Cary, North Carolina Travel Guide

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I travel to Cary, North Carolina about four times a year. My grandpa, age 105.75 lives there, as do my two aunts who are some of my favorite people in the world. There is so much to do in Cary, it is easy to get around and the people are so friendly! I love this area so much! I would love to live here permanently, but for now I have to settle for frequent visits! I’m so excited to finally be sharing my Cary, North Carolina Travel Guide to help you plan your visit to this area!

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Cary, North Carolina Travel Guide

My grandparents moved to Cary in 1986 when it was a very isolated area. Now it’s a bustling suburb of Raleigh, part of the Research Triangle Park and often ranked in the top 5 places to live in the U.S. Cary is just west of Raleigh, and easily accessibly by RDU International Airport, Amtrak or Route 95 if you are driving to town.

 

Cary, North Carolina Travel Guide: Where to Stay

When in Cary, we usually stay with family members, but sometimes we opt to stay in a hotel. We always choose the Residence Inn Cary-Raleigh! We are Marriott point members, so we are brand-loyal to the many Marriott properties. We particularly like this hotel because they have all of the amenities our family needs.

We always book a 1-bedroom suite, which gives us parents a separate bedroom, with a pull out sofa in the living room for the kids. These rooms also have a small kitchenette. We have early risers in our family, and the kids always wake up hungry! I also love a good cup of coffee first thing in the am. This hotel offers a great breakfast right in the lobby! They have your usual cereals, toast and yogurts, but also several hot selections. I like the hotel’s fitness room, and being that North Carolina gets hot in the summer, and you can’t beat a dip in the hotel’s outdoor pool!

 

Cary, North Carolina Travel Guide: Where to Eat

My two aunts are literally the best Italian cooks you will ever meet, but unfortunately I can’t invite you all over for Sunday dinner. We love to eat their food, but we do love to go out to eat in Cary/Raleigh and here are some of our favorites.

 

The Egg & I. This is a new breakfast place located on Walnut Street. Last March, my sister and I decide to go out for breakfast and stumbled upon this place.

The Egg & I is super popular so expect a wait, especially on the weekends. Expect a vast menu, friendly southern hospitality and delicious food! On our recent visit I had a benedict and of course, when in the South, a big bowl of grits. I love grits! The Egg & I is open until 2:30, so go early for a great breakfast or lunch.

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Despina’s Café. In 2014, my cousin-in-law’s mom made her lifelong dream of owning a café come true when she opened her namesake, Despina’s. The café is located in North Raleigh on Creedmoor Road. On every NC visit, we always stop for a lunch at Despina’s!

The proprietor, Despina, is from Cyprus and serves amazing Greek food and her out of this world pastries. I always have a spanikopita, sometimes with their signature village salad. Of course I always leave room for dessert!

Her almond cake is her signature sweet, but on every visit she has a new cake to try! We recently enjoyed her raspberry shortcake. Baby Girl and I were fighting over the last bites! I also love the traditional Greek pastries – baklava and bogatses.

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Despina’s is open until 6 every day except Sunday, so stop in for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner. They also cater (we always cater from Despina’s when we have a lot of family in town) or you can order ahead online!

 

 

Goodberry’s. My family knows I am a little bit obsessed with Goodberry’s Frozen Custard. I am not sure why they haven’t made their way to NY yet!

Goodberry’s is a frozen custard place that serves Chocolate, Vanilla and the rotating flavor of the day (I even follow them on twitter to keep up with the FOTD). They are famous for their Carolina Concretes, which are custard based, with fruit, candy and nut mix-ins! I usually go for a chocolate ice cream with some sort of peanut butter or Reese’s mix in, although on my recent trip I had an ice cream sundae, which was amazing!

 

Cary, North Carolina Travel Guide: Fun Things to Do

We always find fun things to do in Cary, and since the city of Raleigh is so close, we never run out of new stuff to try. Here are some of our favorites.

Marbles Children’s Museum. We have been coming to this museum pretty much since little man was six months old! Marble’s Children’s Museum is located in downtown Raleigh. At the museum you can street park, or park in the adjacent garage. My kids talk about returning here all of the time and maybe someday we will get to all of the exhibits in one trip!

Marbles is probably the best children’s museum we have visited, mainly because there are so many different things to do. My kids love tot town, and could probably spend the entire day in there! Additionally, there is a water play area, a large pirate ship to climb on, the space ship to explore, and the outdoor garden. And that’s just on the first floor!

Upstairs the kids LOVE the money exhibit, the art center, the sports area and the area where you can learn about motion. This is an interactive museum and one not to be missed!

PRO-TIP: Marbles is one of the many children’s museums that will offer free admission to members of a reciprocal museum. For many years we were able to visit free of charge with our Long Island Children’s Museum membership card!

