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    Smart. Homegrown. Thriving.

    A visit to Raleigh is more than a trip to a blossoming Southern metropolis—you'll feel enriched and energized the instant you're warmly welcomed by its smart, savvy locals. Raleigh's bright minds head top-tier technology, education and life science institutions; its artists create a bevy of cultural and culinary touchstones; and its storytellers proudly carry on the collective heritage of a rich, historic capital city.

    Invigorate your senses by sampling the many flavors of cutting-edge Southern cuisine enhanced by artisan craft brews and spirits. Get your toes tapping to the sounds of emerging music and bands, as well as rollicking bluegrass festivals and more. Discover gifts and treasures from local boutiques, including many handmade and custom designs for truly eclectic finds. And, join in broadening your horizons through an enticing array of visual and performing arts exhibitions.

    Raleigh may be quiet about the fact that it's leading in most recent quality-of-life rankings, but the fact is, you'll enjoy visiting as much as people enjoy living here. Come see what the city will inspire in you. Its authenticity is homegrown by passionate locals, rooted in Raleigh.

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    Raleigh Articles

    InspirationDestinations

    Unique New Years Eve Drops

    Everyone knows that New York City is famous for its New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, but for those looking for something a little more unique and symbolic to ring in 2022, these towns are hosting slightly weird yet totally “on-brand” drops on December 31. MoonPie Drop , Mobile, Alabama Photo by Joseph Brooke / Flickr Creative Commons Mobile’s mantra is “Born to Celebrate,” which makes New Year’s Eve a pretty exciting time around here. At midnight, you can witness a 600-pound electric MoonPie drop from the sky, complete with fireworks and a laser light show. Mobile’s big claim to fame is that it’s home to America’s original Mardi Gras. In the mid-1900s, locals started tossing sticky-sweet (but still-wrapped!) MoonPies from their Mardi Gras floats. Spectators went crazy for them and today an estimated half-million pies get tossed during an average Carnival season. Since Mobile loves a good party – and consumes more MoonPies per capita than anywhere else (including the pies’ hometown of Chattanooga) – its citizens decided to create the world’s largest electric MoonPie to help them usher in each new year. Mushroom Drop, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which is part of the Brandywine Valley, is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World” because more than 60% of all the mushrooms in the United States are grown here. Celebrate their nickname – and their favorite crop -- by dropping a 700-pound lighted mushroom on New Year’s Eve during the annual Midnight in the Square event. The mushroom will be raised right before 9 p.m. and the drop will be live-streamed across social media at midnight. Marlin Drop, Orange Beach, Alabama Gulf Shores Reelin' in the New Year at The Wharf The Wharf, a popular dining, shopping and entertainment district in the town of Orange Beach, is hosting Reelin’ in The New Year from 5 p.m. to midnight on December 31. The highlight of this event is the Marlin Drop, a fishy nod to one of the many outdoor activities that draw visitors here year round. It’s free admission for the drop, and the whole family can come and ring in the new year Gulf Coast-style. Apple Drop, Winchester, Virginia To celebrate the arrival of the new year, a 400-pound apple is dropped more than 100 feet during the First Night Winchester event. First Night Winchester has been a tradition in the Northern Shenandoah Valley since 1987. Winchester is known as the “Apple Capital” because it’s the largest apple-producing area in all of Virginia and home to countless apple orchards. Giant Acorn Drop, Raleigh, N.C. Courtesy firstnightraleigh.com Each December 31 a giant copper acorn, the official monument commemorating the bicentennial of “the City of Oaks,” is transported from Raleigh’s Moore Square to the roof of the Civic Center where it’s dropped to celebrate the New Year - First Night Raleigh. Clam Drop, Yarmouth, Maine On December 31, Yarmouth's First Universalist Church lowers a giant clam named Steamer 25 feet from the bell tower. The Clam Drop includes music, cookies and cocoa to stay warm. Giant Potato Drop, Boise, Idaho Courtesy mrfood.com This year will be the 9th annual Idaho Potato Drop in Boise, Idaho. From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., ring in the new year with food trucks, a beer garden, fireworks, and of course, the potato drop in front of the Idaho State Capitol.

