Going stir crazy at home after five months of quarantining in your casa? We sure are! Below are 25 (yes 25!) things to do around North Carolina to get you out of your rut and explore some off-the-radar places in the state that you may have never seen before.
Part cafe, part grocery store, part art gallery, and part bottle shop, Saxapahaw General Store has everything you could ever need to stock up on during our current stay-at-home guidelines, including paper towels that you can’t find at any chain grocery stores. Order groceries online, along with breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner for curbside pickup.
Gather your friends and family for a delightful float down the Haw River! Take a guided trip by canoe, kayak, paddles, PFDs (personal floatation devices), or go out on your own. The views are spectacular!
There’s no better time for ice cream than in the humid North Carolina summer. Maple View Farm is currently offering their homemade ice cream for drive-up or window service to be enjoyed on their lush lawn. Flavors include cookies and cream, butter pecan, honey toasted almond, and double chocolate.
We love taking an easy stroll through Historic Yates Mill when we want to get out of the house and enjoy nature. Be sure to check out the last operable water-powered gristmill in Wake County, which, along with the 174-acre property surrounding it, was purchased in 1963 by NC State University.
Within Durham’s unique American Tobacco Campus you’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants, retail shops, and—during pre-COVID times—cool events and festivals. Grab a bite at Boricua Soul, Nanasteak, or Tobacco Road then take a walk through the picturesque area.
Get a pint, cup, or three-gallon tub (if you’ve really got a sweet tooth) from NC State’s own ice cream makers! Howling Cow ice cream is made at NC State’s Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Science’s Feldmeier Dairy Processing Lab in Schaub Hall using fresh milk and cream from cows on their Raleigh farm. Go Pack! Go ice cream!
Umstead’s trails are loved by hikers, runners, bikers, and equestrians alike, which can be accessed from Interstate 40 and US 70, and surround three serene lakes. Fishing is welcome at all lakes and connecting tributaries.
Pro Tip: Pack a picnic!
Enjoy a much-needed night away from your bed and under the stars at Jordan Lake’s popular campground. Poplar Point offers 579 sites for RV and tent camping, and of those, 363 sites have water and electric hookups. Each site also includes a picnic table, grill, and lantern holder. Be aware that not all campsites are currently open; check the website for updates!
Shop local at Weaver Street’s four locations around the Triangle area—Raleigh, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough. The market prides itself on sourcing local products from independent producers that share their sustainable values. Weaver Street’s freshly baked breads and pastries are always a hit, as well as their food bar items, which are now available as grab-and-go. Online shopping is now available, too!
The Free Expression Tunnel at NC State is covered with students’ thoughts and feelings about everything from politics to school spirit to notes to friends. The graffiti has been building up since the 1960s, making the tunnel the most colorful spot on campus.
While the NCMA is currently closed due to COVID-19, the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is open to bikers, runners, walkers, picnickers, and the like. We love taking a stroll through the outdoor art pieces, then enjoying a packed picnic out on the grass. There’s plenty of shaded spots to choose from so you don’t have to worry as much about the hot summer heat!
This historic bridge crosses over the serene Haw River, making for a peaceful afternoon walk amongst nature. On either side of the bridge, you’ll find access points to the Lower Haw River State Natural Area to continue your stroll.
Allen & Son in Pittsboro is known throughout the state for its delicious eastern North Carolina style chopped BBQ, made the authentic Southern way. Also not to be missed are the joint’s hushpuppies, coleslaw, and french fries. Bring on all the sides!
Due to COVID-19, the Apex Farmers Market is operating through its Feed Apex model for the rest of the 2020/2021 season, in which patrons can pre-order locally produced and prepared foods online and pick it up at their drive-thru—the only drive-thru farmers market in the area. Place your orders by noon on Thursday to be picked up on Saturday.
The Durham Farmers’ Market is open! With coronavirus, they’re encouraging patrons to place pre-orders from their vendor list online, which includes over 65 vendors selling everything from local produce to coffee to cheese. While at the market, make sure to wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance from other customers and staff.
Enjoy coffee and breakfast pastries or a sandwich for lunch at Fearrington Village’s delightful on-site cafe. Notable menu items include the eggs benedict, fried chicken and cornbread waffle, and fried green tomato sandwich. Dine out on their lush patio or order takeout of their weekly cuisine dinner.
The recently finished “town square” of Cary is an urban marvel. The park features a colorful lighted fountain, benches, table tennis, a bocce ball court, and plenty of green space for enjoying a picnic on the lawn with food from home or from local restaurants.
This is “Exhibit A” of local eateries to get takeout from for a picnic at Downtown Cary Park! While their local bread, meats, cheeses, and produce are great for a charcuterie board—they also sell bottles of wine! Or, choose to dine-in with their excellent menu of specialty sandwiches, salads, pasta, and/or main entrees like chicken marsala, New York strip steak, and spicy lamb kabobs.
At the beginning of quarantine, the people behind Postmaster switched their concept to a temporary burger joint specializing in loaded, greasy smash burgers featuring their homemade gov’t cheese. Not a burger fan? They also have vegetarian sandwiches, salads, and chicken wings on the menu.
The State Farmers Market has been open throughout the pandemic in order to provide the community with fresh, locally grown produce, meats, and cheeses from farmers all over the state. You can also found specialty foods like North Carolina-made jams and wines, as well as herbs and fruit and vegetable plants.
Pro Tip: Stop at the State Farmers Market Restaurant for breakfast for some of the best biscuits in Raleigh!
As you could’ve guessed by the name, this Cary park features a two-mile trail around the lake that’s easy for all skill levels to tackle, whether you choose to walk it or run it. The lake is so pretty to look at you’ll forget you’re even exercising!
There are two trail options at this beloved Raleigh park: a 3-mile paved greenway on the east side of the lake that’s part of the Walnut Creek Greenway Trail, and a 1.5-mile unpaved, natural surface trail that loops around the west side of the lake. Fishing is also allowed.
After a walk at the park or dinner at a local restaurant, we can’t resist a scoop or two of locally made ice cream! We like FRESH. for their unique ice cream flavors—think coconut almond crunch, Kona coffee, and Madagascar vanilla—made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Got a friend or family member’s birthday coming up? They also make their own ice cream cakes!
Raleigh’s popular Pullen Park is the first public park in North Carolina, the fifth oldest operating amusement park in the U.S., and 16th oldest in the world. While their pedal boat rentals, train rides, carousel are currently on pause due to COVID, you can still take an easy stroll through the park’s paved pathway.
There are a variety of ways to enjoy nature at Hemlocks Bluff Nature Preserve. Walk along the 3 miles of mulched nature trails and be rewarded with beautiful scenic overlooks, or do some birdwatching. You never know what you might come across! Along the trails, you’ll also find signage pointing out the unique plant and animal life.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!