City Guide


Downtown Raleigh
Downtown Raleigh © Bz3rk
North Carolina's capital, Raleigh, makes up the southeastern corner of the famous Research Triangle, with Durham and Chapel Hill at the other two points. The state's second-largest city is a vital centre of high-tech business and education. Unlike many cities that grow up around ports or stations, Raleigh was planned specifically to be the state capital. At its centre stands the beautiful North Carolina Capitol building, a fine Greek Revival-style landmark, from which wide, oak-lined streets radiate. This careful geometry makes exploring Raleigh quite straightforward. Raleigh is a pleasant city, with a unique mix of Southern heritage and down-home manners; elite academia and boisterous university life and athletics; and the fast-paced, sleek sophistication of Triangle professionals.

Raleigh is often lumped together with nearby cities Durham and Chapel Hill, and though the three are only about a 30-minute drive from one another, they are different communities. Durham was once one of the most thriving African-American centres in the country. Today, its main attraction is Duke University, one of the top schools in the United States and home of the Blue Devils, another sports powerhouse. Its downtown areas, however, have suffered in recent decades, although revitalization efforts are underway. Chapel Hill, meanwhile, is a lovely college town, with beautiful old homes; endless independently-owned coffee shops, pubs and restaurants; and a decidedly liberal leaning. It is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, another top American educational institution, and the beloved Tar Heels, a force in college athletics. The three cities, and their massive college sports followings, remain friendly rivals.

Raleigh is a perfect destination for those seeking to experience a bit of Southern history and culture without giving up the attractions and conveniences of a big city. Raleigh's restaurants serve up plenty of sweet tea and mouth-watering barbecue, but it is also known as the 'Smithsonian of the South' for its renowned museums and excellent performing arts scene.

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