Insider’s Guide to Raleigh, North Carolina

Ready for an insider’s look at Raleigh and the nearby cities of Durham and Cary? Known as “The Triangle,” the area is packed with places to explore that aren’t on tourists’ radar.

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Ready for an insider’s look at Raleigh and the nearby cities of Durham and Cary? Known as “The Triangle,” the area is packed with places to explore that aren’t on tourists’ radar. It’s easy to get around, and prices are affordable, which makes it a great escape for families and couples. For the best time, stay off the well-worn paths that lead to all the big museums and normal tourist hot spots, and head to some of these local favorites instead.

JC Raulston Arboretum

Lush green trees and bushes with different kinds of blooming white flowers are pictured, with a white gazebo in the background at the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University on a spring day

Located at North Carolina State University, the JC Raulston Arboretum is a living jungle of all kinds of plants, flowers, and vines found in the back yards of the southeast. The more than 10 acres of magnolias, grasses, ferns, and maples just might inspire you to add a little color to your own front yard. To stop and smell the roses — literally — head two miles west of the main campus.

Marbles Kids Museum

Red potatoes, green bell peppers and yellow squash are pictured in three different wood baskets on a table at the State Farmers Market at City Market in Raleigh, North Carolina

Got little ones? Head over to Marbles Kids Museum for some serious fun. In a building with bright circles all over the walls, the museum is hard to miss in the heart of downtown. It offers all kinds of hands-on play for kids, particularly those under 10. Join in the fun, and tap out a tune on the musical staircase, get a little dirt under your nails in the learning garden, or paint something amazing in the Art Loft.

State Farmers Market

Every Saturday and Sunday all year long, the stone streets of City Market are packed with locals picking up groceries at State Farmers Market. Pick up some of the freshest fruits and vegetables you’ll ever eat, and stick around for a fresh seafood lunch. The friendly vendors make and sell affordable honey, baked goods, and too many treats to count, including fresh-baked biscuit sandwiches at Real Biscuits to help you start your day the local way.

The Pit Authentic Barbecue

There’s no excuse for going hungry in Raleigh. Stop by one of the state’s famous barbecue joints to fill up fast. The Pit Authentic Barbecue is a local favorite, cooking up a whole hog in downtown’s warehouse district. Delicious barbecue dinners start with free-range meats that are sure to make your mouth water. Do you have lots of veggie lovers in your crew? The Fiction Kitchen offers vegetarian “chicken” and waffles along with other local Southern favorites in a colorful spot.

Historic City Market

A little girl eats a large ice cream cone from Treat at the Historic City Market in Raleigh, North Carolina

Renovated and filled with cafes, shops, art galleries, and boutiques, the Historic City Market is a great spot to see the real Raleigh. An active city market that first offered fruits, veggies, and flowers in the early 1900s, the building became less of a hot spot as more and more big supermarkets entered the scene and started stealing business. Now, it’s a must-visit with cool non-profit arts centers like ArtsPlosure, locally made ice cream at Treat, and funky shops like The Holy Rose that make it easy to pick up a unique souvenir.

Snap plenty of behind-the-scenes shots of the stone streets, shady oak trees, and surprising favorites in Raleigh. Don’t forget to share your best pics and tips with us on Facebook.

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