Any reason to visit Raleigh, NC?
November 5, 2007 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything to do for two days in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham areas?

Coming from DC, my wife and I want to take a little two-day trip south.. But we don't know, nor can we tell, if there's much to do. We enjoy walking around cities, seeing local shops and attractions.. We'd love to rollerblade, but I'm afraid it may be a bit cold for that.. Thanks
posted by seinfeld to Travel & Transportation around Raleigh, NC (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You might enjoy more: Carrboro - interesting downtown, brunch at Weaver Street Market is unique, lots of shops;

Hillsborough - another walkable downtown

or even Fearrington Village - there's an inn there, and you can look at the cows, visit the book shop - it's a little artificial, but nice.

Chapel Hill's "downtown" area is kind of aimed at college students, and becoming a little generic. Durham's downtown has been on the verge of a revival for about ten years (this time they mean it, though). I know not much about Raleigh, but the rose garden next to Theater in the Park is nice, as is the theater itself.
posted by amtho at 7:36 PM on November 5, 2007

amtho is not far off. I moved to the RDU area about 30 years ago. It’s a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit here. Why not choose the outer banks or mountains?
posted by Huplescat at 7:46 PM on November 5, 2007

I grew up in the DC area and went to school in Durham. RDU is 4 plus hours away. I'd vote more enthusiastically for Virginia Beach area, or Charlottesville/Blue Ridge Mountains.
posted by docpops at 8:15 PM on November 5, 2007

2nding docpops. I went to grad school in Durham and now live just outside Charlottesville. You should come here. The leaves on the mountains are juuuust about to change, the apples are ripe, there are wineries everywhere, and you can see Monticello and Mr. Jefferson's University, as well as John Adams' Montpelier and the Woodrow Wilson presidential library without going too far.
posted by 4ster at 8:28 PM on November 5, 2007

I like living in the Triangle but I'd be the first to admit it's kind of a mediocre choice for a vacation spot. There are small strips of ok shopping - Ninth Street in Durham, e.g. - and some decent gardens, galleries, parks and relatively interesting small museums scattered between UNC, Duke and NCSU, but most of it's fairly spread out and not very walkable. I've lived in all three cities, and if I had to choose the one with the most character to absorb via walking, I'd pick Durham, mainly for the old tobacco warehouses. Raleigh has some decent mainstream touristy stuff but most of the cool buildings have long since been demolished.

If you don't mind driving between the three towns, sure, there's enough interesting stuff here to have a fun 2-day break. I'm not sure I'd drive 5 hours each way for it, though.
posted by mediareport at 10:04 PM on November 5, 2007

Response by poster: We're not going for "vacation" ... Just for a change of scenery for a few days.. I love visiting colleges and I've heard Duke is nice.. And I don't know when else I'll ever get to NC.. While I'm living in DC, it may be the time to go. But by the same token, it may not be worth a 5 hr drive to see a campus and have little else to do. Hrmph.. Anyway, I appreciate the input!
posted by seinfeld at 4:06 AM on November 6, 2007

I agree with huplescat. That being said, here are a few suggestions I had for another friend coming to visit:

1. take in an ACC bball game at a local pub where everyone is yelling at the game.
2. check out the Cloud Chamber and After the Mona Lisa 2 onsite at the NC Museum of Art
3. go to a Carolina Rollergirls bout (high quality low brow entertainment!)
4. take in a movie at the Rialto, or a show at Carolina Theatre.
5. go to an AVgeeks show
6. go to a meeting with the Aerial Robotics group at NCSU
7. chill/chow at any number of places: Raleigh Times Bar, Vin, Mythos, Neomonde, The Federal
8. Our parks/scenery can't compare with either Asheville, the Outer Banks, or New England, but might be a nice break
9. UNC Chapel Hill and Duke both have a beautiful campus, Durham's 9th Street is fun & eclectic, both are about 30 minutes from Raleigh. Mountains & Outer Banks are both about 3.5 - 4 ish hours from Raleigh. Some beaches are 2 hours from Raleigh.
posted by yoga at 5:12 AM on November 6, 2007

I grew up outside Charlottesville, and went to grad school at UNC. I can attest that there really is a lot to do in the area, which is beautiful. It's too cold for the farm markets, but I loved going to Pullen Park in Raleigh and riding the old-fashioned Carousel, searching out the best Carolina BBQ (*resists urge to start the BBQ fight*), going to the botanical gardens, and immersing myself in Basketballiana (for a good time, wait until you're in a public space with folks wearing Duke and Carolina paraphenalia, and ask who is going to win the conference. Step back, and enjoy the fireworks.)

The museum of science in Raleigh has a dinosaur with a fossilized heart (!), there's a tobacco farm museum near Durham that has extant buildings and artifacts to look at (and a vaguely creepy animatronic tobacco farmer), and UNC has a Charles Kuralt museum. I've heard that they've reconstructed a Occaneechi village in Hillsborough.

I never went to Stagworth, which is an old plantation that has extant slave quarters, but it might be interesting. Visiting historic plantations in the south is always interesting for as much as they tell you about the people running the tours as it is about the old days. (At Monticello, for example, some of the guides talk about servants instead of slaves, even when prompted. This is not unusual at historic plantation sites in the South, sadly. ) You could also go see the Woolworth's counter in Durham where the first Counter sit-in was held.

Also, if you like oversized objects, there's a giant plaster acorn in Raleigh.
posted by julen at 7:05 AM on November 6, 2007

I'm from Hillsborough, and it is very very small. The "downtown" is nice for walking, but it is also only three blocks. We have one of the signers of the Declaration of Independce buried at a local church, and some nice open house tours at Christmas time. If you like antiques, Daniel Boone Village is worth combing through. It's got a ton of shops that are mostly crap, but there's a few gems.

If you do go to Chapel Hill, I second the Ackland Art Museum. They always have cool stuff. And the Morehead Planetarium is right down the street!
posted by kidsleepy at 7:25 AM on November 6, 2007

One more idea (very late, I know) - Duke Gardens is fantastic. There's also a lovely arboretum on the UNC campus. But I'd advise visiting during the warmer months.
posted by amtho at 3:26 PM on November 13, 2007

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