It might be fair to call Raleigh “the City of Accolades”: High rankings have poured in for virtually every aspect of life there. It’s “America’s Best City,” (Businessweek.com) “No. 2 Among the 10 Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities,” (CNNMoney) one of “America’s Coolest Towns,” (GQ) and among “Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South,” (Southern Living).
What makes Raleigh cool? The long list includes unique and award-winning restaurants, concert amphitheaters, theater and opera companies, professional sports, a nationally recognized symphony, museums, vibrant festivals and all the history you can take in.
April is North Carolina Beer Month ( www.ncbeermonth.com). In the Raleigh area, that means 15 breweries are celebrating craft brews by offering tours and tasting, beer dinners and special events. Come out to the Brewgaloo Festival (April 26; http://bit.ly/1iBwwQA) at City Plaza: in-state craft beers will be paired with foods from many of the area’s most popular food trucks and music from local bands.
You can’t beat free activities and attractions. Among them is the 6th annual Got To Be NC Fest (May 16-18; www.ncagfest.com) at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, where you can enjoy a carnival atmosphere and have the opportunity to sample N.C. food, beer and wine. Mix it up in Raleigh’s Moore Square Park at Artsplosure ( www.artsplosure.org) on May 17-18. The festival is an arts bazaar and expo with street festival activities.
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Summer heats up with Carolina Mudcats baseball ( www.gomudcats.com); professional soccer with Carolina Railhawks ( www.carolinarailhawks.com); or a concert at the N.C. Museum of Art Summer Concerts ( www.ncartmuseum.org); the Midtown Beach Music Series at North Hills ( http://bit.ly/1cU3TdX); or Walnut Creek Amphitheatre’s Concerts at the Creek ( http://bit.ly/1iBVdAZ).
“Estampas de la Raza” (Prints for the People) chronicles the heritage, history and experience of contemporary Mexican American Latino artists. The exhibit is on display through July 27 at the N.C. Museum of Art ( www.ncartmuseum.org).
In performing arts, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts ( www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com) presents “Sleeping Beauty” ( www.carolinaballet.com) May 15-18; “How I Became a Pirate” July 9-20; and “The Little Mermaid” July 29-Aug. 3.
Enjoy Opera in the Pines on May 17, a performance featuring popular opera and Broadway favorites for the entire family at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre’s beautiful outdoor setting ( www.boothamphitheatre.com).
History buffs will love wandering through the Joel Lane Museum House ( www.joellane.org) on July 4: Col. Lane was a founding father of North Carolina’s capital city and an officer in the Wake County militia during the American Revolution.
And not to be heroically out-done, “Marvel Universe LIVE!” presents your favorite Marvel super heroes including Spider-Man and The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk and more, July 18-20 at PNC Arena ( www.arenaraleigh.com).
Raleigh’s culinary scene is always growing.
The hot, new, trendy, upscale restaurant, Stanbury ( http://bit.ly/1gqwWqx), has a farm-to-table Southern focus that has met with instant success. The up-and-coming North Person Street District is attracting attention with restaurants including The Station ( www.stationraleigh.com), where you can find great sandwiches and burgers, outdoor seating and local beers. Person Street also has a new Wine Authorities store ( www.wineauthorities.com) and a little pie shop called PieBird ( www.piebirdraleigh.com). Joule Coffee ( http://bit.ly/1fvEGeN), a shop owned by Raleigh’s big culinary name, Ashley Christensen, offers a highly rated brunch serving up sweet potato hotcakes. The Fiction Kitchen ( www.thefictionkitchen.com) creates vegetarian cuisine that the chef says is for everyone. Zenda Douglas