Looking for weekend plans as a Raleigh local, or a place to base yourself when you visit Raleigh from out of town? Consider spending 48 hours in North Hills, Raleigh’s ever evolving and popular Midtown.
Located just five miles north of Raleigh’s downtown is the North Hills neighborhood, also known as Midtown Raleigh. Over the years it has become one of North Carolina’s most upscale locations and one of the most popular neighborhoods in Raleigh.
With 130+ local shops, high-end boutiques, restaurants, bars, salons and spas, cinemas, a bowling alley, Farmers’ Market, indie bookstore, outdoor concerts, greenspaces, apartment living, and premier hotels there is something here for everyone. North Hills is a hot spot for people to live, work, shop, dine, and stay.
Divided into three districts; Main District, Lassiter District, and Park District, North Hills is a pedestrian-friendly outdoor shopping promenade. Simply park your car and everything is within walking distance!
This area is one of the best places to go shopping in Raleigh, and there are countless North Hills restaurants offering various dining styles, cuisines, and price points from the quick and casual, to the more upscale special occasion experience.
And if you visit North Hills during the holidays, it’s a lovely atmosphere around Christmas time with a large Christmas tree and pretty decorations.
Whether you’re staying for business or pleasure, North Hills is the ultimate destination in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Below is our 48 hour itinerary guide on where to eat and drink, where to shop and play, and where to stay during your visit to North Hills.
- Day 1
- Day 2:
- Events in North Hills
- Parking at North Hills
8am: Coffee at Jubala
Start your North Hills weekend with coffee at one of our favorite coffee shops in Raleigh, Jubala. We are regular visitors to their Hillsborough Street spot and they recently opened this location in the Park District of North Hills, which is now their third Raleigh location.
Jubala is a specialty coffee shop and their lattes are up there with the best in the Triangle. Their professionally trained baristas serve up the full coffee bar menu; Cappuccinos, Flat Whites, Cortado, Americano, Chai Latte, Mocha, Miele, Pour Over, Batch Brew, Iced Flash Coffee, Hot Chocolates, plus specialties like Spring Lattes, London Fog, Black Cherry Coffee Soda and an assortment of teas.
They also serve tasty comfort food. I love their biscuits, fluffy and moist and they come with a choice of spreads and fillings – my pick is their bacon, egg, pimento cheese. And my kids love their banana Nutella waffles.
Everything’s made fresh to order and this location has an extended food menu including Avocado Tartine, Steel Cut Oatmeal, Granola Yogurt, plus sandwiches, a few salads and a small selection of baked goods.
When you visit North Hills, put Jubala on your itinerary. From the modern aesthetics to the ambiance and the excellent customer service, you’ll feel comfortable and fueled up for your day ahead.
9am: Midtown Farmers’ Market
Each Saturday morning from mid April to early November, head to the vibrant farmers market in the heart of North Hills Raleigh where you’ll find local farmers, crafters, and creators from around the region selling a variety of locally grown produce and goods.
The Midtown Raleigh Farmers Market is located on the Commons in the main district of North Hills (0.4 miles from Jubala) and continues to be a community favorite.
10am: Brunch at STIR
STIR is one of many popular brunch spots in Raleigh and with their open-air concept and large outdoor patio, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy brunch classics like bloody marys, mimosas, craft cocktails and their made from scratch food (sourced locally whenever possible).
They specialize in premium oysters from North Carolina and beyond, and other classic brunch entrees and specials. And, they are famous for their strong craft cocktails and blend their own bitters and syrups, press juices, and slice ingredients, all in-house, and each cocktail is poured over artisanal ice.
From the menu, I suggest a dozen mixed oysters from their signature raw bar, followed by Deviled Eggs (classic, pimento cheese, bacon, avocado), Filet Benedict (petite filet, poached eggs, English muffins, Hollandaise, roasted tomatoes, breakfast potatoes), a Baja Omelet (peppers, onions, cheese blend, pico, avocado, Mexican crema, charred salsa, breakfast potatoes), whilst our kids are fans of their homemade Strawberry Nutella Waffles with whipped cream.
