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Top Things to Do in the Triangle

Best Things to Do and See in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill


The Triangle region is actually a diverse area made up of several cities that have their own distinct personalities. However, since I get asked this question a lot, here are my top picks for things to do in the Triangle.Let me say that this question is particularly difficult because some people are art lovers, some are foodies, some want sporting events and some want outdoor activities. And the outside temperature is another important filter when choosing things to do.

That said, these are the places that I think belong on the list of visitors, newcomers and places to take out of town guests. Think there's something I left off the list? Tell everyone about your favorite things to do in the Triangle here.

So without further ado, in no particular order, here are my picks of the top things to do in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

1. Duke University

Duke Chapel
NC Division of Tourism

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.

2. N.C. State University

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 main campus is Mitch's Tavern, the oldest bar on the street and place where some scenes from the moive Bull Durham were filmed.

3. UNC - Chapel Hill

The Old Well on the UNC Campus in 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.

4. Raleigh Farmer's Market

NC Division of Tourism

The Raleigh Farmer's Market is one of five farmer's markets owned by the state of North Carolina and operated by the North Carollina 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 shoppes offering meats, cheeses, crafts, bakery items and N.C. Wines. Find out about other Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill farmer's markets here.

5. NC Museum of Art

NC Division of Tourism/Bill Russ

The North Carolina Museum of Art is the state's premiere art destination. Hosting major national touring exhibits, the museum is also home to one of the largest collections of Renior 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 amphitheter that hosts three seasons of music, movies and other programming. 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.



6. 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 hightlight 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.

7. The North Carolina State Capitol

NC Division of Tourism/Bill Russ
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.

8. Glenwood South

NC Division of Tourism/Bill Russ

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.

9. Nasher Museum of Art

The Nasher Museum of Art is dedicated to global contemporary and post-modern art. A burgoning private collection supports an ever changing array of forward-thinking exhibits and multi-media currations spanning artists, authors and timelines. The Nasher Museum is located ont he campus of Duke University.

10. NC Museum of Life and Science

It's an indoor/outdoor children's discovery museum. Appropriate for todlers as well as teens, highlights include the butterfly house, the train ride (for younger children), the NC native animal habitats (wolves and bears), the dinasour trails and the outdoor play areas. The musuem 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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