Time and again, Raleigh has been rated one of the best places to live, work and raise a family. Thanks to those glowing accolades and our growing economy, our population is on the rise. People from all over the country now call Raleigh home, but what does it take to be a true Raleighite?
Learn to Shag
OK, maybe not every Raleighite knows how to shag. But you must know at least this: It is not the Austin Powers Shag; it is not “hooking up.” Originally called the Carolina Shag, this partner dance is done primarily to beach music and is a smooth swing like dance that you’ll see at bars, receptions and concerts alike. Done correctly, it is beautifully fluid; and if you choose the right partner, proper shagging can lead to… you know, more shagging.
Drink Moonshine at a Wedding
You know you’ve arrived as a southernerwhen the unsanctioned mason jar starts getting passed around amidst the champagne and PBR at a wedding reception.
Pick a BBQ, and you better pick Eastern
This may be especially confusing for those of you coming from places where barbecue is a verb. First things first, if someone asks you if you like barbecue. Don’t reply with “barbecued what?” That’s a dead giveaway you aren’t from around these parts. Barbecue is a noun in Raleigh, and one not to be taken lightly. No issue is more likely to cause a civil war in the old North State than Eastern Style (vinegar based) vs. Western or Lexington Style (tomato based) barbecue. In case you weren’t sure, you are in Eastern BBQ territory. Learn it, love it, live it.
Eat a burger at the P.R.
The P.R. or the Player’s Retreat on the corner of Oberlin and Hillsborough was once the dive bar where Broughton students congregated after class. Maintaining the ‘Cheers’ like feel with walls lined with steins and vintage beer cans, the PR has grown up with the clientele, offering great food and better service. If you’re lucky, you might get to grab a bar stool next to Coach Gottfried, NC State’s basketball coach.
Watch the planes take off at RDU Park
Free parking, a little park, a picnic area with seating and the best view in town of airplanes taking off and landing. It’s the perfect place to watch for Grandma’s plane to come to town or to simply spend a free afternoon dreaming about getting a pilot’s license.
Beach Lovers Bumper Sticker Match Game
Pick a Home Team
We understand if you’re coming from out of town you’re are likely bringing your loyalties with you. Penn State and Notre Dame jerseys are not uncommon sights. But, if you’re a Raleighite, you may as well choose a home team because around here, college sport is king. State, Duke or Carolina (Chapel Hill) are all within 25 miles and all have passionate fan bases that will welcome you with open arms, as long as your closet consists only of one of the following three colors: Duke blue, Carolina blue or red.
New to NC and not sure who you’re home team should be? We can help! Take the following quiz to see where you belong!
What is your football game attire?
a. Vineyard Vines & Boat Shoes
b. Whatever goes with my boots
c. My basketball watching wardrobe is more defined
What food do you want at a tailgate?
a. Wine & Cheese
c. Whatever the caterer recommends
a. Sweet Caroline
b. Wagon Wheel
c. Devil With a Blue Dress
Your alma mater is known for:
a. Liberal Arts and Humanities
b. Ag Tech & Engineering
c. Ivy League quality education
Greatest Basketball Coach?
a. Dean Smith
b. Jim Valvano
c. Coach K
Mostly A’s: You should cheer for UNC Chapel Hill. Mostly B’s: You should join the Wolfpack of NC State. Mostly C’s: Be prepared for disdain both the red and light blue, as you cheer for Duke.
Amble Down Fayetteville Street
Every Raleighite must have Fayetteville Street as part of their geographic vocabulary. The main thoroughfare of downtown, it connects the State Capitol to the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (Memorial Auditorium for natives) and is normally the centerpiece of any downtown festival or parade. You can check out Fayetteville Street’s evolution in the Raleigh City Museum in the Briggs Hardware Building.
Know how to properly ‘Bless Someone’s Heart.’
Though this southernism can express sympathy or empathy, it is more commonly the most subtle and polite of ways to introduce a scathing character assassination. “Bless her heart, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her without a wine glass in her hand.” Use the power wisely.
Find the Rose Garden
If you haven’t found it yet, head downtown and follow signs to the Raleigh Little Theatre. Tucked away behind the outdoor pavilion, this beautiful little rose garden is open and free year round. Bring a picnic or a camera, and enjoy a stroll through this hidden treasure.
