Thanks to the generosity of the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley, Seasons 52 and Carolina Touring Company, I was able to experience a great weekend staycation in Raleigh. All opinions expressed are genuine and my own.
My husband and I always come across free weekends without the kids when we could use a brief breather from the real world chaos and our loaded schedules. We don’t always have the time (or the budget) for a full fledged trip. Our go-to plans when that happens is a staycation.
We’re lucky because in our home city of Raleigh, recreational opportunities abound and food and relaxation options are more than plentiful so we never run out of places and things to explore. We had a short wish list for our latest staycation itinerary; some culture, some relaxation, great food and a new activity.
We started our staycation weekend by driving downtown and enjoying First Friday Raleigh which showcases the vibrant art and creative community in downtown Raleigh. The event is free and features a variety of local art galleries and studios, museums and exhibitors that stay open late and put on special events. We loved strolling through the streets checking out galleries, talking to artists, sipping complimentary wine and even taking the opportunity to make our own pieces of art at CAM’s communal table.
We grabbed a quick dinner at Morgan Street Food Hall and then headed to one of our favorite haunts, Ashley Christensen’s, Fox Liquor Bar, to hunt down my husband’s favorite drink in town, The Penicillin. My choice for top Fox’s drink is the amazing Gin and Tonic with gentian and clove. We always look forward to the walk down into this subterranean den on Wilmington Street. It’s a perfect way to spend time together catching up and relaxing in the moody atmosphere while sipping on a favorite cocktail and a great way to end the evening in Raleigh before heading home.
On Saturday we slept in, a rare treat and a requisite for us during staycations. After throwing a change of casual clothes and a dinner outfit into a bag, adding shoes and a toiletry bag, we checked into the newly renovated Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley.
Valet parking makes me feel like a VIP, so we handed over our car keys and strolled through the lobby and beautiful great room to check in with the front desk staff. It’s such a pleasure to walk into a well appointed modern hotel guest room with luxurious bedding and a king-sized bed. Add to that black out curtains, a great shower and a Smart TV with Netflix and we instantly felt like we were indulging ourselves far from home.
We enjoyed the afternoon in our comfortable room and then headed to the open outdoor patio that overlooks the pool for a pre-dinner drink. It’s amazing how staying in a hotel can make you feel like the stress of day to day living is fading away.
Dinner was next and we took advantage of the short walk across the street to Seasons 52, a restaurant that offers seasonal dishes in a casual but super sophisticated environment.
The menu included handcrafted cocktails, roasted Roma tomato flat bread, lump crab and shrimp stuffed mushrooms, an arrugala and burrata salad, seasonally prepared scallops, and venison prepared to perfection. All this, plus incredible service from our server, the restaurant manager/sommelier and a visit from the Chef who checked in and answered questions about our meal. We loved trying the new hybrid vegetable, caulilini, which has stems like broccoli and florets like delicate cauliflower!
The food was fresh, delicious and plentiful but the service turned this meal from a great one to a really memorable one.
The fact that ingredients are seasonally sourced at Seasons 52, that such care is given to creating and executing the menu, and the service is outstanding, makes this restaurant a great choice for date nights, dinner with family and friends or special occasions.
So far, we had crossed 3 out of 4 things off our staycation wish list:
The next morning we were ready to tackle the last: a NEW activity. I loved the convenience of rolling out of bed and shuffling down to the hotel’s Southern contemporary restaurant, Braise, where breakfast was waiting for us. We enjoyed fresh coffee and orange juice, ordered omelettes and waffles and then, after an easy breezy checkout, headed downtown for our very first electric Trikke tour with Carolina Touring Company (formerly Triangle Glides).
For us, the key to a fun staycation is taking the opportunity to act like a tourist in our own city. We love taking tours when we visit a new one so why not take one in Raleigh and learn more about our own? We met our small group and tour guide, Todd, in the Warehouse district. Todd gave us a Trikke tutorial, made sure we were comfortable on our rides, suited us up with helmets (safety first!), earpieces through which we would hear his narration, and detailed the plans for the tour.
Carolina Touring Company has been in business for over ten years and I love the passion Todd and his wife Sandy show for their company’s mission and for the city of Raleigh. We found the Trikkes to be so much more dynamic (read: fun) than a Segway and the active ride was easy enough for me to learn to navigate quickly and exciting enough to give my adventurous husband a thrill.
Todd led the way through the Warehouse district to the highlights of the tour; Historic Oakwood neighborhood, the Governor’s Mansion, and Oakwood Cemetery which holds fascinating North Carolina history throughout its grounds. Through our wireless earpieces, he delivered historical information, fun facts and great banter. A second guide following in back made sure we were always safe on the streets and in traffic so we could just focus on having fun. It was such a blast touring and learning while “carving” on the streets of Raleigh. I can’t believe we’ve lived here for all these years and never explored the city this way. Our afternoon adventure was a great way to end our mini staycation weekend.
If you’re looking for ideas for your next Couple’s Staycation Weekend in Raleigh, here are some to consider:
•Enjoy the arts culture in Raleigh. There is such a high quantity and quality of arts and cultural entertainment in the Triangle. Take advantage of the richness the city offers. There are free museum entries and events all year long including First Friday every month.
•Stay at home or better yet, choose a hotel with rates that fit within your budget. We loved the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree because of its well appointed and comfortable rooms, plentiful lounge areas, amenities, and most importantly, its location. If you are looking to have great restaurants and shopping within easy walking distance and be an easy drive away to downtown Raleigh, check out the Marriott located right across from the Crabtree Valley Mall. Rates start at well under $200 and a hotel stay is guaranteed to make you feel like you’re far away from home.
•Have a luxuriously long meal together. Reconnect with each other over great food and drink and bring a romance mindset along. Time without the kids around reminds you of what brought you together in the first place. Treat yourself to a meal you’ll remember like the ones we loved on the seasonally selected menu at Seasons 52.
• Act like a tourist. Be adventurous while learning about the city. For a combination of historical insight and plain old fun, check out Carolina Touring Company, a local touring company that offers walking tours as well as active tours with electric Trikkes. Trying new things for the first time together helps rekindle those first date sparks.
As a blended family with 4 kids between us, we understand the need for slowing down and reconnecting with your partner. A staycation allows you to do just that while being easy to plan, inexpensive and stress-free. Check back here to see what our next staycation will have in store for us!
Book your stay at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley.
Reserve a table at Seasons 52.
Book your electric Trikke tour with Carolina Touring Company.