Make Guest House Raleigh your home base. Despite its booming food and drink scene, downtown Raleigh has been majorly lacking in hotels you could stumble home to – until now. This cozy eight-room property is an 1880s house (complete with front porch) that the owners have spruced up and outfitted with Scandi-style minimalist furniture, Brooklinen bedding and Marshall speakers. You will feel like you’ve found your Raleigh home when you collect your morning breakfast in the bright communal kitchen and take in the city skyline from beneath the large pecan tree in the backyard.
Order the pork buns at Brewery Bhavana. Vansana Nolintha emigrated from Luang Prabang to North Carolina in the 1990s and eventually opened Bida Manda, one of the first Laotian restaurants in the U.S. His latest project, Brewery Bhavana, which he runs with his sister Vanvisa, is about more than just food: the dim sum restaurant is also a microbrewery and flower, book and magazine shop. Grab a seat next to the bookshelves and order a sampling: Shanghai-style mooncakes, soup dumplings and char siu bao (steamed buns stuffed with Cantonese barbecue pork) are a must.
Design a custom ring at Quercus. Quercus is Latin for oak tree, which is fitting as Raleigh’s nickname is City of Oaks. But owner Lauren Ramirez does her work in metal, not wood. The goldsmith makes elegant, heirloom-inspired (and yes, gold) jewellery at her downtown studio, which is open to the public five days a week. For something truly special, work with Ramirez to create a custom, one-of-a-kind ring.
Try a sampler at Raleigh Beer Garden. With its greenery-filled back garden and Ping-Pong tables, Raleigh Beer Garden is great place to hang out – but it also holds the Guinness World Record for the most beer taps of a single establishment (that would be 369, more than one for every day of the year). The first floor’s taps are dedicated solely to North Carolina breweries, so get to know the state via some pints, like a Mountain Time IPA from hometown Big Boss Brewing Company.
Stroll the sculpture garden at the NC Museum of Art. As the state’s flagship art museum, the North Carolina Museum of Art has a rich collection ranging from Rodin to Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui. However, locals often skip the building entirely and head straight to the 164-acre sculpture garden, where you’re as likely to find amateur photographers gazing up in awe as you are Raleighites walking their dogs.