Know what ITB Means
You’ve surely seen it in real estate listings by now. ITB Inside the Beltline refers to Raleigh land within the 440 beltline borders. The increased price tag for properties ITB reflect the value Carolinians place on a central location. That, or as my native husband jokes, “It’s a Yankee tax… got to pay extra to live with southerners.”
While understanding that ITB means inside 440, it is also vital to understand that if a native Raleighite starts talking about the inner and outer beltline that, again, only 440 is being referenced. Inner beltline is the clockwise loop around the city while the outer beltline is the counter-clockwise loop leading ‘out’ of the city.
Eat Howling Cow Ice Cream
For over 50 years, Wolfpack Students were the only ones to enjoy this locally made ice cream treat. And by locally made, we mean at Feldmeier Dairy Processing Lab in Schaub Hall at NC State. Though still not widely circulated, Raleighites know where to find small containers distributed in various eateries throughout the NC State campus.
Interview with a Cow
Howling Cow Ice Cream has been an NC State tradition for over 50 years. Nothing beats the taste of fresh, locally produced ice cream and to get the whole story on Howling Cow, we wanted to get it straight from the horse’s…er, cow’s, mouth. We sat down with Snowflake (born on a snow day three years ago) to get the scoop.
How much milk does it take to make one pint of Howling Cow Ice Cream? There are roughly 10 ounces of milk in a 16-ounce pint.
How much milk do you produce in a day? On average eight gallons.
How did you get started in this business? I was born on the farm. My mom was a Howling Cow and Dad was an award winning bull from a farm in New England. In truth, I never met my dad. The ladies here tend to prefer artificial insemination… I’m sure you understand.
Do you howl? I moo. But I’m a proud member of the NC State University Wolf Pack, hence the howl.
How long has Howling Cow existed? We pasteurized the first milk in NC in 1918 – the name has been Howling Cow since 2008.
Where can someone purchase your ice cream? On Campus – Talley Student Center – Hunt and DH Hill Libraries and all convenience stores.
Do you get any vacation time? Every day! Hanging out in the pasture.
See a flick at The Rialto
Boutique theaters may be all the rage, but for native Raleighites, the Rialto is still the premier place to see movies nominated for an Academy Award (that most people hadn’t heard of). They serve beer and wine, charge reasonably for popcorn and have curtains that still open to let you know the feature is about to begin. To add to the classic feel, there’s no credit card machine; the ATM is next door if you forget your cash!
Watch a Parade Downtown
Between Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day, Raleigh’s got some parades worth checking out. But, you’re thinking, a parade is a parade is a parade. Tell me that after you have seen the incredible energy and passion of the Helping Hand Mission Marching Band, a Raleigh original that will stop you in your tracks.
Explore the Angus Barn
So much more than just the most famous Raleigh steak house. This local treasure is the place to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, promotion—anything worth raising a glass. The lounge offers a family-friendly casual atmosphere and if the kids get out of line, there’s the ass-kicking machine out front. You don’t have to come only for dinner. Enjoy a cocktail outside at the fire pit, and prove your local prowess by asking for the complimentary graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows for your very own Angus Barn S’more.
Be a ‘member’ of about 20 bars
Raleigh is a progressive city certainly, but we’re still in the South, and there are several laws on the books aimed toward encouraging temperance. One of those laws dictates that food sales must be a certain percentage of overall sales if a business wants to provide alcohol. This means that any establishment that either does not sell food, or not enough food, must be, by law, a ‘private club.’ Thus, bar membership cards. Easy to get and not incredibly enforced, these bar cards mean little until you’re pulled over for speeding and, while reaching for your ID, 20 cards come cascading out of your purse causing at best embarrassment, at worst reasonable cause.
Drink in the view at Boylan Bridge Brewpub
Coming (back) this fall, Boylan Brewpub is hands down the best place to clink glasses with friends while drinking in the best view of Raleigh’s skyline. Currently closed due to a wall collapse in February, renovations are underway to make the Brewpub better than ever. Owner, Andrew Leager, says with a smile that the unexpected necessary renovations may’ve been the “best thing that ever happened,” for the Brewpub. They are using this time to expand the menu and wine list, including 34 new wines. A new chimney and fireplace will allow for cooler weather date nights and the new Clover Room is an intimate dining room with a view of the brewery.
Go to the State Fair
For Raleighites, the state fair is all about the many flavors of NC. And by that we mean both the food and the people because at the fair, you can get a little bit of everything.
And though the options are endless, locals know to find a Cary Methodist ham biscuit and Al’s fries. If you have kids, you make them eat a turkey leg as big as their heads.
