRaleigh.com.
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Disclosure – We were assisted with our visit by VisitRaleigh.com and ALoft Raleigh. As always, we were not compensated for writing any articles and the opinions expressed are our own.