Experience small town charm without leaving Wake County :: WRAL.com


About a 25-minute drive from downtown Raleigh are two unique towns filled with small town charm but plenty of activities.

Zebulon is “the city of nice people,” according to its website. It is also home to the Carolina Mudcats, a minor league baseball team.

The Mudcats play at Five County Stadium, located at 1501 NC Highway 39. Visitors can also secure a reservation at the Cattails Restaurant, which is open during all Mudcats games. Visitors should call the restaurant in advance for booking information.

The team is expected to start their 2022 season in April.

Zebulon also has an 18 hole disc golf course at Zebulon Community Park at 401. S. Arendell Ave. The Professional Disc Golf Association describes the sport as being played “much like golf, except that instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc.”

The nearly 1.2 mile course has wooded and open holes, and is ideal for beginners.

Those looking for a bite to eat can head to McLean’s Ole Time Cafe at 418 W. Gannon Ave. The family-run restaurant opened in 1956, according to its website, and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

For breakfast there is the “Paw Paw’s Platter” consisting of eggs, ham cut in the center, hash browns or oatmeal and a cookie. For dinner, diners can order back ribs that have been seasoned overnight and grilled with a tangy barbecue sauce.

The cafe also offers baked goods, such as pies and cakes, which can be ordered for special occasions.

For adults looking for a drink, head to the Olde Raleigh Distillery at 209 Arendell Ave. The family distillery is open every day for tastings of its bourbon.

The distillery’s website shows that visitors can order a “Smoked Olde Fashion” or a “Gimme S’more” which contains bourbon, simple syrup with vanilla spices, chocolate bitters, roasted marshmallow and an edge of chocolate and graham crackers.

The distillery also offers Moscow mules, margaritas and draft beers to visitors.

Those looking to explore other towns in Wake County should continue on the Wendell Highway.

Visitors can start their tour in the historic Wendell business district. The Town of Wendell even indicates on its website that the downtown area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

As you stroll through the streets of downtown Wendell, be sure to take advantage of the city’s free wifi in the area.

One of the stores located in downtown Wendell is the Wendell General Store at 28 N. Main St. The store walls are lined with Wendell themed t-shirts, locally made soaps and jewelry and more of 50 different types of candies.

The store also provides an opportunity to support locals with jams and jellies from local farmers and cheese from Ashe County.

Visitors can also have ice cream, including flavors such as Graham Central Station, banana pudding and cookies and creams, or signature milkshakes.

Another option for a bite to eat in Wendell is the Farmhouse Cafe at 320 Vintage Point Lane.

The cafe’s menu features seasonal dishes and uses products from other local businesses in the area. Currently on the menu, “Farmhouse French Toast” includes lemon curd, mixed berry compote, maple syrup and whipped cream.

For brunch, the cafe also offers smorrebrods, a Danish open-faced sandwich. Some of the proteins available include salami, smoked ham, and salmon.

For the month of January, the café has black pea and cabbage spring rolls and small beef tenderloin medallions on the menu. The menu changes frequently, so be sure to check the cafe’s Facebook page for updates.

Finally, before you leave Wendell, be sure to stop at Robertson Millpond Preserve at 6333 Robertson Pond Road. Currently, the reserve is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.

The 85-acre reserve has a 1.15 paddling trail and is home to beavers, reptiles, and many other animals.

There are also picnic areas and fishing spots for visitors among the blackwater cypress gum swamp.


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