Did you know? The Raleigh, N.C., area includes 11 towns in all, each with its own story and charming visitors with historic downtowns, tree-lined main streets, concerts in parks and local-favorite boutiques. We think you'll enjoy strolling the main streets of Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina and Wake Forest, just minutes outside the center of Raleigh; they make for perfect outings to tack-on to overnight Raleigh visits. Here are some tips on where to eat, drink and shop in each town:
Apex: Salem St.
Drink: Sip and shop at The Beer Dispensary of Apex, a craft beer store and bar where you'll find a big selection of local brews both on the shelves and on tap.
Shop: Browse for antiques at The Rusty Bucket, trendy women's clothing at Fedora Boutique and Sophie & Mollie's Boutique, plus shop for some of Oprah's Favorite Things at passionate mind Kelly Shatat's local jewelry and accessory store, Moon and Lola.
Cary: Academy St. and Chatham St.
Eat: Start the morning with fresh-baked pastries and hot coffee at BREW at The Cary Theater. For lunch, step up to the old-fashioned soda foundation at Ashworth Drugs. Save room for dinner at Academy Street Bistro, serving locally-sourced food with vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Drink: Swing by the family-friendly Bond Brothers Beer Company to sample some of the 14 beers on tap (it's pet friendly, too!), or grab at seat at the bar at Pharmacy Bottle + Beverage before or after browsing their aisles for something to take with you.
Shop: On Saturdays, you can't miss the Cary Downtown Farmers Market. You'll find locally-grown produce plus crafts, pottery, jewelry, coffee and baked goods.
Fuquay-Varina: Broad St. and Main St.
Eat: You'll need a fork and knife to dig in to the sticky buns from Stick Boy Bread; they pair nicely with a cup of Larry's Coffee. On Broad St., Nil's Bakery Cafe has a loyal following for their daily Greek and Mediterranean specials.
Drink: They're known for their beer, but Aviator Brewing Company also serves great ribs and wings at their Tap House and Smokehouse. Down the street at Draft Line Brewing Co., try the Graf Pale Ale or one of the weekly small batch brews; hungry brewery-goers will be happy to know local food trucks are often on-site. Over on Main St., see what's brewing at The Mill, a craft beer/wine/espresso bar. Fainting Goat Brewing Company is just a short walk from there.
Shop: Just a few doors down from The Mill, The Shoppes on Main feature some 30 distinctive shops under one roof—treat yourself!
Wake Forest: White St.
Eat: You're not in Maryland, but you may feel like it at Backfins Crabhouse, where it's not just great seafood, but a true seafood experience. They specialize in—you guessed it—blue crabs.
Drink: At White Street Brewing Company, spring for a flight of the Main Street Series brews, which includes the Scottish Ale—a Gold Medal Winner at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival.