History, hidden tacos and Detroit-style pizza in Raleigh-Durham

Raleigh – part of the Triangle area of North Carolina – seemed far away for us. For quite some time, my husband and I would say we’d go, but each time, something else would come up.

WRAL azalea garden
WRAL Azalea Garden

However, history, the promise of a taco crawl and North Carolina’s azalea season were calling.

In April 2022, we made the short trek (3 hours from Myrtle Beach) to Raleigh for spring break.

The space between Myrtle Beach and North Carolina is full of history. Don’t be surprised if driving down a side highway you stumble upon a Civil War site or upon an old church or cemetery that’s been around since Pre-Civil War times. One of those pre-war sites was our first stop at the Old Bluff Presbyterian Church, a historic church founded in 1758 and built in 1855 near Godwin, N.C. The grounds even have an old spring that “quenched the thirst of the Highlanders, both Patriot and Loyalist,” according to the church history website.

The church and land alone is worth a stop, but as we traveled into Raleigh on NC 301 and NC 82, we passed many stops on the North Carolina Civil War Trails including the Averasboro Battlefield. The site, according to the museum’s website, said the battle there in March 1865 was the “first deliberate, tactical resistance to the infamous march of Federal forces through Georgia and the Carolinas.”

Impromptu history tours aside, Raleigh also offers beautiful gardens and great food.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Sarah P. Duke Gardens

I highly recommend the WRAL Azalea Garden, (2619 Western Blvd, Raleigh) especially if you are able to go during peak Azalea season, which usually starts in the middle of March and ends in April. The garden is free and open to the public. There are winding paths with beauty around each turn and space for photo shoots – professional or otherwise.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens (420 Anderson St, Durham) is also quite the surprise. The park is free to enjoy, but you do pay for parking. My tip is to download the app ahead of time so paying is easy and you don’t have to wait in line at the terminals. The 55-acre wooded and landscaped space is a splendid oasis near the heart of Durham. On our trip, the tulips were in bloom on the staggered steps near the pond. It was absolutely beautiful.

Gringa and Borrachita at Gym Taco
Gringa and Borrachita at Gym Taco

Traipsing through gardens can definitely work up an appetite. The Raleigh-Durham area has food halls, like Transfer Company; breweries, like Crank Arm Brewery; brew-pubs, like Wye Hill Brewing; classy restaurants and taco trucks. When we travel, we like to experience as local of a meal as we can.

I highly recommend a taco crawl – especially to Gym Taco. This food truck in a gas station parking lot is cash only and speaking at least a little bit of Spanish will help a lot. Their Borrachitas alone should spur you to visit.

Trophy Brewing and Pizza - Detroit style pizza
Trophy Brewing and Pizza – Detroit style pizza

As a surprise treat we didn’t expect – Trophy Brewing and Pizza has Detroit-style pizza on special on Monday nights. I recommend reservations because we were lucky to get in. The pizza is perfectly cheesy with that crispy edge you can only get in a Detroit-style pan. If you haven’t had this style of pizza…you’re missing out. Seek it out, immediately.

In four days, there are a ton of things to do and see in Raleigh-Durham. These are just a few of the stories from our trip. If you’ve got questions or recommendations, let me know!

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