Katie and I just got back from visiting our friends, Mine and Colin, in Durham, North Carolina. It was such a nice vacation - smooth travel, perfect weather, best friends, sleeping in, grilling out, awesome food, nature, and beer. Oh, and a stats class.
Here are a few pics, if you'd like to see:
Local beer tasting.
Grilled (pimento!!) cheese.
Ice cream in the countryside.
Pie pan-shaped lily pads at the Duke gardens.
Loving collard greens = Southern girl at heart
Where we ate/drank:
- Fullsteam Brewery - After tasting all of the beers (literally), I decided that the ginger pale ale (Cack-A-Lacky TM) and the hoppy session brown ale (Beer Fest Beer) were my faves. Unfortunately they didn't have the Carver Sweet Potato beer available while we were there. They have a nice big space, and are surprisingly dog and kid-friendly.
- Pizzeria Toro - I love wood-fired pizzas, and these did not disappoint. The 4 of us split 3 vegetarian pizzas, and even the meat-eaters of the group were completely satisfied - try the soft egg pizza! We also loved the sweet corn ricotta dumplings and the amazing kale salad.
- Bull McCabe's - Mine has mentioned this Irish pub several times to me, and I began wondering when she started eating bar food so often. Turns out, this is not your typical bar food. I had a build-your-own veggie burger topped with chipotle mayo and a fried egg. And I cleaned my plate, down to every last fry. It gets loud inside, so sit out front if that bothers you.
- Daisy Cakes - Crowded on a Saturday morning right outside the farmer's market, but worth the wait in line to get an order to-go. The staff was knowledgeable, nice, and attentive. The food and drinks were both great, and they had no problem catering to our special requests even though it was busy.
- Allen & Sons - Colin and Katie were eager to indulge in some authentic North Carolina BBQ here, while Mine and I happily noshed on fried okra and hush puppies (so good.) This homey hole-in-the-wall place is just the type of restaurant my family would love. It's a bit of a drive outside the city center, but it's quite scenic and, I'd say, worth it.
- Maple View Farm - Just a short drive from Allen & Sons, we stopped here for homemade ice cream for dessert. You can sit in one of the rocking chairs on the big porch out front or at a picnic table on the lawn. We lucked out with a gorgeous day and amazing views of the rolling farmland. (photo above) And my bourbon caramel pecan ice cream was delicious.
- Rue Cler - We went here for brunch and were slightly underwhelmed. The food was good, not great, but I couldn't get over the fact that we were told the Croque Monsieur couldn't be made without ham because the sandwiches were premade...what?? There's potential there, so maybe it was just an off day.
- Mad Hatter - Our drinks were too sweet, but the baked goods were tasty. Try the coconut macaroon, it's better than it looks (sticky & chewy, just how I like them.) We got our drinks to go, but Mine said it's a good cafe for working because there are lots of tables and, more importantly, ample outlets for charging your computer.
- The Bar - We went to this bar for a Pride party, so I have no idea what it's like on a typical night. The drinks were good and not too expensive, there is sand out back (which I think is supposed to be reminiscent of a beach, but was more like a litter box), and the music/dancing inside was a lot of fun. Are there always half-naked girls spinning fire outside? Doubt it, but that was fun as well.
- Geer Street Garden - This is where I got the ooey gooey grilled pimento cheese sandwich pictured above (so good!). Katie opted for the fried chicken plate after being tempted by The Pile. And for appetizers we all split deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes (a must!!), and cheddar jalapeno hush puppies. Definitely sit outside in the covered beer garden - it's really nice. And the tequila old fashioned is a great drink (for those of us who don't like bourbon. I know, I know.)
Where we went:
- Atlantic Beach - One day we took a little road trip to the beach. We land-locked folks never pass up an opportunity to see the ocean! A local recommended Atlantic Beach because it is south-facing, which means you get to see both gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. We also had a south wind that day, so even though it wasn't hot out, it wasn't too cold to play in the water. We went to the public beach at Fort Macon State Park, which was gorgeous and had large restrooms for changing as well as outdoor showers for rinsing off.
- Fort Macon - While at the state park, we decided to pop over to see Fort Macon. I'm not a huge history buff, but it ended up being pretty cool. You can wander through the dark bunkers of the fort, as well as climb on top to see views of the ocean. It's crazy to think soldiers shot cannons at ships from that spot 150 years ago. The fort was used in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War before being sold to the state of North Carolina to be used as a public park which opened in 1936. However, it was then leased by the US Army from 1941-1946 to be used during World War II - crazy!
- Sarah P. Duke Gardens - The Duke campus is really beautiful (pretty much the exact opposite of the city streets at NYU!) Mine and Colin gave us a walking tour, which included the amazing Duke Gardens. There is a flock of gardeners on staff that keep it lush, seasonal, and gorgeous year-round. In the spring it's chock-full of tulips and is apparently THE place to get married. In the short time we were there, we saw a wedding at the chapel and quinceanera photos being taken in the garden. It is lovely.
- Parker & Otis - An adorable modern "country" store selling sweets, gifts, and home goods. They also have a deli and serve breakfast and lunch, although we didn't eat here.
- Morgan Imports - An amazing, gigantic store full of kitchen ware, Christmas ornaments, gifts, and more. You could get lost in here for hours!
- Crossfit Durham - This was all Katie. She said the people at the gym were extremely nice and welcoming, and she had a good workout. I love that she's able to drop into other Crossfit gyms while we're traveling.
P.S. If you're looking for other places to visit while there, here's a great guide to Durham!
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