What are the five best things to do with kids in Raleigh-Durham?

Even if your kids aren’t old enough to start looking at colleges, Raleigh-Durham still flaunts a whole host of activities for your whole family to enjoy. And, hey, it’s never too early to start looking at higher education. The five best things to do with kids in Raleigh-Durham are:

1. North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham. Exhibits about rocks and robots will vie for your attention, along with the Magic Wings Butterfly House, a farmyard full of animals and hands-on wind experiments.

2. Pullen Park in Raleigh. Carved rabbits, tigers, horses and other artistically carved and painted animals spin round the park’s carousel, which is on the National Register of Historic Sites. While on your adventure at this park, you can make use of the paddleboats or let your little ones monkey around on the jungle gym. For a refreshment, stop by the concession stand

3. Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. This hands-on museum includes an IMAX theater that’s all the rage. What’s better than kids learning about all kinds of things such as the Moneypalooza, where kids are encouraged to play smart with their money — a way to teach your kids a life skill without having to drill it into their heads.

4. Eno River State Park. Walk its hiking trails, perch on rocky outcroppings, wade in the knee-high waters, or take a swim in Sennett’s Hole. Let your kids run around in the wild until their hearts are content; trust us, they will sleep much better that night.

5. Durham Bulls baseball game. Take them out to the ball game. This intimate stadium makes for a great atmosphere with the crowd and the goofy entertainment. The best part is, you are close enough to actually watch baseball: You can see what the coaches are doing, how the shortstop holds the runner at second, and what the ball players are like.

  • On June 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best Raleigh-Durham food experiences?

    You’ll have a hard time making a trip to the South without having a fabulous food experience, and Raleigh-Durham is no exception to the rule. The five best Raleigh-Durham food experiences are:

    1. Locopops, for a sweet pick-me-up. It’s a fave among locals for sweet paletas. An ever-changing menu ranges from the traditional Mexican (hibiscus, Mexican chocolate, mango chile, tamarind) to the internationally delicious (coconut ginger, pistachio, pineapple basil). You’re going to want to order the large size - trust us on this one.

    2. Shrimp and grits at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill. Since 1982, Crook’s has been slinging the best in Southern cuisine. The shrimp and grits with a side of jalape"e;o hushpuppies will tickle your tastebuds like few meals you’ve ever had.

    3. Barbecue. Everyone has his or her favorite spot for a pork-butt sandwich, but you may want to start with one of the all-star players — Q Shack, or Allen and Son.

    4. A pie from Scratch. It’s been called one of the best places for pie, but we just call it irresistible.

    5. Food trucks. Raleigh-Durham is in the midst of a food truck craze, so some of the best local flavors these days can be found on wheels — such as eclectic pizzas from Pie Pushers, Polish sausage with pimiento cheese from Farmhand Foods Sausage Wagon and gourmet sliders from Slippin’ Sliders.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Jim Beley answered the question: Jim Beley

    Which five Raleigh-Durham restaurants are best for brunch?

    Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa features a beautiful brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other recommendations include the Weathervane in Chapel Hill and Vivace (Italian), Coquette (French) and NOFO (Southern) in Raleigh.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which five Raleigh-Durham restaurants are best for brunch?

    A good old Southern brunch can transport you back to simpler days, when people outside Raleigh-Durham weren’t so worried about automobiles and skyscrapers. To that end, these are the five Raleigh-Durham restaurants you should check out for brunch:

    1. Foster’s Market in Durham, where sandwiches and wraps get a gourmet touch. Bakery shelves overflowing with scones, big serving bowls of fresh salads and fruit, creaky wooden floors — it's picture-perfect, country-market charm. Chalkboards tout a menu that's tweaked daily. Step up and place your order, then sink yourself into a sofa, and your teeth into that sandwich.

    2. Acme in Carrboro. Chef Kevin Callaghan whips up an inspired menu featuring sinfully Southern combinations, such as fried eggs over Hoppin’ John, topped with bacon-chipotle hollandaise.

