What to do in Raleigh/Durham for an afternoon?
June 21, 2004 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Heading to the Raleigh/Durham area for 4th of July weekend to visit my brother. To (hopefully) avoid traffic, we'll be leaving pretty early in the morning, but it's a relatively short drive, and both my brother and my sister-in-law have to work that day, so we'll have a good 6 hours to kill before they get home. Any suggestions for a) a good place to get some lunch once we arrive and b) interesting places to visit, either in Raleigh/Durham or along the way? (I'd ask my brother, but he just moved there himself about 2 months ago.)
posted by emptybowl to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
BBQ Guide to NC

At some point you should go to Chapel Hill and have the shrimp and grits at Crook's Corner.

Also, the American Dance Festival will be going on in Durham.
posted by mookieproof at 11:30 AM on June 21, 2004

Since you mentioned traffic: be aware that there is lane-widening work in progress on !-40 between RTP and Chapel Hill. Avoid I-95 at all costs - I cannot emphasize that enough on the holiday weekend (Memorial Day was....bad)

There are many great things to do here. A few random favs:

Durham: go to Bulls baseball game, 9th Street, Duke Forest. For clubbing I recommend Ringside, but be ready for a scary, confusing downtown. Shopping: Brightleaf Square.

Chapel Hill: Cat's Cradle, Hanes Art Museum, Carburrito's, and the new Vietnamese restaurant.

Raleigh: Not my forte. Umm...Hillsborough St. area, the Oyster Bar, Lincoln Theatre.

There are also rivers and state parks, lots of nice Southern country roads to drive, etc.
posted by crunchburger at 11:46 AM on June 21, 2004

good place to get some lunch

Do you like diner food? Elmo's in Carrboro is fabulous. They serve breakfast all the time, so if it's early enough that you feel like eating breakfast food I recommend the biscuits'n'gravy.

Or get barbecue, unless you don't eat pork for some reason. I recommend the A&M Grill in Mebane -- a few exits west of Durham on I40/85, in a rather charming smallish town -- or Allen and Sons on 15-501 south of Chapel Hill. Bullock's in Durham is okay too but kinda touristy. I wouldn't recommend Red Hot and Blue if you're actually in NC.

Things to do:

*Hang out on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill
*Wander around Duke, UNC, or NCSU.
*If you're coming from the west or southwest, you might stop in Asheboro and go to the zoo. It's astonishingly well done.
*Go to Mount Airy (~90 minutes away) to see the Mayberry stuff and get a pork-chop sammitch at the Snappy Lunch. It is a Yummy Thing.
*There's a science museum in north Durham that doesn't suck
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 PM on June 21, 2004

NC Museum of Art
Arts & Entertainment calendars from our local fishwrap.
The NC Museum of Life & Science, as ROU_Xenophobe says, doesn't suck.
Glenwood South, in downtown Raleigh, has recently been revitalized and is home to a number of shops, restaurants, and clubs.
posted by Dean King at 12:18 PM on June 21, 2004

One more: the Festival for the Eno takes place July 4th weekend, in northern Durham. Live music, crafts, environmentalism, ice cream.
posted by Dean King at 12:45 PM on June 21, 2004

Hillsborough Street across from NC State -they have decent lunch places along a couple of blocks -if the Rathskellar is still there it had really good eats.

If you'd asked me this 25 years ago, I'd have rattled off a list.

Have fun!
posted by konolia at 12:59 PM on June 21, 2004

Where will you be coming from, and where will you be staying? Raleigh is part of a 3 city (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) group called the Triangle. Between them lies Research Triangle Park. Travel time between them is roughly 30-45 minutes, although Chapel Hill and Durham are much closer to each other.

If your "layover" is in Raleigh, hit Glenwood Avenue south if you want to hang at an Irish pub, there's Hibernian. For better lunch fare, try Porter's on Hillsborough Street across from NCSU.

If you're in Chapel Hill, Franklin Street is a good place to wander, as well as the UNC CH campus, which is beautiful.

Not much to add about Durham, except that it is confusing to navigate as previously mentioned. Has some nice funky places like Fowler's, though.

Have fun!
posted by yoga at 1:11 PM on June 21, 2004

PS Porter's on Hillsborough has taken the Rathskellar's place, but the Rat in Chapel Hill in the alley is still there. Just ask a local to point you the way.
posted by yoga at 1:13 PM on June 21, 2004

Some more ideas (Culled from 16 years of memories):

Duke Gardens - A beautiful place to explore in Durham

North Carolina Botanical Gardens - Another great spot in Chapel Hill.

Morehead Planetarium - One of the top planetarium's anyware! (Ok, I'm biased) Also, make sure to check out the rose garden in front.

And I'll second the recommendation for the Eno festival!
posted by neurodoc at 1:14 PM on June 21, 2004

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