STIR is a modern restaurant with a nice ambience and a place you like to relax for a while and enjoy good food and conversation. Perfect for a couple, a family, or just friends.
Check them out for brunch on Saturday (or Sunday). Also serving lunch and dinner daily.
Ok, it’s time to do a little shopping at North Hills. One of the popular things to do at North Hills is hit the stores and whether you’re looking for fashion, home decor, or gifts, there’s an impressive array of shops from well-known brand names to unique boutique stores.
Here’s a select few North Hill stores to shop at:
Uniquities is originally out of Chapel Hill, NC, and is a women’s boutique carrying contemporary designer apparel, shoes, accessories, and gifts. Denim is just one of their specialties!
Monkees is a ladies store known to have the finest lines in shoes, clothing and accessories. Choose from a variety of the world’s hottest designers.
Lululemon is a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company focused on keeping people active and stress free. Lululemon works with yogis and athletes in local communities for continuous research and product feedback.
Liles offers tailor-made clothing for men with style and taste. This high-end boutique store partners with designers in New York to provide the best clothing, accessories and handmade shoes to men.
Voda strive to create a laid-back, stylish shopping experience where customers always feel welcome. Whether shopping for brunch, date night or your next vacay, Voda offers everything you need to be the best dressed in all of your life experiences.
Copper Penny specializes in top-shelf clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories and are known for their superb customer service and designer collections – curated with a Southern eye!
Kendra Scott is an American accessories brand inspired by the personal experiences, travel, and sense of community of its CEO, designer, and philanthropist Kendra Scott.
Gena Chandler is a sophisticated contemporary women’s apparel boutique specializing in designer denim, clothing, handbags and shoes.
Brighton is a national ladies’ accessories chain that sells their own brand of handbags, jewelry, shoes, wallets, belts, scarves, luggage, and more. Whatever your style, Brighton accessories are designed for you!
REI needs no introduction. That national outdoor retail co-op is dedicated to outfitting its members with products from all of the top brands for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, snow sports, and travel; plus its own line of award winning gear.
There is also the big-box store Target onsite. See the full directory of stores here.
2pm: Lunch at Bartaco
Step inside this street-food restaurant that embraces culture and diversity. You’ll discover nothing but tasty food and fun vibes, making you feel like you’re at a beach bar in the Carolinas.
With locations mostly over the East Coast, Bartaco Raleigh is a great addition to Midtown and if you love fresh Mexican food and Margaritas, this place will have you drooling for more – it’s one of our favorite places for a date in North Hills.
A sprawling bar sits at the center where patrons sit and laugh with bartenders shaking their cocktails from juice they’ve freshly squeezed. Pull up a seat here, at one of the high tops, or out on the beach-shack style patio.
As you can imagine, tacos are their specialties and they combine flavors from a variety of cultures such as Asian, Spanish, Mediterranean, and Mexican.
There are 13 proteins to choose from with their most popular being the glazed pork belly which has a spicy arbol sauce that you now want to put on all the things. And in keeping with being a place for all – cauliflower, mushrooms, and chickpea will march on in for our vegans!
Don’t miss their creamy guacamole which is seriously fresh and delicious, plus my favorite has to be from the ‘not-taco” taco menu and a quesadilla dish I am now calling Absolutely Sensational.
Wash all this down with refreshing Margaritas – I suggest their spicy Mezcal Margarita. Otherwise their sedate traditional margarita is great too. Anyway you like it, they have it.
Not only is the food colorful, so is the upbeat and friendly staff. Bartaco is more than just a place to eat, but an experience to savor.
4pm: Check in at AC Hotel
We live 20-minutes drive from North Hills, but always enjoy a staycation when we can and being able to spend the weekend and be within walking distance to all the shopping, restaurants and activities is a bonus of staying overnight.
Located in the heart of North Hills, the AC Hotel by Marriott makes for the perfect base for couples, families, groups of friends and business travelers.
This hotel features a timeless European design, the lobby is sleek and spacious with a small shop stocked with necessities, and on Level 7 is a rooftop bar and lounge (see more on that down below). And, you’re right across the street from Rosewater Kitchen & Bar (tomorrow’s brunch spot suggestion).