    Inspiration

    How rum is making at comeback at these 6 distilleries

    Quick: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions rum? Chances are you think about sticky-sweet, umbrella-garnished beach drinks, fraternity parties, or Coke. But in 2020, this historic spirit is more diverse, sophisticated and, most importantly, funner than ever before, as American small distilleries produce a variety of styles – both classic and creative. Their spirits can hold their own against time-tested legacy brands. Like any craft spirit, rum is arguably best enjoyed at the source, where you can talk to distillers and see how it’s made. Here are a few to check out around the US and Caribbean when you’re passing by. 1. Lassiter Distilling Company: Knightdale, North Carolina Yes, the Caribbean is the heartbeat of the rum industry and rum was a cornerstone of Colonial New England’s economy, but here’s a little lesser known fact: before the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, rum was drunk all along North Carolina’s coast. The region was a hub for the sugar trade, after all. That’s one of the nuggets of info you’ll learn when you visit Lassiter Distilling Company, a rum-focused distillery in Knightdale, a charming town just off Route 64, which connects Raleigh to the beach. Among the many independent businesses that have sprung up here in the past few years is Lassiter, which is located in a gorgeous old railroad depot. Drop in on a Saturday for a distillery tour or schedule a visit for another day in advance. The husband and wife distiller/owners turn out a silver (unaged) rum, one that’s aged in classic American white oak and a clever Rum au Café that's infused with Raleigh Coffee Company coffee beans, each of which you can sample as part of the free tour. Got time? Stick around for a rum drink at their small yet elaborately designed tiki bar, which is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Potted plants dot the tasting room of Lyon Distilling Co. © courtesy Lyon Distilling Co.2. Lyon Distilling Co.: Saint Michaels, Maryland When Lyon Distilling launched in 2013, it completed a drinking trifecta. Now travelers can visit a brewery, a winery and a distillery, all within Saint Michaels, a one-square-mile town on the Chesapeake Bay’s picturesque eastern shore. Located 45 minutes from Annapolis and 90 minutes from Washington and Baltimore, the town attracts makers of all sorts, like boat-builders and brewers. That, along with the fact that the bywaters of the Chesapeake were a rum-running hub during Prohibition, convinced co-founder Jaime Windon that this was an ideal spot to open a distillery and make maritime spirits. “The proper shore is 90 minutes from us. With all the sailors coming through there, making rum feels right on Bay,” Windon says. Situated in a former flour mill, Lyon turns out dark and unaged rums, over-proof expressions, and several special products, like limited-edition holiday releases and coffee rum, a rich, enchanting spirit flavored with fresh ground coffee from a local roaster and cocoa shells from a DC chocolatier. Free tours with tastings are offered every day at 2PM. 3. Hye Rum: Stonewall, Texas Tourists have long traveled to Texas Hill Country, birthplace of Lyndon B. Johnson, to visit his ranch. This region, which extends to parts of Central and Southeast Texas, is covered with rocky soil, the kind that lends itself to fine vintages in Europe. Accordingly, it’s long been a draw for winemakers, and there are presently more than 65 wineries along the 25-mile strip of Interstate 290 that connects Fredericksburg to Johnson City. But that’s not why we’re here. Hye – population: 100-plus – sits along that stretch and in addition the nearly dozen wineries you can visit there, you’ll find Garrison Brothers, a whiskey distillery, and Hye Rum, a distillery that opened in 2017. It’s set in a quaint house that co-owner Stephanie Houston describes as “slightly larger than a tiny house.” They produce five different French-island-inspired rums with molasses from Louisiana. Visit for a tour with the distiller then settle in at the low-key bar with a flight of rums, each of which delivers bold flavors befitting of the Lone Star State. A souvenir tasting glass is part of the package. Cocktail classes are also on offer. 4. Havana Club: Havana, Cuba Since the Obama administration relaxed restrictions on travel to Cuba, Americans have headed posthaste to this tropical island to ogle at its colorful architecture, abundant vintage cars, and so much else. The food, of course, is a big draw for many, but for some, the most compelling lure is the preferred spirit of one of Cuba’s most legendary residents, Ernest Hemingway, who penned seven books just outside Havana. The historic and massive Havana Club distillery, which sits in the nation state’s capital, is not open to the public, but you can learn about the rum-making process – from sugar farming to barrel aging – and its history in great detail at the Havana Club Museum of Rum. Located in a colonial townhouse built in the 18th-century, the museum’s exhibits provide a closeup view of the many crafts involved in rum production, from building stills and constructing barrels to distillation. And, of course, you can experience the consumption part for yourself in the 1930s-era tasting room. A bottle of Montanya on the taproom bar © courtesy Montanya / Nathan Bilow 5. Montanya Distillers: Crested Butte, Colorado Situated in the West Elks, a little mountain range in the Rockies, Crested Butte is an incredible Colorado ski town and the wildflower capital of the United States. It’s also a mountain biking mecca and home of Montanya Distillers, a destination not only for its lively bar and restaurant, complete with live music, but for the in-depth lesson you can get on a tour about the quirks and beauty of making rum at 8800ft. Montanya’s staff, from founder and owner Karen Hoskin to the distillers to the bottling line, is 64% women, which is unique among the many producers in the world. Their special release, Valentina, highlights this, as every step in the process involved women. Whether or not you tour the distillery, a flight of Montanya rums, which are made with molasses from Louisiana-grown sugar cane, is complimentary. Come for the samples, stay for dinner and a cocktail. Come for the samples, stay for dinner and a cocktail and live music. The cozy wood- and brick-heavy tasting room/eatery is a lively local hangout. 6. MISCellaneous Distillery: Mount Airy, Maryland Meg McNeill, co-owner of MISCellaneous Distillery in rural Maryland, an hour north of Washington DC, describes her Popi’s Finest Rum as “rum that thinks it’s whiskey.” Like bourbon, it’s aged in new American oak barrels, which imbues Popi’s with its oaky flavors. See for yourself on one of the tours they offer every weekend. Tours are free, but a $5 recommended donation is passed on to a local charity. Go to learn about the distillation and aging process, stay to create your own cocktail with a variety of made-in-DC mixers like Element Shrubb’s inventive vinegar-based drinks (honeydew-jalapeno, anyone?) and natural syrups from Pratt Standard Cocktail Company. In addition to aged and silver rums, the distillery produces whiskey from grains harvested from the surrounding rural property, as well as vodka, gin, and bourbon. They all meet the approval, by the way, of husband-and-wife owners’ pup Jaimee, a friendly Bernese mountain dog. Got one of your own? Feel free to bring him along for a play session.

