Sights and Bites: 48 Hours in… Raleigh-Durham

Roaming through Raleigh-Durham!

Settled in the heart of North Carolina, Raleigh-Durham is an area steeped in U.S. history, home to a wealth of landmarks and monuments to the delight of history buffs. With Chapel Hill thrown into the mix, the trio of cities form what’s known as the Research Triangle, home to both Fortune 500 companies and the renowned higher education campuses of Duke and The University of North Carolina. It is an area of continued growth, particularly over the last decade, where rolling hills and mild temperatures are abundant but home prices remain more reasonable than many other metropolitan areas. Visitors to Raleigh-Durham will find a steady flow of arts & culture opportunities, with a wide range of museums, galleries, and theaters to explore, as well as a fully-stocked bar and restaurant community. Whether in town for pleasure or business, here are a few of my top sights and bites in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Counter Culture Coffee (best for coffee, breakfast)
812 Mallard Ave, Durham
Counter Culture Coffee is a specialty coffee roaster headquartered in North Carolina, with their coffee beans distributed across the country. In Durham, their signature cafe not only offers a selection of fantastic coffee and classes on roasting and tasting, it also features an array of baked goods and delicious breakfast offerings. Great for kicking off your day of Raleigh-Durham exploration!

The Original Q Shack (best for lunch, dinner)
2510 University Dr., Durham
Barbecue will long be a hot topic of food discussion, but after trying a few spots in the Raleigh-Durham area, my heart remains with the Original Q Shack. The menu is your typical barbecue selection – all the meats plus all the tasty sides – but it’s the execution that makes this worth the drive out of town.

Geer St. Garden (best for lunch, dinner, drinks)
644 Foster Street, Durham
There is nothing finer than lounging at a picnic table on the Geer Street patio during a warm summer night, drink in hand, food on the table, friends surrounding you. The atmosphere brings you here, and the food and drink bring you back.

Beasley’s Chicken & Honey (best for brunch, dinner)
237 S. Wilmington, Raleigh
This straightforward anchor on the corner is sparse in decor but goes hard and heavy on comfort food dishes that keep guests returning. Chef Ashley Christensen, who has a handful of restaurants in the Raleigh-Durham area, delivers a menu packed with favorites from her mom’s fried chicken to a seasonal green bean casserole. Drinks include beer, wine, and a collection of cocktails that pair perfectly with any meal, whether brunch or dinner.

Bittersweet (best for drinks, dessert)
16 E. Martin Street, Raleigh
We happened upon Bittersweet just after dinner at Beasley’s, which feels like the ideal time to saddle up to this fun spot focused on gin and sweets. The atmosphere is instantly welcoming and inviting, with tunes and chatter floating through the air. The bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable about what they’re pouring, and there’s a spectacular sweets and snacks menu to match.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St, Durham
I love a gorgeous botanical garden when I’m out and about on adventures, and this walkable expanse of flora did not disappoint. With bamboo, bridges, and endless rows of budding beauties, Duke Gardens is a delightful place to stretch your legs and take in the local greenery. The best part – it’s free! (Though you’ll still have to pay a nominal parking fee.)

North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh
You’ll be thrilled to learn that the North Carolina Museum of Art, along with several other Raleigh museums, is also free to visit. The museum’s extensive collection includes both historic and modern art, but what makes this museum extra special is the Museum Park surrounding the buildings, with 4.7 miles of recreational trails scattered with temporary and permanent art installations, sustainable landscapes, contemporary gardens, and a pond!

Durham Bulls Athletic Park
409 Blackwell St, Durham
Located in the center of Durham is the home of the Durham Bulls, a minor league baseball team beloved by locals (and fans of a saucy Kevin Costner movie from the 80s). The stadium is adjacent to the decades-old American Tobacco Campus – now a walkable space of seating and dining – centered around the famous Lucky Strike smokestack. Worthy of a walk and a game if you can swing it!


~Jennifer Matthewson
Photo credit: Jennifer Matthewson / Daily Blender

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