As part of a birthday present I wanted to go to Dallas Stars away hockey game. The weekend that would work the best happened to land us planning a trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. We spent two days in Charlotte visiting family before taking the Amtrak to Raleigh.
Arriving in Raleigh
After a nice visit with family we took the train from Charlotte up to Raleigh. The train is a little over three hours versus driving which is just under three hours. The train fare of around 38 dollars is hard to beat. There was even cell coverage throughout the journey so we did not have to depend on the trains WiFi. Upon arrival the train station in Raleigh, it is just a short walk into downtown. We were staying at a Holiday Inn by the capital and the walk took less than 10 minutes from the train station. There are some dark alleys, but it is mainly a walk through one of the many night life areas of town. As long as you don’t get lost this should be an easy and safe walk, or you can take a ride share to where you are going.
Here is a short video of part of the train ride from Charlotte to Raleigh. Beautiful scenery, but I saved the best for you to go see yourself.
Activities in Raleigh
Another trip to Raleigh with more planning is in order because we had no idea what was in store. Raleigh is a hot spot for beer, food, and art. It is a very young crowd without the pretentiousness of other young crowd cities like Austin, TX. Sure there are bad apples in every bunch, but every person we interacted with was the perfect image of southern hospitality. It was very interesting to hear the mash-up of southern and Texas drawl having a nice chat with each other. It was almost a competition to see who was going to be more polite.
We went through the history museum that took a good two to three hours. The museum has free entry and provides a great recounting of the history of North Carolina. Raleigh, and North Carolina has so much history, being one of the original thirteen colonies the sites to see are nearly endless. Walking throughout town you will see signs that depict where events happened so you can give each yourself a self-guided tour.
In terms of food and drink we did not have too many meals to experiment with but we did enjoy a wide array of food. Raleigh offers a diverse food scene offering vegan restaurants all the way to southern barbecue. Every food place we ate at had a local selection of beers. Having what seemed like more brewers than coffee shops allowed for us never have the same beer twice while on our trip.
On our first night we decided to go to the Flying Saucer. Being UFO club members, we knew we had to try the local Saucer and they did not disappoint. It was a great intro into North Carolina beer, and our waitress offered up some places close by to tryout while we were in town. The next morning for breakfast we tried to find a quick bite to eat, but all the coffee shops had lines out the door. We meandered our way around and came upon Provenance, which was quite a find for brunch. They were very welcoming and had some of the best morning drinks, and food. Everything is fresh with a farm to table theme and the staff are fantastic at helping navigate the menu if you have special diet needs or questions. The price is even surprisingly moderate for the service and level of quality that they produce. I highly recommend them for brunch, lunch or any other time of the day. Being stuffed from the great spread at brunch, we did not eat again until dinner that night at Taverna Agora Greek Kitchen & Bar. The food was okay, and did not really have much of a Greek feel. It was not really what I was expecting, but they did have great drinks and good service. Given then chance I would try something else for dinner while in town. It was like a restaurant that was trying to be great at everything and If you do go I would recommend reservations because they fill up fast on busy nights. While in town we also popped into the State of Beer. This is a very nice joint that offers many taps of local beer, along with a vast selection of beer and wine that you can purchase for consumption or take-home. They also serve small sandwiches if you desire. The place was busy, but the staff were quick and we did not have to wait long for drinks or the tab. They are a great stop for a quick drink, or an evening out.
Getting Around Raleigh
While the town is pedestrian friendly, many of the attractions even in the downtown district are miles apart. If you are going to take in a game at the arena, a car or ride-share is a must. Be prepared to pay a premium when leaving the arena on a ride-share, because there are not many other options if you do not drive yourself.
The public transit is pretty nice in Raleigh. The buses are clean, and Google Maps makes easy routing of your trip. GoRaleigh is the local bus service and makes connections to other towns quite easily as well. We took the bus from downtown to the airport which drops you off right at the terminal and the fare was just over two dollars a person.
No matter how you get around Raleigh, make sure to plan ahead and account for transit time as things are spread out more than you would think looking at a map. I am glad that we had beautiful weather to enjoy during our walk around town.