    News

    TSA “Sick Outs”: Will Reduced Staff Mean Longer Lines and Delays?

    Some people are calling it the “blue flu,” the increase in unpaid Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees, whose familiar uniforms include blue shirts, calling in sick rather than work without pay during the partial federal government shutdown. A THREAT TO SECURITY AND EFFICIENCY? Due to their essential role in screening passengers and baggage before planes take off, TSA employees are required to work without pay during the shutdown. But, as CNN and other news sources have reported over the past few days, hundreds of TSA employees have been calling in sick from at least four major U.S. airports, raising concerns that, with reduced staff, air travel could become less secure—or the screening process could take much longer, leading to long lines and flight complications. Hydrick Thomas, president of the national TSA employees union, told CNN that as many as 170 TSA employees per day have called out this week at New York City’s sprawling John F. Kennedy International Airport. There have reportedly been similar increases in call outs at Dallas-Fort Worth, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham. Although union leaders have made it clear that the call outs are not an organized union action, they also note that, once TSA employees miss a paycheck, some must decide between working for no pay or finding paying work, possibly canceling daycare for their children, and other necessary actions that may interfere with their TSA duties. With no end to the shutdown in sight, the TSA may face no-win decisions in the coming week, such as: (a) Streamline airport screening with fewer random pat-downs, more passengers diverted to express PreCheck lines, and expedited checked baggage screening, or (b) maintain normal screening standards with reduced staff, leading inevitably to longer lines and passenger delays. However, at press time, the TSA has not announced any of these hypothetical options. HOW TO PREPARE FOR POSSIBLE DELAYS Here, our best tips for giving yourself plenty of time to get through security: Arrive early. Plan to arrive at the airport two hours before your scheduled domestic departure and three hours before an international departure. Know before you go. If your airport provides approximate security waiting times, access them online before you leave for the airport, but always bear in mind that these are estimates subject to change. Pack your carry-ons to make inspection easy. Pack clothing on the bottom and toiletries and electronics, typically more carefully scrutinized by TSA agents, on top, with electrical cords neatly gathered in a ziploc bag. Limit your liquids. Liquids, gels, and sprays should be in travel-size, 3.4-ounce containers packed in a bag no bigger than 1 quart. Be ready when it’s your turn. As you get near the front of the security line, remove big electronics, like laptops, from your bag, empty your pockets, and, if asked, remove your shoes. Don’t pack prohibited items. To make sure you’re not flying with a prohibited item, visit tsa.gov’s “Can I Bring My…?” page. Be kind. Always. We want you to be not only the smartest traveler at the airport but also the nicest. Those overworked and currently unpaid TSA employees deserve your respect and thanks

