Jul 22, 2022 - Things to Do

24 hours in Downtown Raleigh

Illustration of the sun and moon transitioning over the Raleigh skyline.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

In town for a day? Here are some of my favorite places to take my friends and family when they're visiting.

Where to stay: The Longleaf Hotel or Heights House.

  • Or if you want to treat yourself with a 5-star option, you can't go wrong with The Umstead.
  • All three have great bars.

Breakfast: Coffee at The Optimist and food at Benchwarmers Bagels.

  • Zach's Benchwarmers order: Fried bologna bagel, obviously
  • Lucille's Benchwarmers order: Definitely not that. Pimento, egg and cheese on a salt bagel or bust.

Hike: Umstead State Park.

Shop: If you want to stay out of the heat, wander around the Village District. It's packed full of furniture stores, jewelry shops, boutiques, art galleries and skin care and makeup stores.

  • Lucille's Village District go-tos: Great Outdoor Provision Co. and Aillea Beauty.
Heirloom tomatoes at the State Farmers Market
Photo: Lucille Sherman/Axios

Next: Swing by the State Farmers Market. It’s covered, so it’s worth a trip rain or shine any day of the week.

  • Lucille’s thought bubble: You can find me here pretty much every weekend, browsing plants and hauling my weight in greens, flowers and berries around.
  • You must go, especially if you’re in Raleigh during strawberry or tomato season.

Lunch: Wilson's Eatery. You can't go wrong with the veggie burger and fries. Don't forget the aioli.

Stroll: The unrivaled North Carolina Museum of Art. You could hang out here for hours. Explore the trails to see Art in the Park or browse the exhibitions indoors.

  • If you're visiting in the spring, please don’t miss NCMA's Art in Bloom, in which floral designers interpret some of the museum's art pieces. It's one of the best parts of living in Raleigh.

Before dinner: Wander around shops — like So and So Books, Edge of Urge an Unlikely Professionals — on Person Street near Historic Oakwood.

Pre-dinner cocktail: William & Company.

Dinner: Crawford and Son. Don't skip the manchego herb biscuits, and be sure to book a reservation in advance.

  • If you forgot to plan ahead, you can't go wrong with Oakwood Pizza Box.
  • Hot tip: You can pop over and order a pizza while you're still at William & Company, and they'll bring it over to you so you don't lose your cozy spot on the couch.

For dessert: Why leave Oakwood? Walk on over to Two Roosters, Lucille's favorite ice cream shop on the planet.

Nightcap: Watts & Ward.

And for breakfast before you head out, try Big Ed's if you have time to sit down and enjoy your breakfast.

  • For a quicker grab-and-go alternative on your way out of town, try Boulted Bread. Be warned, though: It's so good there might be a line down the block.
  • Lucille's Boulted Bread order: A morning bun, or everything croissant.

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