Before we got pregnant, we were pretty much booking any cheap fare we can get our hands on. As long as the round-trip ticket is $100 or less, we are in, and one of those trips happened to be to Raleigh, North Carolina.
- 1 Three Day Itinerary to Durham, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem North Carolina
- 2 The Itinerary
- 3 Day Two: Durham, North Carolina
- 4 Day Three: Raleigh, North Carolina
- 5 Final Thoughts
- 6 Other Suggested Itineraries:
Three Day Itinerary to Durham, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem North Carolina
What is there to do in the area for almost 3 full days? Since we are quick travelers and it’s the middle of summer, we just wanted to see the cities, even though we love to do hikes in state parks when we travel (just not when it’s 100+ degrees outside!).
It is best to rent a car if you wish to see most of the cities we mentioned, but you can also use ride sharing apps like Uber or Lyft to get around.
Day One: Arrive in RDU (Raleigh-Durham Airport)
You can arrive early in the morning or late at night the day before (which was what we did).
We rented a car from Alamo ($94 for 48 hours) and drove to Winston-Salem, which is 1 1/2 hours away from Raleigh airport.
Things to Do in Winston-Salem
We went straight to Old Salem, a historic part of town where the Moravians first settled in North Carolina. Read: Moravians in this case meant people mostly of German descent in the region, not the Czech Moravians. Peter was a bit disappointed it was the latter, but we enjoyed our stroll nonetheless.
Pro Tip: You do not have to buy tickets to enjoy Old Salem.
You can walk around and look outside the buildings, browse the stores, and eat in the historic tavern. This saves you $27 (as of publish date) for the museum pass ($18 for the two museum entry). It was a similar setup to Colonial Williamsburg, only much smaller in scope and therefore far less crowded.
Dining Options: The tavern in Old Salem.
The prices are not that expensive ($10.50 for a platter), where we ordered a chicken pot pie and a bratwurst meal.
I thought the bratwurst meal was a bit small, but the lunch was heavier than I thought and lasted me almost the whole day.
After Old Salem, we drove to Quarry Park. It’s a quick stop to walk around (but not too long, because it’s all in the open and no place to hide!), take some photos of the water-filled quarry, and back to the car. Cool little place.
On our way back to our hotel, we stopped by the Antique Market in Greensboro. It’s a massive warehouse of an incredible variety of antiques (some junk, some really nice furniture, etc.). We like browsing these antique stores but of course, we didn’t buy anything.
Accommodation in Raleigh: Hyatt Place RDU Airport.
We used 5000 Hyatt points so our stay was free! The hotel does its job – it’s a comfortable place to sleep with free parking and free breakfast for Hyatt members. We mainly chose this for its affordability and because it’s close to the airport and interstate.
Total Amount Spent for Day One:
$35 – Lunch for 2 (Tavern at Old Salem)
$15 – Dinner for 2 (Chipotle)
Day Two: Durham, North Carolina
Durham is around 20 minutes northeast from RDU Airport, and is the home of Duke University. It has a quaint downtown area, but aside from that, it is mostly a university town that used to be an industrial town revolving around tobacco.
Things to do in Durham, NC
Duke Lemur Center – I always liked animals, so this was a good opportunity to see different kinds of lemurs.
You will have to book a ticket in advance to get inside the center ($15 per person), and you will see several cages filled with them.
Is it worth stopping by? Perhaps. It’s not really a must-see but is good enough if you are an animal lover.
Duke University’s Chapel – the iconic chapel that dots pretty much all of Duke’s promotional material.
You can’t really go up the chapel, but you can see it while parked or driving through Chapel Drive.
Sarah P Duke Gardens – This garden is free to visit (albeit you have to pay for parking – $1 for 30 minutes), with lots of trails to walk around in. It would be a good place to walk and just wander around, but I would not recommend going here in the summer. It’s just too darned hot to walk around (much more if you’re pregnant)!
Bull City Ciderworks – Technically not a tourist attraction, but Peter decided to include it in our itinerary since he loves trying out alcoholic drinks whenever we travel. There were food trucks and activities when we were there, so while he was enjoying his cider sampler, I was gorging on some cannolis. This is a very hip and happening place where people just chill and relax with friends, family, and loved ones.
Durham Tobacco District – Durham used to be an industrial city where cigarettes and tobacco were made. In recent times, most of these factories have since closed in Durham, leaving their beautiful brick buildings and smokestacks abandoned as eyesores.
The district found a revival recently as the tobacco district has turned into restaurants and a spot to walk around. Find time to visit it, it’s pretty.
Hyatt Place Raleigh Midtown – another Hyatt Place that costs 5,000 points a night. It was in front of a Bahama Breeze and was closer to downtown, hence we chose the location. Still free parking and free breakfast for Hyatt members, so it was a great value for money (free using points).
Thai Cafe – amazing Thai food (and they had my favorite, Pad See Eew). Had two glasses of Thai tea because I love it so much! Definitely a must-visit. The restaurant offers a lunch menu; perfect for those on a budget.
Bahama Breeze – technically a chain restaurant, it was walking distance to our hotel, and after such a heavy lunch and snacks, we were not in a particular mood to eat or do anything else in the evening.
We shared an entree for pick up (jerk chicken) and went to bed. For our first time eating in this place, it wasn’t so bad at all.
Total Amount Spent for Day Two:
$30 – Duke Lemur Center
$2 – Parking in Duke Campus
$3 – Duke souvenir magnet
$30 – lunch at Thai Cafe
$10 – Bull City Ciderworks Sampler
$9 – Cannoli sampler
$20 – Dinner at Bahama Breeze
Day Three: Raleigh, North Carolina
Third and final day in Raleigh. We decided to go downtown and just walk around and check out the Museum of Natural Sciences.
Things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina
Museum of Natural Sciences – three floors of nerdy goodness! We must have spent around 3 hours in this museum just looking through the exhibits. It reminds us of a smaller Perot museum (located in Dallas, TX), but is engaging, educational, and entertaining enough. Best of all, this museum is free to the public!
North Carolina State Capitol- while we only saw this attraction from the outside, I wasn’t as impressed by it compared to other state capitols/city halls we have seen.
Not sure if they do tours, but it was a Sunday and I doubt there’s anything much happening inside a government office on a weekend anyway.
Dining Options in Raleigh
The Pit BBQ – a few blocks from downtown’s main drag, and Peter has been dying to try a local place out for some good BBQ. We went there before the main rush hour, so we got a table pretty quickly.
The area where the BBQ restaurant is located has other local joints, one is a local brewery, another specializes in making gourmet chocolate.
Total Amount Spent for Day Three
$94 – car rental (Alamo)
$20 – gas for car rental
$45 – Ubers to and from RDU Airport
$40 – Lunch at the Pit BBQ
$200 – roundtrip airfare from Jax to RDU for 2 (Frontier)
$25 – Parking at JAX airport
The itinerary above is not comprehensive and is only based on what we did in the little time that we had in the cities so we may have missed out on cooler, more interesting places than what we mentioned above.
Doing weekend trips like this invigorate me and take me out of my boring day to day routine, but at my condition (currently 6 months pregnant during the trip), I realized I couldn’t do as much as I can without feeling as tired quickly.
Still, I would recommend visiting these three cities whenever you see a deal pop up or if you have the time. Also, do not let pregnancy be a reason why you can’t travel and live your best life! As my mom commented, with the way I’m traveling and living daily, you wouldn’t even think I was pregnant!
Is going to Raleigh, Winston-Salem or Durham in your bucket list? Are you a local from these cities? Leave a comment with your recommendations so other people may visit them as well!