    Inspiration

    The Pop-Up Bar That Christmas Dreams Are Made Of

    From shopping for gifts to office parties to finding a way to dine peacefully with your politically divided family, the holiday season is landmine field stress factors. By this point in the season, you’re probably thinking you could use a drink. And if it happens to involve sipping a thoughtfully crafted cocktail from a glass adorned with Santa on a surf board, all the better. And if that scene happens to involve a bar boasting gleefully kitschy holiday décor and 11 hours-long playlist of largely obscure renditions of time-honored carols, then clearly you’re not dreaming of a Christmas that is nothing like the ones you used to know. Cocktails from coast to coast (Courtesy Sebastian Heck) Rest assured, all ye faithful readers, this is not just a fantastical tiding of comfort and joy, as the carolers would have it. This is the backdrop for a very real, albeit temporary, Miracle. Miracle Bar (miraclebar.com) is a pop-up watering hole set in established bars and it’s appearing in 84 American cities, as well as several international locations, through new year’s eve. That’s an impressive growth from last year’s 52 locales. Miracle has its roots on New York’s Lower East Side in 2014 and has since ballooned into an international affair. It bears out the value of the familiar life lesson: always listen to your mother. Unlikely beginnings It all started in 2014 when Greg Boehm, who owns several bars in NYC (Katana Kitten, Mace, Boilermaker) as well as Cocktail Kingdom (cocktailkingdom.com), a barware supply company, was doing construction on Mace. His mother encouraged him to scrap the construction for a little, deck out the space in tinsel and such, and open a temporary bar. Word spread, lines formed around the corner, and tradition—and festive franchise—was born. From popular bars in San Antonio to Sacramento and from Asheville to Nashville and dozens in between, you’ll find popular tipples from past years like fresh eggnog and the Snow Ball Old Fashioned, a fanciful spin on the classic drink that involves gingerbread bourbon, as well as fresh entrants. (Courtesy Melissa Hom) Each venue features zany glassware and eccentric, nostalgic décor, as well as that aforementioned playlist. (You’ll recognize Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas,” but probably not a roster of others ranging from rockabilly to punk to mellow lounge mood music.) While the cocktail menu and the look and vibe are the same from place to place, expect to find individual bars putting their own fingerprint on the concept. "Cocktail Kingdom designs and manufactures unique and decorative items, edgier stuff like paper cutouts of Santa passed out holding eggnog. Bars use our stuff, but each bar is unique in how it display everything and the details of how they decorate are always different," Boehm told us. "I took cues from grandparents’ basement at Christmas time, and at other bars, staff takes cues from their past. Everyone does it in nostalgic way, but they take cues from their own childhoods." So if you’re looking for a silent night, look elsewhere. These drinks keep things rocking around the very kitschy Christmas tree.

