The Real Answers for Winterfest Ice Skating

This past Friday was the start of the Raleigh Winterfest that is taking place at downtown’s City Plaza. The main attraction is the ice skating rink that is now set up and ready for you to skate on. I recently walked down there this weekend and have the real answers to everyone’s questions.

Is that real ice or the fake stuff like in North Hills?

The ice is real but don’t expect the Carolina Hurricanes to practice on it. The ice is a little choppy and could really use some zamboni love.

So if there is no Zamboni then how does the ice get smoothed over?

A golf cart with a snow scraper collects all the ice shavings and its shoveled off the ice. It then goes over it once more with some warm water and attempts to smooth it out. The results are average at best.

I see. So how much room is there to skate? Can I practice my triple axels?

The rink is a decent size to skate around but not as big as the indoor rinks around Raleigh. Look at the pictures and guess for yourself. Through the eyes of a child, the rink size probably doesn’t matter.

So while I’m out there watching kids fall on their butts, what is the best way to stay warm?

There are a couple gas heaters placed around the common area in front. Plus coffee from Starbucks or Krispy Kreme can be had from right across the street. Careful though, I heard one woman claim that the Krispy Kreme coffee is too hot. Refer to picture below for her easy solution.

What is the bathroom situation around the rink?

There are a couple portable toilets set up nearby for anyone to use.

When is the skating rink open?

The hours vary depending on the day. Just go to this calendar (.pdf) and check the times.

I can skate at night?

Yes. Lights are set up around the rink for night time skating.

Any specials?

There are some “Date Night” specials. Go here for the list of the nights and how to participate.

Dude, you didn’t answer my questions?

Well post it in the comments or go here for more FAQ’s.

A Visit To The Capitol

Rotunda Room by dtraleigh, on Flickr

Recently, I visited the North Carolina State Capitol. Surprisingly, I had never visited before and I continuously put it off until a later time. But now I’ve finally walked around the historic structure and encourage anyone who hasn’t to do the same. Here’s all the information you need if you want to explore the three story building.

Monday-Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm
Sunday, 1 pm – 4 pm
Closed most major state holidays.

Guided Tours:
Saturday: 11 am, 2 pm
Sunday: 2 pm



House of Commons by dtraleigh, on Flickr

Pic of the Week

I have not yet seen a show at the Burning Coal Theatre but this year, I hope to change that. The 2009/2010 season is posted on their website and I have created a Google Calendar in order for me, and anyone interested, to keep track of it. Copy one of the links below and import them into your Google Calendar or compatible calendar software to add the shows posted on their website.

[Update: The Google Calendar has been taken down.]

Tech Culture in Downtown Raleigh

Picture by Prachi Gauriar via Flickr.

When I’m not taking photos or drinking beer, the tech junkie inside me likes to find a cool spot downtown and ‘geek out’. Coffee shops are usually the place to find people doing the same being productive for their work or for a hobby. I’m a big fan of drink and wi-fi on slow weekends and I know there are others out there. Inspired by John’s recent comment on the topic (you the man!) here is a short list of places to visit that offer good atmosphere and amenities for web surfing and working.

Café Helios

Café Helios is a great coffee shop in Glenwood South. On top of coffee, they also serve wine, beer, and there is a light food menu to keep you from starving. My favorite part of Helios is when the weather is nice and all the doors open up. The outdoor seating is cozy with a wall of bushes that separates people from the sidewalk. Check out half price wine bottles on Tuesday and $2.50 pints on Wednesday. Open late too.

The Morning Times

Another coffee spot that gets love for having great hours is The Morning Times. They pretty much have the Fayetteville St. area covered during late night. A few outdoor tables and large windows on the first floor offer some great people-watching spots when you want to drift away from working. The second floor is practically an art gallery with tables for studying or writing. They have all the coffee you need as well as some juices and snacks. Morning Times is very laid back, even with all the energy right next door at The Raleigh Times.

The Flying Saucer

Probably for the less serious worker, The Flying Saucer may have the largest beer selection in downtown with about 80 taps and over 200+ beers total. If you are sitting inside, the day time is usually less hectic until the nightlife crowd shows up and getting a table for all your things is easy. When it’s warm, the outdoor benches are the place to be to get a little radiation from the sun and your laptop screen.

Boylan Bridge Brewpub

The recently opened Boylan Bridge Brewpub has the best view from any outdoor seating area in downtown. The huge patio has several benches for your tech fiesta to gather on. If flying solo, the small tables will do just fine. Microbrew beer and solid bar food will keep you happy as you take in the view. The indoor area isn’t bad either.

Fayetteville St.

This goes hand in hand with the upcoming free wi-fi initiative that the city is proposing. Not all tech culture has to include beer or coffee. Grab that netbook, sit on a bench, and get online. You don’t have to spend any money and it works from the Capitol building through City Plaza all the way to the performing arts center. People-watching here is at an all time high when the weather is nice. Those benches were put on the sidewalks for this purpose right?

Honorable Mentions

Landmark Tavern

Landmark is more of a happy hour spot because they do not open until 4 pm. The beer garden patio in the back is great when you want to be outside in the shade.

Raleigh Times

The atmosphere at Raleigh Times is through the roof here and they have plenty of tables outside. Getting work done can be difficult; the place is way popular.

Port City Java

Port City Java is another coffee shop with plenty of room to sit and work. They have lots of windows that show the activity outside. I’d like to see more outdoor tables though.


Sosta is a great early morning and lunch spot. They have a comfortable atmosphere that will let you focus on what you need to get done.

Ride The Trolley During First Friday

Did you know there was a downtown Raleigh trolley route on First Friday? The Downtown Raleigh Alliance has a great map of the participating galleries and the trolley route.

Map in pdf format.

I also remember talk earlier this year of a possible trolley route on most days of the week with extended hours. There has been no talk of this anywhere and I am curious if it is coming soon. The convention center is now open, RBC Plaza is officially open today, and the Marriott has been open for over two months. Is a downtown circulator still not feasible?

Check out this post on the current state of trolleys in downtown Raleigh.

Raleigh City Museum

In 1800, the city of Raleigh only had 669 people. 200 years after that, the city has changed just a little bit. This city’s expansive changes and growth can all be seen at the Raleigh City Museum located in the Briggs Hardware building on Fayetteville St. This small museum has many photos and maps showing the growth of the city over time. The area we call downtown now is larger then the entire city of Raleigh at one point in time.


220 Fayetteville St # 100
Raleigh, NC 27601
(go to map)
(919) 832-3775

Timeline with interesting facts and pictures of Raleigh

It started with one thousand acres……Click to read the whole thing

The [R]evolution of Media

The museum will be open during Raleigh Wide Open this weekend so make sure and put it on your to-do list if you have never been. As a bonus, the museum is opening up a new exhibit this Thursday called ‘The [R]evolution of Media’. This exhibit will explore the history of newspaper, television, and radio in the city.

Exhibit website

Support Your Local Music

Chris Suiter playing Sunday night at The Hibernian

Downtown weekend activity has been soaring. It feels like there are more events going on now that the weather has been playing nicely. It might be safe to say that we can expect a sizeable event every Saturday from here on out until the temperature starts going down this winter. This means more traffic and more people walking around. No doubt we all love the weekend, but there are also pockets of activity forming during the week. I think the music scene goes hand in hand with these weekday gatherings at the bar or at your local venue.

I want to ask the community what their favorite spot for weekday music is in downtown and get conversation going on the topic. Do you like seeing an acoustic cover act at the pub or a local band create chaos on stage? Is there not enough of it downtown?