Raleigh, N.C. New Downtown Raleigh App Launches

downtown Raleigh

Let's face it. The days of paper maps are getting scarce. I have to admit that I like paper, but we're in a new technology world. 

My husband says he can never reach me on my phone. We have our biggest arguments ever when we are in the car and he's left me to be the navigator. I can't stand looking at that little dot moving so happily along. I like to read what streets are coming up next. Trust me, you don't want to be in the car with us during these time.  

downtown Raleigh launches new app

I'm a little late on this news because I've been working on some deadlines  but downtown Raleigh has a new app. It was released a few weeks ago, which means the kinks are now worked out in time for me to share the news with you. 

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance released the  Downtown Raleigh App, a personal guide to having a great time downtown. This means it can help you navigate all those one-way streets. Parking is not really fun now in downtown. I've gotten a ticket trying to get a cup of coffee, but this app will eliminate that. 

The app displays downtown’s ample parking options, gives pricing for decks, and even allows users to set a timer to let them know when their meter runs out. To alert users of upcoming road closures, the app sends push notifications when streets within downtown close for events or construction and provides a graphic display of all downtown street closures.

The street scene of downtown  Raleigh

“We really did our homework when it came to developing this app. We looked at similar applications from other cities and saw that ours was really a one of a kind application. It’s free, easy to use, and is truly a one stop shop for all things downtown,” said Downtown Raleigh Alliance President and CEO, David Diaz.  

The app caters to all demographics from the occasional visitor to the downtown resident by featuring downtown’s amazing dining, retail, and nightlife options as well as upcoming events and unique specials. Whether a user needs to find directions to his destination, park a car, or track the R-LINE in real time, the new app holds the answer.

#OutaboutNC: Win Two Tickets for Beer, Wine, Shine, and Dine Tour in Johnston County, N.C.

Beer, Wine, Shine and Dine Tour in Johnston  County

I am excited to announce a ticket giveaway for the March 19 tour of Beer, Wine, Shine, and Dine in Johnston County, N.C. for our #OutaboutNC community Several tours will be going on this year in Johnston County and with each one you can leave the driving to a guide and enjoy some of Johnston County's best wineries, breweries, and distilleries. 

March 19 -- Hinnant Winery, Broadslab, Double Barley
May 21 -- Gregory Vineyards, Broadslab, Deep River
Oct 1 -- Gregory Vineyards, Broadslab, Deep River
Nov. 12 -- Hinnant Winery, Broadslab, Double Barley

Hinnant Family Vineyards in Johnston County.

The winner of our giveaway along with a guest will visit the following on March 19. 

Hinnant Family Vineyards - The Hinnant Family Vineyards staff invite you to take a gander at the oldest and largest Muscadine vineyard in the state, sprawling 100 acres. In the tasting room sip on double gold winning Electric Pelican, Bob’s wine of choice!

Double Barley  Brewing in Johnston County, N.C

Double Barley Brewing - Taste a vast variety of craft beers such as crowd favorite, Wilma’s Wandering EyePA. The rustic with modern twist taproom is the perfect relaxed environment with lounge area, patron bar, founders table and high top tables. Make sure to try new appetizers with your cold beer. The outdoor beer garden is shaded by trees and sun sails. Imagine listening to music while kicking back in comfy chairs and chilling out with your friends. Makes you want to hang out all day!

Broadslab  Distillery in Johnston County, N.C

 Broadslab Distillery - Visitors will learn about Jeremy's process which involves locally grown and milled corn and hand-made oak barrels crafted by Jeremy himself and used to age the Broadslab Legacy product to perfection.  Broadslab also produces a white rum, a spiced rum, a traditional moonshine which is the "real deal", and the newest product is an Apple Shine.

The cost of these tours are  $89 per person. Welcome bags will be provided by the Johnston County Visitors Bureau. Space is limited, so call (919) 585-4498 today to reserve your spot. You may visit the Clayton Food Tour website to purchase your tickets at www.claytonfoodtours.com/trail and you may enter to win free tickets for the March 19 via #outaboutnc below. 

Deep River Brewing in N.C. #OutaboutNC

Future tours will be held on May 21, October 1, and November 12 and one of my favorite breweries will be included in May.  I personally love Deep River Brewing and buy a lot of their seasonals for my home collection. They will be on the tour for May 21 along with Broadslab again and Gregory Vineyards. 

