By Bill Malcolm*
Like most cities in North Carolina, Raleigh is booming but it has still preserved its historic southern charm where old warehouses have recently been transformed into apartments, food halls, and trendy bars and restaurants. Plus, they have a new uber-modern Amtrak station. Not to mention the plethora of scooters. Raleigh is very walkable if you stay in the downtown area and happily all the bars are close together. Plus it has a much more historic and slower paced feel than Charlotte.
I took Southwest, although Raleigh has all the airlines since unlike Charlette, it is not a hub. I like Southwest since you can change your ticket without a fee as well as check two bags for free.
You can take the #100 bus to downtown for $2. Service is frequent. You will find them just outside door 7 at Terminal 2.
Where to stay
Raleigh has a few downtown hotel choices. I stayed at the Holiday Inn, which is just steps to the bars, Food Hall, and other downtown attractions. The new Hampton Inn looked nice. They also have a Marriott and Sheraton.
What to do
The State History Museum and Museum of Natural Sciences (11 West Jones Street) are right downtown, right next to each other, and both are musts. The discussion of the Jim Crow era, which oppressed African Americans for 50 years, is highlighted, as is the shocking event in Wilmington where whites took over the city from African Americans in the early 1900s.
Meanwhile, the natural history museum tells of the varied geography of the state—from almost 8,000-foot Mount Mitchell in the western part of the state (the highest mountain in the east) to the Piedmont to the coast, North Carolina has it all.
Details at www.naturalsciences.org. Both museums are free.
Even if you don’t arrive by Amtrak, a visit to the new Union Station is a must. Its interesting architecture and green roof make it worth a visit. It too is right in the newly transformed Warehouse District.
Where to eat
The Morgan Street Food Hall and Market has every kind of food you would want plus several bars. I ate every meal there. You will find it at 411 W. Morgan Street.
Hillsborough Street was also very trendy and has lots of restaurants and shops. You will find it just east of downtown. Details at hillsboroughstreet.org.
I went to Legends Nightclub every night. Thursday is College Night with go-go dancers. Lots of fun here. You will find them at 330 S. Hargett just steps from the Holiday Inn. Membership is $1 and you have to be a member to go to a bar in North Carolina.
Also close by is the Flex Bar at 2 S. West and the View Bar at 119 S. Harrington. All the bars are close to one another so you can easily find them and then walk back to your hotel. I wish every city were like this. Raleigh will surprise you. Put it on your list of cities to visit.
For more information
QNotes is the LGBTQ publication.
Indy Week Raleigh is the weekly alternative publication.
NCCaptvisit.org has plenty of travel ideas for Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill as does visitRaleigh.com.
*For a hobby, Bill Malcolm writes a syndicated LGBTQ value travel column. He takes no free trips nor accepts compensation of any kind from the places reviewed here. His opinions are his own. He focuses on affordable travel that features going where the locals go. All or part of this free column may appear in other publications.