Hi, all -
For those of you who will be attending the upcoming conference in Raleigh, I thought I’d offer up some information that might be beneficial. I live in Raleigh; been here for the past 26+ years. So hopefully, somebody finds something helpful here.
First things first — if you’re prone to allergies, bring your meds. April is peak pollen season in North Carolina. Yellow pine pollen rains down all over everything for about three weeks straight. Some days, you’ll literally see this yellow dust blowing around in the wind. I’ve joked with a couple folks at BioLogos that they should’ve gotten Claritin as a corporate sponsor. But seriously…you’ve been warned.
If you’re flying in, RDU is west of town. It’s a pretty easy airport to get through. We’re kind of in that sweet spot of having an airport large enough to have nonstops to a good number of cities — including 4 European destinations — without turning into a monster like Atlanta or DFW. If you’re flying Southwest, you’ll arrive in Terminal 1. Most of the other major carriers (American, United, Delta & any international flights) will come through Terminal 2. I do hear that the RDU rental car facility leaves a bit to be desired, though. Otherwise, getting to downtown from RDU will cost you about $40-$50 for an Uber one-way.
Central Raleigh is actually fairly small, originally laid out as the state capital shortly after the Revolutionary War. It’s effectively a square, about 1-1/2 miles each side, with the streets arranged in a grid north-south and east-west. The convention center (where the conference is being held) is on the southern edge of that square. The primary state government buildings are on the northern edge, with the governor’s mansion towards the northeast corner. Outside of that square, streets start to go in any direction they bloody well please.
You’re safe walking around within that square area to go to restaurants, etc., but I wouldn’t venture too far south or east outside of it on foot. West of that square leads to the NC State University campus; you’re also safe to walk that way west on Hillsborough Street.
Places to Stay
The official conference hotel is the Marriott across the street from the convention center. Also within a block or two are Sheraton & Residence Inn properties. Those are obviously your most convenient options.
If you’re coming with your spouse & you’d like to do something a bit more special — romantic, even — consider Heights House, a mile or so west of the convention center on Boylan Avenue. It’s a lovely 9-room inn, restored from a house that dates back to 1860 or so. The wife & I have stayed here for an anniversary.
If you’re anxious to spend more money, the nicest hotel in town is The Umstead, west of town off Harrison Avenue. This is probably where Springsteen stays when he plays a concert at the Hurricanes’ hockey arena. But here you’re out closer to RDU, and you’ll have to Uber or drive back & forth to the convention center every day.
If you want/need to stay near the airport, most of the usual hotel suspects are out that way. Fun fact: there’s an Embassy Suites off Harrison Avenue, across the street from The Umstead. This place played host to the First International Flat Earth Convention 6 or 7 years ago. If you’ve seen a documentary called “Behind the Curve,” this was where they met there at the end of the film. I honestly have no idea how that convention ended up here.
Places to Eat
First list is all walking distance to the convention center & the aforementioned nearby hotels.
Death & Taxes — corner of Salisbury & Hargett Streets
Whiskey Kitchen — corner of McDowell & Martin
Parkside — corner of Dawson & Martin (try the prime rib burger)
Caffe Luna — corner of Blount & Hargett (Italian, if you couldn’t guess)
Bida Manda — also on Blount, just south of the bus station (Southeast Asian; try the pork belly soup)
The Pit BBQ — corner of Harrington & Davie
Sitti — corner of Wilmington & Davie (Lebanese)
Mecca — on Martin Street, between Fayetteville & Wilmington (a diner that’s been around for decades; the kind of place where you might see the NC Attorney General & a couple state senators in the next booth)
Second Empire — corner of Harrington & Hillsborough ($$$$ — perhaps the best restaurant in downtown; it is fantastic, if you’re looking for a treat)
Taverna Agora — next door to Second Empire (Greek)
42nd Street Oyster Bar — corner of West & Jones (Seafood, obviously, & I don’t know why they named it this; as you’ll see, there’s no numbered streets in Raleigh)
Morgan Street Food Hall — on (you guessed it) Morgan Street, between West & Harrington (lots of options here, because, well…it’s a food hall. Ilya’s Kitchen has great soul food, and we also like the Indian joint called Curry in a Hurry.)
The restaurant at the aforementioned Umstead Hotel is called Heron’s, perhaps the top-rated restaurant in Wake County. Men are requested to wear jackets.
My favorite pizza in town is at Lilly’s, on Glenwood Avenue. Tell your Uber driver to take you to “Five Points,” if he doesn’t know it…or that you’re going across the street from Hayes Barton Baptist Church.
The Angus Barn is perhaps Raleigh’s most famous restaurant. It’s a steakhouse that’s been owned by the Eure family for 60 years…you’re likely to see Van Eure walking around greeting guests. Also, a modest dress code…collared shirts only for men. It’s much farther out Glenwood Avenue near the airport.
Feel free to ask questions here and/or PM me directly. Happy to be of assistance to anyone.