What are the best things to see and do in Raleigh-Durham?

Answers from Our Experts (4)

With three major universities nearby, Raleigh-Durham boasts plenty of great things to see and do. Composed of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, the area is anchored by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University. The five best things to see and do in Raleigh-Durham are:

1. The North Carolina Museum of Art is home to a surprising collection of Rodin sculptures and more than 5,000 years of art, from the primitive to the post-modern. Get your fill of art in the free museum.

2. Eno River State Park’s hiking trails, flanked by wildflowers and a tangle of vines, run alongside the 40-mile Eno River or disappear into the woods. You’ll pass spots with names like Coon Foot Island and Buzzard Rock; pause to perch on rocky outcroppings and commune Thoreau-like with nature. Some points on the river, such as Sennett’s Hole, are deep enough for swimming.

3. Walk through the historic campus of the University of Chapel Hill, one of the oldest universities in the country. Stroll across the quad of the first public university in the U.S. to admit students back in 1795, brush your fingers across its centuries-old bricks, drink from the Old Well for good luck and hope for a sighting of Tarheels head basketball coach Roy Williams.

4. For kids, nothing beats the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham. Exhibits about rocks and robots will vie for your attention, along with the Magic Wings Butterfly House, a farmyard full of animals and hands-on wind experiments.

5. For a respite from museum going, take a spin around this gorgeously landscaped 55-acre Sarah P. Duke Gardens; it’s a perennial favorite of both visiting parents of Duke University students and gardening enthusiasts alike.

Theresa Chiettini

The best things to see and do in  Raleigh-Durham are:

1. Art walk at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The West Building, a new 127,000-square-foot building for the permanent collection designed by New York architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, features dramatically expanded exhibition space highlighted by day-lit galleries and exquisite outdoor sculpture gardens. On the occasion of the expansion, the museum acquired more than 100 new works of art. Highlights include a gift of 30 sculptures by Auguste Rodin and work by such internationally acclaimed artists as Roxy Paine, Ursula von Rydingsvard, El Anatsui, Jaume Plensa and Ellsworth Kelly, among others.

2. Gardens at Fearrington Village, Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill or the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham. If you are a fan of gardening or just like to experience beautiful gardens, the areas in and around Fearrington are renowned for them.

3. The zoo. The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is a 45-minute drive from Fearrington and worth a visit. It is seated on a 1,500-acre tract of land in the Uwharrie Mountains, and approximately 500 acres have been developed into one of the largest natural habitat zoos in the United States. You won't find cages made of steel and concrete here; animals are given enclosures that mimic their natural habitats to include trees, ponds, rocks, grass and dirt.

4. DPAC. The Durham Performing Arts Center has become the award-winning home for superstar entertainment in the Triangle region. DPAC has sold out over 150 shows, including musical acts Neil Young, Paul Simon and Dolly Parton, comedians Carol Burnett and Robin Williams, and four consecutive weeks of Disney’s The Lion King. Since its doors opened in 2008, DPAC has quickly grown into an established cultural landmark for popular entertainment in the Triangle and beyond.

5. Carolina Performing Arts at Memorial Hall. Funded through a partnership between the State of North Carolina and hundreds of generous donors, the Memorial Hall recently underwent an $18 million transformation. It provides our community with an inviting and inspired gathering place, offering world-class performances of music, dance and theater; innovative forms of cultural and artistic expression; and lectures by some of today's most influential speakers.

Jim Beley

The Raleigh-Durham area (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) offers a tremendous variety of attractions. We would highly recommend two neighboring sites, William B. Umstead State Park for woodland hikes and picnics, and the stunning new North Carolina Museum of Art, which features more than 30 works by Auguste Rodin and an expansive 164-acre Museum Park that’s dotted with sculptures. Other points of interest in the area include the new Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh, and the beautiful campus and gardens of Duke University. Finally, the area’s food scene is getting national attention, with Durham recently being named the small-city foodie capital of the United States by Bon Appetit magazine. From the locally sourced menus at award-winning restaurants like Herons, Magnolia Grill and Poole’s Diner to the roving gourmet food trucks and good ol’ North Carolina barbecue, a good meal is never far away.

Golf, golf and more golf. We have the best golf courses in this area. I like the Lonnie Poole course at North Carolina State University. The Preserve at Jordan Lake Golf Club is also a great course. I play a private golf course called Old Chatham.

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