 

 

Museum of Natural Sciences. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is also located in downtown Raleigh. Last summer we visited this museum and my kids loved it. We learned all about dinosaurs and the ecology and geology of North Carolina! My kids love the large globe located outside. They loved climbing under it!

 

 

Cary Towne Center. I remember running around this mall as a little kid, chasing after my older cousins. We can walk here from grandpas house and manage to visit this shopping center at least once on every visit! My kids love this mall because of the giant jumper!

In the middle of the mall, near the food court, you will find this giant trampoline. You are harnessed in so you can bounce really high! “The jumper” as my kids call it is always a NC highlight.

Additionally, there is a train ride through the mall and large play area, which was renovated recently. This mall is also home to a Dave & Busters, so if you are looking for some indoor fun, this is a great place to head!

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Parks & Greenways The Town of Cary has an amazing parks and Greenways system. Some of our favorite parks include Marla Dorel Park and Jack Smith Park. Jack Smith Park has a playground, but also a big water play area. Just put on your suit and kids will have lots of fun splashing around! A great, free, way to beat the summer heat.

 

Pullen Park Pullen Park is located in Raleigh and is always a must-do when we are in Cary, North Carolina. This park is home to the Pullen Park train, which is a little train ride that costs only $1 a ride, and goes all around the park. The ride takes about 10 minutes and I promise, your kids will LOVE it!

Pullen Park does have a playground, as well as a carousel, and a boat amusement park ride. Again the tickets are only $1 you can easily spend the better part of a day here, with spending way less than at a full-on amusement park!

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Visiting my family is of course a highlight of a trip to Cary, North Carolina, but we always find fun things to do, good food and the Southern Hospitality that you just cannot beat! Have you been to Cary, North Carolina? What are you favorite things to do in Cary?

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OTHER AWESOME TRAVEL GUIDES:

Belfast, Maine

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Naples, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Greenport, Long Island

Mini Travellers

 

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40 Comments

  1. I’ve been to Cary before, but never have had the chance to really explore. Every time I’ve gone has been for a swim meet, so I’m usually going from hotel to pool to food to hotel to pool, and so on. Haha…that doesn’t leave much time [or energy] to really take in the city. I used to go to school in North Carolina, about 45 minutes away from Cary, but I never really took the time to visit then either. I guess next time I’m up in North Carolina, that’s going to have to change!

    Reply
  2. Sandy

    I’ve never travelled to NC before but would love to one day! And thanks for sharing the breakfast place Egg & I. Breaky is my fav meal of the day and I especially love to try new restaurants during our travels! Now I know where to go when I am in NC one day!

    Reply
  3. I used to work with a woman from north Carolina, and she used to rave about the place. It sounds as though your family have a nice life there – and although I’m not able to sample their great cooking, I’d settle for one of the other tasty-sounding places! #MondayEscapes

    Reply
  4. Jessica bradshaw

    I still haven’t been to North Carolina. Well, any of the Carolinas as a matter of fact. My eyes immediately go to your food pictures. There looks like a bunch of things to do! I love that your grandfather is still alive and you take time to visit him. I lost mine last year and wish I could have spent more time with him.

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  5. Looks like a fun place to visit with kids! We also love Marriott hotels – they do things right! And having a kitchenette when traveling with kids is – as you call them – a pro tip!

    Reply
  6. Kelly

    Thank you for bringing back such good memories. My cousin lived in Raleigh so I have been to that science museum. It was super fun. Too bad I can’t eat Italian food with your aunts though. Nom! And they better that get that custard in NY asap.

    Reply
  7. My college roommate was from Cary, and I visited her family a few times during school. I remember vaguely a Krispy Kreme store that we visited, which seems a very college thing. I’ve never been able to get back with my daughter, but she would love it from your description, especially the splash park.

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  8. We are only a few hours from Cary. These are great ideas for a long weekend trip to the Raleigh area. The Children’s Museum will be fun! Good to know they have a Residence Inn in the area. We love those. It makes things so much easier with kids.

    Reply
  9. I really like suburbs or “small” town located close to big cities. I love the atmosphere, food, events and parks in these areas. For example, I live in one of the beach cities of Los Angeles County and it is like we have our own community separate from the big city. I have a feeling Cary is like that. #WeekendWanderlust

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  10. My husband has call to travel to Cary – and Raleigh – for work sometimes. I’m definitely going to remember Goodberry’s . I’ve not been but I’d like to remedy that!

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  11. Such a great guide! I confess I haven’t heard of Cary before but it looks like it offers so much for families. Love visiting smaller cities like these. All that delicious food photos were making me drool. Yum on all dessert and Greek food. I love that your grandpa is in the triple digits. How cool is that! I can only imagine the stories he has passed on to all of you.

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  12. Great post! I’ve lived in the area about 6 years now and you definitely covered the highlights well. Goodberry’s is amazing! Hope you’re able to explore more of the area on your next visit, there’s so much to do with kids!

    Reply

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