    Inspiration

    Live Like a Local in the ‘First in Flight’ State

    Whether you’re an adventure-seeker in pursuit of an adrenaline-pumping spree of parasailing, cycling, climbing, waterfalls, skydiving, and hot-air ballooning, an American history buff, or a nature lover in search of achingly beautiful beaches, North Carolina is rich with options for the intrepid traveler. The biggest challenge is making the most of your time, so we’ve searched the state and checked in with some locals who maintain some of the most gorgeously trip-inspiring NC-themed Instagram accounts to learn about the standout places to eat, drink, stay, and play during your visit. From the outdoor adventures in Boone to the museums and restaurants of Charlotte to the beaches of the Outer Banks, North Carolina has all the makings of a memorable vacation, regardless of whether it’s your first or tenth time visiting. THE OUTER BANKS Folly Beach near Charleston, South Carolina. (Cvandyke/Dreamstime)When it comes to tried-and-true, the Outer Banks, a 130-mile stretch of barrier islands on the north coast of North Carolina, delivers a wide assortment of vacation opportunities. Magnificent beaches, winery tours, exceptional seafood, and iconic lighthouses are all yours for the taking. And, appropriately enough for the “First in Flight” state, you can savor it all from the sky on a classic biplane tour. Elizabeth Boyette (@elizabeth_boyette on Instagram), an avid traveler and proprietor of Good South, a design firm with offices in Raleigh, NC, and Charleston, SC, suggests the area around Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, the northern end of the “OBX” (local parlance for the area). A longtime resident of Raleigh who recently relocated to Charleston, Boyette just came back from a trip to Duck, in Dare County, and reports that “the Outer Banks is truly something special. ” She notes that equine aficionados in particular should head north to Currituck County while they’re on the islands. “Make sure to take a tour of the wild horses on the beach in Corolla, a one-of-a-kind experience,” she says. BOONE & BLOWING ROCK The jaw-dropping scenery of the Boone region of the Blue Ridge Parkway is reason alone to visit this bucolic town. Along the area’s stretch of highway you’ll find more than 50 hiking trails and over 20 overlooks where you can picnic and take in the landscape. In town, there are sites that showcase and honor the town’s rich history. Check out Hickory Ridge Museum, which features actors in period dress engaged in old-world activities, and more than 200 species of plant varieties at Daniel Boone Native Gardens, named for the trailblazing frontiersman who spent time in the region. While it’s absolutely stunning on the ground, there’s plenty more to be seen from above. At Grandfather Mountain, an international Biosphere Reserve, there’s the Mile High Swinging Bridge, America’s highest suspension bridge since it was built in 1952, which delivers heart-stopping 360-degree views of the Carolina Piedmont. For a more modern thrill, head to the neighboring town of Blowing Rock, where the new Ultimate Adventure park boasts ziplines, a giant swing, and activities for kids ages four and up. And when you’re ready to kick back and chill out, fishing, shopping—including old-timey stores—and an array of relaxing spas await. ASHEVILLE You may have heard that Asheville is one cool little city, and we’d be the first to agree. Budget Travel’s senior editor, Liza Weisstuch, visited recently and is still talking about the imaginative restaurant scene, creative arts, and craft beer. And you can pretty much take your pick of nearby outdoor adventures, including zip-lining, canopy tours, and hot air ballooning. Karie Reinertson and Rob Maddox, who run Shelter Collective (@shelterprotectsyou on Instagram), an architecture and interior design shop in Asheville, share their locals-only secrets: “We love spending a rainy Saturday at Well Played, a board game cafe we designed in downtown. East Fork Pottery is perfect for outfitting an entire home or picking up a quick guest’s gift. OWL is one of our favorite places to grab a coffee and some of the best pastries in town. The best way to spend time in Asheville, though, is outdoors - our favorite hike is Black Balsam, which starts with a beautiful drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway.” RALEIGH-DURHAM-CHAPEL HILL North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Coralimages2020/Dreamstime)North Carolina’s centrally located Piedmont Region boasts some of the most populous cities in the state, and the Triangle offers an urbane alternative to the sun and sand of the coast, thanks in large part to the area’s trifecta of universities (North Carolina State, Duke, and the University of North Carolina). In Raleigh, start with a visit to the North Carolina Museum of Art, with a collection