Destination ReCHARGE®, top 7 sites in the Triangle to Charge your PEV in 2012

Photo Credit: American Tobacco Campus

No longer automobiles of the future, totally-electric and hybrid-electric cars are fast becoming the vehicles of today. In addition to reducing the carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels these cars also stylishly and comfortably transporting families of five. The first midsize alternative fuel vehicle to become popular was the Toyota Prius hybrid using batteries and gas to power the engine. In this car the batteries recharge during the operation of the gas engine.  A newer development that increases the use of battery available for engine operation is the PEV, short for Plug in Electric Vehicle. PEV’s come in two types. Plug in hybrid electrics such as the Chevrolet Volts  that power their engines with fossil fuels and batteries charged by plugging into a specially designed electrical outlet and the 100% plug in electric car such as the the Nissan Leaf. For a complete charge PEV owners plug in at their home. For for those requiring an additional charge prior to returning home or for those PEV owners with a real sense of adventure and want to choose charging stations as their destinations, here are our Top SEVEN SITES to charge your PEV in the Triangle for 2012.


The Umstead Hotel and Spa

The Umstead Hotel and Spa boasts a luxurious and organic understated simplicity.  There’s no waiting in line for a charging station at this venue. In fact, guests arriving in their PEV can utilize a level III charging station, offering models such as the Nissan Leaf a full charge in twenty minutes.  The property is surrounded by gardens with a sophisticated palette incorporating many native plants and little turf. The interior of the hotel successfully weds art, nature and luxury. Pamper your body with a visit the world class spa and try one of their signature organic treatments.

There are a variety of entertaining and dining options at the Umstead Hotel and Spa. Afternoon Tea pairs elegant fare with tranquil harp music. If you are looking for an impressive venue be sure to reserve your space at Herons, the hotel’s signature five star restaurant. The  seasonal menu draws from a private one-acre on site farm and for a more casual experience check out the bar and lounge. Like Herons there is also a seasonal menu and the extensive balcony overlooking the pool is simply transcendent. Most evenings there is live jazz or piano music to accompany your drinks or meal. Although gift stores at many hotels address simple travel needs the small but well edited gift store at the Umstead is full of unique art, clothing and jewelry. You’ll find many reasons to make the Umstead a recurring destination!


Photo Credit: Robert Carpenter

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

The new Nature Research Center of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences is hard to miss! One of the most prominent features is a three-story-high multi-media globe on 121 West Jones Street playfully called “The Daily Planet.”  This globe complex houses a new cafe as well as a host of hi-tech multimedia installations that are part of the South’s most technologically sophisticated museum venues. Visitors to the new 8,000 square foot addition are immediately dazzled by the 90′x10′ “Ribbon” that winds through the five story atrium. This artwork is programmed to reflect images from nature and is made from 3600 pieces of LCD glass tiles.  Created in conjunction with Cree Lighting the animations require less power than a laptop computer!  The museum’s interactive displays, exhibits, and labs highlight sciences ranging from the biology of amoebas to the astronomical features of the Milky Way. Unique public labs are set up to encourage veterinarians, oceanographers and weather forecasters to share their knowledge by showing their knowledge. Visitors are able to observe animal surgeries, take virtual dives 2,000 feet under the sea, and predict the weather using cutting edge meteorological tools. There are two eco-friendly cafes and great gift shops featuring North Carolina art work and minerals. This futuristic wonderland encourages burgeoning scientists to explore, understand and dream of a brighter future. It’s a great place to plug in!


American Tobacco Campus

Located at 318 Blackwell Street, in the heart of downtown Durham, The American Tobacco Campus is the largest historic renovation in the state and contributes to putting the Bull City back on the map as a destination for culture and art. The Lucky Strike Chimney still towers above this complex serving as a reminder of Durham’s past and the redesign incorporates a massive creek running down the center of the complex. This water feature breaths movement and energy into the parklike courtyard. This winning mixed use development houses a variety of restaurants, forward thinking businesses and is a short walk from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and Durham Performing Arts Center. Have mojito’s at Cuba Libre one of the triangles best Cuban restaurants, or come for WUNC’s back porch on the lawn. Whether you are a visitor, a resident, or happen to work for one of the innovative companies that occupy space at ATC, you will agree this is truly an inspiring historic site that honors the past and serves the future. The American Tobacco Campus provides a perfect destination to “hitch your PEV to a sustainable post!”


