The Lyles Tour the U.S.- Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill NC

After our trip to Indy, we took a little bit of a break before heading to North Carolina. North Carolina is one of our very favorite states and we have even made a tradition of going to Asheville, NC the past few falls for their Oktoberfest. So, we were thrilled to drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains yet again. John had two interviews within the tri-city area of Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham. So, we spent a good amount of time there. Some of my favorite things to do there were as follows:

Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in Chapel Hill was something that was very close to the top of my list. I had seen a seen a little blip on a TV show bragging about the made from scratch chicken biscuit (topped with a melty slice of cheddar cheese). So, I decided it was an excellent way to start my Chapel Hill adventure and boy was it delish!

After I filled up on my breakfast, I felt the need to do a little bit of exercise to balance out all of that fried chicken goodness. So, I went across the street to the North Carolina Botanical Gardens (owned and operated by UNC). Although it was late Fall and there wasn't much blooming, the sculpture garden was beautiful and the unusual exhibits such as "What's in Bloom" (samples of what was currently growing and in season in the area-all on display in green glass bottles) and Poison Plants made for an interesting trip.

As soon as I picked up John from his interview, we took a self guided tour of the UNC campus. I had been in the area before, but had never seen the campus. It was a sight to see with all of it's greenery and overarching trees. As we took our walk, I couldn't help but become reminiscent of my leisurely strolls with John across the quad at the University of Alabama.

After our campus tour was over, we went down the street to their "strip". It was later in the day, so a lot of stuff was closing up. However, we were able to step into a little vintage store, an art/gift store, and a comic book shop (the latter being John's choice). The most interesting thing we saw was the street performer controlling a puppet and a violin all at once!

We then jumped in the car and headed just a little bit farther down the road to our favorite part of the tri-city area, Carrboro. Some of the residents had told John that the area was full of backyard gardens, mom and pop shops, vinyl stores, and more. So, of course- that sounded right up our alley, and it was! Our favorite store ended up being the local grocery store, Weaver Street Market. The corner store was full of local goods, fresh produce, and hot coffee. It was divine.

That evening we ate dinner at the Mediterranean Deli (affectionately referred to by locals as the "Med Deli"). The food was warm and filling and the homemade pita was the icing on the cake.

The next day, we made our way to Durham and ate lunch at Bull City Burger and Brewery. While the burgers and fries were classic and tasty, the Boylan sugarcane sodas (served via fountain in Mason jars)were our favorite.

We had a little time on our hands the following day. So, we took a short road trip to Hillsborough, NC. The little town just outside of the tri-city area is full of history and its downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places. After walking up and down the streets for a while, we made our way to the Ayr Mount Plantation on the outskirts of town. The stunning Federal-style plantation home ,built in 1815, is surrounded by a mile long trail named the Poet's Walk that meanders through meadows and woodlands. As we walked around, I found myself feeling as if I were in an episode of Downton Abbey.

Once we had walked the entirety of the grounds, we felt the need to refuel. So, what better way is there to do that than with a giant scoop of homemade ice cream? After our visit to the Weaver Street Market, we quickly became familiar with the local dairy farm, Maple View Farm. So, after a little research, I found that the farm was located between Hillsborough and Durham and made & served ice cream in addition to milk! The store front was rather small, but they had a large variety of flavor choices-plus, we sat in rocking chairs on the front porch overlooking the pastureland. It was so serene and I felt so connected to what I was consuming, knowing that I was looking at the beautiful creatures who made my yummy ice cream.

What trip would be complete to Durham without a visit to the Duke University Chapel? I had been once or twice before, but I'm always amazed at its grandeur. The campus surrounding it is just as beautiful and a must see if you're ever in the area.

Overall, we had a magnificent trip to the Tar Heel state and can't wait to visit again. Thank goodness D.C. is just a rental car away!


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