What To Do In Raleigh This Summer To Experience The Tar Heel State's Southern Hospitality

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While North Carolina, the Tar Heel state, is famous for basketball, pork barbecue, and iced tea, it is often overlooked as a summer destination. But times are changing! North Carolina is beginning to receive long-deserved attention for its temperate climate and natural landmarks, such as the Appalachian Mountains and Outer Banks. At the center of it all is its charming capital, Raleigh. Filled with historical attractions, Southern charm, and some of the best restaurants in the South, this city is becoming a hub of culture and the arts.

Whether you've found yourself in North Carolina on business or for pleasure, you'll find no shortage of things to do with your time. To make the most of this Southern treasure, Crocs and Bustle have partnered on a summer guide that will make you want to visit again and again.

Best Outdoor Dining

Humble Pie

Only in central North Carolina could you find a restaurant boasting a tiki bar, a wide assortment of tapas, and Southern cuisine. Despite its name, Humble Pie boasts quite an array of offerings and an incredible patio for lounging in style. Sunday brunch is a standout, and so is the scene at the tiki bar, which is open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Have a large party? The patio's large enough -- and the staff is friendly enough -- to accommodate you.

Moonlight Pizza

Moonlight Pizza, a whimsical pizza joint, not only has pies named after '70s funk bands (Earth, Wind, and Fire, anyone?), but also offers a generous amount of outdoor seating in the garden, gluten-free pies, and locally sourced ingredients. If you're on a budget, try seeking out the beverage and appetizer specials they offer every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Best Outdoor Performance Venue

North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art offers the most stunning and unique outdoor performances in the city each summer. Their summer concert series is a must-attend, attracting everyone from obscure international performers to big-ticket names. Not a music person? Check out a film screening on a Friday night.

Best Places To Have Fun By Foot

Historic Oakwood

Perfect for the history buff who wants to take advantage of the summer heat, Historic Oakwood is a 19th-century neighborhood that transports you to Raleigh's rich past. While there are no guided tours during the summer, you can follow this map to find the most interesting and scenic routes. The Dodd-Hinsdale House, now a restaurant but formerly the home of Raleigh Mayor William H. Dodd, is a must-see attraction in the neighborhood.

Raleigh Greenway and Crabtree Creek

The Raleigh Greenway is the city's ambitious project to connect all of its major attractions through one continuous pedestrian path. (The greenway boasts 69 miles of trail and counting.) The highlight of any urban hiker's trek is the lush, forested Crabtree Creek corridor, home to the historic Lassiter Mill Park. There, you can take in the sights of the former grist mill, which was built in 1764.

Taste Carolina Downtown Tasting Tours

Taste Carolina hosts one of the best and longest-running food tours in the country. Throughout the summer, the group guides foodies on a delicious walk through the heart of the city. The guides place a special emphasis on local products and Carolina culture. If you're craving something in particular, there are cuisine-specific tours like Saturday Speakeasies, which is based on delicious craft cocktails.

Best Outdoor Nightlife

Flying Saucer

Like beer? Like options? Then the Flying Saucer is the place for you. With a menu of more than 200 craft beers from around the globe, you can spend countless hours on the patio or front porch. Whether you're drinking pints from local North Carolina breweries, like Big Boss and Natty Greene's Brewing Company, or enjoying more obscure imports, you'll find that this is the perfect place for an intimate date or a hangout session with all of your friends.

Best Outdoor Festivals

Midtown Beach Music Series

One of the best ways to experience Raleigh's warm summer nights is the Midwood Beach Music Series, a free outdoor music festival in North Hill's Midwood Park. Come enjoy the music every Thursday from now until August 6. There are new bands each week performing your favorite sounds, which range from Beach Boys covers to reggae. And if you love to dance, this is your chance to get in some Shag dancing, the signature Carolina partner dance.

Best Place To Cool Off

Jordan Lake

Even if Raleigh lacks water-based attractions within the city, it more than makes up for it with an abundance of natural attractions on its outskirts. Cool off from the North Carolina heat at Jordan Lake Recreation Park, just a short 30-minute drive from downtown. It offers over 14,000 acres of lake and shore so you can enjoy camping, boating, skiing, or even lounging cove-side with your friends.

Best View

Boylan Bridge Brewpub

When it comes to finding a stunning view of the Raleigh cityscape, it's hard to beat the Boylan Bridge Brewpub. Beer geeks will appreciate that they brew their own beer in-house, but if you have a particular favorite, you'll be glad to hear that they also offer craft beers from around the country. If you ask any local, the brews are secondary to the skyline view, which many laud as the best in the city. It's the top destination for Raleigh natives who are looking to impress their out-of-town guests.

This post is sponsored by Crocs.

Images: Wikipedia; James Willamor/Flickr; Oberazzi/Flickr; abbyladybug/Flickr.