The area dubbed the ”Triangle” in the 1950s is outlined by the base cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, which comprise the points of a triangle when viewed on a map. Today, the Triangle spills over into an area far beyond the original three points, and has evolved into a place that is diverse, dynamic, and rich in cultural and recreational opportunities.
Downtown Raleigh/Inside the Beltline
Raleigh, the largest city in the Triangle, offers the most variety. The downtown region, a colorful and historically significant part of the city, has grown to become the center for cultural activities. The BTI Center for the Performing Arts is home to the renowned North Carolina Symphony and plays host to touring Broadway shows, opera and ballet.
The History Museum and Natural Sciences Museum are both free. Exploris, a children's museum centered around global awareness, is the first of its kind in the world.
Major historic sites include the State Capitol, Executive Mansion and Historic Oakwood.
Stroll down the original cobblestone streets of City Market, lined with enough unique shops and galleries to fill an afternoon. The American Indian Company sells beautiful Native American Art and accessories. Artspace and Raleigh Contemporary Gallery are just two of the galleries that illustrate this city's devotion to the creative arts. Shop for antiques, clothing, gifts and more at The Shops of Cameron Village, a short drive away. If all that shopping leaves you hungry, fear not. An impressive array of restaurants, pubs and cafes await, especially around Moore Square. Try Big Ed's or Greenshields. As for the nightlife, Raleigh is a sleepy little city no more. Check out Southend Brewery, The Office or one of a variety of other late-night meeting places.
North Raleigh and Greater Raleigh
More modern, practical and utilitarian than downtown, greater Raleigh has a lot to offer as well. The State Fairgrounds Flea Market holds treasures waiting for your discovery, and Crabtree Valley Mall boasts more than 200 stores to choose from.
Sports fans and concert lovers flock to the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena, home to Carolina Hurricanes Hockey and N.C. State Basketball. While people here are just starting to warm up to ice hockey, college basketball is a big part of local sports culture and the excitement reaches a fever pitch during the finals.
Stock up on local produce at the State Farmers Market or spend the day at Shelley Lake Park. Raleigh is something different to each person that visits.
Durham, the “City of Medicine,” is home to almost a quarter million people and offers an eclectic mix of white and blue-collar workers, scholars and artists and ethnic populations. The prestigious Duke University Medical Center, as well as most of RTP, are all located within Durham's borders, but it's not all about business. There are plenty of ways to have fun here too.
Shop at the historic Brightleaf Square, full of locally-owned shops, restaurants and galleries. James Kennedy Antiques, Ltd. The Ninth Street Shopping District and Northgate Mall will make even die-hard shoppers cry “uncle.”
Looking for something to do? Carolina Theatre, the Bull Durham Blues Festival, the Durham Symphony Orchestra and Durham Bulls baseball are just a few choices. The Duke University Chapel and Sarah P. Duke Gardens are sights to behold, and the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science will delight the child in everyone.
There is a wide range of dining experiences available, including the nationally known Magnolia Grill and the fabulous Francesca's Dessert Caffe.
A picturesque university town, Chapel Hill is probably the most politically and ecologically-minded city in the bunch. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and UNC Hospitals put it on the map and the activities and attractions put it near the hearts of residents and visitors alike.
For a real taste of what Chapel Hill has to offer, start on Franklin Street. This is a district full of the character that makes this city unique, where coffeehouses line the walks and shops offer up everything from exotic jewelry to sporting goods. Restaurant connoisseurs take note: there is a restaurant that will satisfy every visitor to Chapel Hill.
A visit to the Morehead Planetarium, the Ackland Art Museum or one of the many historic sites round out a trip to this fair city. And lest we forget, Carolina Tar Heels basketball games are a local phenomenon, spawning a following like no other.