3 Apps Every Raleighite Needs

The City of Oaks is synonymous with the City of Tech! Raleigh is known to be a hotbed of both small start-ups and well-established  technology companies. Plus, we Raleighites encourage each other to push the technological envelope through events like CityCamp NC and NC DataPalooza hosted right in downtown. So it should come as no surprise that the local app market is quite bustling!

Here are my top picks for favorite Raleigh-made apps:

1. RaleighHistoric
You don’t need to be a seasoned historian to become an Old Raleigh expert. All you need is your smartphone! The Raleigh Historic Development Commission has developed a free app called RaleighHistoric to help guide pedestrians through our city’s past. Learning more about North Carolina’s capital city has never been easier thanks to technology.

RaleighHistoric App

The app is complete with an interactive map as well as several self-guided tours, including five different development era tours.

RaleighHistoric Tours

Take a cultural look at Raleigh by checking out the African American Landmarks tour or grab your bicycle for the Historic Bike Ride tour.

Click on each landmark to view a photo and a brief description.

Raleigh Historic Map

Next time you’re out and about, be sure to pull out this app for a snapshot of Raleigh’s history.

Water_Tower Water_Tower_Historic_Site

RaleighHistoric is available for download the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

2. Offline
The tagline for this app is “Avoid Average Weekends”, and its purpose is to help users do just that (quite successfully!). I use Offline sort of like Pinterest. I can collect the things I want to do in Raleigh all in one place on my phone.

Offline Profile

When it’s time to get out of the house, or I’m out of activity ideas, I simply pull up Offline to review my bookmarks.

Offline Bookmark

What’s even more fun is the “check it off” button! Does anyone else get that rush of self-satisfaction after checking off an item on the to-do list? Well, doing it on the Offline app renders the epitome of that feeling! It makes me feel like I’ve been very productive while also having fun. It’s also an extra excuse to Instagram what I’m doing (as if I needed an excuse…) because you must include a photo in order to check off a bookmark.

Check it Off

Offline is your barometer for Raleigh enjoyment because it keeps track of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you still want to do. Not even sure where to start? It aggregates things to do in Raleigh into different categories for easy browsing.

Offline Browsing

Available in the iTunes app store.

3. RGreenway
The folks over at Oak City Apps submitted this app as a concept to CityCamp NC in 2012 and it is now a reality! RGreenway is a mix between Google Maps, Foursquare, and Strava, with a dash of your handy-dandy weather app – all for the Capital Area Greenway Trail System.

With this app, you can locate nearby trailheads and find out more information about the trail, such as the trailhead’s exact street address, route details, and surrounding landmarks. Once you are on the trail, you can check-in and submit any issues to SeeClickFix without even leaving the app. Do all of this while tracking time and mileage!


Raleigh Greenways

Raleigh was one of the first cities to adopt a greenway system in the 1970s, which is now a network of over 100 miles and counting.

Available in iTunes and Google Play.

Some honorable mentions to add to this list are the Tasty Beverage app and the North Hills Parking app. What are your favorite Raleigh-made apps?

How does your community garden grow?

There’s a little slice of Raleigh that produces fresh food, educates people about healthy living, and offers opportunities for all community members. It’s a place that has been built solely by the community. The cost to maintain it is volunteer sweat and the donations from generous contributors. Well, I should really call it a little “wedge” instead of slice because I’m talking about the Wedge Community Garden, right in the heart of Raleigh!

Can you believe that urban community gardening has been around since the 1890s? So it’s definitely not a fad or trend! And I am even willing to bet that the concept dates even further back. Community gardens can be found in cities, towns, and neighborhoods all over the nation. In North Carolina, there are 163 registered community gardens that serve as school gardens, food bank suppliers, job training tools, therapeutic purposes, and so much more (and all of the above).

Wedge Garden Mural
The Wedge Garden Mural was created by NCSU student Lauren Caddick and sponsored by the YMCA.

Back in 2010, a few  members of the Hillsborough Citizens Advisory Council (HCAC) established its own community garden, called the Wedge at 214 Park Avenue, behind the Alexander Family YMCA on Hillsborough Street. It’s a unique garden because it is the only truly communal garden in our whole state, meaning there are no individual plots. Everyone works together, harvests together, and eats together using the same piece of land. The garden depends on its volunteers to make it all happen.

Summer garden veggies!
Summer garden veggies!

The garden takes as good of care of the community as the community takes care of the garden!