Gregory Vineyards in Johnston County, #OutaboutNC

Gregory Vineyards - This picturesque 135-acre working farm showcases hills of planted vineyards, a winery, a distillery and a tasting room open seven days a week. Please visit Doctor Lane Gregory and his merry wine makers. Enjoy a taste of double gold winning Mary Elizabeth, double gold winning Lee Love or other award winning wines.  Relax while sitting by the fireplace or grab a rocker on the front porch.

Deep River Brewing - Johnston County’s first legal brewery opened in April of 2013. Many of their beers include locally sourced vegetables, fruits, hops, and grain. The historic space they occupy in downtown Clayton was a cotton spinning mill and is brought back to life by utilizing old barn wood on the walls, mason jar lights, and whiskey barrels for tables. Deep River Brewing Company has become a staple for locals and is perfect for those looking to enjoy a fresh craft beer in a casual laid back atmosphere.

If you are wanting to spend the night in Johnston County, visit Hotels.com for the best rates or our affiliate partner Marriott.com

We think you will have a great time.  Visit Johnston County for more fun ideas for your trip. Johnston County is an easy drive from Raleigh, approximately half an hour to Clayton.  Buy tickets for March 19 and May 21 at http://beerwineshinetrail.com/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#OutaboutNC: Spring at N.C. Art Museum in Raleigh, N.C

One of the most popular places the #OutaboutNC Instagram community tags in our public feed is the North Carolina Museum of Art. With indoor exhibits and an outdoor park area with trails that connect to Raleigh greenways, this North Carolina tourism gem is a great place to spend your day when visiting Raleigh or even enjoying as a local. Get ready to plan your Spring visit today at http://ncartmuseum.org/  

The Art Museum in Raleigh, NC by #OutaboutNC community members

#OutaboutNC NC Art Museum in Raleigh, N.C.

Be sure to follow @OutaboutNC on Instagram to help you plan your trip to North Carolina. If you are traveling to North Carolina, you may want to browse our Book your Hotel tab as well. 

Travel in North Carolina: Visit NC Places Seen in Nicholas Spark's new Movie, "The Choice"

North Carolina has been known to be called the "Hollywood of the East". Bestselling author, Nicholas Sparks, who lives in New Bern, North Carolina bases a lot of his novels in the  South. His fans will be thrilled to learn that they can visit some of the very same spots featured in the film. "The Choice" –in the coastal town of Wrightsville Beach, N.C. 

This new movie  based on Spark’s 2007 novel of the same name  chronicles the love story of two neighbors and their life-changing moments over the years. This latest movie is one of several movies by the author that has been filmed in the area, including “Safe Haven,” “The Longest Ride” and “Dear John.” 

And here's an interesting tidbit, I've personally worked in the hospital where some of the scenes were filmed in "The Choice."  Filming was  in Columbus County and the surrounding area in addition to the Wilmington area. 

·         Drinks with a View – In the movie, Dockside Restaurant and Bar is a go-to spot for the leading man, Travis, and his friends. And in real life, the restaurant is very much the same – perfect for a group setting. Perched on the water, it’s a hot spot for locals and visitors who come for fresh seafood and drinks overlooking Wrightsville Beach’s beautiful Intracoastal Waterway. It’s also a popular spot for passing boaters to dock and dine.

·         Dine Like the Stars – Want to dine like your favorite characters in the movie? Book a reservation at Brasserie du Soleil, where an essential scene in the movie takes place. Located in a shopping village right over the bridge from Wrightsville Beach, this restaurant features traditional French cuisine with an atmosphere that is both luxe and comfortable.

·         Romantic Paddle – Re-create the boat scene between Travis and Gabby on one of Wrightsville Beach’s many waterways. There are plenty of rentals available on the island where you and a loved one can hop in a canoe or kayak and paddle the day away while exploring the coastline. Wrightsville Kayak Company will even deliver a kayak rental straight to your location and pick it up when you’re done!

·         Cruise the Coast – In “The Choice,” there are several scenes where the main characters are cruising on a boat with friends. These scenes were filmed on Masonboro Island, the longest undisturbed barrier island in southern N.C., with pristine beaches that are only accessible by boat. To follow in the characters’ footsteps, visitors can schedule their own boating journey with Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours, which offers a variety of experiences including harbor sunset cruises or day trips to Masonboro Island to collect shells or spot wildlife.

