Raleigh downtown?
August 6, 2007 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Specific Raleigh NC downtown question

First thanks for answers on a previous about Charlotte - as a result I decided to fly in Raleigh-Durham instead (first base for a 2 week holiday driving around bits of the South - the one part of the US I've never been to.)

To the specific (I have done a search but nothing too detailed on this.)

Any Raleigh wise folk tell me if it is worth staying in downtown? I arrive in the late afternoon and expect to spend the night, the next day and night in Raleigh just generally mooching around before touring around. I will have a car, but in a totally European way would prefer walking for some of the day/walk to restaurants. From on line searches there seem to be some downtown hotels/motels said to be near to sights, dining, etc. Glenwood Avenue gets mentioned. Is it pleasant downtown? Is it safe downtown?


posted by A189Nut to Travel & Transportation around Raleigh, NC (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's been awhile since I have lived there but there ARE some museums downtown.
posted by konolia at 4:32 PM on August 6, 2007

I am not a huge fan of Raleigh's downtown but it's gotten much better lately. The south end of Glenwood ave. has gotten quite trendy in terms of bars and restaurants; the other downtowny area is close to Moore square, where there are some nice museums and also some good restaurants (but the area is mostly dominated by government buildings).

Safe? Yes. There are some sketchy neighborhoods, but that's almost a reason to walk instead of drive; driving, it's easier to accidentally find yourself in a sketchy neighborhood. The southeast part of downtown is a little sketchier. (But--I work there and I'm absolutely not nervous about walking around or anything). Pleasant? Kind of. Enough so that I'd make an effort to stay downtown, but not if it was a lot more expensive.
posted by Jeanne at 4:42 PM on August 6, 2007

the clarion hotel is pretty central, very short walk to hillsborough st, downtown, and glenwood south. i wont stay anywhere else in raleigh when i got down south to visit friends.

i recommend dinner and drinks at the rockford. sushi blues across the street has great sushi as well. clyde cooper's bbq is a few blocks walk away and has great nc-style bbq (if you havent had it, you must try it, southern delicacy) and pork rinds. plenty of other great places to eat downtown, although the variety of cuisine isn't so broad.
posted by kneelconqueso at 5:19 PM on August 6, 2007

The Oakwood Inn is a nice B&B a few blocks from the state capital building. It's an easy walk from there to the downtown museums and the Moore square area.

If you're hoofing it, try the new Raleigh Rickshaw pedicab service. They can get you to Glenwood South from downtown and vice versa.

For eating downtown, check out Mo's Diner for dinner. They do fancy food with a southern twist. For lunch, try the Oakwood Cafe, which has amazing Cuban and South American food.

In Glenwood South, check out Vin. It's one of my favorite dinner restaurants and is great for Sunday brunch also.
posted by Xazeru at 5:51 PM on August 6, 2007

As a Raleigh native, I can tell you that downtown has greatly improved in the last 10-15 years. That said, you're not going to mistake it for Manhattan anytime soon.

Some recommended restaurants are the Raleigh Times Bar and the somewhat more upscale Caffe Luna. Moonlight Pizza is good for cheaper eats, but it's somewhat out of the way. I can also second kneelconqueso's suggestion that you hit up the Rockford for drinks, though it can get awfully crowded there.

Non-gustatory attractions include Exploris, if you've got kids. They also have an IMAX theater. The Rialto is a really nice arthouse theater. The Raleigh City Museum isn't that great, but the NC Museum of History often has pretty good exhibits. Sadly, the NC Museum of Art isn't downtown, but if you've got a car, it's well worth the drive.

As for your safety, I don't think you have much to worry about, particularly if you stay around the Glenwood Avenue area.
posted by Rangeboy at 5:55 PM on August 6, 2007

Aw, I can't believe I forgot Mo's Diner. Like Xazeru said, it's unpretentious Southern cuisine done really, really well. Highly recommended.
posted by Rangeboy at 5:58 PM on August 6, 2007

For what it’s worth, here’s our local Independent’s snarky editorial cartoon on Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. If you’ve spent a lot of time in places like NY,NY etc. Raleigh and Durham look like overgrown towns that have the problems of big cities without the cosmopolitan amenities.

If you can do
The Carolina Inn
in Chapel Hill it could make a nice jump off point, and driving time from RDU is about the same as to downtown Raliegh. They’ve been there forever, and are joined at the hip to UNC, chartered in 1789.

One caveat... my Mom lives in Doylestown, PA... in Bucks County, the quintessential “George Washington slept here place”. She thinks it’s the snob capital of the world, but after Chapel Hill, the people there seem normal.
posted by Huplescat at 6:38 PM on August 6, 2007

I live and play downtown, cycling around late at night all the time, and find it very safe. It's all very walkable, too; the Clarion (aka the Hillsoborough Street Hair Curler) and the Days Inn on Dawson Street both put you conveniently between downtown proper and the Glenwood South bar/shopping district. I'd recommend The Borough, sitting at the bottom of one of the new condo high-rises, for good food/beer and friendly people; the owner Liz has made it one of the lesser-known treasures of downtown in the short time it's been open. The food's tasty and the appetizers are half-price during happy hour.

The Raleigh City Museum isn't that great

I'm gonna disagree with that. It's small, but the Raleigh City Museum has really interesting audio and visual exhibits about the civil rights era in town, among other things; it's very much worth visiting if you're nearby, and they'll be able to point you to the few interesting things to see while you're in town. I'll second the NC Museum of History, though; the temporary exhibits are often surprisingly well-done.

If you're here on a Wednesday night, try the Helios coffeeshop on Glenwood South; they do an open-air downtempo/international dj thing that can be very sweet, and usually have a nice mix of interesting people on the patio and inside.
posted by mediareport at 10:19 PM on August 6, 2007

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