photo: Wikicommons

When I first flew into Raleigh-Durham from New York City, I wasn't all that psyched. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel and discover new places, but I had some assumptions about the South. For starters, it's not a city. However, between you and I, I was way off. I was so wrong about what I thought North Carolina would be like, and this helpful guide is my way of saying thank you, NC, for being so incredibly charming and so much more enjoyable than I ever imagined. 

This guide will solely focus on the Raleigh-Durham, Chapel Hill area. If I missed your favorite spot, please me sure to let me know in the comments. 

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Safe travels!

1

American Tobacco Historic District

Located in Downtown Durham is the American Tobacco Historic District. This pretty much has it all: restaurants, bars, a baseball stadium, a photo gallery, shopping, and even houses and a slew of apartments. So there's always a lively community around. Check out its calendar because there's always some kind of outdoor event happening.  

2

North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of those serene places where you can escape to another world. Its exhibitions are extraordinary, and the grounds are just as amazing.  

3

Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh

CAM Raleigh is in Raleigh's Warehouse District, but this art space handles so much more than just cool art. It hosts poetry readings, educational programs, networking events, and even yoga classes. There's always something exciting happening at CAM. 

4

21c Museum Hotel Durham

The 21c Museum Hotel have a couple of spots throughout the South, and its Durham location is quite spectacular. The space is more than a hotel, it's also a 24-hour art museum and boasts fine dining and a very cool bar. It hosts weekly parties, so check out their site for more information. 

5

The Carolina Theatre of Durham

This area has a full roster of art events, and the Carolina Theatre of Durham hosts several of these happenings. From theater to film and musical performances, there's no bad seat at the Carolina. Most recently, it hosted a special tribute night to David Bowie. 

6

C. Grace Cocktail Bar

The C. Grace Cocktail Bar is a throwback to classic jazz clubs. It feels like a speakeasy and the drinks are just as good as the music. 

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7

Hillsborough

If you love The Notebook, you will fall in love with the small town of Hillsborough. Quaint and historic, it's filled with stunning nature, dozens of fine restaurants, and art galleries. Hillsborough has been called one of the "coolest towns in America" and has been written about in the New York Times travel section and the Wall Street Journal, which noted its prestigious literary community. Other interesting sites:Poets Walk, Hillsborough BicycleAyr MountEno River, and Riverwalk

8

Mosaic Wine Lounge

In the heart of Downtown Raleigh is the Mosaic Wine Lounge, which features nightly dance parties. Its main draw are the DJs and the unique bar and hookah lounge.

9

Cat's Cradle

You know that frustrating feeling when just about every show in NYC is sold out? The cool thing about seeing live music in NC is that it seems like there's always room for you. The Cat's Cradle is always there for you, bringing the very best in music. 

10

Neptunes Parlour

Neptunes Parlour, located in downtown Raleigh, has a select fine draft beers from small brewers in North Carolina and has various events each night. From DJs to live music, there's always something going on here, though going to play the arcade games and pinball machines is fun enough. Its cocktail menu is pretty awesome, too, because they're made with all fresh ingredients and flavors.
11

Latin Quarters Raleigh

But if you want to hit the dance floor to Latino music than Latin Quarters Raleigh is the place for you. The restaurant/nightclub also has an extensive menu of fine Puerto Rican foods. 

12

Fullsteam Brewery

Think of Fullsteam Brewery as a community center in Durham. It's always filled with locals just hanging out. Aside from live music events, there's great food, cool games, and of course an amazing selection of local craft beers. 

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13

Food, food, food!

Here's our Crab Cakes over shoepeg corn risotto, buerre blanc & roasted tomato. Yum!!

Posted by The Wooden Nickel Public House on Thursday, December 31, 2015

So much to do, so little to eat? Never! Here's a quick round-up of my favorite eateries. Try all of them. You will not be sorry.

Mexican: Jose and Sons

Gastropub: The Wooden Nickel

Mexican: Colorado Burrito Company

Cuban: Old Havana Sandwich Shop

Spanish: Mateo Bar de Tapas

Mexican: Centro 

BBQ: Hillsborough BBQ Company  

Latin: Mesa Latin Kitchen