Visiting Raleigh, NC w/ 1 yr old, no car
September 23, 2014 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Tagging along on my wife's business trip with our 1 year old daughter in a few weeks. Hotel is in Raleigh, and we won't have a car. Looking for suggestions on fun things to do with a child in town, with preference for public transportation and walking.

I can spring for Uber once or twice if it's worth it, but overall we're on a budget. We've only got about 2 full days. Not everything needs to be child-related. Daddy would also appreciate fun/interesting things to do that would be easy to bring a 1 year old to. We're pretty open to what you think would be cool, but we do enjoy outdoors stuff and exploring the local flavor of places.

Also I'm a fan of beer, so looking to checkout local breweries. Raleigh Brewing Company seems like a good place to start. Thanks so much!
posted by tslugmo to Travel & Transportation around Raleigh, NC (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Prairie Ridge Ecostation is one of my favorite outdoor Raleigh things. It's also only a bit down the road from the North Carolina Museum of Art, which has some interesting stuff on the trails in the museum park, even if you don't want to go into the museum itself. Not entirely easy to get to without a car, but Raleigh's like that. Or it was when I lived there a few years ago.
posted by Coatlicue at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Where is your hotel? Public transportation is generally very very bad here. There is a free bus that circles the downtown area but it's only useful if you're staying in that area.
posted by something something at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2014

If you don't have a car, and you're staying in a hotel, it would be helpful to specify where in Raleigh the hotel is. In my opinion, Raleigh is the most sprawled out of the triangle cities, so it can really affect the doability of your suggestions.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:10 PM on September 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Marbles Kids Museum is right downtown. I haven't been but it's right-priced and I'd suggest the Busy Bee Cafe to go get a good beer (it's not especially kid friendly but it is also not kid hostile and they have outdoor seating depending on weather). That said, only a few blocks further and you're at the Flying Saucer. If you just want to be nearby downtown and outside you can also walk over to Historic Oakwood Cemetery which has some interesting stuff going on to look at and you can meander and be outside. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is near the capitol as well, they have daily animal programs. The John Chavis Memorial Park is the opposite direction and has a neat old carousel. I have friends that live right outside the downtown area and folks are right, the public transportation isn't great but it's not non-existent (I live in a place where it's non-existent and I've taken buses around there) and you can walk around a lot and look at stuff in just the downtown area.
posted by jessamyn at 6:14 PM on September 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

Public transportation around here isn't that great, though I am not quite as familiar with Raleigh's system as I am with Durham's and Chapel Hill's.

My guess is that if you want to stick with public transportation, you might want to stick to places in downtown Raleigh, like these:

Museum of Natural Sciences
History Museum
Marbles, which is a kid's museum (basically a giant indoor playground with vague nods to educational stuff)

I imagine the bus goes by the art museum, too, which is another neat place.

That is, of course, only if your hotel is on a bus line, which is by no means guaranteed.

If you decide to get a car and go further afield, here are a few ideas:

1. Go to the NC Life and Science Museum in Durham. It's better than Marbles if it's a nice day out, because there's a TON of outdoor stuff to do--a train, a farmyard, a dinosaur trail, and a little zoo. There's also a butterfly house. I take my kid there all the time. The inside stuff is fun, too, and definitely more sciencey than the stuff at Marbles. There's even a little toddler zone where you could let your kid play without worry.

2. A food truck rodeo, if one happens to be going on, in Durham. The wait will be long, but there'll be good food and a picnic-y feel and lots of other kids there. Though, okay, I should remember that you won't be coming here in the summer. So it depends on the weather, a bit. Related to that, Fullsteam Brewery in Durham is surprisingly kid friendly, and a good place to visit if you're into beer at all. They often have a couple of food trucks outside, too, so it's pretty easy to grab dinner around there.

3. Since you'll be coming in in October (assuming that's the kind of few weeks you mean), there are also pumpkin patches and that sort of thing to do, if you're into it. We like this one.

Obviously, I know Durham way better than I do Raleigh. I know there's cool stuff to do over there, too, and hopefully someone will pop in and have ideas. Raleigh and Durham and Chapel Hill are all pretty close together, though, if you have a car. But not by transit.
posted by hought20 at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can go to NCSU and see their robotic library!
posted by Maecenas at 6:20 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

UberX looks to be as cheap for some visits around downtown Raleigh as a bus would be, especially if you've got two adults. But that assumes you're staying in downtown, and I have to say, if you're without a car, you really need to stay downtown if you want options.

As people mention above, public transportation in Raleigh is bad. You can read more about the CAT bus system here.

If I were in your shoes, I'd stay in the cylindrical Holiday Inn downtown (aka 'The Hair Curler') and then walk, take taxis/Uber, and use the CAT buses to explore the area.
posted by yellowcandy at 6:31 PM on September 23, 2014

Just another vote for the museums downtown - the science museum is super neat, and Marbles is great for a kid too.
posted by aka burlap at 6:42 PM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

And as for beer, Big Boss is a Raleigh brewery that's pretty good. They are not quite downtown but their beers will be on tap in lots of places. If your kid is happy to hang out with you while you have a beer, Landmark Tavern is downtown and has a nice outdoor area.
posted by aka burlap at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions, staying at the Sheraton Downtown on Salisbury, so it sounds like I'll have the best chance at taking advantage of limited public transportation options. These sound fantastic and I'll check them out further. Thanks everybody!
posted by tslugmo at 11:04 PM on September 23, 2014

Are we really not going to talk about barbecue? We need to talk about barbecue. It would be a real shame to go NC and not have some good Carolina barbecue. In Raleigh downtown, your best options are The Pit, which tries (successfully, I think) to integrate traditional barbecue into a more modern, upscale restaurant setting. Delicious food, and definitely kid-friendly, with some cool art galleries and the Contemporary Art Museum in the neighborhood. Make a reservation. For a more authentic barbecue joint, you are going to want Clyde Cooper's, which unfortunately had to move out of their original location a few months ago, but their new place is pretty great too.

You can use public transportation to get to Pullen Park, which will be tons of fun for your kiddo, as well as another good outdoor option, the NC State Raulston Arboretum.

If your trip happens to fall on the dates Oct. 16-26, you can get deep fried everythang at the NC State Fair.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:29 AM on September 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

Raleigh is my hometown. I suggest using the free R-line around downtown instead, it's marketed towards sightseers and its free. There is nothing child friendly about the CAT bus system and do not depend on it to arrive on time. Other transportation options include a beautiful old trolley as well as people who drive "buggies" around the area and are paid in tips. I've forgotten what these are called, but they're a great way to see the city.

In the area is "Tir na Nog" Irish Pub and "The Raleigh Times Bar" for both adults and Pullen Park, the Arboretum and the NC Museum of Art for all three of you. I also suggest the Cameron Village area for sightseeing, Fresh Market(Gourmet grocery store with great snack food!), Cameron Village Library and Ten Thousand Villages(Fair-trade boutique), it has handcrafted gifts at every price range!

One of my favorite restaurants is the family friendly "Irregardless" it's an experience indeed; in fact I recommend brunch, because dinner is pricey. Just ask if you need any additional restaurant recommendations, especially if you're vegetarian--there are so many great venues to choose from in the downtown area.
posted by bibliophilia at 9:53 AM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love Sitti in downtown Raleigh -- it's a really good restaurant & I've passed a lovely afternoon there with my six month old. People in NC are really accommodating with kids.
posted by caoimhe at 10:10 AM on September 24, 2014

Response by poster: These are fantastic recommendations, thanks for your input everybody!
posted by tslugmo at 11:27 AM on September 24, 2014

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