Raleigh, North Carolina: A Remedy for the Road

Genie Davis September 30, 2011 No Comments

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My family and I were at the mid-way point on a vacation slash music tour for my singer songwriter daughter (www.nicolelexidavis.com). We’d traveled through the northeast from city to city via train, rented a car outside of Washington, D.C., and began the road trip portion of our tour heading south. We were heading for Raleigh, North Carolina. We’d never been to this city with a small town vibe before, and we were more than ready to get off the highway with its long sameness of green foliage and steady traffic. It was the kind of road that in only five hours of driving always produces choruses of “are we there yet” from small children, and restive squirming from older kids.

I had no set expectations of Raleigh on a steamy Monday, but the city proved itself not only an enjoyable tour stop with a great crowd in the downtown venue my daughter played, but a charming town with plenty to see and enjoy for all ages.

We loved strolling the streets of Raleigh around the State Capitol square.

Where to stay?

While chain motels and hotels fill the surrounding Raleigh Durham area, we stayed downtown at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel. A top floor suite gave us a luxurious two bathrooms, and plenty of room for the whole family behind one door, rather than in adjoining rooms. Modern decor and spacious layout made this hotel a winner – and with recycling in-room and the use of green cleaning products, the hotel is environmentally friendly, too. Best of all was access to a large, inviting indoor pool and free, unlimited Internet access with an ample number of computers in the business center. We had breakfast in our suite – oatmeal, fruit, eggs – that was excellent, quick, and very reasonable.

While the hotel clearly caters to a convention center crowd with plenty of business amenities, we found it welcoming for the whole family in regard to both the room configuration and the staff’s attitude. And with the sparkling clean pool open until eleven, the kids had plenty of time to enjoy the water.

Attractions We Visted

Even at twilight, when the museums and other attractions have shut down for the day, Raleigh North Carolina has some very pleasant places I recommend. The State House park is leafy and green, and surrounded by interesting historical statues. The downtown plaza lights up with modern, colorful neon; and the local news studio is right in the plaza – small children will love looking in the window and watching the newscast proceed.

Raleigh has a wonderful self guiding tour of the historic state house and capitol building on the square. The beautiful rotunda and replica of the original city library inside are unique attractions. Small children will love the winding spiral stair case. The ladies at the front desk are friendly and offer stickers to the little ones. If the legislature is in session, you can peek in if your children are old enough, and quiet enough,  to listen for a bit.

Nascar exhibit at the North Carolina Museum in Raleigh.

Kids of all ages will enjoy the Nascar exhibit at Raleigh's North Carolina Museum.

Behind the state house you’ll find the Museum of Natural History and the North Carolina History Museum. Both are free and Smithsonian sponsored. The exhibit quality is excellent and fascinating. In the North Carolina History Museum we were able to trace more of the history we’d been seeing in the north east – from early U.S. colonies and tobacco crops to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. You’ll also learn about the founding of the city, and the background on Sir Walter Raleigh himself, whose statue stands in front of the convention center.

There was a Nascar exhibit which is sure to fascinate small boys and the small boy in grown men, too. A wood craft exhibit displayed beautiful local furnishings and wooden art pieces. Small children will love the farm display that includes a life-size cow ready for milking, replete with sound effects. Moving on to the Natural History building, we were fascinated by the displays of North Carolina native wild life including turtles and fish. Flora and fauna of the region were well documented, and we learned a great deal about the environment of North Carolina.

After the museums we were ready for a stroll through the Oakwood Historic District. This is a tree lined, lovely area of old homes in the style of New Orleans’ Garden District. We enjoyed walking the quiet streets lined with pastel colored, multi-story homes, and the beautiful governor’s mansion. You’ll find another fine stroll past galleries, shops, and small restaurants in the City Market Arts District on the other side of the State Capitol from Oakwood. But no matter where you walk in Raleigh, you’ll enjoy your stay and find a true respite from the road.

Our Dining Experience

Let’s start with the Remedy itself – the Remedy Diner. This funky, comfortable diner-style restaurant is actually a gourmet, vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian paradise. Carnivores will enjoy this stop too. Children are going to love the large booths, fun art on the walls, great music on the i-pod speakers, and a wide variety of fun to eat food. Delicious vegan key lime pie and super delicious non-vegan chocolate cake for desert are made with organic ingredients that will make parents inclined to give in to their children’s sweet tooth – I certainly did. Their salads are crunchy and delicious, as are their veggie burgers and excellent chili – the main courses are prepared fresh, fast, and organic. Adults will appreciate a fine selection of wine and beer and the expert talents of the chef. Parents and kids of all ages will love this spot, where you can linger or eat a satisfying meal quickly.

If the Remedy isn’t for you, you can enjoy a hip, red and black decor and a variety of reasonably priced sushi items at Sono Raleigh, right in the revitalized downtown plaza near the convention center.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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