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Heading to Raleigh NC and Wilmington Beach for a few days to explore...advice?
Old 07-31-2010, 05:42 PM   #1
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Heading to Raleigh NC and Wilmington Beach for a few days to explore...advice?

We are stopping in raleigh for 2 days and wilmington beach for 2 days before heading up the coast to the outer banks for a week on the beach (leaving in 18 days!).

We are seriously considering relocating to Ralegh in the next 3-4 years, so we will be looking at houses, neighborhoods, etc. The idea of going to wilmington Beach (at the suggestion of some of you on this board) is more for the beach as opposed to looking for somewhere to stay. I was told that this is the beach we'd likely be going to if living in Raleigh? If not, what other nice beach area would you suggest?

SO....after we look at some homes in Raleigh, what should we do? We want to get a feel for the area....maybe a certain neighborhood that really appeals to us. At the same time, I have a 2 and 5 year old who will be with us and anxious to do SOMETHING.

Looking for any and all ideas to make our trip fun and worth while
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:48 PM   #2
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The beaches at Emerald Isle are not much further away and are much less crowded. It might be nice to visit Wilmington for a day, but I'd move up the coast and stay a few days.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:33 AM   #3
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I haven't spent much time in Raleigh, but have visited Wilmington and the area surrounding a few times (with kids).

The Battleship USS North Carolina is now a floating museum in Wilmington. I have taken my children there twice and they had a great time exploring the whole ship. Kids are able to climb all over the place - and it is fairly interesting for grown-ups, too. My kids had a ball climbing all the ladders/stairs, checking out all the canons, you really get to explore the whole guts of the ship from top to bottom, following a marked/arrowed tour. You go at your own pace, no guide, so you can skip what doesn't interest you (or what little kids have no tolerance for).

Also, just south of Wilmington, near Kure Beach I think, the NC Aquarium is fun for a bit if they enjoy fish & critters. If you time it right, it's a lot of fun to watch the scuba divers enter the big tanks to feed the fish.

Have fun!
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:09 PM   #4
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Wilmington doesn't really HAVE a beach... However, Wrightsville Beach down to Kure is nice. Wrightsville is a parking nightmare on the weekends though so better to have a hotel/condo there than to stay in Wilmington and try to drive if you really want to spend time at the beach. Carolina beach is a bit dated, though with kids you might enjoy it more. If you like Seafood, head down to Calabash and stuff yourself at one of the buffet's.

What do you want to know about Raleigh? I live here and can answer about anything you want to know, except kid stuff, don't have any so don't keep up with what is going on in that world. You can also pm me if you like.
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:42 PM   #5
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Wilmington doesn't really HAVE a beach... However, Wrightsville Beach down to Kure is nice. Wrightsville is a parking nightmare on the weekends though so better to have a hotel/condo there than to stay in Wilmington and try to drive if you really want to spend time at the beach. Carolina beach is a bit dated, though with kids you might enjoy it more. If you like Seafood, head down to Calabash and stuff yourself at one of the buffet's.

What do you want to know about Raleigh? I live here and can answer about anything you want to know, except kid stuff, don't have any so don't keep up with what is going on in that world. You can also pm me if you like.
I'm trying to find a neighborhood that puts me very close to the middle of the most population possible. We will be starting several service related businesses where we travel to customer's homes...so being as close as possible to as many people as possible is our goal. I'm thinking somewhere on the west side of Raleigh fits the bill as we will be closer to durham's population. Your input?


Here's a question... how do the schools work down there? Is every kid on the same street going to the same school? Or do they mix em up? I've read about it a bit in the past but it was confusing to an outsider not used to your system.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:06 PM   #6
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I'm trying to find a neighborhood that puts me very close to the middle of the most population possible. We will be starting several service related businesses where we travel to customer's homes...so being as close as possible to as many people as possible is our goal. I'm thinking somewhere on the west side of Raleigh fits the bill as we will be closer to durham's population. Your input?