spanning more than 5,000 years and includes pieces from Europe, America, and Africa and a sculpture park marrying a three-mile trail system and an outdoor amphitheater with 29 works of art. Follow up with a stop at the Raleigh Farmers Market for a snack, then spend the afternoon winery-hopping. For dinner, try something from chef Ashley Christensen’s local mini-empire. Poole’s Diner is justifiably renowned for its rich, cheesy macaroni au gratin, and anything from the wood-fired oven at Death & Taxes (think: roasted oysters with preserved lemon and chili butter) is bound to be a hit. Over in Durham, there’s a wealth of creative endeavors, from grand museums to funky galleries. Check out the artist studios at historic textile mill Golden Belt, browse the contemporary collection at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art, and get lost in the terraces, gazebos, and Japanese-style walking bridges of Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Break for lunch with a fried chicken, pimento cheese, and bacon biscuit from Rise, and spend the afternoon antiquing before catching a show at the Pinhook, a bastion of the indie-music scene. Get your learning on in Chapel Hill, where the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center offers shows to please all ages, and UNC’s Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History features a roster of year-round events in keeping with its mission of supporting the critical examination of the African-American diaspora and African cultures. Pick up picnic provisions at Southern Season, then head for the North Carolina Botanical Garden for lunch al fresco. Sample the house-made vodka, gin, and whiskey at Top of the Hill Distillery, treat yourself to shrimp and grits at Crook’s Corner, then take in the symphony at Hill Hall Auditorium on the UNC campus. CHARLOTTE Charlotte, North Carolina’s biggest city, packs the most art, history, music, and food into a visit, including former plantations, Southern cuisine with creative twists, and an array of museums to suit all tastes, like the Levine Museum of the New South, which focuses on post-Civil War life in the region, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a sport that has its roots in the area, thanks to bootlegging outlaws who were constantly trying to outrun the authorities during Prohibition. Somewhat unexpectedly, the central NC area also boasts ample opportunities for skydiving. And if you’d like to make a day trip, Boyette suggests skipping town for Davidson, a lakeside town about 20 miles north. “When you’re around Charlotte, I recommend a stop in Davidson, which has a college-town charm, to eat at Kindred. From the food to the atmosphere, it’s perfection. Two words: milk bread. And the oysters are a must-order.” WILMINGTON & ISLAND BEACHES “My parents had a condo in Wrightsville Beach for years and it really is one of the most quaint, prettiest beaches in the state,” says Boyette. While Wilmington and its beaches were hit especially hard by Hurricane Florence in September, its recovery is well under way and its locals are eager to host travelers. Boyette recommends perusing the beach and checking out the Baja fish tacos at K38 across the bridge in Wilmington. Budget Travel’s associate editor, Maya Stanton, has her own mouthwatering restaurant reviews, including Savorez for tuna tostadas and Catch for crabcakes. If you need a break from seafood and the beach, pencil in a tour through one of the city’s many historic homes or visit the Cameron Art Museum for a glimpse into Wilmington’s culture and history. KINSTON Heading inland a bit, there’s a world of history and authentic NC cuisine to be found in the town of Kinston, in Lenoir County, the site of one of the most significant and hard-fought battles of the Civil War, now commemorated by a historic walking path and tour. In keeping with the vintage trend, look for accommodations at the Mother Earth Motor Lodge, a motel dating to 1963 that, in its previous incarnation, gave shelter to the touring musicians such as James Brown and his band as they passed through town. Local craft-beer brand Mother Earth Brewing took over and gave the property a facelift in 2017, and it now offers 45 upgraded rooms as well as a pool, shuffleboard, and mini-golf. For a dose of star-power, make a reservation for creative regional fare at James Beard award-winner and PBS host Vivian Howard’s Chef & the Farmer, or grab a seat at her more casual sister restaurant, the Boiler Room oyster bar. Crystal Thornton, a photographer who maintains one of the most beautiful NC-themed Instagram accounts out there (@seastarnc), recommends Kinston for “an absolute gem of a BBQ joint by the name of King’s Bar-B-Que and Chicken. It serves a sandwich called the Pig in a Puppy, a North Carolina-style BBQ in a sub-sandwich sized hush puppy.” May we simply add … Yum!