Photo Credit: Leo Suarez/Raleigh Connoisseur

Downtown Raleigh Sustainability Self-Guided Walking Tour

616 Salisbury Street boasts the triangles only solar powered charging station and is the perfect starting point for “The City of Raleigh’s Sustainable Self-guided Tour” This two mile tour highlights the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, historic Shaw University, and an exceptional view of the Cree shimmer wall designed by local artist extraordinaire Thomas Sayre. If your tour is during twilight take time to enjoy the light towers at the end of Fayetteville Street. These beacons of light provide art that flanks the large community square all the while utilizing energy efficient design. Our favorite place to eat along this route is Poole’s diner located at 426 South McDowell Street. Chef Ashley Christensen renovated an abandon diner and created a chic, casual, and fun atmosphere that offers American traditional fare served with a modern twist. The 616 Salisbury Station is a testament to Raleigh’s commitment to a greener future, and the tour provides a fun look at practical examples.


Whole Foods on Six Forks Road in Raleigh, NC

Whether dining in, taking out, shopping for local organic foods or simply people watching, the Whole Foods on Six Forks Road in Raleigh offers a lot more than groceries! The prepared foods section is top notch. Offerings include gourmet organic and local prepared foods. The bustling atmosphere suits dining alone or meeting a friend.  Broaden your palate by attending “Flavor Passport” on Friday evenings from 5 to 7. Taste cheese, sample wines and indulge in other seasonal delights. Whole Foods on Six Forks in Raleigh has become a comfortable community meeting place and another “feel good” for the environmentally conscious is Whole Food’s corporate policy of giving back to the community.  Kudos for their sustainable design and practices as well! They have a LEED Gold Certification and their recycling and composting efforts are commendable. Recharge your body and your PEV when visiting Whole Foods at Six Forks. Located in a LEED certified shopping center, the Market in Colonnade was honored with the 2011 Greater Triangle Stewardship Development Award and the 2011 City of Raleigh Environmental Award for Natural Resource Conservation.


American Institute of Architecture North Carolina Center for Architecture and Design

The AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design headquarters on the corner of Peace and North Wilmington streets in downtown Raleigh is a salute to modernist architecture. Designed by architect Frank Harmon this work of art combines materials which set a high standard for sustainable design, construction, and operation. In addition, the location and citing of the building provides one of the most breathtaking views of Raleigh!  Take a moment to appreciate the NC Cypress siding, the Appalachian Mountain Stone foundation and the bio-retention border planted with Southern Magnolias. The building is open to the public 9-5 Monday through Friday and evenings on First Fridays.  Visitors are invited to check the website for their ever-changing architectural  exhibits.  Additionally, this fabulous open space can be booked to host a business meeting, a party, or the perfect green wedding.  This treasure is fast becoming Raleigh’s icon to sustainability and artistic design.


Downtown Chapel Hill

503 West Franklin Street Chapel Hill, NC Provides PEV owners a place to charge while visiting downtown Chapel Hill. Here you will be able to relish small town southern charm and enjoy world class amenities. Prolifically acclaimed in national magazines as one of the best southern destinations, the charging station in Chapel Hill is minutes away from three of Chapel Hill’s finest eateries. Headed by chef and owner Bret Jennings, Elaine’s on Franklin, located at 454 West Franklin Street, has been serving eclectic upscale fare since 1999. Jennings creates menus that utilize classical preparation with southern flare. Looking for an exotic dinner or cocktail with a fabulous metropolitan decor? Head across the street to Lantern, located at 423 West Franklin Street. Lantern has been named by Gourmet Magazine as one of America’s top 50 restaurants. Additionally, chef Andrea Ruessing is a James Beard award recipient–the top honor for any chef. The menu is a sophisticated modern fusion with a decidedly Asian theme. Our favorite option for a casual lunch or dinner is Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe. In addition to being voted the best Indian Food in the Triangle by the Independent Weekly the restaurant was an organic outgrowth of community support as Vimala’s first meals were served out of her personal kitchen. In addition to serving lunch and dinner inside the courtyard at 431 West Franklin Street, Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe offers Indian cooking classes. Here she shares secrets of preparing indian curries with gluten free and vegan options. As you charge your car at 503 West Franklin Street, you will certainly delight your tastebuds with a meal at one of these special restaurants!

Photo Credit: Brabson

Honorable Mention

WRAL Gardens

It is with good reason photographers use the WRAL Azalea gardens as a back drop for brides and recent graduates. The gardens are a five acre refuge located 5 minutes from downtown. Visitors can enjoy the solitude of several small paths in the garden and the peaceful sound of fountains flowing. Providing visitors with waves of colors ranging from vivid reds to bright whites the annual blooming of the azaleas brings out the most onlookers. There are more than 45 different varieties of mature azaleas but even when the azaleas are not in bloom there is always something of botanical intrigue in this garden. WRAL Gardens are a fabulous spot to pack a picnic and enjoy the day while you charge your car. The WRAL Azalea Gardens are located behind the WRAL-TV 5 Studios at the intersection of Western Boulevard and Avent Ferry Road, just across the street from North Carolina State University. The main entrance can be accessed from Centennial Parkway.

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