North Carolina's capital city Raleigh is one of the South's up-and-coming destinations. Easily accessible by train from New York and Washington, and with flight connections to Europe via its International Airport, it's never been easier to book a trip to one of the US's most welcoming cities. When you arrive, you won't lack for things to do. There are exceptional museums like the Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Museum of Art; you can catch some College Football at Carter-Finley Stadium; there are plenty of Soul Food joints in the centre of town which serve up first-class southern cooking; and you can head to major events like Hopscotch, which draws world-famous music artists. The city is small enough to reach everything by car in just a few minutes and friendly enough to make it easy to blend with the locals. There are some great excursion destinations too. You can drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, be in Surf City in a couple of hours and see world-class motor sports action at the Virginia International Raceway.
Things to Do
Whether you intend to stay in the city or explore North Carolina, Raleigh is a great place to be, with attractions to keep everyone happy. Here are some of the local standouts:
A science and nature museum like no other
The Museum of Natural Sciences is definitely the city's premier museum -- one of the city's highlight in general. Incredible care and attention has been paid to creating its massive range of exhibits, covering ancient history, NC's flora and fauna and ecology in general. With plenty of live animals to see too, it's like catnip for curious kids.
History everywhere you turn
The city's historical attractions match anywhere in the eastern USA. Take a tour of actress Ava Gardner's home, head to Bennett Place (where the Civil War ended), see the North Carolina Capitol and find time to visit the Joel Lane House, which dates all the way back to the 1760s.
Sample some irresistible southern cooking
The city has been experiencing a gastronomic boom in recent years, so foodies are in luck. Head to craft breweries like Crank Arm, which mixes great beer with delicious bar snacks, or try some specialities of the Piedmont region such as BBQ pork and slaw, collard greens and pecan pie.
Calendar of Events
Raleigh matches fine food, great museums and a down-to-earth feel with a packed schedule of festivals and other events. Here are some you won't want to miss:
Hopscotch. Scheduled to take place every September, Hopscotch brings the world's leading indie, country, hip-hop and dance artists to Downtown Raleigh, with past headliners like Public Enemy and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
The Raleigh Food and Wine Festival. NC's capital loves to show off its thriving food culture, and May's Food and Wine Festival is its major showcase. Including plenty of deals around town, the event culminates in an incredible tasting session at Melrose Knitting Mill.
Artsplosure. The city's number-one art event, since 1980 Artsplosure has featured bustling art markets, installations for kids, dance performances as well as jazz and blues performances. Check it out in May.