Volunteers come from the surrounding neighborhoods, but also nearby organizations like NC State, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, YMCA members, AmeriCorps, NC Roots & Shoots, and many others that gave at least 579 hours in 2014. The Haven House alone has given the garden 21 Saturdays and 66 volunteers throughout the year.  Did you enjoy a cup of coffee from Benelux recently? You can feel extra good about that because the cafe donates its weekly coffee grounds to the garden.

Haven House Wedge Garden
Fall Planting with Haven House Volunteers

This amazing volunteer work reaped 270 pounds of food donated to Plant a Row for the Hungry over the summer, along with dozens of pounds of food for neighbors and Service Raleigh sponsors.  The Wedge features its own herb garden, given by the Fletcher Family of the Pullen Park Neighborhood, which has been used by the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle culinary school, City of Raleigh Community Services, HCAC, Pullen Arts Center, and many others.

Citronella from the Fletcher Herb Garden

As much as the Wedge relies on its volunteers and in-kind donations, the garden also looks to the City of Raleigh for appropriations. One of the many benefits of our city’s Citizens Advisory Councils is that community based assets may apply for improvement funds. The Wedge did just that through the HCAC and was awarded $1000 which went toward wood and a pitchfork, topsoil, and various tools.

Are you interested in becoming involved in the Wedge Community Garden as part of your New Year’s Resolution? Whether the goal is to eat healthier or become more engaged with Raleigh, or both, vow to make 2015 the best year yet by making a difference in the community! Come by the garden on Saturday mornings to work with other volunteers and get yourself acquainted. No gardening experience necessary; the only requirement is the willingness to get your hands a little dirty. And don’t worry, it’s not all work and no play! Volunteers, neighbors, and garden members are invited to special events throughout the year including the Spring Planting Kick-off, a summer garden party, and pumpkin carving in the fall.

Raleigh Community Garden

For more information, email Shamsa at thewedgegarden@gmail.com.

Raleigh Neighborhood College Midterms!

It’s that time of year! The air is getting crisp, the leaves are changing, and already thousands of Big Boss Harvest Time pints have been poured. Those are all wonderful things, but when you’re in college, mid-October means midterms roll around. How do midterms apply to me? Well, no, I did not go back to school to get a masters degree, but I do intend on becoming a master citizen by the end of the year when I graduate from Raleigh Neighborhood College (RNC)! RNC is a free semester of weekly 2-hour classes put on by the City of Raleigh Community Services Division. A Community Services Specialist facilitates the program and each class focuses on a different department of the City. My classmates and I learn about everything from budgeting and planning to solid waste services and everything in between. We typically meet at the Five Points Center for Active Adults where we are treated by a yummy dinner followed by a presentation by a City speaker on behalf of the featured division. But sometimes we go on field trips to places like the Police Department and Mordecai Historic Park. The classes truly allow us to experience Raleigh’s wide range of services.

Raleigh Fire Department Training
Raleigh Fire Department Training Center
Chavis Park Carousel
Chavis Park Carousel

And they don’t call it “college” for nothing! Last Thursday our first homework assignment was due. We were to attend a public meeting and write a report on our experience. I decided to attend a special meeting for the Raleigh Historic Development Commission. The meeting was a public process to start brainstorming revisions to the historic design guidelines. I’ll go ahead and post my report here in case you are interested in learning more! We have another meeting report due next month as well as a community event or budget proposal. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on those assignments, too!

Graduation from Raleigh Neighborhood College isn’t until December, but I’ve already acquired so much applicable knowledge about the City of Oaks! Here are some highlights of what I’ve learned so far…

  • Several of the City departments employ Community Education Specialists to help raise awareness within the Raleigh community. Raleigh invests in citizenry.
  • CAT bus advertisements pay for the transit department’s marketing efforts.
  • The Solid Waste Services department has a book club called “Talkin’ Trash” that meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6:30 at Halifax Community Center (the current book is called Waste and Want by Susan Strasser).
  • The Community Services Division helps registered neighborhoods hold events by providing some funds and free supplies to use including a popcorn machine for block parties, orange vests for clean-ups, and more.
  • Greenways are vital to sustaining Raleigh’s natural environment while also offering alternative transportation routes! Our system was one of the first in the nation and is still growing.

I look forward to keeping  y’all updated on my “finals”!

