I’m not from Raleigh, NC, but I feel like it’s a second home to me. While I was in college, my parents sold my childhood home, packed up and hit the road from suburban Massachusetts to suburban North Carolina. While I’ve been to Raleigh more times than I could count, I really hadn’t the opportunity to explore the city. On my most recent trip, it was important to me to take the time to find some great places for coffee, fitness, family and fun. I was sure to outline a day where I could not only take part in a little self care but also have little adventures in the process since I am in Raleigh to visit family after all.
When I think of Raleigh and what it’s known for, the only thing that came to mind previously was that it’s the state capital but once you start digging in to the small but delightful city, you can find nooks and crannies all worthy of your time. As a mom of two young boys, I love to find places where they can come along and have enriching experiences as well so you’ll see those peppered into my day W.E.L.L. spent!
Breakfast at First Watch: The Daytime Cafe, where everything is fresh and made from scratch. A theme that I saw in Raleigh was a real sense of community and it’s in the food. Check out their seasonal menu for fresh ingredients sourced locally. Heirloom tomato and burrata toast, get in my belly to fuel me for the exciting day ahead.
Get me the locally roasted coffee from Morning Times. This adorable little coffee shop in downtown Raleigh is the perfect spot to start your day. Mama needs her coffee but of course they offer alternative beverages to those looking to cut out the caffiene. This spot prides itself in being all about the community whether sourcing eggs from local farmers, great artists for their gallery or incredients for their famous Sunday brunch. They also make their own bagels in house… so yes, please, I’ll take one to go!
This is a great morning for the family as we continue on to Raleigh State Farmer’s Market, Guys, this is absolutely one of my favorite spots to visit and bonus because it’s open every single day! Are you into getting fresh veggies right off the farmer’s truck? Do you like alfalfa honey from the local purveyor? What about finding amazing plants, trees and shrubs for your home gardens? Well, this is just about the perfect place for that and it’s huge! Fresh strawberries and melons for breakfast, small succulents for a mini garden and of course an olive tree plant. Yes, I snagged an Olive Tree plant on my trip there and it’s currently living it’s best life on my patio. Yes, that tree rode shotgun on the drive back to Massachusetts!
Since I have an extremely active three year old, we visited gorgeous Pullen Park, where you can walk around a beautifully manicured park on the NC State Campus. The historical State park has a working carousel, a train that generously circles the grounds and paddleboats on the pond. They also do plays and shows at the Theater in the Park so there’s a little something for everyone. Not to worry if it’s raining, the Marbles Kids Museum is super top notch- we visited on our last trip and this trip. For a small $5 entrance fee, you get two floors of amazing and educational activities, a sound garden, splash areas and more.
Lunch at Living Kitchen, an organic, plant based restaurant that also has a juice bar! Whether you’re looking to try something new or you are a pro at ordering from this type of restaurant, the menu here is very expansive and very delicious. I took the opportunity to try the sweet potato sushi roll. pad thai (made with crisp zuchinni, sweet potato noodles and almond butter) and chocolate chip cookies with coconut milk. Grabbing a juice to go was a must, “Gateway to Green” was my choice-kale, apple, orange, lemon and ginger, delish! You’ll be so full, and happy, I promise!
Mama is on her own for the afternoon so first stop is to get a Lomi Lomi massage at Revive Raleigh. What’s a Lomi Lomi massage? Well, it incorporates long strokes using the forearms, elbows, wrists and hands in a continuous, fluid, rythmic motion to put you at ease and into a deep relaxation of the central nervous system. This is one of my favorite parts of any day well spent, spending time to relax and recharge, taking that time for yourself.
The self care continues with some shopping downtown, with no children. A full belly, fully relaxed and ready to explore, I found some great local shops that support the community and regional artisans. Deco Raleigh carries great art and handmade pieces from local creators. Holly Aiken carries bags designed and handbuilt in Raleigh. Gypsy Jule is bohemian, ecclectic and they call themselves a misfit mercantile, which I love. Such a great and unique place to shop. Other great places to check out in the area Videri Chocolate Factory, Edge of Urge and Unleashed, the Cat and Dog store.
Aerial Yoga at Cirque de Vol downtown- I had never done aerial yoga and in my search to find somewhere to do a regular ol’ vinyasa flow, I came upon Cirque de Vol, a studio with classes in circus arts, aerial flows and even ones for kids. My sister met me there and while we felt it was a little daunting at first, it was absolutely so much fun. The class we took was a gentle flow and our instructor was sweet, patient and encouraging. Class sizes are very intimate so no need to worry about looking silly or feeling self conscious; this studio is all about high vibes and encouraging you to try something new and fun. I’ve already found a studio in Massachusetts, that’s how much I loved it at Cirque de Vol.
Dinner and drinks at The Remedy Diner. This small restaurant is unassuming, totally laid back and very much a place you can grab a bite and a craft beer whether your an omnivore or a herbivore. Their food is all made to order and they offer a lot of variety for vegetarians and even an all vegan dessert menu. I had the black bean burger, vegan chocolate cake and of course a couple of beers… I mean, I was kicking back, right?
Who are we kidding? I need to head home to bed after 9pm because, kids. but if you’re looking for a place to go for after dinner drinks and mingling, The Hideout at Lonerider Brewery is next on my list of places to visit. If you know me, I love to be inspires and Lonerider has inspired me to try their brewed in NC beer: “Effect change, don’t be an audience. Walk your own path, and instead of thinking outside the box imagine what if there was no box.”
For a city as small as Raleigh, you would think there isn’t much to do but it’s actually quite the opposite. I have only just scratched the surface and can’t wait to plan my next trip full of food, fun, family and really ecclectic, exciting options for spending a day treating yourself. I’ll keep you updated on my next trip for sure!
Want more of W.E.L.L. city tours? Check out our full series!