RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA

“It must be nice” is a statement said with a certain amount of envy. Raleigh is such a place. Not only is it a nice place to live, it is also a nice place to work. When it comes to ranking cities for employment and high quality of life, the state capital of North Carolina seems to always be on top.

Best Places to Work

The ingredients for success are all there: job growth that stays on an upward trajectory, a highly educated population, low unemployment, and a cost of doing business that attracts companies from across the globe. According to Forbes there is no better place in the country to get a jump start on your career, and Glassdoor ranked Raleigh as Number 1 on the “Best Cities for Jobs 2020

Cultural Hub: Arts, Music, Entertainment

Culture in the Capital City comes in many sizes and shapes: museums, theater, festivals and plenty of live music (Raleigh has the most live music events in the state). Music venues run the gamut from small local dives such as the Pour House Music Hall, considered one of the best live shows around, to music under the stars at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre.

Local bands play in a variety of venues like Neptunes Parlour, an underground lounge with Karaoke Tuesdays, and Kings, where no two nights are the same. For massive sized shows with national artists like Michael Bublé, music lovers head to the PNC Arena.  For those who prefer classical music, the city hosts concerts at the North Carolina Symphony.

Museums continue to have a moment in the “Smithsonian of the South.” The city is noted for its number of free museums which inspire and educate all ages including little ones at the Marbles Kids Museum.  The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the state’s most popular museum attracting more than 1 million visitors annually. School aged students flock to the giant dinosaur skeletons and the arthropod zoo.  Nature lovers are getting a treat at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) with The Birds of America exhibit by John James Audubon as part of its free permanent collection. 

Best Town for Sports

North Carolina State is home to one of the most intense national collegiate rivalries with its top competitors down the road at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. Raleigh’s home team is North Carolina State University’s Wolfpack. The city that sees “red” is so supportive of its team that it earned the number four spot of “The Best ACC College Towns for Sport Fans” by Movoto. On game day, those who don’t get into tailgating head to Player’s Retreat (PR as locals call it), a dive bar located near the NCSU campus. The popular sports bar is known for ice cold brew, house-ground burgers and a nationally recognized scotch and wine list.  The big three (Duke, NCSU and UNC) rivalries spill over into hoop season when basketball rules in the fall culminating in March Madness at Tournament time. 

In the winter “hurricane season” is a welcome diversion from the cold when the NHL Carolina Hurricane team is in session. The ice hockey team is a crowd pleaser and 2006 winner of the Stanley Cup. “Raleigh has excellent sport facilities,” said Lee Griffin, sports fan and NCSU alumnus. “In the fall, we head to Carter Finley Stadium for pre-game tailgating, and in the winter, the PNC Arena for Pack basketball and ice hockey.”

Parks, Greenways, and Walking Trails

The urban city is also a hub for outdoor recreation. Raleigh is ripe with parks, greenways, public gardens, walking trails and plenty of outdoor spaces. The oldest park in North Carolina, Pullen Park, is adjacent to North Carolina State University. Consisting of more than 66 acres, the park has rides, paddle boats, and plenty of space for picnics. Nearby Umstead State Park is a favorite refuge with biking trails, lakes and campgrounds. Parks also come in nontraditional forms in Raleigh. The NCMA combines art and green spaces at the largest museum art park in the country with more than 160 acres of woodlands, contemporary gardens and creeks.

Moore Square Park is an urban park and one of four public spaces designated by the founders of Raleigh in 1792. Located downtown, the 4 acre park just completed a $12.5 million renovation in August 2020.

Cyclists and pedestrians get on the Neuse River Trail, a 33-mile long 10′ wide paved scenic path that runs from the Falls Lake Dam to the town of Clayton. Lake Johnson Park is a family favorite. The 150-plus acre lake and surrounding park promises a day of fun on the water with boating or fishing for largemouth bass and catfish.

Food and Beverage

The culinary landscape in the capital city is evolving at warp speed. Exceptional dining experiences can be found at diners, dives, bars and upscale restaurants along with a new dining concept – the food hall.

Morgan Street Food Hall located in Raleigh’s Warehouse District is the first of its kind in Raleigh, the Food Hall opened in 2018 featuring more than 20 culinary offerings. Restaurant stalls offer cooked-to-order dishes including Indian street food, gourmet burgers and traditional Vietnamese fare. Kiosks serve specialty items such as Thai rolled ice cream and bubble tea. Cocktails are served at the indoor-outdoor cocktail bar, “The Arbor.” Morgan Street was ranked number three on USA Today’s “10 Best for New Food Halls.”

Restaurateurs with culinary cred such as award-winning chefs Ashley Christensen and Scott Crawford elevate the dining choices. Christensen’s food empire started with Poole’s Diner and includes a bar and other restaurants. Crawford is a foodie king with a restaurant portfolio that includes Crawford’s and Sons, and his newly opened French bistro called Jolie.

The Capital city’s beverage landscape is as rich as the food offerings. From coffee to cocktails, spirits, sake, cider and brew, the choices are legion.

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