 ·         Take a Garden Tour – Another spot close to the beach where filming took place is the picturesque Airlie Gardens. Dating back to 1886, these historical gardens span 67 acres where guests can gaze upon beautiful Southern gardens, live oaks, freshwater lakes and colorful wildlife.

·         Explore Other Star-Studded Locales – While visiting Wrightsville Beach, there are many other locations where TV shows and movies have been filmed, and star sightings have taken place. Stars like Will Ferrell, John Travolta, William Baldwin, Jennifer Aniston and Julianne Hough have all been spotted at several popular dining spots on the beach including South Beach Grill, Bluewater Waterfront Grill, Oceanic, Dockside Restaurant and Bar, and Bridge Tender. Popular TV shows have been filmed on the island including Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill and Sleepy Hollow, as well as movies like “A Cinderella Story: Once upon a Song” starring Lucy Hale and “28 Days” starring Sandra Bullock.

Keep an eye out for Screen Gem Studio Tours. Right now, tours are not on the schedule, but the typically begin them again during the summer months.

Photos above supplied by Wilmington and Beaches  Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Visit today's tourism partner for the latest events and news. 

Book your Greater Wilmington stay on Hotels.com. On my last visit, I was at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort. 

Photo by Leigh Powell Hines

Also, book directly with my affiliate partner, Marriott. I recommend the brand new Courtyard by Marriott in historic downtown Wilmington or the SpringHill Suites at Wilmington Mayfaire for a fun getaway. 

Learn more about Wilmington area and events

Living in the Raleigh Area: What will 250K Buy Me in North Carolina?

Relocation to Raleigh, N.C. What will $250K buy in N.C.

I talk about my hometown of Raleigh a lot on this blog.  I love it. Visit Raleigh just interviewed me this week on my favorite thing to do for a date night. You can see that story here and it's also fun to see what others in the area have to say about our town, too.

House Sale Information for Relocation to Raleigh, NC and the surrounding area.
Visit VisitRaleigh's website for more information on the area.

Moving to this area in 2000 was the best decision I made.

Raleigh encompasses a large area in Wake County from the Northern area of Wake Forest to the Southern side of the town of Fuquay-Varina. Morrisville is the closest town to the Research Triangle Park and in between are the towns of Cary, Apex, and Holly Springs. We've got homes Inside the Raleigh Beltline, which are closer to downtown Raleigh, and homes now  sandwiched between the Inner Beltline and Outer I-540-Beltline. Boy, that makes us feel so "big" city.

I love to look at real estate. As a blogger, I get asked a lot about area schools, where to eat, where to shop, where to stay, and other area facts.

According to research, the average home price in Wake County is around $250,000. So, what will a mortgage of $250,000 get you for a house in some of the areas of Wake County?

For this research, I put the following criteria together and I only looked at the homes that met these guidelines.

Budget: $250,000 to $260,000
Square Footage Minimum 1750
3 Bedrooms and 2 baths 
Single-Family Detached

Apex, North Carolina

I have a lot of friends who live in Apex, and I think this town is adorable. The schools are good. It has a cute downtown with upscale shops and restaurants. It also has some urban sprawl with Target, and the brand new Costco. You can hop on the new I-540 Outer Beltline in a flash, and it can take you to other parts of the Triangle quite quickly.

There is a lot to like about Apex. Single family homes in the price tag we're targeting for this market fly off the market about as quickly as the Lilly Pulitzer stuff did at Target.  If you want to move to Apex then you may want to call my friend, Raleigh Realty Mom, quickly. When I did our search only five homes popped up, and they were all either pending or on contingent. None of the listings in the price range were active.

My Favorite:

Home in Shepherds Vineyard Neighborhood
Asking Price: $255,000
Square Footage: 1865 on .025 acre
4 Bedroom/2 Baths 1 Half Bath
Year Built: 1987

With this home, you could be at the new Apex Costco in four minutes, and in downtown Raleigh in 24 minutes. It is 25 minutes to the RTP via I-540. This home was on the market for zero days according to sources. That's fast.