Here's a question... how do the schools work down there? Is every kid on the same street going to the same school? Or do they mix em up? I've read about it a bit in the past but it was confusing to an outsider not used to your system.
I used to live north of RDU airport (Leesville area) , just a minute away from the Wake/Durham county line, right off Raleigh's I-540 beltline. At the time, this area was located in what was considered a good school district, which made reselling the house a breeze.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:44 PM   #7
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11 year old info here but I think a lot of it still applies as I still keep in touch with some friends there. The school system is county wide, and there at least used to be huge new developments sprouting up, and sometimes the school building didn't keep up. As new schools opened, it had a domino effect of pulling a lot of kids out of nearby schools, and they'd fill those schools with a few kids from the next school over, and so on. I think my neighborhood switched elementary schools 3 times in the 7 years I was there, and I was in an older neighborhood in the middle of Cary.

To make it worse, sometimes schools hit full capacity and simply couldn't take more students. New people would move in and find out their kid couldn't go to the school 6 blocks away that everyone else on the street was going to. The schools tried to put signs up but the realtors blocked them because it hurt home sales. Let's not worry about it hurting the home buyers when they move in and find out they are screwed. Pathetic, isn't it? So if you really move, the realtor will tell you which school district a house in, but confirm with the school itself that your kids can really go there.

For your trip, Raleigh has a kids museum downtown but I've heard mixed reviews. We liked the Durham museum better, but I can't remember the name. I was going to suggest Pullen Park as a fun place with a carousel and train but it is closed for renovations now.
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:03 PM   #8
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There has been lots going on here lately about the schools. Arrests, protests, closing down streets for marches..... a real pain in the back-side. Seems that the new school board is trying to re-do how the districts are drawn up to make it more likely your kids will go to neighborhood schools.

Inside the beltline carries prestige and high prices. Then, you need to go out into northwest Raleigh but stay away from NewBern Ave - Capital Blvd - Wake Forest Rd, and that side of town until you get outside of I-540 (outer beltline)

Wake Forest is growing and a very nice area. The place to be is Cary (Containment Area for Relocated Yankees).

Johnston County is also growing, and... heh? don't you have rentals? I have a rental or two down that way that I will sell you.....cheap, LOL

Really the best thing to do IMHO is to move to an area and rent an apt. or house for a year. REALLY see what areas you like before committing to buying a house. See how much traffic bothers you, what areas you really like. I just don't think that touring a town for a weekend or a week or even a month will give you a good enough idea to really decide where you like.

For the adults, Glenwood South and North Hills are worth checking out.

I have heard Exploris is fun for kids... other than that I don't have a clue about kids stuff.

Other consideratons:

Durham has a HORRIBLE reputation for crime but has some really nice areas also.

Chapel Hill/Carrboro is really another beast altogether.

RTP/Morrisville is kind of in the middle of it all and might be worth looking into.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:20 AM   #9
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As far as things to do with kids in Raleigh, try The Natural Science Museum North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences , its free and very nice. There's also a kids museum (used to be Exploris, I think), but I'm not sure how good it is (children have grown since we went years ago), there is an IMAX there Marbles Kids Museum.

As far as living, focus on North Raleigh, Cary to start. I don't know about neighborhoods in north Raleigh but area around Bond Park in Cary is nice. Bond Park has big children's playground, small lake for fishing, paddle boat rentals, lots of hiking - biking trails.

As someone else said, school system is county wide and is going through some changes concerning school assignment. But overall the schools are good in areas mentioned.

Beaches - Wrightsville Beach is nice and is closest to Raleigh, only a few hotels there but it does get crowded on weekends. South of Wilmington are Carolina and Kure Beach, can't comment as we haven't been there in a few years.
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:31 AM   #10
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I'll second Bond Park. I used to take DD there a lot.

