Historic Homes & Gardens
There's no better way to learn about Raleigh, N.C.'s history than with a visit to the historic homes of several prominent families and a tour of a Victorian neighborhood. Paired with garden tours, this itinerary offers an enjoyable blend of the area's history and natural beauty.
Start at J.C. Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University (free), with more than 8,000 trees, shrubs and perennials in an eight-acre, internationally recognized garden. Unique gardens include an award-winning, 400-foot-long perennial border, redbud and conifer collections, special plant house and white garden.
Next visit the Joel Lane Museum House and Gardens. Built in the 1760s, this landmark is Raleigh's oldest home. The authentic, 18th-century garden features pomegranate trees, brick walkways and an herb garden.
The history lesson continues at Mordecai Historic Park/President Andrew Johnson's Birthplace. This antebellum house was built by Joel Lane for his son and was home to five generations of the same family from 1785-1963. The Ellen Mordecai Garden is recreated from descriptions of the Mordecai kitchen garden in the 1830s. The garden contains vegetables, herbs and flowers that were grown in the mid-19th century.
Enjoy lunch in downtown Raleigh's City Market area, with a variety of restaurants including Caffé Luna, known for its fabulous Northern Italian cuisine in a classy Manhattan-style atmosphere.
After lunch, tour the North Carolina Executive Mansion (free). With elegant Corinthian columns, 16-foot ceilings, glittering cut crystal chandeliers and a grand staircase crafted of native heart pine, this Victorian mansion is a "must-see." Garden tours are given in the spring, usually April-June.
Take an afternoon refreshment break at one of our area bed and breakfast inns located in historic homes. Make it more entertaining with a close-up magician who will totally amaze you, or choose some musical entertainment.
Drive through Historic Oakwood (free), a Victorian neighborhood with restored homes built between 1870 and 1912. Oakwood Cemetery (free), adjacent to Historic Oakwood, is the final resting place of 2,800 Confederate soldiers, five Civil War generals, seven governors and numerous U.S. Senators.
Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern, located in the beautifully restored, 120-year-old Dodd-Hinsdale House in downtown Raleigh will satisfy your hunger for exquisite cuisine in a historical setting. Want to dine in an old newspaper publisher’s? Head over to Raleigh Times. Or, make reservations to experience the Angus Barn. There, you can dine surrounded by nearly 25,000 bottles of wine and over 1,700 selections, consistently rated among “top 100 wine lists in the world.” They also serve an average of 20,000 steaks a month!
Photo: Chris Adamczyk