Cary, North Carolina 

Cary is larger than the town of Apex and borders Apex, Raleigh, and Morrisville. It encompasses a large area. Cary has an older section, and a newer developed section of town as you move toward Morrisville. The historic downtown area opened its first luxury boutique hotel, The Mayton Inn, this month. Cary has a lot to offer as a suburb of Raleigh. It has two beautiful country clubs, a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and many ethnic markets. Cary is a good place to raise a family.

My favorite: We found nine homes that met our search criteria and all, but one of the listings were active. Out of the nine. I liked this one the best. It sold in ten days and was at the top of our price range.

Home in Cary Park Neighborhood
Asking Price: $259,900
Square Footage: 1892 on .09 of an acre
3 bedrooms, 2 baths 1 half bath
Year Built: 2002

It is 17 minutes to the new Costco in Apex and 38 minutes to downtown Raleigh and 19 minutes to RTP.

East Raleigh (Includes Raleigh, towns of Knightdale, and Wendell)

I know very little about this area. It's closer to the cute town of Wake Forest. Wendell and Knightdale have easy access to downtown Raleigh. The schools do not flourish as well as Apex, Cary and other parts of Raleigh, but Wake County has good schools. Magnet schools are going into this area. And the towns are now on the cusp of booming like Western Wake towns did years ago. I think this area is on the rise with new home developments, and even a brewery. You definitely get more house for the money here. We had 22 listings on our search.

Home in Princeton Manor in Knightdale, N.C.
Asking price: $260,000
Square Footage: 2462 on .029 acre
4 bedrooms, 2 baths and 1 half bath
Home built: 2005

In this home, you can be to downtown Raleigh in 18 minutes, and to RTP in 34 minutes via I-540. And believe it or not, you could get to the new Apex Costco in 26 minutes.

Raleigh, Inside the Beltline

Inside the beltline is the area inside the area's original beltline I-440. Downtown Raleigh, the State Farmer's Market, NC State University, Cameron Village, an upscale shopping center, and historic neighborhoods are in this area. It's a very walkable area depending on where you live, but this budget does not get you much. There were four listings for our search. I had to bend our criteria a little bit and take off the square footage minimum to even get a favorite to show. There was only one house for $260K over our minimum square footage requirement. It was in an area that still needs some revitalization.

My Favorite:

Home in Woodcrest neighborhood
Asking price: $250,000
Square Footage: 1257 on .37 acre
3 bedrooms, 2 baths
Move-in-Ready: Remodeled and up to date
Home Built: 1957
This home is 9 minutes from downtown Raleigh, 23 minutes to RTP, and 22 minutes to Costco in Apex.

North Raleigh

North Raleigh is still Raleigh, and it is a very large area.It is basically land north of Crabtree Mall and the area that borders the town of Wake Forest.  Only 9 homes popped up, and only one is still an active listing.

My favorite:
Home in Quail Hollow neighborhood
Asking Price: $254,900
Square Footage: 1905
3 bedrooms and 2 baths
Interior could use an update
Built in 1971

Honestly, nothing wowed me in the price range for North Raleigh which tells me your budget may need to be higher. I chose this home because of its location to North Hills shopping center and the schools around it. This home was on the market awhile, but at a higher price. It's probably not very North in its Raleigh location, but it is north of downtown Raleigh.

This home is 14 minutes to downtown Raleigh and 23 minutes to the RTP without TRAFFIC. I think it would be longer in traffic.  It's also 23 minutes to the new Costco in Apex, but they have their own Raleigh Costco on their side of town so I doubt they will be going across town much to shop.

South Raleigh

This area is South and Southeast of downtown Raleigh and includes the town of Garner, N.C and areas in the county of Wake County before getting into the city limits of both Holly Springs and  Fuquay-Varina.

There were 12 homes in this price point. All seemed a lot alike. I'm going to feature this one to give you an idea.  This is in a golf, swim and tennis community.

Home in Eagle Ridge
Asking price: $254,900
Square Footage: 2325 on .025 acre
4 bedrooms and 3 baths
Year Built: 2001

This home is 18 minutes to downtown Raleigh and 30 minutes to RTP in good traffic.  Yeah, Yeah, it's 18 minutes to the new Apex Costco. It's back country roads, baby!


