The Raleigh-Durham Guide
Even though this is called the Raleigh-Durham guide, we'll be featuring things to do, dining options, discounts, and more from "the Triangle," which also includes Chapel Hill.
The entire triangle area is home to more than two million people. So, we're excited to feature the best of the region to a large residency as well as tourists. In addition to hometown favorites, we'll also be including some hidden gems that even longtime residents may not even be aware of as yet.
Positioned midway between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, sits the city of Raleigh. It was incorporated in 1792 as North Carolina's state capitol.
Unlike many cities that are pieced together and expanded haphazardly, Raleigh was planned. So, it's set up in a grid pattern with the State Capital in Union Square, right in the center.
Raleigh is known as the City of Oaks for all of its oak trees. It's also home to 200 parks and long stretches of hiking and biking trails.
There are indeed plenty of theaters, comedy clubs, museums, and other attractions. But, Raleigh has more live music venues than anywhere else in North Carolina. Because downtown's Lincoln Theatre doesn't stick to one genre, you'll find rock, pop, and country performances there on a regular basis.
Over the years, Raleigh has been recognized as one of the fastest growing cities. In 2000, city residency was under 280,000. However, just a decade later, it exceeded 400,000. In 2012 and 2015, Forbes named Raleigh as one of the "Best Cities for Raising a Family."
Durham was incorporated in 1869. It's just about a 30-minute drive away from Raleigh. Known as the City of Medicine, it's home to more than 300 health-related companies.
In 1942, Durham hosted the only Rose Bowl that was ever held outside the city of Pasadena, California. Additionally, Durham received widespread recognition after being featured in the movie, Bull Durham, released in 1988. The Durham Bulls are still part of the Major League Baseball farm system as the Triple-A International League team for the Tampa Rays.
Plenty of Things to Do in the Raleigh-Durham Area
The Raleigh-Durham area has a thriving Arts and Entertainment community that isn't limited to music, theater or special events. There's always something on the schedule for everyone to enjoy.
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on East South Street in Raleigh has multiple facilities. You'll find the Fletcher Opera Theatre, the Kennedy Theatre, Meymandi Concert Hall, Memorial Auditorium, and the Betty Ray McCain Art Gallery.
The Performing Arts Center is home to the Carolina Ballet, North Carolina Symphony, Theatre Raleigh, North Carolina Opera, NC Theatre, and Pinecone. Without a doubt, some of the biggest Broadway touring shows make their stop at the Center. Additionally, though, Pinecone hosts about 100 free public events and up to 50 other ticketed performances throughout the year.
Durham Plays, Musicals, and More
Durham hosts its share of theatrical events from some of the best local theater groups as well as Broadway on tour just like Raleigh.
The Durham Performing Arts Center is one of the biggest venues for plays and musicals. Holiday shows are split between the DPAC and Carolina Theatre, where you can catch the annual Christmas favorite, The Nutcracker. Carolina Theatre also schedules a wide variety of music and family events.
If you live in the Raleigh-Durham area, you don't have to rely on Netflix and video games every weekend to keep you busy and entertained. Not only are there regularly scheduled plays, musicals, music events, and comedy shows, but there's a museum that should accommodate a wide variety of interests.
Three of Raleigh's most prominent museums are open to the public with free admission. The North Carolina Museum of Art first opened its doors in 1956. The museum has permanent collections as well as limited time shows, films, and other events.
North Carolina Museum of History is an affiliate of the Smithsonian and has in-house dining so you can make a day of it. And, a Butterfly Room, Discovery Room, and iLabs are just a few of the attractions at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Raleigh-Durham Area Sports
The 1988 film Bull Durham starring Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon put the spotlight on sports in the Durham area. While the Durham Bulls are providing exciting Triple-A baseball at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the only major professional sports team in the area is the Carolina Hurricanes.
The National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes brought home the triangle's only professional sports championship when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2006. The Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers in a best of seven series.
In 1972, the Hurricanes played their first game. But they were known then as The Whalers before moving from Hartford, Connecticut to Raleigh in 1997. Fans can catch Hurricanes hockey action at the PNC Arena, the 10th largest indoor arena in the country.
North Carolina State Fair
Every October, more than a million people pass through the turnstiles of the North Carolina State Fair, held in Raleigh. The annual event was first held in 1853. But, it's been at its current location on Blue Ridge Road since 1928.
More Than Carnival Rides
The North Carolina State Fair is something you have to experience to understand how much food and fun is at hand. This isn't a little carnival with some rides and games. The State Fair is non-stop activities, concerts, competitions, and more.
There's a Flower and Garden Show, the Village of Yesteryear, Farm Animals vying for blue ribbons, an Agriculture Tent, Fireworks, and Concerts. Of course, there's a midway, which does include rides and games, and local food specialties, in addition to those carnival treats like fried dough, fried twinkies, and cotton candy.
A pair of exhibition halls were built in 1928. So, fairgoers are treated to a mix of rich North Carolinian history with new innovations specific to the Tar Heel State.
Raleigh-Durham Dining Specialties
North Carolina is known for its food favorites like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, chocolate chess pie, and Carolina-style pork barbeque.
Raleigh Times Burger
Just as there are specific dishes that residents call their own, there are restaurants that are frequented by locals, and for good reason. The Raleigh Times happens to be one of those places. It's a bar-restaurant that's been honored by many publications for having the best beer, burger, and outdoor dining spot in downtown.
Southerners know their barbeque and both Raleigh and Durham have restaurants that have been making it for decades.
Bullock's BBQ on Quebec Drive in Durham is family-owned and is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Durham. It served its first sandwich in 1952. But, here are a few tips if you're going to visit Bullock's, though. It's closed on Sunday and Monday and, believe it or not, it doesn't accept credit cards. No, that's not a 1952 rule. It's a 21st-century policy.
Clyde Coopers BBQ in Raleigh has a 14-year headstart on Bullock's. It opened in 1938 on Wilmington Street and serves up plenty of barbeque, brisket, chicken, as well as some yummy sides including Cheerwine baked beans, mac and cheese, and yams.
The Raleigh-Durham Miscellaneous
Beer and Wine Time
The Raleigh area has 30 craft breweries, three wineries, and two distilleries. So, happy hour provisions shouldn't be a problem.
Art Inside and Out
The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh has one of the largest outdoor art parks in the country.
Downtown Durham Returns
Durham recently revitalized its downtown area including the American Tobacco Historic District with loft-style apartments, restaurants, new start up businesses, and entertainment venues.
Both Red Hat Software in Raleigh and IBM in Durham are toward the top of the business lists for number of employees with 10,000 each.