AOL PICK from our Editors
Raleigh has long been a shopping destination for North Carolinians from more rural parts of the state. As such, it has plenty of shopping malls and suburban highways lined with big box stores. But for visitors looking for more interesting wares, downtown has become the go-to spot. Here you'll find interesting boutiques featuring local designers, art galleries displaying Southern artisans, and edgy graphic design galleries selling T-shirts, stationery and more. Downtown Durham has a number of renovated tobacco warehouses turned gallery and shop spaces. Brightleaf Square is one of the oldest and the best. Chapel Hill is fun for college memorabilia and good record stores.
In a creaky three-story downtown storefront, this antiques store contains the motherlode of retro and vintage furniture, clothes and house wares. Browse the main floor for tables and chairs that look like they came off the set of Mad Men. Poke around the basement for bargains on kitschy lamps, dishes and other decorative items. Wander the warren of upstairs rooms in search of old cowboy boots or sequined caftans. Some of the upstairs spaces are artists' studios, and much of the work is on sale.
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Neighborhood: North Raleigh
Designed to resemble an outdoor European plaza, North Hills is Raleigh's toniest shopping area. You'll find many of the standard chains—REI, Target, etc., as well as numerous locally owned boutiques, jewelry stores, stationery shops and the like. Highlights include Scout and Molly's, a trendy designer women's wear boutique; Lamb's Ear, a European-style children's clothing shop; and Varsity Men's Wear, a longtime Raleigh institution for men's suits, ties and shoes. There are also a dozen or so restaurants (we like Coquette, a glossy Parisian-style bistro) and a 14-screen movie theater, so you can easily make a day of it.
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Neighborhood: Chapel Hill
A Chapel Hill institution for more than three decades, this cavernous gourmet shop is a fun place to get lost for an hour or three. Pick up some local goodies to take home as gifts—tins of Carolina cheese straws, burlap bags of NC peanuts, jars of homemade strawberry jam and tubes of paper-thin Moravian cookies from nearby Winston-Salem. The selection is not limited to Southern fare, though. You'll also find rare Spanish Iberian ham, Belgian chocolates, English marmalades and much more. There's a bakery, a deli counter and a wonderful coffee, tea and wine section, all staffed by knowledgeable employees. Prices are high, which is why the annual Christmas and 4th of July sales can end up looking more like epic gladiator battles.
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Neighborhood: West Raleigh
Looking for a pair of knockoff designer sunglasses? A Civil War-era pocketknife? A vintage chandelier? A pink lawn flamingo? Well, come on down to the Raleigh Flea Market, a weekend tradition among Triangle bargain-hunters. Every Saturday and Sunday from 9AM to 6PM, hundreds of vendors set up shop on blankets and folding card tables in the parking lot of the State Fairgrounds. Some of the stuff on offer is pure junk, but there are treasures to be had if you're patient. Even if you don't find anything, a trip to the flea market is always fun for people-watching.
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