Ready, Set, Cary!

Mow lawn. Weed garden. Fold laundry. Buy groceries.

If your weekend to-do list resembles the above, then we “enjoy” many of the same activities. It’s far too easy to fill the week’s end with chores and forget to slow down and relax.

This month, give yourself a well deserved break and get out to enjoy the amenities of the area. We’ve put together two weekend itineraries — one for adults, one for families — so if you’re new to town or looking for a new hot spot, you’ll know just where to start.

Adult Escape

Friday, 5 p.m.

Relax at The Umstead Hotel & Spa

Impeccable service, abundant art and natural beauty surround guests at this AAA Five Diamond award-winning boutique hotel. Sip seasonal cocktails on the terrace and take in the serenity of the surrounding lake and woodlands. The Umstead features an incredible permanent collection of national and local art throughout the lobby and guestrooms, including a sculpture by glass artist Dale Chihuly, and a dedicated art gallery with rotating exhibits throughout the year. Pick up an art brochure, available at the concierge desk, and enjoy a quiet, self-guided tour of the publicly displayed works.

The spa is closed for renovations, but if you visit after its reopening in July, be sure to plan extra time to indulge in one of the luxury services.

100 Woodland Pond Drive, Cary

7: p.m.

Dinner at AnDinner at An

Just across busy Harrison Avenue sits An restaurant, which boasts sophisticated dining, exquisite presentations and Asian flavors. Led by Executive Chef Steven Devereaux Greene, previously at The Umstead’s Herons, An’s refined cuisine encourages you to sit back and truly savor each bite. Entrees highlight familiar seasonal produce, like zucchini or cucumber, next to more exotic ingredients, such as pickled ginger beurre blanc.

2800 Renaissance Park Place, Cary

9 p.m.

Unwind Downtown

Nestled below street level in central downtown Cary hides easygoing Unwine’d Wine Bar. Finish out an elegant evening listening to live jazz or even watching local artists paint along with the music. Broad wine selection, a knowledgeable owner and inviting atmosphere top off the night.

201 W. Chatham St.

(919) 481-0881

Saturday, 9 a.m.

Rowers at Bond ParkFresh start at Bond Park

310 acres of hiking paths, athletic fields, boating and fishing draw avid exercisers and nature observers alike. Pedal boats, canoes, kayaks and sailboats are available to rent from the lakeside boathouse. Interested in a morning jog or stroll? Loops within the park offer 1- to 2-mile trail options, and greenways connect to the town’s vast system for longer distances. Additional amenities, such as a playground, outdoor amphitheatre, community center and ropes course will draw you back for group activities, concerts and programs.

801 High House Road, Cary


Café lunch

La Farm Bakery is a Cary gem not to be missed. The bakery and café offers European-style artisan bread, sandwiches, salads and more. The stuffed baguettes are great for lunch on the go, and French specialties, such as a Croque Monsieur, are classic offerings.

4248 Cary Parkway, Cary

2 p.m.

Shopping and art. Oh my!

Park close to the intersection of Academy and Chatham streets, the heart of Cary’s downtown district, and let the wandering begin. Small, independent shops are popping up within a couple blocks of this crossroads at increasing frequency. Stop in The Purple Polka Dot for unique clothing, lots of jewelry, home décor and gifts in vibrant colors. Nearby Lucky Pie Gallery and Cary Gallery of Artists showcase the talent of local artists. Public art pops up throughout Cary’s streets, but one of the best places to experience it is in Cary Visual Art’s Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition. A cell phone audio tour — call (919) 327-1531 — guides you through the 12 juried pieces installed along Academy Street. Map available at

114 S. Academy St., Cary

145 W. Chatham St., Cary

200 S. Academy St., Cary

5 p.m.

Pizza at EnrigoEarly dinner alfresco

Enrigo Italian Bistro, one of the first spots open in the remodeled Waverly Place, beckons diners in through floor-to-ceiling windows that slide apart to create an indoor-outdoor dining experience. Authentic Tuscan fare prepared in house by Chef Meri Serpillo includes pick your own pasta and sauce selections like Crema di Noci, creamy walnut sauce with Parmesan cheese and garlic, or Funghi Porcini, porcini mushrooms, white wine, marinara and cream.

575 New Waverly, Suite 106, Cary

7 p.m.

Enjoy an outdoor concert

Picturesque Koka Booth Amphitheatre hosts concerts, festivals and movies, but isn’t the only venue for live music outdoors. The Town of Cary operates several concert events during the spring and summer months, such as the Sertoma Series in Bond Park, the Downtown Performers Series across from the Cary Arts Center and the Starlight Concert Series in the garden at the Page Walker Arts & History Center. Check each series’ schedule before heading out, but look forward to sounds ranging from the N.C. Symphony to folk to swing.

8003 Regency Parkway, Cary

Sunday, 11 a.m.