    3. Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill. Look for the big pink pig on the roof. Since the 1950s, the building has served as a taxi stand, a pool hall and a barbecue joint. Since 1982, though, Crook’s has been a purveyor of exemplary Southern cuisine. If weather permits, snag a table on the outdoor patio, where a trickling fountain and folk artist Clyde Jones’ chainsaw-carved “critters” create a magical vibe. Order the famous and oft-copied shrimp and grits - with a side of jalape"e;o hushpuppies.

    4. Parker & Otis. Go all-in with the grilled pimento cheese sandwich topped with a few slices of bacon. You don’t stop at a place like this looking for health food; southerners love a good pimiento cheese, and P&O’s doesn’t disappoint.

    5. Poole’s in Raleigh. Red leather banquettes and a double horseshoe bar give this spot retro-chic charm. A blackboard menu changes daily.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Jim Beley answered the question: Jim Beley

    What are the five best kid-friendly restaurants in Raleigh-Durham?

    We would recommend Mellow Mushroom Pizza, with locations in Raleigh and Chapel Hill; Café Luna (Italian) in downtown Raleigh; the Flying Biscuit (American breakfast and grill) in Raleigh; and Buffalo Brothers (sports bar) in Raleigh. Char-Grill, with several locations throughout Raleigh-Durham, offers excellent '50s drive-in style hamburgers and milkshakes. For dessert, Loco Pops has Mexican-style popsicles in a variety of interesting flavors for children, with locations in Raleigh and Durham.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best kid-friendly restaurants in Raleigh-Durham?

    We’d tell you not to limit your visits to Raleigh-Durham to only business or college visits to one (or all) of the three major universities in the area; bring your kids along for a short jaunt down to Tobacco Road (no smoking, of course) to get a feel for a place entirely different from most of the rest of the country. Here’s our list of the five best kid-friendly restaurants in Raleigh-Durham:

    1. Q Shack in both Raleigh and Durham. It’s where the old “who makes the best barbecue” debate gets played out in a menu that features both Texas- and North Carolina-style barbecue. You know what you’re in for as soon as you spot the picnic tables topped with rolls of paper towels. And what kids don’t love eating with their hands?

    2. Elmo’s in Durham and Carrboro. It’s the quintessential diner, with breakfast-all-day offerings, as well as the requisite burgers and meat-and-threes (just what it sounds like - meat and three sides).

    3. Mellow Mushroom. If it were simply a pizza parlor, that would be enough to delight most any kid. But at this particular pizza parlor, colorful art and a groovy aesthetic create a kid-friendly vibe.

    4. Weaver Street Market. Carrboro’s local co-op grocery store is great for fresh sushi and salads. Grab a table out front on the lawn and watch Carrboro’s best hula-hoopers battle it out (and, no, it’s not just for kids).

    5. Mad Hatter Bakeshop & Cafe. Don’t count on kids staying in their seats at this casual bakery and cafe. Their noses will likely be pressed against the display case of cakes, cookies and other baked wonders. The good news is that kids’ plates come with a cupcake for them to ice and decorate themselves.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Jim Beley answered the question: Jim Beley

    Where can I go to watch sports in Raleigh-Durham?

    Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are all superb sporting event destinations. The area has a well-earned national reputation as a collegiate sports capital. Not only do six colleges, including North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina play exciting home schedules in a myriad of sports, but Raleigh-Durham is also a regular host of the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference championship events, especially in basketball, soccer, baseball, softball and tennis. In addition, the RBC Center in Raleigh is home to the Carolina Hurricanes Hockey Team and Durham’s minor-league baseball team, the Durham Bulls.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where can I go to watch sports in Raleigh-Durham?

    You’d almost have to have your eyes closed to not figure out where the best places to watch sports in Raleigh-Durham are: the sports venues, of course. The Cameron Crazies (of Duke) and the diehard Tarheels clash like few other basketball teams in history, meeting several times a year to battle it out over the ACC and NCAA championships. That’s just the college stuff; don’t forget about the Durham Bulls, a minor league baseball team, or the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, winners of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.

