Raleigh Trolley Rides
Today's post is from guest blogger Dave, a dad in Raleigh. And I just love this idea for a family outing! By the way, you can find Dave on a regular basis over at the blog Forced Family Fun.:
Recently my parents visited us at our place in downtown Raleigh. As I planned for our day out I wanted to find something that everyone (i.e., wife, grandparents, 15 month old son) would enjoy. Fortunately, Historic Raleigh Trolley Tours fits that bill. With updated trolleys (read: air-conditioning!) and a Raleigh native for a tour guide, this cruise around town may be my favorite family fun day in Raleigh.
The trolley tours are offered on Saturdays from March through December and depart from Mordecai Historic Park. The first tour leaves at 11 am and they continue to depart from the park every hour on the hour until 2pm. We wanted to hit the 11 am departure so that we could hop off at one or two of the four stops along the route. As usual with a child in tow, we failed. It wasn't until 12:15 pm that we finally arrived, yet this actually turned out to be great timing. It gave us just enough time to enjoy our picnic lunch under huge oak trees in the park before boarding the 1 pm trolley.
Tours aren't too pricey either at $10 per adult, $4 for kids ages 7-17, and children under 6 are free. You can get away with a relatively cheap family outing that lasts the whole day!
As we pulled away from Mordecai Historic Park and our tour began I was immediately struck by the quality and quantity of the tour's information. As our 15 month old ran back and forth between trolley benches, the knowledgeable tour guide explained how Raleigh was selected as the capital, showed us the four original ceremonial streets (including the one that's now a parking lot), and pointed out the section of Blount Street where once-beautiful historic homes are being stockpiled for restoration.
Further along the tour one of our favorite sites was the first water tower built in Raleigh. The brick octagonal building used to supply the entire city (circa 1900s). I'd driven by this brick tower with a small building out front many times, and it had always piqued my curiosity. As we cruised by this and other historic sites I realized I was getting a better grasp on Raleigh's layout and attractions. Whether you live near downtown or in the suburbs you'll likely find yourself visiting more often once the city is a more familiar place.
Which reminds me to point out that one of the great things about this tour is its speed. Raleigh is a city of hidden treasures that are easy to miss as you zip through town running errands or visiting specific museums. Fortunately this trolley tour takes things slow. To give you an idea, while the tour lasts about an hour you could easily drive the tour route in less than 10 minutes.
As our tour wound down we passed the Glenwood South stop. As a dad, this stop represents a missed opportunity. This stop overlooks Natty Greene Brewpub's patio. As we pulled up to the stop a family from an earlier trolley tour waved at us briefly before turning back to their big, juicy burgers. If we had to do it over again I'd gladly trade my picnic lunch for a lunch on this patio. It is delicious, as now confirmed by a follow-up outing.
After the tour ended back at Mordecai Historic Park we decided to explore the park. It contains a collection of historic houses from Raleigh including the birthplace of Andrew Jackson. While we didn't take the tour of these buildings, which means we didn't go inside any of the locked houses, it was a great chance for our son to run around and spend some of his pent up energy. After exploring the grounds, concluding that the guided tour would be worth coming back for, we headed home just in time for my son's naptime. And it's just possible that grandparents and parents might have also enjoyed a nap after our sunny, satisfying day out.
Raleigh Trolley Tours
Tours are offered on Saturdays March through December, 11 am - 2 pm
Mordecai Historic Park
1 Mimosa St
Raleigh, NC 27604