Brunch at Coffee & Crepes

Luscious sweet and savory made-to-order crepes paired with locally roasted Larry’s Beans coffee kick off the day with a jolt. Breakfast crepes, like Stuffed French Toast, are served anytime. Situated in Crossroads Plaza Shopping Center, the fast-casual eatery is surrounded by big name shopping — Old Navy, DSW, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Toys R Us to name a few — to enjoy after dining.

315 Crossroads Blvd., Cary

Family Friendly

Friday, 3 p.m.

Shop the Cary Creative Center

Donated and salvaged arts and crafts materials get a second life through the Cary Creative Center. Jewelry bits and pieces, painting supplies, yarn, sewing patterns and plenty of kids’ craft sets are sold heavily discounted. Think 25 cents and up. For $5, kids receive a silver craft bag they can stuff with anything that fits, then proceed to the reuse craft room to transform their finds.

155 Wilkinson Ave., Cary

6 p.m.

Danny's WaitressFill up at Danny’s Bar-B-Que

Pork, beef, chicken or turkey — your choice — but they’re all slow-cooked over an open pit with hickory wood. The smoke-infused classics are complemented by a selection of original sauces. Barbecue sandwiches are served on Texas toast, and the Piglets Menu caters to guests 10 and younger. Those of us footing the bill will love the affordable price tag, just $2.75 for the kid’s chopped pork meal with Texas toast, one side and a beverage.

9561 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville

311 Ashville Ave., Cary

Saturday, 10 a.m.

Pick your own strawberries at Phillips Farm

May is a great month to be out and about, before the heat of the summer sets in, and it coincides with strawberry season! Fill up with as many berries as you can carry and enjoy fresh from the farm fruit all week.

6701 Good Hope Church Road, Cary

11 a.m.

Shoppers at the Western Wake Farmers' MarketStroll through the Western Wake Farmers’ Market

Pick up artisan cheese from Hillsborough Cheese Co. and organically grown greens to make a salad with your fresh-picked strawberries. Or simply browse the varied stalls offering homemade dog treats to original art, ready-made meals to heirloom veggie plants.

1225 Morrisville Carpenter Road, Cary

12:30 p.m.

Lunch at The Loop Pizza Grill

A casual, welcoming atmosphere for kids, but with food mom and dad will enjoy too. The menu, filled with thin crust pizza, burgers, salads and sandwiches, will surely please everyone in your group. Do not get the Oreo milkshake!  Repeat, do not get the Oreo milkshake … but if you do, you won’t regret it.

1207 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary

3 p.m

A Path at Hemlock BluffsVisit the Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve

Unusual north-facing bluffs create a unique natural environment that feels more like the mountains than the Piedmont. The Eastern Hemlock, a tree commonly found in western North Carolina, grows here, preserved from earlier eras by the sheltered climate of the bluffs. Trails and overlooks amble through the preserve, and the on-site Stevens Nature Center contains an exhibit hall explaining the history of the area.

2616 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary

6 p.m.

Chow down at Firewurst

Upgrade the usual ballpark (see next activity) fare with a visit to Firewurst, a Cary newcomer offering flame-grilled sausages and hot dogs. Premium ingredients, unique combinations (wasabi cucumber slaw, anyone?) and house-made extras take food on a bun to a new level.

1377 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary

7 p.m.

Go! Fight! Win!

The Triangle has deep roots in athletics with fierce college rivalries, NHL Hockey, minor league baseball and much more. Cheer on Cary’s hometown pros, the Carolina RailHawks men’s soccer team, or the Cary Invasion men’s basketball team. Playing at WakeMed Soccer Park and the Herbert C. Young Community Center respectively, the teams offer fans a show of high quality competition in their own backyard. Check individual schedules for available dates.

101 Soccer Park Drive, Cary

101 Wilkinson Ave., Cary

Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

Brigs LunchBrigs brunch

Consistently voted Best Breakfast in our annual Best of Western Wake Maggy Awards, Brigs Restaurant first opened in Raleigh in 1988. Now with five Triangle locations, Brigs offers breakfast all day as well as salads, sandwiches and grilled entrees. Be sure to ask about the Benedict of the Month, which features a creative seasonal adaptation of eggs Benedict.

1225 NW Maynard Road, Cary

1040 Tryon Village Drive, Cary

11 a.m.

Family playing at Marla Dorrel ParkRun wild at the Kids Together Playground

Cary is beloved for its greenways and parks, and the Marla Dorrel Park, which houses the Kids Together Playground, is one of the best. Multiple play areas with universal design elements appeal to kids of all ages and abilities. A climbable dragon sculpture is one of several art commissions present in the park to inspire creativity in its visitors. Special care was taken to incorporate natural landscape features into the park’s layout.

111 Thurston Drive, Cary

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