The Best Places to Eat, Drink, and Play in Raleigh, NC

By Common Desk - February 8th, 2022

We made an announcement almost two years ago that Common Desk was coming to Raleigh, NC, and then, let’s just say…a couple things got in the way (like a pandemic). Fast forward to today, we’re ecstatic to revisit the details of this opening-soon location and share everything that we’re bringing to the City of Oaks!

We’re settling in at 2020 Progress Court in the new East End Market development and set to open our doors in just a few short weeks. There’s a plethora of reasons to be excited about Common Desk – East End Market, including the culture and community surrounding it! A big part of what drives us at Common Desk is the joining of work and fun, and we couldn’t open a new coworking space in Raleigh without sharing some of our favorite ways to unwind. Consider this your guide to Common Desk’s affection for Raleigh.

Nature

Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

The Trails at Hemlock Bluffs may not technically be inside Raleigh’s city limits, but we’re counting it. This preserve has it all: paved trails, unpaved trails, a creek, and tons of carefully untouched North Carolina land to enjoy. A favorite for families with kids, dog-walkers, and leisurely trail hikers, Hemlock Bluffs is a gorgeous place to get fresh air.

Photo from (twitter.com/TOC_Fun/)

Mountains-to-Sea Trail

In contrast to the easy pace of Hemlock Bluffs, The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is the official state hiking trail of North Carolina. A whopping 1,175 miles long, different sections of the trail offer a rich variety of sights to see. From coastal swampland to pine forests to sand dunes to ocean shorelines, we’re fairly sure every kind of person will fall in love with the MST like we have.

Photo from (www.instagram.com/mountainstoseatrail/)

Dorothea Dix Park

This massive space expertly blends the past with the present and, ultimately, the future. Resting on historic land that’s been hunted and gathered from, worked as a plantation, and home to the state’s first mental health hospital, the variety of natural scenes represented on these 308 acres are the perfect backdrop for life today. Frequently playing host to picnics, public festivals, pick-up games, fitness classes, and even winter sledding shenanigans, Dorothea Dix Park fulfills its purpose of meeting the needs of the diverse Raleigh community.

Photo from (instagram.com/dixpark/)

Food and Drink

Hayes Barton Cafe

For anyone yearning for that old-timey charm and a great meal, just stop by Hayes Barton Cafe for a helping of both! Our North Dallas Senior Community Manager, Caroline, grew up in Raleigh and we have it on good authority that this is her favorite restaurant. Among many reasons, the cakes are HUGE and the dinner menu is infused with cultural references to the early 1900’s. Order up the “Titanic” Iceberg Wedge Salad, the “Pearl Harbor” Oyster Plate, and the Hitchcock “Fowl Play of the Day” (alongside a doozy of a cake slice), and you’ll leave a happy camper.

Photo from (instagram.com/hayesbartoncafeanddessertery/)

Transfer Co. Food Hall

We like to build community around coworking, but Transfer Co. Food Hall does it another way we love: through food. From fresh oysters to Indian street food to giant ice cream sandwiches, vendors of all kinds share one roof and we all get to benefit. When your teammates, family, or friends can’t decide on one restaurant, this is the place to go. There’s almost always a fun event going on like an open mic night or a Latin dance party, so we’d be really surprised if you couldn’t find something to love here.

Photo from (instagram.com/transfercofoodhall/)

Raleigh Beer Garden

Go to Raleigh Beer Garden to sample the world’s largest draft beer selection—really, the world’s largest! The fine people of Guinness World Records confirmed the claim in 2015. The beer menu is so vast and ever-changing that you won’t even find a paper menu in the joint; it’s all digital for easy updates. Grab a seat, order a brew, and catch a Raleigh sunset on the big patio—and don’t sleep on the food, either. The burgers and cheese fries will knock your socks off.

Photo from (instagram.com/ralbeergarden/)

Crawford and Son

When you’re in need of a date spot, let us recommend Crawford and Son in the Historic Oakwood District (a charming place to take a stroll in, by the way—plus, look at that picture-perfect patio!). The gorgeous presentation of familiar-yet-unexpected dishes gives an elegant but approachable feel to the place; great cocktails, stunning mocktails, and an extensive wine list will keep you in your chair long after the meal ends.

Photo from (instagram.com/crawfordnson/)

Entertainment

State Farmers’ Market

It’s not just for farmers—open everyday, the Raleigh Farmers’ Market is a family experience not to be missed. Sprawling 75 acres, this market is known to be one of the best in the nation; and, with both indoor and outdoor shops, restaurants, and produce center, it’s easy to see why. Admission is free, and you’ll be sure to find the freshest produce and most unique artisan gifts with each visit.

Photo from (flickr.com/photos/131964325@N04/17006723277/in/photostream/)

City murals

Care to take in a little bit of art? Get your daily steps in at the same time with the city’s extensive collection of public murals! In Downtown Raleigh alone, you can find 140 pieces of public art for all to enjoy. Read along with the city’s public art map or use your phone to listen to full audio descriptions of each piece—or, just let the wind lead you where it may.

Photo from (instagram.com/raleighmuralsproject/)

NC Museum of Art

This is not your average art museum. With everything from groundbreaking exhibits and near-daily events to an interactive outdoor park with a curated trail system, this is truly an art museum for every interest. The onsite cafe even changes its dishes to reflect the special exhibits and permanent collection, and you can take your fare outdoors to enjoy on the park lawn. Another of our staffer Caroline’s top recommendations in Raleigh, the NCMA has made its way to our favorites list, too.

Photo from (instagram.com/ncartmuseum/)

We really love Raleigh, and we can’t wait to add many more favorite eats, drinks, and sights to our repertoire soon. Make sure to let us in on all your best City of Oaks secrets—Raleigh, we’ll be seeing you!

Featured photo from (downtownraleigh.org)

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Common Desk isn’t just a coworking space; it’s a tight-knit community of game-changers, difference-makers, and global influencers.
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