Another way to kill 2 birds is to find neighborhoods that seem nice enough and in your price range, and go to the neighborhood playground/park. Kids are 2 & 5? They don't need a big attraction, they will enjoy a place to play and blow off some steam, and you might be able to chat with some parents and learn more about the area and schools.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:34 AM   #11
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go to the coop at Carrboro buy you a bottle of wine some cheese and some homemade bread and go outside in front of the coop and drink the wine ... eat the cheese and bread... the coop will tag your bottle for consumption on premises and will open it for you and even give you wine glasses to use... just soak it all in and watch the people go by... one of my favorite places to relax while in the Raleigh area...
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:49 AM   #12
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Beach - Wrightsville is the closest beach. Crowded but nice. Parking can be tricky so you may want to shoot for getting there early. If you are going on a weekday, parking won't be as bad. Or stay at the beach. Kure beach is nice too. If you are headed north to the outer banks after Wilmington, topsail beach is a nice, quiet beach too, and they have free parking as well (I'm staying there this weekend and again in Sept for a week). Topsail is probably ~20 minutes further away than Wrightsville from Raleigh.

Wilmington has a neat Train Museum if your kids are into that. If you're hungry, Casey's restaurant on Oleander Dr offers delicious southern food at a buffet and is very affordable. BBQ, fried chicken, shrimp, fish, hush puppies, mashed potatoes, etc etc. Chittlins for the adventurous!

Schools in Raleigh - they are in a state of flux right now. Currently they are county wide, and you have a broad selection of schools to choose from. But the school board's plan is to change the districting to zone based where you are limited in the schools you can be assigned to. The political forces seem to be set against the school board however so it is anyone's guess as to what the school system will look like in a few years. In general the quality of the school system is very high. Our base school in our neighborhood is one of the worst ones in the district but it is still a decent school (our kid will probably be going there this August - still undecided). Bottom line is that you will probably have a decent school (maybe not the best, but still good) wherever you live, and there will be options to pick other schools too.

Fun stuff in Raleigh - Marbles museum downtown. I thought it was hectic and busy, but the kids loved it. Natural Science museum - lots of neat stuff for kids. There are a number of city of Raleigh swimming pools that have "spraygrounds" as well that little kids would love. Millbrook and Lake Johnson Pool are two that I can think of. The downtown is small but good for walking around. The state Capitol building is there, and you can walk to Marbles and the natural science museum.

I'll PM you with a recommended area to look at that offers some decent single family 3 to 5 bedroom houses well under $200,000 with decent yards and fairly centrally located (near the Interstate).
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:24 PM   #13
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the more i look at the map, the more i think i want to head due east or northeast from raleigh for days 2 and 3. what would be more 'on the way' (or not so far OUT of the way) to outer banks from raleigh...somewhere with a beach
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Old 08-07-2010, 05:27 PM   #14
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The outer banks is a LONG haul... but nice clean beautiful beaches. But a tad cold even late summer for swimming. Really there is not much in the way of beaches East or North East for a long drive, probably 3 or 4 hours.... It is much closer to head down I-40 towards Wilmington beaches which are 2 hours or so. Wilmington also has a decent boardwalk area for strolling, shopping and dining.

Do you like sailing? If so you probably already know this but head to Oriental. A MUST for the sailing lover but not much in the way of beaches.... there are daysailing boats that might be fun for the kids.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:08 PM   #15
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so here's the updated itinerary. going to raleigh on wed 18th at which point we meet a realtor and look at a few places. next day we look at a couple more, then do something fun in raleigh...given the ages of my kids i think museums are not a good idea (2 yr old makes it tough) so maybe just a playground with spray park....then late in the day we head to wilmington


we will set up in wilmington for 2 niughts...definately taking the kids to the battleship museum...and the beach....anything else worth checking out there?

then up the coast on saturday to the beach house!

justmeUC- whaddaya mean cold? the water? because i know it wont be cold in mid august down there lol....last time we went in june and the wind made it a bit nippy....but the water was still do-able
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:06 PM   #16
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ugg. 50% chance of rain every day for our vacation. trying to make the best of it with 8 of us stuck inside a 1000sf house
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Old 08-23-2010, 10:01 AM   #17
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Fed, this might be a bit too far to drive, but a friend just took their kids to this place while they were staying in Wilmington:
Tigers: 50 acre Preserve in Myrtle Beach or Preservation Station at Barefoot Landing | tiger animals big cats elephant liger

Pictures she took there were amazing.
Hope the rain clears enough for y'all to have some beach time.
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