Raleigh, North Carolina is one of the best cities in the country. It’s spread out enough to where there’s no congested feeling, and the city has been economically booming for the last several years. I lived in Raleigh’s neighboring towns for nearly three years, and North Carolina’s comradery quickly grew on me. It’s got that southern charm paired with a trendy personality, which is all the more reason to love it.
Raleigh, North Carolina Best Breweries
The brewery scene in Raleigh is unmatched. I found that of all the bars, pubs, clubs, and attractions in North Carolina, breweries are the definition of fun. You can’t find two breweries that are the same – from hipster to sleek & lavish, they’ve all got their personalities. What they do share in common, however, is the fine selection of craft beers. Not to mention, it’s extremely common to find breweries flooding with guests in the middle of a hot summer day, so there’s no shame in day-drinking at these spots! There are more than 300 breweries in the state of North Carolina, with over 30 of them residing in Raleigh alone.
We can’t talk about the best Raleigh breweries without giving Beer Garden a mention. It’s one of the largest breweries in Raleigh, with two floors, multiple bars, and both in and outside seating arrangements. It does get crowded here, so if you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe Beer Garden might not be the wisest choice. However, the outdoor seating at nighttime is simply pretty to look at no matter what atmosphere you’re looking for, and it also makes for great picture-taking opportunities with friends. Dimly lit glass lights are strung above an array of picnic tables, conveniently close to the bar. The beer selection is too large to pick a favorite or even most popular choice. Not to mention, there are several cocktail, wine, and liquor options if you’re feeling a little beered-out.
Raleigh Brewing Company
Raleigh Brewing Company has several locations in Cary, Raleigh, and the airport. The establishment has a hipster, factory style nature with an open interior layout. Some of the most popular food truck companies in Raleigh line up outside the doors, and regular “Hammered Trivia” nights are held. Raleigh Brewing Company offers an endless selection of beers, wine by the glass, and seasonal options like Oktoberfest Lager.
A modern and chic atmosphere, Brewery Bhavana is the perfect evening stop. Belgian beer and creative Laotian-Chinese inspired dishes are in store here, which you can enjoy as a snack or full meal. Brewery Bhavana is a little less loud and rowdy than some other Raleigh bars, while still maintaining lively, welcoming energy. Its elegant vibes make for a go-to date night spot or wind-down drink hub.
Bond Brothers is located outside of Raleigh, but not too far. Only about a mere 20 minute drive, it’s well-worth the visit. They’re most famous for the delectable selection of barrel aged sours, IPA’s, and stouts. The brewing company consists of industrial-modern decor, an open layout, and positive energy all-around.
Big Boss Brewing Company
A local favorite, Big Boss is one of Raleigh’s beloved brewing companies. The beers are diverse and delicious, and the taproom is as joyous as can be. It’s also a rather roomy brewery, differing from many other locations in and around the city. With that said, bring as big a crowd as you’d like and engage in the exuberant inside atmosphere, or take advantage of the regular food truck selections out back. Big Boss offers a wide variety of NC crafted beers, from the Trail Guide IPA to their expansive collection of seasonal ales. Luckily, you can taste-test to your desire, although it may be tough to narrow down a choice.
Trophy Brewing and Taproom
Trophy Brewing was founded back in 2013, and with love from locals and tourists alike, they’ve now grown to two locations and two sister establishments – Young Hearts Distilling and State of Beer bottle shop. On their site you can see the schedule of rotating food trucks, restaurant locations including Trophy Brewing & Pizza, collabs, live DJ events, and more. Trophy opens at 3PM, introducing its chill, bubbly daytime energy. If you’re not from Raleigh, Trophy Brewing should be one of your top destinations, as it exemplifies Raleigh’s personality and pushes forward an array of reputable ales. Also, if you’re an IPA fan, Trophy Brewing is the place to be. Double Death Spiral, Cloud Surfer, and Trophy Wife are three of the most popular beers, ranging from 4.9%-8% ABV.
Raleigh & the Triangle Best Wineries
Unlike some other cities, you don’t have to drive far from Raleigh to get to a beautiful winery. North Carolina is known for cultivating sweet, fruity wines, although I’ve had several amazing dry wines and reds from local vineyards. Although, visiting a winery in NC is all about the experience as a whole. The wine, the atmosphere, the setting – it’s one of the best pastimes and a fantastic way to explore the area. Here are some of my favorite wineries & vineyards in the RTP area.
Cloer Family Farms
Cloer Family Farms is one of the cutest places I’ve ever been. It really sneaks up on you during the 30 minute drive from Raleigh to its Apex location. However, once you arrive and drive down the gravel road leading to the vineyard, you’ll see a charming village-like scene: horses in a big ranch to the right, extensive grape fields to the left, and a red barn straight ahead. The barn is where the tasting sessions occur, and there are two counters to order glasses or full bottles. Indoor seating is available but sparse, but there are tons of tables separately nicely outside. Most outdoor seats are shaded as well if you’d like to beat the heat.
Wine selections: They vary at this location, but when I went I had the best Riesling and an exceptional dry Merlot as well. Keep in mind the wines tend to be on the sweeter side – there’s even a wine slushy station.
Chatham Hill Winery
Chatham Hill was the first winery to be established in the Triangle, founded all the way back in 1999. It features regular live jazz music, and also concocts the tastiest Charcuterie Boards around. Chatham Hill is located in Cary, North Carolina, so it should take less than 30 minutes to get to from Raleigh. It’s an elegant, but homey Southern style winery, situated in a convenient downtown location.
Wine selections: My favorites here were the Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. I tried the Raspberry Malbec as well and really enjoyed its subtle sweet taste. As far as whites go, I’ve heard great things about their Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Chatham Hill has lots of sweet fruity options as well, like the Peach and Mango-Strawberry.
Gregory Vineyards, located in Angier, is a unique seafood & steakhouse restaurant combined with a vineyard. This family owned business cultivated an impressive and delicious menu, and incredible wine pairings. Some sample dishes you need to try at Gregory include Deviled Crab, Blackened Catfish, and Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. On their website, the Wine Menu lists the beverage’s pairings according to the wines’ distinctive flavors.
Wine Selections: Muscadine Wines and Brandy Wines are the most popular selections here. I enjoyed the Buckhead Billy and the Sly Fox.