The Triangle is full of high-tech, enterprising people who define what it means to be modern. With Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and numerous other colleges plus Research Triangle Park, this region is known and celebrated for its innovation.
Settled well before the 18th century, as separate towns and villages, the Triangle now displays a potent blend of rich history and contemporary appeal. From ghost stories to bio-fuels, antique buildings to live music, the place we call home is unlike anywhere else.
Whether you're a vintage-enthusiast, an avant-garde gal or somewhere in between, the Triangle has something special to offer you this May. Here are a few cool areas that have rich pasts and exciting futures — timeless locales you'll want to visit right away.
This charming little town has been around for nearly 230 years! It was once considered a potential site for the University of North Carolina as well as the state capital.
Today, the buildings along Hillsboro Street still have that antebellum quality, but behind their doors are all kinds of surprises. Shops in Pittsboro's walkable downtown offer the homegrown and handcrafted along with the most current in fashion, style and art.
For centuries, Pittsboro has remained a friendly village bursting with distinct curiosities - old and new.
Pittsboro Historic District
Preserved within these 59 acres are nearly 100 buildings etched with history. While touring the timeworn courthouse or admiring one of the centuries-old churches, you may find yourself imagining men and women traipsing about in breeches and petticoats.
The Devil's Tramping Grounds
This barren circle just south of Pittsboro is the subject of one of North Carolina's spookiest legends. Locals claim that things left here overnight disappear! Some explanations include extraterrestrial visits and bizarre apparitions.
Carolina Tiger Rescue
This wildcat sanctuary finds its home just east of downtown Pittsboro. It provides 55 acres for some of the world's most endangered species to live and grow. Public tours run each weekend at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Crazy for local fruit and veggies? This community-owned co-op sells fresh produce and groceries as well as health and beauty products. The café offers indulgent treats prepared by resident culinary connoisseurs.
This thriving community grew out of the first public university in the nation. Today, Chapel Hill is still distinguished by its history as a college town, but it also has an unexpected diversity that appeals to everyone.
Walking down Franklin Street, you'll see the longstanding post office, the vintage Varsity Theater and Sutton's Drugstore - one of the last traditional soda fountains anywhere. You'll also pass colorful, modern-day murals and folksy troubadours.
Franklin-Rosemary Historic District
Tree-lined sidewalks lace the front yards of adorable homes nestled in lush foliage. Exploring this neighborhood's picturesque and varied architecture - wide front porches and pastel colors - will make you feel as if you've gone back in time!
N.C. Botanical Garden
This forested plot just east of UNC-Chapel Hill's campus has been used for botanical garden development for more than 60 years. You can get back to nature on one of the numerous wooded trails or channel your inner aristocrat by wandering through the many display gardens.
If you're hungry, moseying down Franklin Street will delight you. Within just one mile, you'll discover fine fare from across the globe. The street offers everything from Mediterranean to Moroccan, Italian to Vietnamese, and Chinese to Indian.
In the mood for a quiet, cozy afternoon with a book? The Bulls Head Bookshop, on UNC's campus, has a quirky, stimulating atmosphere. Flyleaf Books, just down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., is warm and inviting. At The Bookshop, the used bookstore on West Franklin Street, you'll find stacks upon stacks of unexpected treasures.
Moore Square in Raleigh
At the heart of our state capital is Moore Square, one of only two surviving four-acre parks from Raleigh's first, 1792 plan. Town legislators originally chose to build the capital here because it was only 11 miles from their favorite tavern.
Today, Moore Square is just a seven-minute walk from the historic capitol building. It's a vibrant recreational area with tall, shady trees and taverns aplenty.
On a sunny afternoon, you'll see families and schoolchildren out enjoying the weather. On warm nights, bars, restaurants and coffee shops are hangouts for hip Raleighites of all ages.
Opened in 1914, this site used to house an impressive farmers' market. Nearly 100 years later, it accommodates dozens of shops and eateries while maintaining the same romantic atmosphere. Artspace - one of the largest open art studios in the country - finds its home here and offers visitors the chance to watch talented people as they create their work.
Ready for some serious history? The N.C. Museum of History and the Raleigh City Museum are a short stroll from the square.
Rather be outside? Triangle Glides in City Market provides several guided Segway tours for Raleigh enthusiasts to see the city up-close.
From April to October, the Moore Square art district stays open late on the first Friday of each month so locals can enjoy artists' work. Also, lively native bands play free concerts in front of Big Ed's City Market restaurant from 7 until 10 p.m.
Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre
One of North Carolina's largest 3D-capable screens, this enormous cinema is found in Marbles Kids' Museum. At 70-feet wide, the theater can turn any movie into a breathtaking experience!
Two major universities help make Durham a forward-thinking, informed and energetic community - ranked one of the best places to live in the nation.
The foodies, intellectuals and just plain folks who reside here agree that it has the perfect balance of pastoral and metropolitan flair. The area was recorded in 1701 as "the flower of the Carolinas," and Durham's appeal is still in its bloom today.
When visiting this city on the northeastern side of the Triangle, you can expect to encounter renovated tobacco warehouses, world-class museums and restaurants that receive national attention.
Lining the streets of downtown Durham are stately buildings born from the city's tobacco-grown roots, dating to the mid-1800s. A walk down Main Street takes you past government buildings (it's the county seat) as well as boutiques and galleries. You can also see why Durham was named "The Foodiest Small Town."
Sara P. Duke Gardens
Founded more than 90 years ago, this vibrant oasis is recognized as one of the premier public gardens in the United States. This month, the 55 acres are bursting with new life, luxurious flowerbeds and opulent trees. No wonder the crown jewel of Duke University attracts more than 300,000 visitors each year, ready to experience the splendor and tranquility of nature.
Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC)
DPAC has been around for just four years, but in that time it has become one of the most celebrated performing arts venues in the Southeast. With 2,800 seats, the theater was specifically designed to present the best shows on tour - including Broadway musicals and performances from the hottest stars.
Duke Lemur Center
Established in 1966, this center is the world's largest sanctuary for rare and endangered prosimian primates. It's the only place in this hemisphere with such a large lemur population, 233 in total. Tours of the center, which spans 85 acres in Duke Forest, are held Monday through Saturday.