The Triangle region is actually a diverse area made up of several cities that have their own distinct personalities. Here is a list for visitors, newcomers, and places to take out of town guests. So without further ado, in no particular order, here are some of the top things to do in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.
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Duke University is set in the heart of Durham. Stroll the grounds of the West Campus and take in the gothic architecture and the quadrangles of the residential campus. Don't miss the Sarah P. Duke Gardens with their sprawling magnolias. Stand under the wisteria covered gazebo and take in the magnificent formal gardens and koi pond. Discover the nooks and crannies of the native plant areas or lose yourself in the colors of the rose circle.
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North Carolina State University is located in the Raleigh, the state capital. Start your tour at the Bell Tower at Hillsborough and Pullen that serves as a gateway to the main campus. Other highlights include the Brickyard, Gregg Art Museum, and the Solar House.
Across Hillsborough street on the main campus is Mitch's Tavern, the oldest bar on the street and place where some scenes from the movie Bull Durham were filmed.
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UNC - Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is better known just as Carolina. It is the oldest public university in the United States and consistently ranks at the top of the list of public universities nationwide. Today the campus is a mixture of old and new. Visitors should note the Old Well, which is a symbol of the University. Campus lore says students who drink from the well will have good luck. Additionally, the on-campus arboretum is a wonderful place for a springtime stroll.
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The Raleigh Farmer's Market is one of five farmer's markets owned by the state of North Carolina and operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Wander 30,000 square feet of North Carolina grown fresh produce, plants. Plants are available starting in March and local fruits and vegetables are sold throughout the growing season. This is where you can find the freshest and widest variety of produce and plants in the area. Don't miss the market shops offering meats, cheeses, crafts, bakery items and N.C. Wines.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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The North Carolina Museum of Art is the state's premier art destination. Hosting major national touring exhibits, the museum is also home to one of the largest collections of Renoir sculptures in the United States and one of only two permanent displays of Jewish art in an American art museum. The 164-acre Museum Park is home to over a dozen monumental sculptures. The grounds are also home to an amphitheater that hosts three seasons of music, movies, and other programs. The Blue Ridge Restaurant, located within the museum, is a wonderful place for brunch. Admission to the Museum’s permanent collection and Museum Park is free. There is a charge for some special exhibitions and programs, such as concerts, films, classes, and performances. Closed Mondays.
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The North Carolina State Capitol, completed in 1840, is one of the finest and best-preserved examples of a major civic building in the Greek Revival architecture style. It contains its original 1840 legislative furniture, constructed by a local cabinetmaker, and is preserved by the State of North Carolina as a historic shrine. Admission is free. Similar points of interest near the capitol building include the State Legislative Building and the Executive Mansion.
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The Glenwood South District of downtown Raleigh is the hip and trendy home to restaurants, shops, and nightlife. On warm evenings, the streets come to life making for exceptional people watching. The district’s nightlife will soon welcome a significant residential boom, as more than 900 new condos and apartments are currently under construction.
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The Nasher Museum of Art is dedicated to global contemporary and post-modern art. A burgeoning private collection supports an ever-changing array of forward-thinking exhibits and multi-media curation spanning artists, authors, and timelines. The Nasher Museum is located on the campus of Duke University.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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It's an indoor/outdoor children's discovery museum. Appropriate for toddlers as well as teens, highlights include the butterfly house, the train ride (for younger children), the NC native animal habitats (wolves and bears), the dinosaur trails and the outdoor play areas. The museum also hosts successive hands-on exhibits and special programs. There is an admission charge and train ride tickets can only be purchased at the admissions desk for specific times.
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American Tobacco Campus
The American Tobacco Campus is adjacent to the Durham Bulls baseball park and the Durham Performing Arts Center. It is also home to five restaurants. It is a registered historic site and makes use of the original American Tobacco Factory built in the 1800s. The addition of modern buildings has transformed it into a mixed-use development. The area is constantly adding retail and office space and eventually will include 380 residential units as well. The beautifully landscaped public space is the site of a popular summer music series.
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Jordan Lake, a North Carolina Recreation Area, is one of the largest summertime homes of the bald eagle, the symbol of the United States for more than 200 years. Vast, undisturbed areas provide the perfect home for the bald eagle; there's plenty of fish to eat and a mature forest for roosting. Jordan Lake offers multiple swim and camping areas. Limited boat rentals are available from Crosswinds Marina.
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For hikers, the 24 miles of trails around the Eno River offer some of the most scenic walks in the area. Many of the trails follow the river. The Bobbitt Hole Trail is a favorite, leading to a lush spot where water rushes over rocks. All trails are blazed and signed. Request a park trail map for descriptions and distances.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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The Carolina Basketball Museum
For all the Carolina basketball fans out there, this is your mecca. The museum features artifacts, videos, photos, statistical and historical panels that highlight the history of the Carolina Basketball program. The museum includes video tributes to coaches and players as well as interactive presentations highlighting Carolina's 18 Final Four appearances and 17 ACC tournament championships. The museum is open to the general public Tuesday-Saturday. Admission is free.
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A number of years ago, Sports Illustrated called Chapel Hill the "Best College Town in America." One of the reasons is that the campus seamless flows into East Franklin Street blurring the lines between school and city. Walk down Franklin Street and peruse the t-shirt shops and grab a cup of coffee or a sandwich. When the stars come out, this part of town is campus nightlife central. Come on a football weekend or basketball gameday and you'll be caught up in a swarm of Carolina Blue and highly contagious Tar Heel fever.
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First Friday is a Raleigh tradition year-round. On the first Friday of each month, museums, art studios, and shops offer extended hours, and all the participating restaurants offer specials. Many of the art venues have live music and the museums offer special programming. Look for the First Friday Flags to easily locate participating venues. A free detailed map/guide will be available at each location.