Named for the geographical connection of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, the Triangle region is home to North Carolina’s capital, three prestigious universities, 2 million residents and the Research Triangle Park, which accommodates more than 200 high-tech companies. Founded in 1792 as the capital of North Carolina, Raleigh grew from the purchase of 1,000 acres by settler Joel Lane, who successfully lobbied to create Wake County on his land in 1770. Today, Raleigh’s educated population, high-tech entrepreneurial spirit and southern hospitality welcome visitors to diverse cultural events, museums, historic sites, parks and cuisine options. About 25 miles east of Raleigh, a city once firmly entrenched in the tobacco industry is now celebrated for restoring its tobacco warehouse district into class A office space, entertainment venues and residential units. Durham’s American Tobacco Historic District brims with shoppers, diners and businesses, and is also home to Durham Bulls Athletic Park, where the Durham Bulls — a Tampa Bay Rays affiliate and a member of the Triple-A International League — play baseball. Chapel Hill was named after New Hope Chapel, which stood upon a hill at the crossing of two primary roads, where The Carolina Inn now stands. Created to serve the University of North Carolina, which was established in 1789, Chapel Hill now accommodates 60,000 residents, half of which attend the university.
The Triangle’s Culture
Throughout all four seasons, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding towns like Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and Wake Forest, host festivals and cultural events like Artsplosure, the North Carolina State Fair and the Bull Durham Blues Festival. Get your science fix at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh or the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, and explore an expansive permanent art collection as well as a park that invites visitors to the explore art by foot or bike art at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Southern barbecue options are plentiful, and Atlantic Coast Conference college sports are alive and well at Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.
From locomotives to lemurs, you’ll find a diverse range of ways to have fun in the Triangle. Experience Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, a 55-acre complex of public botanical gardens located on the Duke University Campus. While you’re in Durham, leap over to the Duke Lemur Center, home to the world’s largest and most diverse collection of lemurs outside of Madagascar. In Raleigh, walk down Fayetteville Street to the historic North Carolina State Capitol where you can tour the building and grounds. Hop on a Historic Raleigh Trolley, which departs from Mordecai Historic Park March-December, for a more comprehensive view of the city. Be sure to drive by the governor’s Victorian-style Executive Mansion on North Blount Street, which is located on the National Register of Historic Places.
Where to Explore
Discover progressive restaurant concepts in Raleigh’s trendy Glenwood South and Warehouse districts, and enjoy a Durham Bull’s baseball game or live concert in Durham’s American Tobacco Historic District. Contrast the historic campuses of UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University with North Carolina State University’s high-tech Centennial Campus. Shoppers will delight in the offerings at Cameron Village or North Hills in Raleigh, Brightleaf District in Durham and Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Surrounding towns’ downtown districts also offer unique boutiques and dining experiences. The Triangle’s mild climate facilitates outdoor explorations year-round. Hike or bike through one of many parks and greenway systems located throughout the area, such as the American Tobacco Trail, which extends 22 miles in parts of Durham, Cary and Apex along scenic pathways that once supported train trestles.