When I moved to downtown Raleigh in 2005, people quietly warned me to buy a firearm.
Then, abandoned storefronts lined prime street corners, drug deals went down in the open and not much existed in the way of restaurants, save for the sports bar where I worked and a handful of other options.
Life in downtown Raleigh couldn’t feel much different now and yet, it somehow still feels like the same city to me every time I make the jaunt back. The City of Oaks has managed to hold onto its charming architecture, it’s blue collar feel and its beautiful, tree-lined streets— the best of its assets remain, while its dangerous overlay has been greatly diminished.
Still small, the 10-some square blocks boast lush city parks, an impressively diverse array of eating and drinking opportunities and a vibrant, lived-in feel at every time of day. I’ve seen many small city downtowns remade in this era of revitalization, but few as authentically and gracefully as Raleigh. The only proof necessary is how eagerly its residents have embraced the changes.
Here’s where you should eat, drink and play:
Continue reading ➞ CITY GUIDE: Raleigh. N.C.
Toast and clams, made via Ocracoke Island’s seafood’s always fresh daily bounty.
Ocracoke’s many canals are prime for kayaking.
Pelicans love to hang on Ocracoke Island’s many piers and in the sound.
Kayaking on Ocracoke Island’s back canals is about as peaceful as it gets.
Quaint cottages and docks line Ocracoke Island’s canals.
Quaint cottages and docks line Ocracoke’s back canals.
Continue reading ➞ GALLERY: Ocracoke Island, N.C.
Ocracoke Village, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, is one of the most unique places in the country.
Despite being surrounded by other islands characterized by corporate chains, sprawling resorts and big-money tourism, Ocracoke has remained quiet and slow-paced, due to its physical distance from the mainland — it’s still accessible only by boat — and its proud, centurys-long history of isolation. The beaches are nearly untouched. The fishing is exceptional. And 15 miles of undeveloped island surround the quaint, 4-square-mile village.
To get here, you’ll need to fly into a major airport (RDU and JAX are options), then drive several hours to either Swan Quarter, Cedar Island or Cape Hatteras to take an 45-minute to 3-hour ferry (depending on your starting point).
Here’s where you should eat, drink and play when you arrive:
Continue reading ➞ CITY GUIDE: Ocracoke Island, N.C.