    Inspiration

    Hotel We Love: Windsor Boutique Hotel, Asheville, NC

    With its cozy lobby arranged with old-timey furniture and antique décor and lighting, the Windsor Boutique Hotel, in Asheville, NC, does a terrific job at making you feel like you’re not actually entering a hotel at all. It feels more like the sitting room in a private home, and with the staffers helming a wide wood desk, it’s clear that all the formalities of check-in have been swapped for a laid-back personalized welcome.   THE STORY The Windsor opened as apartments in 1907, but over the years, downtown became quite unsavory, and many buildings, including this one, fell into disrepair. But an investment firm bought it and undertook an historical renovation, keeping as much of its architectural detail intact, down to the banisters on the staircases. It opened as a hotel in 2013, restored it to its former glory. And with 14 rooms set up like apartment suites, it’s a glorious accommodation indeed. THE QUARTERS Each of the 14 rooms has its own unique décor that includes playful antiques. This being an old building, that aesthetic perfectly suites the original design elements, like dark, textured wood floor panels, soaring ceilings, tall windows, and brick walls. Bed sizes vary, ranging from a king, queen, and double queen. Each suite has a rain showerhead in the spacious shower, a sleeper-sofa in the living room, a washer and dryer, and a complete modern kitchen with a full-size stove, fridge, and microwave. Most also have a dishwasher.   THE NEIGHBORHOOD  The Windsor is smack in the middle of downtown Asheville, on the same block as various cafes, a Thai restaurant, clothing boutiques, and local amenities aplenty, like a hair salon. Chocolate Gems, which offers decadent handmade chocolates and gelato, is a few storefronts away. The hotel does not have its own parking, but street parking is available and there are several city garages nearby, including a new one on the block. There are two more within two blocks. THE FOOD The Windsor does not have a restaurant of its own, but there’s a small fridge in the lobby with complimentary soda, water, and snacks as well as both a Keurig and N’Espresso machine. Asheville is a popular destination for weekend getaways because it’s within hours drive from Charleston, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, and more. With guests’ ride home in mind, on Sunday mornings the hotel offers pastries from The Rhu, a bakery/café offshoot of Rhubarb, a celebrated locally minded restaurant from James Beard nominated chef John Fleer.   One of the many benefits of its downtown location is that you’re never more than a few footsteps from a great place to eat or drink. Across the street, for instance, is Social Lounge, which is known for its rooftop dining. It’s open until midnight during the week and 2PM on weekends. Just around the corner, about a four-minute walk away, Sovereign Remedies, which serves elevated comfort food (bone marrow tater tots, anyone) and mixes some of the best cocktails in the city, is open until 2AM nightly. With a kitchen open late, expect to find plenty of industry people there after midnight. ALL THE REST The hotel lobby is connected to Desirant, a boutique that sells all manner of Southern living essentials (and a number of non-essentials) in a vintage Parisian flea market setting. Browse jewelry and accessories, books, home goods, cards, clothes, local crafts, and a few antiques that the owners handpicked in France. Hotel guests get 10% off.  In a nice touch that gives the rooms a local flavor, each is stocked with a bag of freshly ground coffee from Dynamite Roasters a few miles away in Black Mountain.  RATES & DEETS Starting at $200. The Windsor Boutique Hotel  36 Broadway Asheville, NC 28801 (844) 494-6376 / windsorasheville.com

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    DESTINATION IN North Carolina

    Durham

    Durham ( DURR-əm), also known as the "Bull City", is a city in and the county seat of Durham County in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Small portions of the city limits extend into Orange County and Wake County. With a population of 283,506 in the 2020 Census, Durham is the 4th-most populous city in North Carolina, and the 75th-most populous city in the United States. The city is located in the east-central part of the Piedmont region along the Eno River. Durham is the core of the four-county Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Area, which has a population of 644,367 as of U.S. Census 2019 Population Estimates. The Office of Management and Budget also includes Durham as a part of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary Combined Statistical Area, commonly known as the Research Triangle, which has a population of 2,079,687 as of U.S. Census 2019 Population Estimates.A railway depot was established on land donated by Bartlett S. Durham in 1849, the namesake of the city. Following the American Civil War, the community of Durham Station expanded rapidly, in part due to the tobacco industry. The town was incorporated by act of the North Carolina General Assembly, in April 1869. The establishment of Durham County was ratified by the General Assembly 12 years later, in 1881. It became known as the founding place and headquarters of the American Tobacco Company. Textile and electric power industries also played an important role. While these industries have declined, Durham underwent revitalization and population growth to become an educational, medical, and research center.Durham is home to several recognized institutions of higher education, most notably Duke University and North Carolina Central University. Durham is also a national leader in health-related activities, which are focused on the Duke University Hospital and many private companies. Duke and its Duke University Health System are the largest employers in the city. North Carolina Central University is a historically black university that is part of the University of North Carolina system. Together, the two universities make Durham one of the vertices of the Research Triangle area; central to this is the Research Triangle Park south of Durham, which encompasses an area of 11 square miles and is devoted to research facilities. On the Duke University campus are the neo-Gothic Duke Chapel and the Nasher Museum of Art. Other notable sites in the city include the Museum of Life and Science, Durham Performing Arts Center, Carolina Theatre, and Duke Homestead and Tobacco Factory. Bennett Place commemorates the location where Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to William T. Sherman in the American Civil War. The city is served, along with Raleigh, by Raleigh–Durham International Airport.