Updated March 23, 2017

Let your senses guide you to and around Cary, N.C., just 17 minutes outside of downtown Raleigh and home to renowned restaurants, endless shopping, quality entertainment and unforgettable cultural and recreational experiences. Get to know the town with a day of exploration, shopping and dining via the itinerary idea below.


Start with the brand-new. Grab a Southern-inspired breakfast and a coffee at Verandah, the casual-fare restaurant at the Raleigh area's first-and-only boutique hotel, The Mayton Inn, which opened in Feb. 2016.

Now that you're fueled up, learn the town's history by visiting the Page-Walker Arts and History Center and the Cary Heritage Museum, housed in an 1868 railroad hotel listed on the National Register for Historic Places. Also, check out regional art in the two galleries.

Then, take a stroll to shop through downtown's Chatham St., stopping in a handful of locally-owned shopping spots. You'll want to browse the cakes, pies and pastries at Once In A Blue Moon Bakery & Cafe, hunt for women's fashion finds at not-your-typical consignment shop Annie's Attic, get your morning pick-me-up at BREW at The Cary Theater plus stop in for a piece of history at Ashworth Drugs—they're selling t-shirts that celebrate 60 years and counting of business in downtown Cary (of course hot dogs and milkshakes are always a good option, too!). On Saturdays, swing by for the Cary Downtown Farmers Market—open 8am-12:30pm year-round. 


Give your feet a rest and take a short drive for lunch. La Farm Bakery is a modern bakery that utilizes centuries-old baking traditions and techniques to bring guests offerings like artisan breads, pastries or sandwiches. Lucky 32 serves American Southern cuisine in an upscale, yet approachable, environment focusing on sourcing local ingredients on a rotating, seasonal menu. Or, for a more casual meal, Doherty's Irish Pub & Restaurant - Cary serves Irish-American fare with local beers on tap. Click for a full list of Cary restaurants.

Still feeling the foodie path? Head to Fortnight Brewing Company, with traditional English-style beers that incorporate both premium U.K. and U.S. ingredients, or head back to downtown to try out Bond Brothers Beer Company (voted best new brewery in the country!) and their robust barrel sour program.  

Before your evening activities, cruise to one of the parks or 39 greenway trails and take in the natural beauty.

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve/Stevens Nature Center


Top off your day with one of Cary's energizing evening activities. Here are just a few options to get your planning started...

  • Unforgettable dinner: Experience the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Award-winning restaurant Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa. The outdoor terrace with fireplaces offers breathtaking panoramic views of the three-acre lake, butterfly gardens and herb garden.
  • Movie night: Built in 1946, the renovated and recently-reopened The Cary Theater shows art house independent and classic films. Renovated to its former glory as a theater, The Cary Theater marquee lights up downtown Cary, giving your evening that classic night-at-the-movies feel.
  • A night of arts: Enjoy local theatre and the performing arts at the Cary Arts Center, showcasing performances by the local ballet, community theater and youth. 
  • Feeling sporty in the spring or summer? Grab tickets to see the N.C. Courage, a professional women's soccer team of the National Women's Soccer Legaue (NWSL), set to play their inaugural season at WakeMed Soccer Park (see the schedule). Or, take in a baseball game at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, hosting events including the NCAA Baseball Division II World Series and the USA Baseball-Irish Classic, presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.
  • If you're coming in the spring or summer, catch live music or a festival at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, which hosts more than 60 events from Apr.-Oct. each year. You can catch artists such as Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, Modest Mouse and more in the summer, and the North Carolina Symphony performs at the outdoor venue each weekend from May to July. See the schedule here.

Get more ideas for planning your time in Cary here. Happy travels!