A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

    What We Love About the Raleigh Area Inside The Curatory, the Raleigh Denim Workshop’s downtown Raleigh storefront, a sewing machine hums the song of entrepreneurial success, as it

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

    What We Love About the Raleigh Area Inside The Curatory, the Raleigh Denim Workshop’s downtown Raleigh storefront, a sewing machine hums the song of entrepreneurial success, as it

Skyline of Raleigh

Your Guide to Raleigh



What We Love About the Raleigh Area

Inside The Curatory, the Raleigh Denim Workshop’s downtown Raleigh storefront, a sewing machine hums the song of entrepreneurial success, as it creates another one-of-a-kind pair of jeans. This is the vision of Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko, who set out to create the perfect pair of jeans, and their West Martin Street store sells the manifestation of that dream: expertly crafted jeans, each signed with a trademark Sharpie signature on the inside pocket.

Throughout the City of Oaks, locally owned shops and boutiques sell artisanal products that reflect this passion and creative spirit. To help you curate the ultimate spree, we rounded up a list of shops all around the Raleigh area — downtown, Midtown, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, and Zebulon — that epitomize this vibrant shopping scene, plus the best spots to grab a bite and fuel up in between stops.


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DECO Raleigh: In the heart of downtown, this independent gift shop is well-known for its wide selection of local artisans. DECO opened in 2012, and shoppers can find the perfect gift, whether they’re in the market for gourmet foods, decor, candles, children’s items, jewelry, or home goods.

Quercus Studio: Quercus, Latin for oak tree, is the place in Raleigh for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry or ring. In her downtown studio, goldsmith Lauren Ramirez creates stunning custom wedding and engagement rings. She also has a collection of showstopping pieces you can purchase for any special occasion.

Videri Chocolate Factory: Every shopping adventure should break for fine chocolate, and this downtown chocolate factory’s hand-crafted, artisan product is worth the detour in downtown Raleigh. To taste all the delectable offerings, ask for the assorted bonbon box. Plan a visit to tour the factory, sample chocolate, and enjoy a variety of confections in their spacious cafe while sipping a cup of locally produced Black & White Coffee.

ORO Restaurant & Lounge: The lively atmosphere in this downtown Raleigh restaurant is the perfect setting for innovative tapas. Delicious bites like coconut curry pork osso bucco, Wilders bone-in pork chop, confit fingerling potatoes, and sesame cauliflower make the perfect meal to share among friends. Offer a toast over one of their specialty cocktails (we’re partial to the Stubborn as a Mule and the Smokey & the Bandit).




Tin Roof Teas: Visit this specialty tea shop for a wide variety of high-quality, organic loose-leaf teas, honey, and tea accessories. Purchase more than 250 teas, and try best-sellers like the Rip Van Winkle, chamomile flowers, loose-leaf tea blends, amber rock sugar, and halo blooming tea.

Copper Penny Boutique: One of the area’s favorite women’s boutiques is a go-to spot for designer clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Look for labels bearing the names of top designers like B.B. Lila, Dear John, and Emily McCarthy.

Array of tapas at Las Ramblas in Raleigh, North Carolina

Dine on Spanish cuisine at Las Ramblas. photograph by Forrest Mason Media

Las Ramblas: Skip the airfare and grab a seat at this lovely restaurant to experience the culinary magic of Spain. Named for the famed “Las Ramblas” boulevard in Barcelona, this quaint spot offers locally- and Spanish-sourced tapas-style dishes, Spanish wine, craft beer, and creative cocktails. Chef Brian Jenzer serves Spanish signatures like patatas bravas, Iberico shaved jamòn, and albondigas (Mexican meatball soup).

Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery: Tucked into the heart of the historic Five Points neighborhood, you’ll find award-winning desserts to end a fantastic meal. Don’t leave without a bite of the sky-high coconut cake, layered with sweet coconut flakes and covered in decadent icing. Dessert options rotate daily, and other impressive offerings include key lime pie, German chocolate, and hummingbird cake.





