Raleigh Travel Guide

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Mural location: 426 S. McDowel St.

Raleigh had been on my list of places to go for awhile! I absolutely love the Carolinas for so many reasons including the beautiful greenery. That’s something you just don’t get in Chicago! So, I’m excited to share my Raleigh travel guide complete with the most instagrammable places in Raleigh, North Carolina!

Where to stay in Raleigh. 

Since we were flying in late on a Friday, we got a hotel near the airport that had a great rate. We knew that we would be driving around a lot so it was really convenient for us. It was centrally located  between Durham and Raleigh and we took full advantage of it! If we went back, I would probably want to stay near downtown Raleigh. It’s a cute little area with a lot of restaurants and bars. That being said, Raleigh still is a small town so do what is best for your budget! Traffic really isn’t an issue like it is in Chicago!

PS. I always get asked how I travel so much so here are my tips to travel more often! If you watch when we travel, you’ll see how I follow them!

Where to eat in Raleigh.

I was surprised by how many up and coming restaurants were in Raleigh! Apparently, a lot of NYC foodies move to Raleigh and open their own restaurants so there is a strong chef culture there. I also heard that there are constantly new places opening which is awesome for the city’s growth!

Bida Manda.

The Laotian food at Bida Manda was amazing. Seriously, incredibly. It was also very affordable. We tried the lettuce wraps as an appetizer (which our waitress sent over for free). I can’t believe how nice the people were in Raleigh! I also got some kind of pancake for my entree and it was so good. This is a must see in Raleigh!

Brewery Bhavana.

Matt and I had cocktails at Brewery Bhavana (the spicy margarita was amazing!) but it also seems like a great place to hang out during the day, get brunch, or grab a bite. It’s a flower shop, a classy bar, and a bookstore all in one. It sounds weird, but it’s literally the cutest place. It is also very instagram worthy if you go during daylight and is right next to Bida Manda!

Boulted Bread.

morning buns from boulted bread - the best bakery in raleigh

This bakery is absolutely delicious. Get the Morning Bun! It was by far the most popular item and they were absolutely delicious. Matt also tried a croissant and I saved a brownie for later!

Raleigh Raw.

If you love juice, this is a great healthy local spot. We also tried their poke bowls which were a little weird for breakfast. However they were really delicious! I feel like I would have saved this for lunch or a light dinner!


Bittersweet came highly recommended from you as a dessert bar and cocktail bar!

The Pit.

If you love barbeque, The Pit is the spot for you. Every time we drove by, it was packed!

The Raleigh Times.

If you want a place for a cocktail, try The Raleigh Times!

Whiskey Kitchen.

We didn’t get a chance to try this restaurant but it was recommended for brunch of cocktails!

What to do in Raleigh.

We actually went to Raleigh to visit my college roommate – her daughter was having her first birthday party! That being said, we did get to do a fair amount of exploring around the city. I was surprised by how many murals there were! There is also a great brewery culture similar to Asheville.

Our friends mentioned that Raleigh has a lot going on but you might have to research or “be in the know” in advance. Since it is a smaller town, you can’t just walk down the street like in Chicago and stumble upon a food festival. However, there are a lot of events! Even though we didn’t plan anything, we did come across a few festivals over the weekend which I thought was great!


There are so many breweries in the area and every surrounding suburb has their own it seems! Trophy Brewing and Raleigh Beer Garden were some of the top recommendations! If you have a certain flavor of beer that you like, I’d do a little research on breweries and go to one that carries what you like.

Dorthea Dix Park. 

If you’re visiting in the summer when the sunflowers are blooming, go to the sunflower field here! Just check before you go because they apparently move the location of the sunflowers!

Duke Gardens.

The Duke campus is gorgeous and the gardens are impeccable. It is one of the largest gardens we’ve ever been to! They have areas dedicated to each type of flower and plant too. I bet this is gorgeous in the spring!


There were so many murals that I found in the city! Here are some of my favorites and where they are located!

flower wall in ralgeigh - best murals in north carolina

Mural location: Corner of Dawson and Davie

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Mural location: Side Street Restaurant

Mural location: Sola Coffee

North Carolina Sciences Museum and the Museum of Art. 

We didn’t get a chance to go to either of these but if you love museums, they are among the top rated activities!

Raleigh Rose Garden.

raleigh rose garden

This rose garden is incredibly unassuming. There’s no entry fee and we just walked right in. It was so peaceful and gorgeous!


There are SO many lakes in the Raleigh area! Literaly, they are all over the map! Large and small, they made for some really beautiful scenery!

Have you been to Raleigh? Did you have any favorite spots? Leave any recommendations in the comments below to help us out!

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