Wake County is large and there were 101 homes for sale in  Wake County in this price point when we searched. The one with the most curb appeal goes to this home for sale in Wake Forest.  It's a pending sale now and was on the market for 12 days. Asking price: $259,900

If you enjoyed this series, we'll slowly start increasing our budget. My thanks to Costco for the wonderful products they have sent me in preparation for their store opening. Costco offers members savings on both travel and on services, such as insurance and identity protection. You can find more information on CostcoTravel.com and on http://www.costco.com/services. Here is a link to the digital version of the My Costco Services magazine, which contains additional information and a link to a video that highlights Costco Services http://goo.gl/8Omy2K

If coming to check out homes in Wake County, book your hotel directly  via Marriott for the best direct savings, Mayton Inn,  and at Hotels.com.  Also, be sure to visit the Visit Raleigh website and get a free visitor's guide. 

Travel:10 Things You Should Know about Mardi Gras

New Orleans has always seemed like a hot, sexy city with a lot of mystery and intrigue. I've never personally been to Louisiana. When I think of New Orleans, I think of "A StreetCar Named Desire", "Interview with a Vampire", music, ghosts, spicy food, ghosts, and the celebration of Mardi Gras.

I don't know if I will ever be in town for Mardi Gras. I tend to like to go to places during a more quiet time, but New Orleans is a place I would like to see and experience for myself. 

Travel: 10 Things You Should Know about Mardi Gras
Photo from Courtyard New Orleans Downtown Near French Quarter 

HinesSightBlog affiliate partner, Marriott.com  and Starwood.com has great rates when booked directly. 
Photo of  Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel 

Expect to pay $144 to $419 depending on the hotel you choose and availability. The JW Marriott is at the top tier for pricing and the best rates of all for New Orleans is that last week of March. Enjoy planning your trip. 

What would be my pick? Well, you know I love a Ritz-Carlton

Photo from Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

I always check to see if I could afford that hotel first. This New Orleans property is not part of the special I mentioned, but you could find some great packages including $50 hotel credit per stay beginning at $279 per night. You know I love to find you a lux deal. 

Photo by Marriott.com 

Louisiana-based, Community Coffee Company, worked with me to provide you some insights on Mardi Gras. In fact, I sipped on their limited-edition, Mardi-Gras King Cake blend, while writing this post. It was a great afternoon indulgence. No sugar for me. Just my favorite almond milk creamer that I'm still driving all over town to keep in stock. 

The origins of Mardi Gras in New Orleans can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice to evolve into the ornately costumed festivities we see today. There’s a lot of tradition and heritage that have helped to produce the Mardi Gras scene as it’s currently celebrated. 

According to Community Coffee staff, here are some good things to know to enjoy Mardi Gras like a native. 

Number 10 How to spell “krewe” and “flambeaux” and “Mardi Gras” and, well, you get the point. 

Number 9 Technically, Carnivale is a season, and Mardi Gras is a day. But we tend to generalize and refer to the weeks of parades leading up to Fat Tuesday as Mardi Gras. 

Number 8 The Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold. Remember to coordinate your outfit appropriately. 

Number 7 The Captain of the Krewe is more important than the King. But the King gets all the glory while the Captain does all the work. 

Number 6 If you miss a doubloon thrown from a float, never reach down to pick it up. Always put your foot on it. If you go with your hand, you're either too late or you'll get your fingers stepped on. 

Number 5 If you bite into a plastic baby in a King Cake, that's a good thing. 

Number 4 Any beads shorter than two feet long are unacceptable unless they are made of glass -- the bigger and longer the beads, the better. 

Number 3 Once any beads have touched the ground, they are sullied and should not be picked up unless under the rarest of circumstances. 

Number 2 The vast majority of people in the French Quarter during Carnivale are from out of town. 

The Number 1 thing you must know about Mardi Gras season is that Community© Mardi Gras King Cake coffee can help you celebrate anywhere.  For a limited time you can have your cake … and drink it, too. 

If you are in the Raleigh-area, LaFarm Bakery sells freshly-baked King Cakes as well as Lucettegrace in downtown Raleigh. Pastry chef,  Daniel Benjamin, was getting his colors today on social media. 

And for even more hotel stays visit Hotels.com, our new partner for great hotels. 

FTC Disclosure: Community Coffee supplied the research behind this post and pitched it to me along with some complimentary coffee that I've enjoyed drinking for the past two weeks. This post contains affiliate links and I personally found the great travel deals. Enjoy your trip. 

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