Capri Flavors: This quaint store in Cary, family-run since 1996, sells imported pasta, cookies, and other sweets, and fine wines from Italy. You will be transported to Italy and greeted with Caprisian hospitality. Pick up handmade pasta, Anthony’s Famous Pesto, and the finest prosciutto. Chat with Chef Anthony Misso; he speaks fluent Italian and loves to help customers choose from all the delicious options.

Cocktails at Dram & Drought in Raleigh

Take a load off as you sip a cocktail at Dram & Draught. Photography courtesy of Visit Raleigh

Dram & Draught: A relaxing setting serving more than 300 whiskeys from around the world awaits at this bar in Cary. Sip on the perfect whiskey or choose from handcrafted cocktails, like the D&D Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig Bourbon or the Elvis Presley with peanut butter-and-honey-infused bourbon. If you’re looking for something other than whiskey, order a Raleigh-brewed beer or a glass of wine from their worldly wine list.

Limited Run Retail: This video game lovers’ paradise in Macgregor Village is a premium publisher of physical games. Since 2015, Limited Run has released more than 1000 games, including indie games and others that are partnerships with well-known legends.

Shelves of fresh bread loaves at Le Farm Bakery in Cary, North Carolina

Stock up on freshly baked bread — and other pastries and treats — at La Farm Bakery. Photography courtesy of Visit Raleigh

La Farm Bakery: The smell of freshly baked bread greets you from the parking lot of this authentic French bakery. Using locally sourced ingredients, Master Baker Lionel Vatinet creates handcrafted breads daily in various flavors, shapes, and sizes. Try the Asiago Parmesan sourdough, challah, and rustic Italian loaf. Or choose a breakfast pastry like an almond croissant, pain au chocolat, scones, and other seasonal specialties.



Hidden Gems

ELK Local Foods: Built on the dream of a Saturday morning farmers market, ELK Local Foods in Apex brings local products together in one location. With jams, honey, nuts, spices, and so much more, this small business partners with local food producers, making it easy for you to support the community.

Keepin’ It Collective: If you’re looking for vintage clothing and sneakers, this is the stop for a retro tee or classic Air Jordan sneakers. The center for style and pop culture in Apex, KIC serves up a space full of energy.

Artist crafts pieces of bagpipes at MacLellan Bagpipes

Instruments are works of art at MacLellan Bagpipes. Photography courtesy of MacLellan Bagpipes

MacLellan Bagpipes: Located in Zebulon, this distinctive bagpipe shop — the only shop in North America that makes and sells bagpipes and teaches lessons — offers musical instruments that are indeed works of art. From custom metalwork on the bronze ferrules to exotic wood, like cocobolo, mopane, and African blackwood, here you will find exceptional bagpipes. Check out the MacLellan Bore, based on a set of 1880s Henderson bagpipes that, after some special modifications, gives the rich and complex sound that has come to be known as “the MacLellan Drone Sound.”

Bestow Baked Goods: No celebration is complete without a dessert! Selling all things sweet from cakes to scones, this Holly Springs gem serves treats that are beautiful and delicious. Specialty cake flavors include vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, and sweet potato. Don’t leave without a cookie – the classic chocolate chip or Nutella-stuffed options are worthy impulse buys.



Explore More in Raleigh

Black-and-white photos of NC State basketball players at the Players Lounge in Raleigh

Feeder of the Pack: Players Retreat in Raleigh

Over its 70 years, the Players Retreat has played many roles in Raleigh: hangout for NC State actors after performances, shrine to Wolfpack athletics, sports bar with a fine-dining pedigree. Plus, it serves a heck of a burger.

Raleigh Union Station

NC By Train: Raleigh

All aboard! Take a train trip to downtown Raleigh, then set off on foot to spend the day exploring, eating, and shopping.

Salad and matcha at Heirloom in Raleigh, North Carolina

An Heirloom to Share in Raleigh

Heirloom Brewshop’s menu is a marriage of its owners’ Taiwanese and Laotian cultures, built on a foundation laid by past generations.



This story was published on Nov 20, 2023