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Mother Hoods

Mother Hoods: Raleigh, NC

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photograph courtesy of Addie Ladner

When giving all of your attention and Instagram “likes” to exotic foreign vacations abroad, it can be all too easy to forget the beauty and splendor that lies in our very own backyard here in the U.S. If you haven’t yet traveled to quaint, but ever-growing Raleigh, North Carolina, allow Addie Ladner, writer behind Grace Gourmet, and mother of two (Grace, 2.5, and Charlotte, 1) to be your guide. Below, Addie highlights all of the must-see’s and must-do’s in the lush Southeastern city.

Where are your favorite places in Raleigh to…
1. Eat with the kids? 
Night Kitchen in Seaboard Station is a great place for a light lunch. We love their Cuban or Gravlax bagel sandwich, followed by macarons for dessert. We’ll go on a Saturday, then roam around Logan’s Garden Shop, and if we’re lucky, stop in for an afternoon wine tasting at Seaboard Wine. There are tables in the tasting room, so you can set the kids up with a book or toys to occupy them. Seaboard Station used to be an old train station, so it’s a major hit when a passenger train goes by—it’s the little things! Neomonde is our go-to for a picnic, or take-out. They serve awesome Lebanese food, including seasonal hummus options (pumpkin in the fall, sun-dried tomato basil in the summer) which were some of our girls’ first foods as babies. Coquette, a French Bistro in North Hills, is where we head if we want a nice family meal. This is pretty much the only restaurant at which I actually ask for the kids’ menu, as they have real food, just in smaller portions. Their kids’ menu options include beef bourguignon and salmon with haricot vert. Their truffle fries, quiche, and mushroom risotto are also huge hits with the littles.”

2. Eat with just adults? Mandolin for date nights, or a special occasion. I’ve lived in the South my entire life, so I appreciate their take and celebration of southern dishes that are local and seasonally inspired. The food is divine, the ambiance is charming, and the service is great. For a bigger dinner party, Humble Pie in the Warehouse District has amazing small plates. We’ve been known to order at least one of each item at times! Their scallops with cauliflower pesto puree are incredible. Bida Manda is great when I want a little escape. They offer super Laotian food; I love the Manda’s Herb Salad.”

3. Shop for kids? “I try to keep shopping for our kids to a minimum, as grandparents are always sending things, but for birthdays, baby showers, and holidays, I love our local bookstore, Quail Ridge in North Hills. Deco in downtown or Nofo in Five Points are great for locally made, unique, good quality toys, stationery, and baby items.”

4. Shop for yourself? “I’m a huge fan of The Flourish Market in downtown for their gorgeous selection of clothes, jewelry, and accessories—all consciously sourced. There is a social mission behind the business, which I love, and the staff is always so helpful with my babies!”

5. Play with your child?Pullen Park! We’ll grab a LocoPop from the concession stand, walk around the lake, ride the restored train or the carousel (sometimes multiple times because all the rides are just a dollar each), or I’ll just watch them on the playground. It’s a pretty charming place.”

6. Play with your adult friends? “The music scene here is pretty sweet with great venues including the Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown or Koka Booth (in Cary, one town over). Art in the Evening at the NCMA is another favorite weekend, childfree activity. We’ll go listen to the music, have a glass of wine, then wander around the entire West Building.”

7. Get out in nature? “This is both tough and easy to answer because even though Raleigh is a capital city, it’s a very green city, and filled with parks and outdoor spaces. The NCMA outdoor park and greenway trail is somewhere we go regularly. It’s loaded with trails and a huge green space with nature-inspired art installations, some that kids can play on. There’s something for everyone! We also love strolling around the JC Raulston Arboretum or the hiking trails at Umstead Park.”

8. Any good flea markets/thrift shops?The Raleigh Flea Market at the state fairgrounds is huge! It’s open on Saturdays and Sundays.”

9. Any good museums/art installations? “For kids, the Marbles Kids Museum definitely. I’m convinced it’s one of the best kids’ museums in the country. It’s multi-level, right in downtown, centered entirely on play and imagination for all ages, plus it has an IMAX theater. You could spend all day there! The Museum of Natural Science and Nature Research Center is always a huge hit with visitors, even those who aren’t into science. And, I always love the curated exhibits at the Mahler Gallery on Fayetteville Street”

10. Where do you take out-of-town visitors? “We typically make sure to go to Ole Time Barbecue, then see if we can find a bluegrass jam session, or concert somewhere around town. And, we always pick up some fresh fish and produce at the State Farmers Market for a homemade sendoff feast.”

11. Any tourist-y places that are worth it to visit? “I feel like I’ve covered the bulk of the main attractions already! However, if you love to shop, Cameron Village is a huge and lovely outdoor shopping area with loads of boutiques, restaurants (Tazza Kitchen is a must), and even contains a library—definitely a kid-friendly place. End the trip with a visit to The Roast Grill. Just don’t ask for ketchup!”

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