Where to Stay for 36 Hours in Raleigh, N.C.

Thank you for landing on HinesSightBlog.com. This blog post will be updated in 2024 to include our newer hotel properties in Raleigh, NC, as of  December 2023.  If you want to VISIT RALEIGH  (and I hope you do) please browse the Visit Raleigh website for booking opportunities. 

Happy Holidays,

The New York Times wrote a piece called "36 Hours in Raleigh." 

Downtown Raleigh, N.C.
Downtown Raleigh, N.C. 

Reporters put together a fast-paced agenda that would exhaust my leisurely side, but they certainly hit the city's highlights. 36 hours in Raleigh is simply not enough time because there is so much to see and do.  But, most people take short weekend trips, and if you've got 36 hours, then you should spend it in North Carolina's capital city.

I agree with the NY Times restaurant choices in the article for Raleigh.  I've been to every one. I love Bida Manda and the Stanbury. I have a few other favorites as well as a local. 

If you noticed, accommodations were mentioned at the very end of the article. I want to expand more on that today because when you plan a trip, a hotel is an important part of that vacation. Raleigh has a lot of great places to stay, but where you choose to stay really depends on what you are doing in the area and the feel you want for your trip. 

The Marriot City Center
The lobby in the Marriott Raleigh City Center

If I were visiting Raleigh (Wake County only), I would probably choose to stay in four areas. Those areas would be in Raleigh's Midtown area, which was not mentioned in the article, Downtown Raleigh, the heart of Raleigh near Crabtree Valley Mall, and of course, The Umstead Hotel and Spa, located in Cary, N.C. The luxury hotel is not located in Raleigh, but it's only a couple of exits away from RDU-International Airport and is still a short drive (about 20 minutes) to the heart of Downtown Raleigh or Raleigh's Midtown. 

I recommend these specific areas for the leisure traveler to choose a hotel.  If you are a business traveler, visiting family, attending a wedding, or coming for a specific purpose such as a little league tournament, then you may have very specific needs. We have lots of great hotels throughout the Raleigh area that would suit those needs, including the hotels in the areas I recommend. 

The Renaissance North Hills
Renaissance Raleigh North Hills 

But let's talk specifically to this N.Y. Times article. Everything the writer listed is located inside the Raleigh beltline. For that reason only, I feel Downtown Raleigh hotels would be the best places to stay to tackle that particular 36-hour itinerary. 

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I absolutely love the Umstead Hotel and Spa, but this five-star hotel is a destination of its own. 36 hours in Raleigh is not enough time to soak up the flavor of Raleigh, and also soak up all that the Umstead Hotel offers its guests. You need more time in the area so you can enjoy the hotel. 

The Spa at the Umstead Hotel
The Spa at the Umstead Hotel in Cary, N.C. 

You should not go there without visiting the spa, and the hotel's food is some of the best in the Triangle. I had the chicken pot pie in the hotel's lobby bar last week, and it was divine. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't want to check into the Umstead, pay the luxury prices that go with that experience, and then be gone for 16 hours of the day, especially if all you want to do is pack in as much sightseeing, nightlife, and visit as many craft breweries as possible in a short amount of time. 

A Room Balcony at the Umstead Hotel and Spa
A balcony off a room at the Umstead Hotel and Spa

The Downtown Raleigh hotels are within walking distance of most of the places this N.Y Times article recommends to see. The Umstead does have an outdoor, resort-like pool, and I would choose the Umstead as a base for families to explore Raleigh at a more leisurely place, especially in the summer. 

The Marriott and The Sheraton, located downtown and mentioned in the article, have indoor pools, which kids love in the colder months. The Sheraton recently underwent a major room renovation and added the Jimmy V Osteria Bar, which I've not tried yet.  Another new downtown option is the Hampton Inn and Suites, located on Glenwood South, with breakfast included in the rate. The hotel also has a manager's reception a few days a week and has an indoor pool. 

Downtown Raleigh
The Sheraton Hotel in Raleigh, N.C. 

The Renaissance Hotel at North Hills also has an indoor pool and a great restaurant. Shopping, more restaurants, a movie theatre, and a bowling alley are all within walking distance of the hotel. That's a great perk for families with teens. North Hills is in a different part of Raleigh, but it makes a good base for exploring. 

North Hills in Raleigh, N.C.
North Hills, a popular shopping area in Raleigh's Midtown area

The Hyatt House, also located at North Hills in Raleigh's Midtown, has family suites and a small outdoor pool. Breakfast is also included in your rate. 

The Hyatt House in North Hills
The lobby in the Hyatt House North  Hills 

2017 Post Update:  A Residence Inn opened in 2017. It's sophisticated, has a great location and is within walking distance to most everything downtown.  A.C. Hotels by Marriott also opened in North Hills. It has a great rooftop bar.

Raleigh is a great city to visit. I just hope you take longer than 36 hours. We have so much to offer here. 

Nature Research Center at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
Outside of Nature Research  Center at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences 

All of these Raleigh photos were taken by me for Instagram, so be sure to follow me @Hinessightblog. 

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