7 Ways to Savor Thanksgiving in Raleigh

Staying home for the holiday? Take advantage of a slower week to explore a different neighborhood, browse a store or visit a new restaurant.

By Ayn-Monique Klahre

While lots of folks head out of town for Thanksgiving, there’s something special about being here in a quiet week. Slower work days mean there might be time to try a new spot or browse a store at lunchtime. And if you have guests in town, it’s a good incentive to show off some of the restaurants or bars that give Raleigh it’s own unique flavor. If you’re more into hunkering down with family, it can be a time to cook something new or get outside for a leisurely hike. Here are 7 ideas — and tons of resources — to make Thanksgiving in Raleigh a good time. 

Plan Out Your Menu

Get some last-minute Thanksgiving inspo by tapping into what these food personalities do, including Matt Register’s classic Southern meal, Vivian Howard’s Eastern NC traditions, Oscar Diaz’s Mexican-American spread, Sean Fowler’s locally-grown menu, Eva Shockey’s game-forward appetizers, or Scott Crawford’s French-infused dinner. And if you’re wondering what to do with the leftovers, consider this easy idea from Chef Beth Littlejohn at The Players Retreat. Missing a strainer, gravy boat or ladle big enough for allll those potatoes? Take a swing through United Restaurant Equipment Company

Explore a Different Part of the City

If you’ve got friends or extended family in town, take a spin through this list of things to do with out-of-town guests — we’ve got it broken down by interest, with options for everyone from little kds to your cousin who likes to party. If you just like to walk around, make like a tourist with the guide to explore different Raleigh neighborhoods, which highlights the unique architecture, restaurants, parks and playgrounds you’ll find in each. Want a deeper dive? Read through this history of the Method neighborhood, or the story of the founding of Hayes-Barton, before taking a drive or walk through to see the results for yourself.

Side Street is located in Oakwood.

Eat and Drink Someplace New (to You)

Wait, you’ve never been there? If you haven’t hit every place on this list of long-standing restaurants and hidden gems in Raleigh, now is the time. For a nice drink with folks back in town for the holiday, check out this list of bars with heated outdoor seating. And if you want to know where the local food industry folks eat and drink, we surveyed chefs, bartenders, food writers, wine purveyors and more to bring you not just one, but two lists of where to eat all over the Triangle.

Take a Crisp Fall Hike

These Urban Hikes offer a mix of nature and city scenery, and are right close to downtown. For a pre-Thanksgiving meal hike with an opportunity for learning, consider one of these Hikes with History that have plaques, historic infrastructure and nearby museums to learn more about Raleigh in the 1700s and 1800s. Or just go on an easy stroll to take in the last of the fall leaves around Raleigh.

Browse a Unique Local Store

Take some time browsing a vintage or consignment store for something really special — it’s always interesting to see what treasures you’ll find. (If you’re too stuffed to move off this couch, consider this list of local antiques stores you can shop from Instagram.) If you’re ready for some inspiration for your Thanksgiving leftovers, consider visiting one of these specialty food shops that carry ingredients from Asian, Latin, Indian and other regional and cultural traditions.

Go On a Day Trip

Take advantage of a day or two off to go for a little drive. Only about 45 minutes away, there’s lots to explore in the university town of Chapel Hill — even if you’re not a Tar Heels fan. A little further out, these five small towns in Western North Carolina will give you a taste of the mountains, with the crisp air and nostalgic tourist attractions we love. And if you’re not totally stuffed with turkey, consider making a trip just to visit one of these classic out-of-town diners and dives.

Jackie Craig makes room for items at Green Chair Project. Photo by Chris Seward | Courtesy The News & Observer

Clean Out the Closets

We polled local nonprofits about how to give back better by being thoughtful of how you donate your used goods. Here’s a list of local organizations to donate too, divided by categories like clothing, furniture and used books. And if they stuff you’re finding is, well, junk, check out this list of things you didn’t know you could recycle in Raleigh before you throw it in the trash!

This article originally appeared on waltermagazine.com on November 17, 2022.