I dislike, well, strongly dislike the term “staycation”. Two thumbs way, way down. Still, when making a post about vacation activities taking place in the city where you live, what to call it? Stubbornness prevails, hence my “Vacationing at Home” title. For those of you who don’t mind the term “staycation”, more power to you and feel free to call it that. Me, I’ll stick with this for now.

And here goes. We have been really lucky this year to have lots of out-of-town visitors this of course means restaurants, parks, date nights, and ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

There’s no way I can cover all that we’ve done and seen in one post. This will therefore be an ongoing post, separated into parts. And now, take 1.

One of our favorite places in Raleigh (especially when it’s so, so hot) is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

It has fantastic bug and animal exhibits, and kids and adults alike can spend easily half a day here, more for science enthusiasts like my girls. They also hold Bugfest each year. This is where the museum houses over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities, all centered around bugs! Also, you can eat some bugs, if that’s your thing. Since I am raising at least one little entomologist, this is a HUGE DEAL in my house. Bugfest!!!

I don’t want to neglect to mention the best part- this museum is FREE!

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Cool whale bones and cool little girls.
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This table is interactive- it reads the item’s RFID code and a slew of information comes up. It’s like Mission Impossible or something.

Next up on the Raleigh agenda,  Pullen Park. Parents in the know in Raleigh go here during the week if they have the day off, because weekends can get really crowded. This is a great park, it has a pretty terrific play area, a train, paddle boats, and an antique carousel from 1911.

Weird random Raleigh trivia, Pullen Park is the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the US, and 16th oldest in the world. Since I’ve been to Tivoli in Copenhagen, and walked by Prater in Vienna, both in the top 5 in the world, I apparently need to start documenting my experiences and checking them off. Coney Island up next?

The park has free admission, and you buy tickets for the rides. Tickets are $1 for anyone 2 or older. Younger riders are free with a paying adult. The paddle boats (or “pedal cruisers” as the website calls them, ha ha regional dialects crack me up) cost six tickets for a half hour rental and up to 4 people can ride.

Other amazing happenings at Pullen Park include outdoor movies, the “holiday express” train, and apparently a pretty great arts and aquatic center (I’ve never been so I can’t say). Also, the food there is not bad and the coffee is great. Pullen Park 2016 events calendar

Is it time to talk about eating now? I definitely think so. I think I’m just going to make a list, because I love food but I’m no food critic. Here’s what we’ve tried, what we’ve liked, and where we go again and again.

Breakfast:

  • Tupelo Honey Cafe The okra appetizer was great. I didn’t even know I liked okra.

Lunch:

  • Beasley’s Chicken + Honey This place is something else. If I have to choose one place to take guests, this is it. The food is great, portions are perfect for sampling and sharing, and if all I eat are the sides, I’d still be happy (the chicken is tops, too, of course).

Dinner:

  • Driftwood Southern Kitchen I love going here for a fancy night out when guests are looking for Southern Food and BBQ. Also, it’s in Lafayette Village, which I’ll cover in a minute.
  • Bull City Burger and Brewery The burgers here were very good (I am from Chicago, I’m pretty snobby about my burgers). We had a few issues with our order being wrong, and the restaurant sorted it right out for us. The shining star for our group was truly CeCe’s Bowl of Pickled Stuff. There were pickled eggs, beets, and peaches. Yes peaches, and they were amazing. We ordered 2.

Dessert:

  • Treat Ice cream. Waffle cone bowls. And when your little one wants extra, extra cherries, she gets them.
  • The Parlour More ice cream. Incredible, and they have coconut milk ice cream for people like me. It’s sort of a hike all the way to Durham, but great for a night out for us.

Drinks:

  • Full Steam Brewery We go here a lot. There are so many breweries in Durham and Raleigh, this one just has some real appeal for us (maybe it has something to do with the biggest fan I’ve ever seen in my life). Good beer, great food trucks, and wine too on those days you just need something lighter.
  • Alley Twenty Six Fancy cocktails, excellent chocolate truffles. The clientele here is not exactly my speed, but the quality of the cocktails makes up for it. And it’s fun to get dressed up and go out for a fancy drink once in a while.

So to finish this post off, one spot we spend a bunch of time is Lafayette Village. It’s technically just shopping and restaurants, but the fact is, there’s a huge open spot where kids go and meet other kids (like a dog park, but for kids?), and the grown ups can sit outside, eat, have a drink, relax, and talk to each other while their children are running around and making friends. And the sunsets here are just fabulous.

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See what I mean?
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