Formerly, the fair was a place to see pretty big names at an outdoor venue for free. However a push to celebrate local artists and sell separate concert tickets changed the feel of the event. Now, the most exciting thing to see for free are the pigs racing, a definite must-see! Go Wilbur! (There is always a Wilbur racing; he is some pig.)
Cheer at Carter-Finley Stadium
Opened on October 8, 1966, Carter Finley Stadium will celebrate 50 years of Raleigh notoriety this year. Built to replace Riddick Stadium as the home of NC State Wolfpack football, this stadium now has close to 60,0000 seat capacity.
Whether you are cheering for the home team or away, to be a Raleighite, you’ve got to see a football game in Carter-Finley and for bonus points, tailgate ahead of time with some Bojangles, just like American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery. It’s also one of the few stadiums in the country where you can leave at halftime and return back to the game. If football isn’t your thing, Carter-Finley has also hosted Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, U2, The Rolling Stones and Beyonce.
Visit Oakwood Cemetery
Nestled in Historic Oakwood Neighborhood, the Oakwood Cemetery was originally purchased as a place to bury the Confederate d ead. It has grown and flourished into one of the most beautiful historic sites in the southeast. So much so, it has even hosted weddings. It is the final resting place of notable Raleighites Jim Valvano, Needham Broughton, Jesse Helms and Elizabeth Edwards.
Travel Raleigh via Greenway
Locals grew up riding their bikes to friends’ houses on the few and select trails that existed. The expanded trails can get you from Crabtree to Capitol without having to fight traffic.
Eat a hot Krispy Kreme donut
Whether you’re celebrating a Salvation Army Basketball victory or stopping for an after-church treat, all Raleighites know to look for the “Hot Now” light to get a fresh original glazed mouth-watering doughnut straight off the conveyer belt. Though Krispy Kreme is originally from Winston-Salem, the Person Street Hot Now sign has been a fixture since 1970.
See the Acorn Drop
The Acorn is housed throughout the year in Moore Square in Downtown, but every New Year’s Eve, for First Night Raleigh, a crane takes the acorn to drop it in front of thousands of cheering fans in City Plaza on Fayetteville Street. A sculpture by David Benson commissioned for the City’s bicentennial in 1992 to honor the City of Oaks, the acorn may not seem like the most obvious choice to ring in a new year, but it is definitely the ‘Raleighiest’ choice.
No ketchup at the Roast Grill
One of the last true lunch counter holdouts, the Roast Grill prides itself on hot dogs so delicious that the mere mention of ketchup is an insult. The decades-old “Red Hot Weiners and Pepsi” sign will lure you in, the perfectly cooked dogs and impeccable service will keep you coming back.
Shop the Farmer’s Market
Before Farm-to-Fork was a buzzword and pop-up Farmer’s Markets dominated local shopping centers, this was the place to go to get your fresh market food and flowers. Located, where else, on Agriculture Drive, the State Farmer’s Market is so much more than fresh fruits and vegetables. It is where Raleighites get Christmas trees, pumpkins for Halloween and everything they need to do a landscape makeover.
A full Saturday at the Farmer’s Market includes a country style breakfast at the Market Restaurant, shopping for the week’s groceries in the covered open air hall, perusing the local wines and honey in the climate controlled Market Shoppes and finishing off with a fresh seafood lunch and a sweet tea at the Seafood Market.
Ride the Carousel at Pullen Park
Tucked between NC State and Downtown, this premier park has been the go-to spot for generations of Raleighites. From birthday parties to company picnics, this is the number one place to spend a beautiful day outside. And no day is complete without a ride on the carousel. Created in the early 1900s, it is a designated Raleigh Historic Landmark. Bonus Raleigh Points: You know you’re a true Raleighite when you feel the need to point out the Wurlitzer, which until recently was one of the oldest operating Wurlitzers in the country. It is now housed inside the Carousel house with a historic plaque.
Shopped ‘Indie’before it was a trend
With nationally ranked independent stores like Quail Ridge Books and Schoolkids Records in our backyard, Raleighites have always and will always support locally owned businesses.
Understand the ‘inside jokes’ at A Christmas Carol
You’ve never seen Scrooge like this before. Raleigh’s own Ira David Wood III has turned the classic Dickens play into a Raleigh institution. Packed with inside jokes and current event jabs, Wood proves that couched in the safe setting of a beloved Christmas tale, no topic is so sacred there can’t be humor infused.