North Carolina / travel / United States

City of Oaks, Part Three: Bright Lights, Big City

Now I never would have guessed this, but apparently a lot of travel bloggers are guilty of writing cliches. Turns out, just having a travel blog is a cliche. But while some avoid cliches like the plague, I tend to embrace them. They make me happy, like an exploding car or a retired person buying a boat in a movie. Seriously, I have a black and white photo of myself under the Eiffel Tower. And to me, opposites attract. So when I read an article about how to abstain from travel writing cliches, I knew what I had to do. The writing was on the wall.

Where East Meets West

Raleigh is in the middle of North Carolina, and is the perfect base for planning small trips East, to spend some time lounging the golden sands and azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Or the West, where you can hike the Appalachian trail for panoramic views of majestic mountains.  It’s roughly a 3 hour drive to either. It’s also part of the the Research Triangle, which refers to the number of universities and businesses with research capabilities. The Triangle is also made up of Durham and Chapel Hill, but Raleigh is the real ace in the hole here. In this state, Raleigh’s geography may be the best thing since sliced bread.

A City of Contrasts

Some may argue that this is a nonsense term, and while I agree, it doesn’t change my fondness for nonsense. But sure, like almost everywhere else, Raleigh is comprised of the old and the new. Walk through the Warehouse District, an industrial wasteland located downtown, and you’ll see crumbling warehouses next to thumping nightclubs full of friendly transgenders. We have 4-Star French restaurants in historic buildings a few blocks away from modern Lebanese cafes. One time, I saw a fratboy wearing a wedding dress walking down the street. Discrepancies abound!

Off the Beaten Track

Although gaining attention with the rest of the country as we keep leaping to the top of “Best Cities in America” lists, Raleigh is still pretty far off from the cities most American children dream of one day living in: Manhattan, New Orleans, Seattle. But Raleigh, despite it’s relative remoteness,  is still full of lively nightlife and quirky art galleries. Also, not having been a widely desirable city for the past 50+ years has its perks=rent is super cheap here compared with those other cities. You could almost say that Raleigh is the South’s-

Best Kept Secret

You see, even with all these brilliant lists that keep proclaiming us to be the best, most people still don’t know yet. If you’ve been along the backpacker trail in Central America, you’ll notice that it’s chock-full of Canadians and Californians. When I was talking to these people, most of them seemed genuinely surprised when I spoke of Raleigh’s rich history and friendly locals. They hadn’t been informed that my city is a positive treasure trove of cobbled streets that have yet to be spoiled by tourist hordes. It’s true, not that many people outside of the immediate area now how badass Raleigh truly is.


So when you do decide to come out and ruin my city, remember-Fayettville Street is the new Hillsborough Street, enjoy exploring our quaint city markets, and try not to stand in the middle of traffic to take pictures. Like I did, for this post.


2 thoughts on “City of Oaks, Part Three: Bright Lights, Big City

    • Raleigh blows Charlotte out the water! Haha I’ve never really hung out there (except for seeing a show in a crappy dive bar, which was actually pretty rad), but I do know from driving through a few times that Raleigh is a much prettier city 🙂

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