Guests enjoy free WiFi and each room features a Smart TV, coffee/tea maker, glass enclosed rain showers, and a nice sitting and workspace area.
Our guest room consisting of two double beds had ample space for our family of four. There’s also larger guest rooms and king rooms.
5pm: Pre-dinner drinks at Level7 Rooftop Bar
At the top of your AC Hotel you’ll find one of the top rooftop bars in Raleigh. Level7 is a sophisticated bar and cocktail lounge specializing in craft cocktails, small batch brews, wines, and small bites.
With stunning views out over the North Hills neighborhood and a vibrant atmosphere, Level7 continues the European inspired experience and feels more like something you’d find in Vegas, or NYC.
Grab a cocktail before dinner such as their signature Gin & Tonic, or the Smoked Manhattan, and then maybe a late night drink under the stars and socialize with all age groups from young professionals, to middle-aged couples, to people living in North Hills.
When the weather is beautiful, the outdoor patio is a great place to unwind and relax.
7pm: Dinner at Vivace
A lovely dinner awaits at this contemporary Italian restaurant with timeless Italian dishes and homemade pasta, accompanied by a modern atmosphere.
Voted one of the “Top 20 Best Restaurants in Raleigh,” Vivace serves up authentic Italian cuisine with unique twists, handmade pasta, an extensive wine list, excellent kids menu, and delightful mini desserts.
All this in an upscale rustic setting with dining offered indoors and on their lovely patio during the warmer months. Plus, signature cocktails and a solid beer selection.
Popular dishes we indulged in include their Black Pepper Spaghetti, Bolognese Pappardelle, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Steamed Pei Mussels and of course their mini desserts.
If you want a semi-upscale dining experience in North Hills where you can dress up or dress down, with courteous service and lovely ambiance, reserve your table at Versace! Note: another great Italian restaurant in North Hills is Giorgio Pizza Bar in Midtown Park.
9pm: After dinner drinks
Choose to head back for more cocktails at Level7 (open till 11pm on Saturdays), a glass of wine at Vita Vite Wine Bar (open till 11pm Saturdays), or head back to Bartaco for more fun and fresh Margaritas (open till Midnight Fri & Sat).
See more of these amazing North Hill views in our Reel from Level7.
10am: Brunch at Rosewater Kitchen & Bar
Brunch has become a cultural thing in the City of Oaks and another of the best brunch spots in Raleigh is undoubtedly Rosewater Kitchen & Bar, a restaurant by Giorgios Bakatsias – the Southeast’s most prolific and visionary restaurateur!
A wonderful brunch experience is on offer in this informal eatery who serve up local and global fare with a focus on food from local gardeners, farmers, fishermen, and foragers, plus unique cocktails and local NC craft beer.
Each dish is flavorful and well presented. The Chicken Fried Pork Chop is amazing (smoked marrow red eye gravy, sunny side up eggs, preserved lemon), and you will be blown away by the giant Cinnamon Bun (brown sugar, cream cheese frosting).
Other brunch favorites include Steak & Eggs, Crab Cakes, Eggs your style, and Fine Herb Omelet. And of course, Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s – and mocktails for the kids!!
Inspired by European romance, this place is charming and the ambiance and decor help to create one of the nicest dining spots in Midtown Raleigh. I love the enchanting garden room surrounded by plants and flowers, and on good weather days the patio is the place to be!.
Welcoming and professional staff, a dining experience not to miss for any visit to North Hills.
Also open for lunch on Saturdays, and dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations recommended.
12pm: Bowling at Kings Dining & Entertainment
We always have fun bowling as a family and if you’re looking for things to do in North Hills with kids, Kings is an upscale bowling lounge and our favorite place to go bowling in Raleigh.
Even though we aren’t very good at bowling, we always have a laugh and this is a cool place with a fun atmosphere.
We have only bowled here during the daytime, so can’t comment on the night time scene, and this is a popular venue so I recommend you reserve a lane in advance (18 lanes in total).
