Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina: our original intention for this trip was to experience good food and spend a lot of time outdoors. Even though we did get to do these things we realized quickly that our twonager was in charge of dictating where we would be spending our days, not us!
Our flight left Miami at 8:40 am. We arrived at RDU around 11 got our luggage and headed to pick up our rental car to begin our trip around the city!
Our first stop was the American Tobacco Historic District in Downtown Durham. What an amazing way to repurpose this old factory! Now filled with restaurants, a barber shop, quaint little areas to sit and hang out, and unique structures all framed by the old walls and original structure of this factory which has been maintained and remains a main focus of this location. It is now also home to Duke University classes, North Carolina public radio station WUNC 91.5, and the head quarter of Burt’s Bees. A must see when in Durham!
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at one of the restaurants. Then we went right up the street to see the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, where the Durham Bulls Minor League Baseball team plays. After a brief introduction of the team that plays there by my husband, I discovered that this team is the Minor League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
After this we took a trip to the Sara P. Duke Gardens, a beautiful sight to visit especially during spring time. Even though we missed the cherry blossoms we were not at all disappointed as we walked up and down the garden taking in the beauty of all the blooming and colorful flowers that adorned the gardens. The gardens are also filled with huge trees, rivers, waterfalls and bridges to enjoy at your own pace. Our toddler’s pace was however, a little fast and we didn’t get to stay too long but it’s definitely a space you can go to and spend your day in without noticing the hours pass by!
We were a little hungry after this so we headed to City Center in Downtown Durham and were so anxious to grab a bite at Toast and have their delicious crostinis.
We then grabbed a little fuel at Beyu Caffe (their hazelnut latte was amazing and definitely did the trick) and some Thai fried rice to go from Thai @ Main Street, before our drive to the Hyatt House Raleigh North Hills hotel to end this long day! If you are in need of a hotel with a kitchenette to prep food for the little ones or to simply use for yourself make sure to stay here. The hotel offers free buffet style breakfast and the rooms and common areas are spotless. Not to mention the friendly staff which took extra care in making us feel at home.
We awoke to a rainy day and it did not stop all day!!! Obviously outdoor activities were not an option so we headed to Snickerdoodle, as per our friend of @RDUexperience‘s recommendation. This place was so cute for little ones, equipped with safe spaces for Audrey to pretend play and explore with other kiddos while mom and dad had coffee with a friend was definitely a great experience! If you’re ever in the area with little ones make sure to check this place out.
We then headed to lunch at Sassol’s Mediterranean where your taste buds have a party and your tummy gets more food than it can handle! After lunch Audrey fell asleep and since it continued raining we decided to head over to Downtown Raleigh and do some sightseeing from our car while Audrey slept. From the state capital to the historic district, showcasing homes built in the 1800’s. Once of the things that we like most about Raleigh was that it has a small town feel with all most of the amenities of a big city!
Once the little one was up we headed to Marbles Children’s Museum in Downtown Raleigh. This place is a child’s and heck even an adult’s dream! With two floors filled with different play areas including a farm, ambulance, firetruck, pirate ship, news station, and camping ground to name a few, we couldn’t even go through the entire place in one day! There’s even a garden area for kids to play in (this of course was closed due to the rain). Mom, dad and Audrey all had a blast to say the least!
We ended the day with dinner at Pizza la Stella and their Burrata with Honey was to die for!
First stop today was the Transfer Food Hall in Downtown Raleigh. We munched on some delicious empanadas from Che Empanada. We tried the ham and cheese, kale and mushroom sweet beef, and lentil and sweet potato (they were all so amazing but Audrey’s favorite was the lentil and sweet potato, it was so good that we had to get another one before heading out). Did I mention, they have a cute corner for kids to sit and play while the adults eat and hang out?!
After this we headed to the Museum of Natural Science in Downtown Raleigh, Audrey ran up and down the 3 floors of the museum wanting to touch and explore everything! There was definitely no reading involved during this trip to the museum (maybe in a few years?!).
Once we figured she had enough we headed to Pullen Park! This place is like a mini Disney there is a train that takes you around this huge and beautiful park, a mini boat ride, a carousel and several stations for kids to enjoy including a sand a water play area, playgrounds for different age groups, bridges to enjoy the scenery and take beautiful pictures and tons of space to have picnics, gather with friends and family and play games/sports, etc. Although the park was rather full given that it was a Saturday it did not feel this way since there is so much to do and so much space for everyone to enjoy!
After this we headed back to our hotel in Raleigh and had dinner at Happy + Hale, a delicious and healthy spot. I had a delicious tuna Poke Bowl while my husband enjoyed a delicious chimichurri steak bowl. Their smoothies are also delicious by the way, so much so that we had to go back the next morning to try out another one! The Almond Brothers and City of Oats were on point! Before bed we hung out at the Midtown Park, such a cute spot in between all these restaurants and apartments. Best part they hold events often! There were several residents hanging out with their dogs, which were running around and playing with each other, well Audrey decided she wanted to join the dog party and she had a blast! Everyone we met on this trip was so friendly and welcoming, we definitely a great experience in this city!
We decided to head back to Durham today and check out the Museum of Life and Science since a large portion of it is outdoors. If you plan to visit this place keep in mind that it is very large 84 acres of fun to be exact, it even has a portion with live animals, so it’s nearly impossible to see it all in one day. Therefore, you would need to reserve a whole day to see as much as possible or just go with a plan as to what sections your kiddos would like to see most. Audrey enjoyed playing music, hanging out in the hideaway woods (filled with treehouses, slides and playground fun), the butterfly house (one of the largest on the East Coast), the Dinosaur trail and she loved the train ride on the Ellerbe Creek Railway, which takes you around the Museum grounds through its nature park, filled with beautiful trees and art installations. It’s a dreamy and relaxing ride and the kids love it!
Audrey was exhausted after this as were we so we called it a day after this but not before getting some fuel, we stopped at Cocoa Cinnamon for some of the best coffee in Durham! We tried to relax a little but Audrey had other plans, she was running up and down the sitting area and spilled some of my delicious hot coffee (thankfully no one was harmed, except my soul), so we figured it was time to go! On our way to the car though we spotted a free book container outside of a local school, Audrey was very excited (our little book worm) and she lucked out! We took her two new books for the ride back to the hotel! Happy Ending!
Headed back home! We really enjoyed this trip! Even though it was geared towards Audrey’s likings we found ourselves enjoying all the fun and family friendly places that Raleigh-Durham had to offer!