In the centre of the beautiful state of North Carolina in the USA lies the exciting enclave of Raleigh-Durham-Cary. Raleigh, named after the famous Tudor English noble, Sir Walter Raleigh, is the capital of North Carolina.
Raleigh was purpose built to be the capital of the newly declared State of North Carolina in 1788 and was chartered in 1794. The plan of the capital was the original design for Philadelphia. Since the 1950s, Raleigh has grown so that the nearby communities of Durham and Cary have now formed into a single metropolitan area known (naturally) as Raleigh-Durham-Cary. As it has grown, RDC has developed a racially diverse community with one of the highest standards of living in the United States. Outdoor pursuits are readily available with more urban activities. The North Carolina Research Triangle, made up of North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina (where the great basketball player, Michael Jordan, attended university), ensures that RDC is in the top five of the most educated populations in the USA.
Raleigh looks good in green
You’ll probably fly into Raleigh-Durham International Airport, known by its IATA code “RDU”. RDU was formerly a hub for major airlines but has since developed into a more regional facility. RDU still serves 57 airports, so there is plenty of ways into the region. Also, Raleigh is one of the busiest stops for Amtrak which provides inter-city rail service throughout the USA. There is a good system of city and metropolitan bus routes and both taxis and rideshares are readily available.
Here’s a Pro-tip: the RDC area is a major centre for hiking. It is a landmark on the challenging “Mountain to Sea” hiking trial.
Raleigh-Durham-Cary offers a mix of cultural and outdoor activities that make a trip to RDC a really diverse and exciting adventure. Here are my favourite things to do in RDC:
- The James B. Hunt Library – this super-cool facility, built in 2013, is the epitome of the Library of the Future. With innovative architecture and technologically advanced facilities, you’ll feel like you’ve seen the future.
- The Museum of Natural Sciences – this museum with its iconic “Daily Globe” is a wonderful place to discover the new science breakthroughs from the Research Triangle.
- The Historic Yates Mill County Park – this 174 acre park is a wildlife refuge and includes a working gristmill that still grinds local corn. This is a fun place to hike with many different trails that allow you to observe wildlife in its natural habitat.
- North Carolina Museum of Art – this cool facility has outstanding permanent exhibits of paintings and sculpture and frequently holds international exhibits.
- College Sports – the three universities in the Research Triangle have some of the most competitive university athletics in the USA. There is always a game to watch in any season, but the University of North Carolina’s “Tar Heels” basketball team is consistently one of the highest rated in the country. Catching any game is a fun and exciting way to explore the local culture.
- North Carolina State Capital – this beautiful building is still a working facility for the governor and legislators of the state. Visiting this edifice offers an interesting peek at the inside of politics in the region.
- Brewery Visits – when you’re tired (or frustrated) from observing the North Carolina government in action, you can take one of the many brewery tours in the metropolitan area. There are more than 25 local breweries and most have interesting tours that end with fun and refreshing tastings!
- Hiking the Mountain to Sea Trail – this challenging 1000 mile route passes through North Raleigh and gives you a taste of the rigours of long-distance trekking. The parts of the trail through Point County Park and Wilkerson Nature Preserve are not too challenging but will still give you a good workout.
Regardless of your interests, you’ll find something fun to do in and around the region. You’ll also love the food! Although known for its famous barbecue, Raleigh is a fabulous stop for foodies. Here are my favourites when I’m in the area:
- Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern – this may be my favourite in Raleigh. Wonderful American recipes are given original flare by the chefs at this upscale venue. I love their foie gras.
- Morgan Street Food Hall – this venue has every type of food you could possibly desire and plenty of patio seating in order to enjoy a night out with friends. I love the barbecue here but there are different venues for any type of taste or dietary restriction.
- Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar – this cool burger place has wonderful burgers for any taste and dietary restriction plus yummy southern favourites like fried pickles!
After fuelling on southern favourites, you’ll want to hit the town. Here are my favourite nightspots in the RDC area:
- Watts & Ward – this traditional cocktail bar is infused with style and charm. Enjoy a wonderful straight bourbon or cocktail while you lounge on plush couches and chairs.
- EGO Entertainment Complex – this adults-only complex has lots of games, fun activities and dancing in a relaxed and comfortable venue.
- 440 Nightclub – this is my favourite place to dance in Raleigh. It is a Latin dance club so expect great Salsa and Cuban beats.
The Raleigh-Durham-Cary area offers comfortable chain hotels that all show southern hospitality. However, my regular readers know that I enjoy unique properties for each location. Here are my favourite hotels in the RDC area:
- Umsted Hotel & Spa – this wonderful facility in Cary is a wonderful haven for relaxing in opulent comfort. The spa treatments will pamper you into a state of relaxed bliss!
- 21C Museum Hotel – this cool and artsy venue in Durham is a wonderful sleek facility which still offers impeccable service.
- Washington Duke Inn – this super-comfortable hotel and golf resort is very close to Duke University and has a fabulous gold course, if you have time to play.
Fabulous hospitality, fun activities and a relaxing time await you in the North Carolina Research Triangle. The Raleigh-Durham-Cary metropolitan area offers outdoor activities along with fun city activities. I know you’ll appreciate this southern gem!