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Ask the Locals: Raleigh, North Carolina

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Peter Greenberg Worldwide broadcast from The Umstead just outside Raleigh, North Carolina. On air, Chef Scott Crawford shared his signature dish for fall, CAM Raleigh Executive Director Elysia Borowy-Reeder described the local arts scene, and Natural Museum of Science Director Betsy Bennett shared the best of the great outdoors. Today, we’ve rounded up all the local best into an updated Ask the Locals travel guide to Raleigh and tomorrow check out the latest Travel Today podcast for even more local favorites. 

Elysia Borowy-Reeder, executive director of CAM Raleigh, has curated exhibitions in a number of great cities—from New York to Miami—but it is Raleigh, North Carolina that currently has her absolutely enchanted. She cannot speak highly enough about the city’s vibrancy, particularly within the Warehouse District:

Image Credit Wikimedia: CalderOliver

“This exciting neighborhood … is steeped in a rich and complex history that informs—but does not limit—the present and the future. I am reminded every day how Raleigh’s Warehouse District is a destination for adventure. Whether you seek fresh work from talented artists’ studios or unique gifts from Designbox, Visual Art Exchange or Rebus Works, or handcrafted jeans from Raleigh Denim; or handmade chocolates from Videri Chocolate Factory or a Tasty Beverage, the warehouse district is the place to go.”

Tasty Beverage Company  boasts an impressive collection of 1,200 packaged beers in addition to the six that they serve on tap. And a visit to Videri Chocolate Factory  is an absolute must for chocolate lovers. You’ll feel as though you’ve won one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets as you get an inside look at the “bean to bar” process and enjoy an opportunity to taste handmade chocolate. Videri Chocolate Factory and Tasty Beverage Company can both be found in the Raleigh Depot, which was originally built in 1912 to serve as the city’s freight depot. What could be better than artisan chocolate and craft beer in the same building? The two businesses live in glorious harmony as Videri welcomes you to bring your own beer or wine to enjoy on the patio as you dig in to their delicious chocolate.

To get your fix of fresh, local art, and support Raleigh’s artists, Designbox, Rebus Works, and Visual Art Exchange are all great places to go.

The Umstead

Scott Crawford, executive chef of The Umstead Hotel & Spa, has a number of great restaurant recommendations for you.

If you’re in the mood for Italian, Bella Mia in Cary serves up authentic coal-fired pizzas accompanied by a fairly extensive wine list. Or if Japanese is more your speed, Yuri Japanese Restaurant has fantastic sushi and sake. If you just want to relax with a nice cocktail, Mandolin is the place and its live music only adds to the ambience. But if you’re looking for a more unique experience, Amra’s Lounge and Cigar Bar is the only place in Raleigh to sit back, smoke a cigar, sip your favorite spirit, and enjoy live music all at the same time.

Or take the time to prepare your own meal. The State Farmers Market in Raleigh is open seven days a week and has great statewide representation. You can pack a picnic and spend a day at Pullen Park, where the carousel, train, peddle boats, and playgrounds ensure a fun time for anyone.

Betsy Bennett, director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, loves to be active outdoors and wants you to know how to enjoy North Carolina’s natural beauty.

The Mason Farm Biological Reserve in Chapel Hill is a beautiful place to go hiking, and, just outside of Raleigh, Jordan Lake is a great place to go kayaking. Both locations are also ideal for bird watching.

As far as food goes, Provence in Chapel Hill has the best French food in town. But if you’re looking for delicious Asian food sourced from local ingredients, Lantern is the place to go. It has been named one of “America’s Top 50 Restaurants” by Gourmet as well as one of “America’s 50 Most Amazing Wine Experiences” by Food & Wine.

For more North Carolina Travel and other Ask the Local ideas, check out:

By Alex Francis for PeterGreenberg.com

Feature Image Credit: Wikimedia, user Doug Kerr

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