    Short of an actual game, your best bar bet (not an actual wager) is Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in both Durham and Raleigh. Snag an upholstered chair in the bar, where you’ll be surrounded by wall-to-wall television screens. At the Durham location, a patio table will put you just beyond the outfield at the Durham Bulls stadium. You say you don’t care about the Bulls? That’s the thing about minor league baseball: You don’t have to care. Most people in the stands have no idea who most of the players are. The players are either on the way up to the major leagues or drifting their way back down. None of that matters, though, as people come to cheer for the team and soak up the small-town feel and fun you’ll find throughout minor league baseball.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the best places to hear live music in Raleigh-Durham?

    When live acts come to town, Raleigh-Durham boasts a variety of venues to play host. For big shows, big venues, such as the lakeside Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary has lawn and deck seating, plus a more “mature” lineup of performances — think the symphony and the Four Tops. Another outdoor venue, the Raleigh Amphitheater, feels more rock 'n’ roll.

    Looking for something more intimate? Beyu Caffe in Durham plays jazz and blues. Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill earns legendary in rock ‘n’ roll status in many circles for its ability to snag the best up-and-coming and well-established acts. College kids from around the area will coo lovingly about the times they saw that now-famous band at Cat’s Cradle — so get there yourself to see the next big thing.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What is the best Raleigh-Durham nightlife?

    Mid-sized, live-music venues, restaurants and neighborhood bars make most of the noise at night in Raleigh-Durham. For live music, Cat’s Cradle, Motorco Music Hall and Lincoln Theatre get high marks. Neighborhood bars include Fullsteam Brewery, Raleigh Times and the Crunkleton. And restaurant bars at Lantern and Acme Food & Beverage Co. — among others — put a whimsical local spin on cocktails.

    Raleigh-Durham’s dining and entertainment scene has a patchwork quality to it; driving around the area, you’re as likely to glimpse a ramshackle barbecue joint as a fine dining venue. Even as alternative music streams out the doors of hillbilly-hip venues, glittering performance centers in the area host Broadway shows and big-name performers. So, no matter what your druthers, you’ll find something to suit you in Raleigh-Durham.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Jim Beley answered the question: Jim Beley

    What are the best places to stay in Raleigh-Durham?

    The best places to stay in Raleigh-Durham are The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, The Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, the Washington Duke Hotel in Durham and the Sienna Hotel in Chapel Hill.
  • On June 25, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Raleigh-Durham?

    When planning a trip to Raleigh-Durham, lodging options will clearly play a large part in your stay. Whether you want to stay in Durham, Chapel Hill or on the farm, there’s a place for you. These are the places we think you’ll love to stay:

    For the best accommodations, stay at one of North Carolina's only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotels, The Umstead Hotel and Spa and The Fearrington House Inn. The Umstead Hotel and Spa is the larger of the two, with 150 rooms. The gorgeous luxury hotel offers a warm, nature-inspired space filled with paintings and sculptures. Escape the city with the miles of nearby trails; follow it up with a relaxing treatment at Four-Star The Umstead Spa and a romantic dinner at Five-Star Herons, a Southern-influenced American restaurant. The Fearrington House Inn, a meticulously restored, 1920s farmhouse eight miles south of Chapel Hill in Chatham County provides a different setting. Each of its 35 rooms is breathtakingly appointed with antiques, artwork, fresh flowers and winning touches like the handwritten note awaiting your arrival. It's also home to Four-Star The Fearrington House Restaurant.

    If you want to venture back a few years to your college days — but a bit more luxurious — book a room at the Washington Duke Inn, located on the campus of Duke University. This hotel is a favorite of Blue Devil parents and tourists alike; make sure to bring your golf clubs to hit the hotel’s terrific links. King’s Daughters Inn is directly across from the sprawling emerald grounds of Duke University. The historic 1920s structure has recently been polished up and turned into a 17-room boutique bed-and-breakfast. 

    At Chapel Hill’s stately Carolina Inn, rooms are large enough to comfortably accommodate two queen beds and a pullout couch. On Fridays on the Front Porch, the outdoor concerts on the grounds, offer the best of both worlds — parents can sip on cool drinks while the kids dance under the warm Southern sun.


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