Raleigh Round-up: 11 Date Ideas

Raleigh Round-up: Part 2

I’m a very people-dependent person. I love sharing experiences with others and I especially cherish one-on-one time. People are always looking for new date ideas. Why don’t people share their date ideas more often? I guess if you are like me, you don’t really know that you’re on a date when you’re on a date. I don’t designate “date night”. It just sort of happens. But today I’m taking the time to recognize these places as my Top 10 “Datestinations”, whether I’m on a date with my husband, mom, or friend. Or a double date. A fancy date or a cheap date.

Mo’s Diner. No, not Moe’s. Not MoJoe’s. It’s Mo’s! The best restaurant in Raleigh! I get weak in the knees just thinking about their butter. Mo’s is located in a modest yet adorably delightful cottage off of Moore Square. Get the lamb – it’s never on the menu but always available. Other delectable choices include the scallops or the filet if it is on special. The cocktails are served in pint glasses with fun wide-mouth neon straws. Mo’s offers such a unique experience between the menus typed up in Comic Sans and the antique figurines lining the fireplace. Some may call it an identity crisis, I call it eclectic. You really feel like you’re having dinner at a friend’s house (be warned – it ain’t cheap) when you eat at Mo’s!

Raleigh Times Bar. People watching at its finest. Take a seat at the bar and make a game out of tallying up how many times someone attempts to order a Bud Light/Miller Light/Coors Light only to be shut down by the bearded bartender. “We’ve got PBR”.

Jose and Sons Bar and Kitchen. We’ve been here multiple and even consecutive times for brunch and/or dinner because it is that solid. Enchiladas del Mar + Vallarta ’77 = Perfect Saturday night.

Date Selfie
Date Selfie

Mordecai Historic Park. In my opinion, this is the best historic park in Raleigh. It’s fully furnished and the tour guides are fantastic. An hour or two spent on the Mordecai grounds will leave you enlightened with a renewed perspective on local history. While visiting, be sure to check out Andrew Johnson’s birthplace, a vibrantly painted law office of the early 1800s, and an old post office. There is also a neighborhood party with music and food trucks that happens on Friday nights called Music on the Porch.

Mordecai Historic Park
Mordecai Historic Park

Clockwork. Right next to North Street Beer Station is this psychedelic, Clockwork Orange-inspired cocktail bar. Drop in for a drink and try not to freak out too much over the trippy baby doll heads.

Lamp Selfie at Clockwork
Lamp Selfie at Clockwork

C. Grace. I’ll be honest, the first time I visited C. Grace I was totally put off by the vibes. The bar was completely silent as the audience was on the edge of their seats watching a mentalist perform. Luckily, I gave it another “shot” and since then, this speakeasy has been a go-to spot for those times I want to “jazz up” the evening. An elegantly styled parlor in the back offers a comfortable spot for quiet conversations that you just won’t find anywhere else on Glenwood South.

The Saturday Market at Rebus Works. Recently, Raleigh has been peppered with amazing little farmers markets from the Raleigh City Farm to the Midtown Farmers Market. Here’s a teeny tiny one that is outfitted with everything you need for cooking dinner with your honey. Plus, you never know when you might find yourself drinking a beer and cheering on Santa during a Gouge Wrestling Match.

Perfect Little Saturday Market
Perfect Little Saturday Market
Wrestling in DTR
Wrestling in DTR

Rockford. Ever since I was in college, the Rockford has been widely known for its accommodating date-friendly nature. The menu has always been substantial and versatile to appeal to a wide range of palettes. The building’s facade has had a bit of a face lift since college, and the charming atmosphere remains constant. Pro tip: there is a balcony out back that is perfect for private chit chats.

The Court of Carolina. Raleigh is full of little nooks and crannies to slip away to, but this one is my favorite. If you’re in need of a cheap date, here’s your itinerary: Grab a burrito to-go at Chipotle on Hillsborough Street and make your way to the Court of Carolina. Ben, Quailford, and I love posting up on a bench in front of the 1911 Building and where we reminisce about our days at State. Which is kind of funny for a couple of engineering and textile majors, who spent 90% of the time on Centennial Campus. (For those of you who don’t know, Court of Carolina is surrounded by humanities classrooms. Although before Centennial was built, engineering and textile majors did congregate here!). Our route home takes us through the Court and by the Bell Tower. Just a side note that it’s not as creepy to do this during the summer when there are not many kids on campus.

Quailford asks, will you share that burrito with me?
Quailford asks, will you share that burrito with me?