If you do have to wait for a lane, there’s also a gaming area with pool (billiards), ping pong tables, foosball, and dart boards.
There’s a decent selection of food with burgers, wings, fries, sandwiches, pizza, and tacos.
2pm: More shopping (clothing and a bookstore)
If you didn’t have enough shopping time on day one, now’s your chance to go back and pick-up that dress you had your eye on, or browse some other stores. See the full North Hills Shopping Directory here.
Love books? Quail Ridge Books is a nice independent bookshop in the North Hills Lassiter District, just a few doors down from Vivace.
Founded in 1984, this bookstore provides a wide variety of carefully selected books, events, discussion groups and town hall meetings. Their Readers’ Club is good value at $15 per year per household, offers discounts and special sales.
4pm: Ice Cream at Ben & Jerry’s or Kilwins
Ice cream lovers have two great options in North Hills, and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re in luck.
Our kids find it hard to decide between the iconic Ben & Jerry’s (we have visited their factory in Vermont), and Kilwins, who have been around even longer serving their ice cream, chocolates and confectionery since 1947.
5pm: Pre-Dinner Drinks at Vita Vite Wine Bar
You’ve had another busy day, now it’s time for a little R&R before dinner with a glass of wine (or beer) at Vita Vite in the Midtown section of North Hills (next door to Jubala coffee).
Vita Vite is a wine bar/art gallery and the name comes from the Italian words for “life” and “vine” with the idea that life revolves around wine and food, and bringing people together in a common space.
If you love quality wines and the art gallery vibe, this is your spot. Grab a seat on a plush armchair, at the bar, or outside on the balcony (they have a bar downstairs and upstairs with an outdoor deck).
Choose from a seasonal variety of reds, whites, rosés and bubblies along with a rotating list of craft beers, then unwind and check out their collection of art and goods from local artisans and vendors.
This is a big space with lots of natural light coming in through the large glass windows and the ambience is lovely. To pair with your wine, consider their charcuterie board which is very generous in portion.
7pm: Dinner at Coquette Brasserie
If you dream of visiting Paris, get a taste of France right here in North Hills without the 8 hour flight. Coquette is a true French Brasserie and classic bistro design with tiled floors, dark wood and an impressive zinc bar.
Featuring authentic French food, an all French wine list, classic French cocktails and Belgian beers on draft, dinner (or lunch/brunch) at Coquette is a lovely dining experience with warm and attentive staff and it feels like a Parisian cafe.
We started with a lovely basket of bread, a charcuterie board which was substantial, followed by my first time trying Escargot (a dish consisting of cooked land snails) and it was different but delicious! Their French Onion Soup is said to be fantastic, and their Brie Biscuits are another house favorite.
I highly recommend the Seafood Crepe, and for dessert their mini-desserts like Profiteroles or Macarons are delectable.
This is another of the top North Hills restaurants we look forward to returning to, and considering Coquette serves brunch, lunch and dinner, getting a taste of France in Raleigh is just a short drive away. Read our full review of Coquette North Hills.
Events in North Hills
If you find yourself in North Hills on a Thursday night from mid-April towards the end of June, the popular Midtown Beach Music Festival is held in Midtown Park featuring Beach Music, Motown, Oldies, R&B and more!
Wellness Wednesdays is a series consisting of fitness opportunities made up of two sessions in the Spring and Fall. Each session is made up of an evening class happening weekly at 6:00pm. Classes take place on the grass lawn of Midtown Park on Wednesday evenings.
Parking at North Hills
There is plenty of parking in North Hills, both above and below ground. Keep in mind weekends, holidays, and during event times will be busier.
I hope this 48 hour itinerary guide helps you get the most out of your time in North Hills Raleigh. Of course, feel free to switch around the times, restaurant choices, and activities to suit your needs and preferences.
Just know that whether it’s shopping, a dinner out with friends, or a place for out of town guests to stay, North Hills has it all.
More Raleigh Neighborhoods to explore:
- Local’s guide to downtown Raleigh NC
- Things to do in the Warehouse District
- Guide to North Person Street