Deep South the Bar. To be honest, I am not the local music connoisseur that I should be, as the wife of Raleigh’s badassest bassist. Confession: I really only come here when River City Ransom is playing a show! But for couples who love live music, this is an awesome venue because there is always a show playing of some genre or another. Plus, it’s right across the street from the Red Hat Amphitheater so after a concert, the music doesn’t have to end! And before the show, be sure to hop into Fiction Kitchen for a cocktail and scrumptious vegan dinner.

River City Ransom at Deep South the Bar
River City Ransom at Deep South the Bar

Summer Movies at North Carolina Museum of ArtFor being a proud Raleighite, I had shamefully never been to a famous NCMA summer movie night until just this summer! It’s like the drive-in for the 21st century. Our most recent double date included an amazing dinner at Guasaca followed by froyo and a screening of The Lego Movie at the museum park. We brought our lawn chairs and blankets and enjoyed this incredible movie under the stars. I think it is my new favorite movie. The night was hassle-free and came in at about $40 total including a couple of brewskies. Next time we might pack a picnic!

As I close out this list, more and more datestinations are popping into my head! What are your favorite Raleigh date spots?

From Raleigh To Philly With Love

Chinatown Bus
#TBT My 19-year-old self scared on the Chinatown Bus

Last weekend, I visited the city of Philadelphia for the first time! Prior to this trip, my only experience with Philly had been peering out the window of the sketchy Chinatown Bus on the way to New York City in 2006. Needless to say, I was a little skeptical about what this city would have to offer. It only took an extra thirty-six hours, but I’m now a Philadelphia-phile!

Ben and I made our way up to Philly to spend quality time with friends (Julie, Rob & their pup, Sadie – see more of sweet Sadie on my latest Instagram picstitch!) in the city and celebrate our cousin’s wedding just outside the city. We did not have much time, but our hosts showed true “Brotherly Love” and gave us a wonderful snapshot of the city.

Philadelphia SkylineTheir  apartment building is within walking distance to Rittenhouse Square. And as we all know, the best way to get the true experience of a city is to take to it by foot, so eastward we went toward Independence Hall.

Philadelphia Mural

On our walk, I noticed that Philadelphia is peppered with unique murals which add character and dimension to the streetscape. A walk is never boring  when there are puppy murals to admire.

In addition to these splashes of unexpected art, many of the streets are adorned with intricate architecture that help paint the picture of America’s history. Even in my own city, I can be found pointing and looking up in awe at the detailed reliefs, styling, and shape of buildings. My habit was no different in Philadelphia as we passed gorgeous Federal and Colonial residential architecture embellished with charming window boxes and urban landscaping.
Philadelphia Residential Architecture

After pausing for an obligatory photo opp in front of Independence Hall, we continued to the Delaware River Front where we were met with the most clever pop-up park! Furnished with hammocks,  lounge chairs, shuffleboard, twinkly lights, and even giant Legos, the Spruce Street Harbor Park extends the perfect backdrop for a summer day. Along with the outdoor fun, there were also shipping containers converted into snack bars and arcades.

This park sparked some ideas that could translate to Raleigh’s own park possibilities. Raleighites already value the potential of unused shipping containers (especially if it involves beer), which we demonstrated earlier this summer in the form of a pop-up beer garden, Wanderbox. Despite the fact that downtown Raleigh doesn’t have an anchoring water feature, a Spruce Street Harbor Park-esque boardwalk with family-friendly activities would totally benefit Raleigh’s urban park scene, whether pop-up or permanent.

Spruce Street Harbor Park Hammocks Spruce Street Harbor Park Boardwalk Adirondack Chair in Philly!After our stroll through the park and a yummy lunch at an Irish pub, we capped off the afternoon with some ice cream! The Franklin Fountain reminded me of a shop in Wisconsin that I love called J. Lauber’s. The Franklin Fountain, PhiladelphiaI hope the next trend in frozen confectioneries will be the revival of these wholesome and nostalgic ice cream parlors! Who needs froyo when you can have a hot fudge sundae?

Even though I only caught a glimpse of Philly, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our trip. We’ll be back in December for a second fun-Philled weekend and another cousin’s wedding. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this video I took on Sunday morning before brunch at Parc. While walking down South Broad Street, I was honored to have the chance to witness the evolution of Philadelphia’s skyline as a helicopter airlifted letters off of the One South Broad building, informally known as the PNB Building. (Don’t worry – the removal of these letters was approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission!)